Editor’s Note: This story includes details about the sexual assault of minor children and is not appropriate for all readers.
New Jersey-based independent pro wrestling promotion Synergy Pro Wrestling closed its doors amid controversy on March 5 after out gay owner Patrick Shea’s history of inappropriate sexual contact with minors and status as a registered sex offender were unearthed.
According to the New Jersey Sex Offender Registry, Shea, better known to wrestling fans as Colin West, was convicted of aggravated criminal sexual contact just before his 16th birthday in 1999. That conviction stemmed from the sexual assault of three “male acquaintances between the ages of 6 and 10.”
Shea was arrested again in 2004 on charges of sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a minor. According to New Jersey Hills Media Group, the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office found Shea’s abuse of a 12-year-old boy involved nude photos and illicit sexual acts under the guise of getting the survivor and his friends a recording contract. Shea admitted that he interacted with the survivor “in order to find out if he could still be aroused by young boys.”
Shea pleaded guilty and served the majority of a four-year sentence before being released from the New Jersey Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center, a men’s prison specifically housed by men convicted of sex crimes, in July 2009, two years before he entered the pro wrestling business. Shea served an additional three days in prison in 2013 for violating his Community Supervision for Life (CSL)/ Parole Supervision for Life (PSL) order without good cause. He is classified as a Tier-2 sex offender in New Jersey.
Shea took ownership of Synergy Pro in 2019 after serving as the promotion’s creative director since its founding in 2017. The move put Shea among the small collection of out gay pro wrestling promoters to own a promotion.
Shea swiftly deactivated all social media accounts connected to himself and Synergy Pro last Friday before releasing a statement through Synergy Pro’s official website. In the statement, Shea cited his own experience with sexual abuse as a teenager as informing his own actions, which he admitted to fully. He asked fans to “not take this out on the Synergy roster” because “they did not know.”
Shea ended his statement by saying he was leaving wrestling immediately and that he didn’t deceive anyone. Shea’s statement vanished after March 5 when Synergy Pro’s website was taken offline last weekend.
The first report about Shea’s past came March 5 from out independent pro wrestler Terra Calaway. In a series of social media posts, Calaway released an image of Shea’s entry on the New Jersey Sex Offender Registry, stating she was “ashamed to have ever allowed Colin West aka Patrick Shea … into my life and my locker room.”
Shea worked with multiple charity wrestling promotions in addition to his role with Synergy Pro since he entered the industry in 2011. One of those charities was Calaway’s Dropkick Depression, which promotes mental health awareness through pro wrestling. Shea, under his pseudonym Colin West, worked as a play-by-play announcer for Dropkick Depression beginning in 2018.
Calaway said she felt that Dropkick Depression was “tarnished” after discovering Shea’s past. “I am devastated. Everything I’ve ever done with Dropkick [Depression] is tarnished because his voice is all over it. I want to burn my own charity down,” Calaway said.
“I don’t know who originally found the details. They should have been the ones to do this. But I don’t like that no one is saying anything and I can’t call myself a mother to this community if I don’t do what’s right to protect my kids and the actual children that come to shows.”
It seems that Shea sought to conceal his criminal record from the public and to those he worked with in the industry by operating what he described as the “family-friendly” Synergy Pro solely under his Colin West pseudonym. Many wrestlers expressed that they only knew Shea by his wrestling pseudonym Colin West throughout their entire working relationship in the wake of the news. Pro wrestler Faye Jackson alleged Shea would pay those that worked his shows using the Colin West name.
A number of pro wrestling figures and members of pro wrestling media, including out wrestlers Jordan Blade, The Whisper and Riley Sheppard, cut ties with Shea and Synergy Pro following Calaway’s post, citing feelings of “betrayal” and “disgust” at being deceived by Shea.
Pro wrestling streaming platform Independentwrestling.tv announced it would no longer be affiliated with Synergy Pro as well, effectively canceling Synergy Pro’s planned involvement with IWTV’s Showcase of the Independents event planned for April’s Wrestlemania weekend in Tampa, FL. IWTV also removed all Synergy Pro content from its service except a match between Warhorse and KTB for IWTV’s own Independent Wrestling title that took place at a Synergy Pro show in 2019.
Synergy Pro’s ousting from the event also directly affected at least a dozen wrestlers scheduled to take part in the Showcase of the Independents as they had scheduled transportation to Tampa through Synergy Pro and Shea.
Pro wrestler Tony Deppen and suburban Atlanta-based promotion Action Wrestling reached out to help those affected. Deppen also announced an event, Tony Deppen’s Bierhaus, that will replace the canceled Synergy Pro show on IWTV’s Showcase of the Immortals. The event also serves as a fundraiser with the proceeds going directly to those appearing on the show and others affected by the Synergy pro event’s cancellation.
Wrestling content platform Tiger Driver 9X also compiled a list of resources where fans can support wrestlers that were scheduled for Synergy Pro’s canceled Wrestlemania weekend event.
The revelation about Shea also called into question how he positioned himself and Synergy Pro as a positive example in the wake of pro wrestling’s continuing #MeToo movement, #SpeakingOut, that began last June.
Synergy Pro ended its relationship with wrestler Stevie Shields in 2018 after he admitted to sending nude photos to a 14-year-old girl. The promotion also cut ties with out ring announcer Mark Adam Haggerty after his own accusations of inappropriate conversations with a minor came to light during #SpeakingOut.
The Wrestling Estate’s John Corrigan heralded Shea’s swiftness when cutting ties with alleged abusers as a “blueprint” for “future promoters” at the time. But Shea publicly propped up Synergy Pro as a promotion focused on transparency and safety for fans and talent alike while continuing to obscure his own identity and past actions.
“It proves to me that there isn’t a type of person who’s capable of doing something like this. I don’t think either of these individuals is a monster. These are two human beings, who through a series of their own bad choices, have really hurt some people... I’m just as capable of making bad decisions, but I would like to think I wouldn’t make the same bad decisions,” Shea told Corrigan in a July 2020 interview.
“It’s just a matter of if Synergy is going to be a family-friendly promotion, if all ages are going to be welcome, all genders and races and sexualities, then we have to be a little more hard-lined than some people. There is no wait and see here... this is a place where we want people to feel safe.”
Read Shea’s full statement below:
“I’m going to keep this short, as I know nothing I say will mean much to many of you.
I’m sorry I was not strong enough to break the cycle of abuse. It happened to me as a teenager & I should have been better. I was not. This is not an excuse. My actions were disgusting, and you have every right to be disgusted by them.
I have taken great strides to become a better man. Nothing I can do will change what was done. I can never fully repay that debt. But I can spend the rest of my life trying, and I will.
Please do not take this out on the Synergy roster. They did not know. They are very good wrestlers & even better people. I’m sure they are hurting enough right now. Please support them.
It is clear by public opinion I am not welcome, and I will be leaving wrestling immediately. I will make no effort to return or be involved.
I hope I have proven to some of you along the way that people can change. You weren’t deceived. I am who I portray myself to be. I hate what I did decades ago. But I am proud of who I am today.
My primary goal in wrestling was to make people happy. I’m sorry I failed.”