Growing up a fan of pro wrestling, Michael Pettis has spent quite a bit of time pursuing autographs from the WWE and WCW legends he watched on TV. The wrestling boot is now on the other foot.
Pettis, a Sedalia native who is assistant manager of operations for Lowe’s in Columbia, spends his off hours and weekends working for New Breed Wrestling as a ring announcer, booker, vice president and jack of all trades. At New Breed shows and even out in public, Pettis now is the one signing his name and posing for photos with fans.
“It’s flattering … and very humbling,” he said. “I never dreamed that I would be in this place, in this position in life, working for a wrestling company and people want to have my signature or my picture.”
Pettis connected with New Breed and the promotion’s owner, Scott Zei, in the summer of 2017 when Pettis was the project coordinator for Sedalia Downtown Development Inc.’s Uptown Theatre renovation project.
“I remembered seeing New Breed Wrestling in Sedalia before and when I researched the company, I found out they did fundraisers. I reached out to (Zei) and … we started talking quite a bit,” Pettis said.
During the Uptown fundraising show in September 2017, Pettis served as a kind of emcee, talking with the crowd about the purpose of the fundraiser and promoting a raffle. Zei noticed that Pettis was at ease in the ring and willing to interact with fans.
“I told him that if he ever needed any help in the future with a ring announcer or anything else affiliated with the show, that I would be interested in doing so,” said Pettis, who made his debut as New Breed’s ring announcer in March 2018 in Eldon.
Pettis’s favorite aspect of his New Breed duties are the interactions he has with wrestlers, both those connected to the company and the bigger name stars New Breed looks bring in as attractions for the fans, such as ECW legend Jerry Lynn and Ricky Morton, half of the Hall of Fame tag team the Rock and Roll Express.
“I never thought I would be talking on the phone to wrestlers I idolized in my childhood,” Pettis said. “Now, I have had the opportunity to get on the phone with these guys or email them to see if I can get them to Sedalia or another town … as part of our shows.”
As a big box retail manager, Pettis said he works about 60 hours a week on salary. Any free time he gets is spent on New Breed business, from working with a graphic designer to create match graphics and posters to recording radio spots and booking performers for the shows.
“It’s really just a matter of balancing my free time with work. I try to spend maybe an hour a day on New Breed stuff,” he said.
Lately those off hours have been focused on preparing for New Breed’s Sept. 28 show in Sedalia, which will feature Miranda Gordy, the daughter of Terry Gordy of the Fabulous Freebirds. Pettis said Gordy is excited to be part of the show and he is hopeful that local fans are excited to see her in action. The card also includes a “Beat the Clock Challenge” involving New Breed Heavyweight Champion Deacon Cash and former champ Kyle Roberts. Midwest Pop-Con champion Curt Gannon will defend his title against Rex.
Pettis and Zei talk frequently about their visions for New Breed Wrestling’s future. They want to strengthen partnerships they have had with other pro wrestling organizations across Missouri and the Midwest.
“We really just want to keep bringing old-school wrestling to the fans,” Pettis said. “We have a great fan base, we do well with attendance at our shows and we want to keep growing that fan base … We want to branch out into more cities, more towns, and be able to show our product to those who want to see it.”