Everything is coming up Smash.

The long-running Ontario-based promotion, Smash Wrestling, is approaching its next two big shows. Smash Any Given Saturday Nine will be in Toronto on January 28 and Smash Any Given Sunday Nine will be in London the next day.

These shows will be having the Smash debuts of Lucha Libre stars, Aerostar and Drago. In Toronto, they will team up against Tabernak De Team and in London, they will go one-on-one. Also advertised is Charles Crowley’s return to the promotion, Jake Something in action both nights and in London, “The Remix” Kevin Bennett will defend the Smash World Championship against Psycho Mike.

Kevin Bennett and Psycho Mike face-to-face. Photo by Steve Argintaru

Smash is coming off two recent successful shows, which were a new milestone for the promotion. The shows in Toronto on November 19 and London on November 20, were both being recorded for the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Network, though with the Network recently ended deals with other “indy” promotions, like Progress, so no one is certain whether they will ever air there.

Maggot diving on to Kevin Bennett. Photo by Steve Argintaru

Those two cards featured Smash vs wXw, a clash between one of the biggest Canadian independent promotions and one of the biggest German independent promotions (and another company in limbo with its WWE Network deal).

The Toronto show was highlighted by Kevin Bennett defending his Smash Wrestling World championship against Maggot, Psycho Mike versus Cara Noir and Jake Something battled Axel Tischer (Alexander Wolfe in WWE). The London show had Psycho Mike square off with Maggot and there was a champion versus champion match with Bennett facing wXw Unified World Wrestling champion Tristan Archer.

These shows were Smash’s fourth and fifth shows back after its two-year hiatus from performing. Taking a break was the decision of the owner and founder of Smash, Sebastian Suave.

“It was time to just slow down a bit and reassess the direction of the company and it wasn’t that things were not going well,” Suave told SlamWrestling.net. “It’s that people were burnt out; I was burnt out.”

Suave took the two years and brought Smash back with a new mindset.

“We’re in a situation now where we’re not afraid to say no. If a good opportunity comes for a live event, a new market, a new platform for television or digital content distribution, then we must ask if this is supporting our long-term direction,” said Suave.

Books and Looks after winning the Smash Tag Titles. Photo by Steve Argintaru

Smash Wrestling launched back on October 28, 2012, with its very first show and it started quite small. Suave went into his new promotion with a passion and knew that he did not need much to run a show.

“You need a venue; you need a ring and you need a roster. You should have insurance, but I’m sure that’s a bit optional for many; you should have chairs, but that’s optional,” said Suave. “As long as you have an announcer and two referees, a wrestling company can be relatively bare bones.”

From the first show with barely 50 people in attendance and nothing but a small yellow curtain and an all-black ring, Smash was able to elevate its product. Within its first year it was able to get Johnny Gargano, Kevin Owens, AJ Styles and Lance Storm to work on its cards.

Earlier in Smash’s history, it ran a lot of shows from The e-Zone in Toronto, which has an approximate capacity of 200 people. At this smaller venue, they had shows that featured Johnny Gargano, Chris Hero and Matt Cross. It then moved up to the iconic Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto, which holds over 1,000 people, where WALTER (now WWE’s Gunther) and Zack Sabre Jr. performed.

The independent wrestling scene is crowded everywhere, especially in Ontario where it is unlicensed by the government, so anyone can run a show. Suave and Smash recognized it needed to keep things fresh to draw fans in to stay afloat.

“Not to say indy wrestling is everywhere in the sense that it could be saturated, but it is to some extent,” said Suave. “At the grassroots level, you’re fighting to get every fan; typically, it’s a double edge sword. But the people you are able to get, are quite often the die-hard fans that are willing to watch the grassroots.”

So, when launching Smash, Suave felt it was essential to create a brand and have something that set it apart.

“We valued a lot of the top-tier wrestlers in Ontario’s scene, but everyone was using similar rosters at that time. So, it was about going out and finding wrestlers from the Montreal scene, the Buffalo scene, the Cleveland scene and eventually from the Philly scene,” he said.

Joe Hendry posing for the crowd. Photo by Steve Argintaru

One of the biggest wrestling stars to come from Smash is Joe Hendry, from Edinburgh, Scotland. He has been working with Smash since 2016 and now has a full-time contract with Impact Wrestling in the United States. “When you’re at Smash Wrestling, you’re surrounded by good people who are going to be working hard, all working towards the same goal,” Hendry said. “Multiple times I’ve even considered moving to Canada because I have enjoyed it so much.”

Kevin Bennett is from Buffalo, New York, he is the reigning Smash Wrestling World champion. Bennett is a music engineer and wrestler; Smash helped him mesh the two together. “Now that I’m, ‘The Remix’ Kevin Bennett, rapper, wrestler, audio engineer, it just feels comfortable and I feel like Sebastian and the whole company definitely brought me into that essentially making me kind of who I am today, so I’m very thankful for that,” said Bennett.

The Remix performing for the crowd. Photo by Steve Argintaru

The big names built Smash Wrestling quite the following and at one time The Young Bucks (Nick and Matt Jackson) called Smash the Pro-Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG) of Canada.

The success led to it getting a TV deal with The Fight Network in late 2017, and it aired every Thursday at 10 p.m. until late 2019. Producer of Smash, Alan Taylor, recalled the exciting moment. “It’s going to be shown in like, 60 countries around the world. I was able to call my parents and be like, you can watch the TV show that I’m making, on this channel at this time,” said Taylor.

While having a TV show was beneficial for some time, having to put out a new show once a week was a tall task. “It had a ceiling, so we needed to take a few steps back so we can get in the right direction,” said Suave. “We chose to be off Fight Network and the invitation is always there to return.”

Smash Wrestling was also one of the first promotions to have its own streaming service, Smash on Demand, launched in 2015 and was around $8 a month for full access. At the time of its creation, Suave says it did make Smash a good amount of money, but over time as expenses went up he says it no longer was plausible. Therefore, after the TV deal ended Smash on Demand was no longer regularly active and it just became a library of past shows.

The conclusion of the TV run led to the two-year hiatus, which ended on August 7, 2022, when Smash returned with its Homecoming show live in London, Ontario.

With this return and this new milestone being on the WWE Network and now having two of the biggest Lucha Libre stars in the world coming to Smash, time will only tell what is next for Smash Wrestling.

TOP PHOTO: Jake Something versus Joe Hendry. Photo by Steve Argintaru

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