In just a year, “The Prodigy” Shawn Murphy has transformed into one of the top prospects on the west coast. He is on track to be one of the most notable graduates of the Seth Rollins-led Black and Brave Wrestling Academy.
The 24-year-old Chilliwack, B.C., resident conquered his home province in 2023 – capturing Big West Wrestling’s Okanagan Cup in March, winning All Star Wrestling’s Pacific Cup in April and then collecting BWW’s Internet Title in October.
But perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Murphy’s story is that he arrived at BXB with zero in-ring experience and left the house of “The Architect” a fully realized wrestler.
The 6-foot, 200-pound Murphy played baseball and football at a high level in his native Ontario when he was younger (under his real name of Brett Garrah), but the bright lights of pro wrestling always loomed. He idolized stars like Shawn Michaels, Randy Orton and AJ Styles growing up and also on that list was the aforementioned Seth Rollins.
He said traveling halfway across the continent to jump headfirst into something completely new was worth it as long as he had a chance to sit under the Seth Rollins learning tree.
“I always knew this was what I wanted to do,” he said, noting he moved to B.C. from Ontario when he was 20. “And I knew there were some great schools here but it was tough to pass up to get trained by Rollins, Marek Brave and Matt Mayday.”
Murphy was accepted to the school in February of 2021, entered the waitlist and made the trek to Davenport, Iowa, in 2022. He was a part of BXB’s 25th class and that very first session saw an intense conditioning test for all students with Rollins observing.
“It was a little bit intimidating at first because that’s someone who is where you want to be in the future,” he said. “But once you show him that you’re serious, he warms up and is open for questions.”
The 12-week course sees students learn everything from promos to the basics. Students could also have open ring days to practice new moves. Murphy said Rollins was helping out at the academy about 75 per cent of the time. The 25th class originally had 12 students, but only seven graduated.
All students lived together in a nearby house. Students also helped with security or set-up at nearby indies, giving them the chance to experience the wrestling life and develop connections.
Murphy said he felt his time at the academy completely prepared him to enter the industry.
“They give you all the tools you need,” he said. “Whether it’s calling a match in the ring, how to work the crowd, moves, how to conduct yourself with promoters – they are always open for questions.”
Murphy has hinted in promos that Rollins called him “The Prodigy” when they were training at the academy, and while it’s a slight exaggeration of the truth, it’s not that far off.
“The first day he kind of told me I had it,” Murphy said. “Like he’d never seen anyone attack the mat as far as taking bumps for their first time in the ring. He was pumping up my tires quite a bit.”
The final day of classes saw students complete a 10-minute match as both a babyface and a heel.
When he returned to B.C. in late-2022, he got in touch with Lower Mainland-based All Star Wrestling and initially was planning on helping with set-up and trying to earn an opportunity. He was thrown into a match on short notice on Feb. 4, 2023, and impressed management enough to get a call back one week later when the promotion had a show in Abbotsford.
Veteran wrestler and ASW booker Azeem Mohammed told Slam Wrestling that Murphy created a lot of buzz quickly in 2023.
“Everywhere he goes, he’s turning heads,” Mohammed said. “Everyone has kind of recognized that this kid is going to be good. He’s going to be something. He is really one to watch.”
At the same time that he was opening eyes in the Lower Mainland, Murphy was also impressing in the Okanagan region with BWW. He won the Okanagan Cup in March and then the Pacific Cup the next month by winning those respective tournaments. It’s a feat no one else has done.
Murphy said that capturing the Pacific Cup was a dream come true. Past talents to win that tournament include Kyle O’Reilly, El Phantasmo, Artemis Spencer and Nicole Matthews. AEW star Bryan Danielson also competed at a past Pacific Cup.
“I knew the history and it was crazy to think about because it was only my third and fourth matches in ASW,” he said. “It’s an honor to win it. Guys like Kyle O’Reilly, Scotty Mac and Billy Suede have all won it.”
He said he still has the Pacific Cup at home and joked that he doesn’t want to give it back.
Murphy said he has enjoyed his time in ASW and that the family-friendly atmosphere challenges performers to stay within those bounds when entertaining.
Another interesting first year experience for Murphy was picking up WWE superstar Carlito from the airport. ASW brought in the former Intercontinental champion for the Cloverdale Rodeo event in May.
“To see that guy in the gym is quite impressive,” he said.
Murphy has also made several appearances for the new Canadian Apex Wrestling promotion based in Vancouver’s Hastings Racecourse and Casino. One of those shows was actually outside and matches occurred in between horse races and the other was inside the casino.
He added that he also appreciates BWW for giving him his B.C. debut and giving him so many opportunities in his first year. Murphy said his rookie year in the ring was memorable.
“Overall I think it was successful,” he said. “But it’s something I want to build off of. It’s been great to be on so many shows. I think I reached almost 50 matches this year and it was nice to get so many reps in.”
Murphy said his goal is to get his name out there more in 2024 and try to break through in the United States, noting that he would love to work for the Seattle-based DEFY.
He’s also hoping to work more in Ontario, stating that he did have a few matches in his hometown of Kingston with Chinlock Wrestling earlier this year.
But Murphy has long term goals of making a career in the world of wrestling. He noted that AEW is coming to Vancouver in May and he will be trying to get an extra role when Collision arrives in B.C.
He’d also like to follow in the footsteps of other BXB grads like NXT star Nathan Frazer or independent star Zicky Dice, who have used the academy to launch strong careers.
Like many other young stars, the 25-year-old has his sights set on North America’s two biggest companies in WWE and AEW. He also stated that wrestling in Japan would be a goal.
Some of the local talent Murphy said he hopes to take on in 2024 include: Artemis Spencer, Judas Icarus, Casey Ferreira, Scotty Mac and Miles Deville.
For more information on Murphy, follow him on Instagram at @prodigy_shawn_murphy.