Pro wrestling a life-long passion for Mitch Paradise

By: 
Jarrod Schoenecker

Jarrod Schoenecker photo
Brick McCarthy (feet in the air) gets tossed by Mitch Paradise on Jan. 13 during the Czechmate Match at the Revival on Main in Montgomery.

Dan Michel, better known as Mitch Paradise on the pro wrestling circle, has had a life-long passion for pro wrestling, and he’s spent the better part of more than 25 years doing it himself.

“Back when we only had just four or five channels, on Sunday mornings after church, we would watch wrestling. We were glued to the TV when Jerry Blackwell and The High Flyers would come on, and then Hulk Hogan came around,” Michel said.

He transitioned from fan to pro wrestler in his early 20’s and needed a name to go by. “A friend of mine, when I first got started and we were training at the same place, mentioned there was a hockey player by the name of Zach Paradise, and I was a big Guns N’ Roses fan,” said Michel. “My last name is Michel and people in high school used to call me Mitch.”

Michel put the popular song “Paradise City” from Guns N’ Roses and his nickname Mitch together to form his pro wrestling name Mitch Paradise. He says he has been playing “Paradise City” as his introduction song at every match for the last 25 years because of it.

Michel’s first match was December 19, 1997, in New Brighton, Minn., at the Tri-City American Legion. “The guy I wrestled, I wrestled for the title. I didn’t win. The person who was supposed to be wrestling backed out so I went in,” said Michel.

Michel’s look as Mitch Paradise definitely stands out with his mohawk. “The mohawk is way more popular, especially with the kids. I had a mullet for about the first 10 years and then I grew out all my hair,” he says. “I should have done the mohawk 25 years ago.”

What makes someone go from long hair to a mohawk though? “I started out as Mitch Paradise. I had long hair for like 20 years and about six-to-seven years ago I shaved my head bald. I didn’t really care for that. Ken Kennedy (Kenneth Anderson), from WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), and movie I watched convinced me to grow a mohawk and I liked it.

Looking around the room at his match at the Revival on Main on Jan. 13, the mohawk popularity was evident in the crowd where many adorned themselves with the promotional yellow foam mohawks he sells to fans.

Anderson opened a wrestling school in Minneapolis called The Academy in 2016. Michel says that wrestling schools are how most people get started in pro wrestling. “You give them $2,000 to $3,000, and they show you everything you need to know,” said Michel. “I went there and learned the reversals and falls and such, and then you go out and perform in front of crowds.”

You can make a living off of pro wrestling, says Michel, but you have to spend a lot of time on the road. Michel calls them road warriors. Michel has always had a full-time job while wrestling, with wrestling being his passion rather than his career. “You have to have a passion for this or it wouldn’t pay to travel to do what you got to do at this level. A lot of wrestlers ‘wrestle for free and get paid to travel,’ as some say.” said Michel.

“When I first started I was doing 50-60 events a year and worked with different promoters. I went all over the upper-midwest, Canada and even toured in Puerto Rico,” said Michel. “When COVID hit, everyone quit wrestling. That’s when I started...."

To read the full story, pick up the print edition of the Jan. 25 Messenger. 

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