4 July, 2016

In a previous role I was working on what people with disabilities should be asked when planning their lives. Reflecting on this I took it as where do I feel safe when I’m not at home? Rather than moan about how it wasn’t a long list, I’ll focus on what’s important. That being what did make the list!

One of the places was a Melbourne City Wrestling (MCW) event. More specifically the MCW Arena, which is located at 11 Russell Street, Essendon. A useless fact is that this is also where my sister’s wedding reception took place, which always makes me laugh.

Access to the MCW Arena isn’t exactly ideal. It requires going down a blue-stone alley, which is not easy in a wheelchair. Once you pass that it’s reasonably straightforward. What matters most though is that the staff are welcoming and friendly. I have seen a number of people with disabilities at these events. They also offer a Companion Card discount, so they are aware of our needs, but let’s get back to the point…

In my mind nothing compares to professional wrestling! I feel this way because at concerts people often require alcohol to be fully involved. Then at sporting events crowds are divided in their support. Wrestling isn’t like this. Almost everybody cheers and boos at the same time. You only need to hear the crowd count in unison 1,2, 3 to realise that the atmosphere is hard to beat.

"In my mind nothing compares to professional wrestling!"

"Try as I might, I can't resist the charm of Elliott Sexton"

Now onto what’s really important. The wrestlers. I had to limit myself to writing about five. This is because I feel I owe them so much that whatever I write won’t make up for it and so I would actually never finish this blog!

Krackerjak is the first wrestler I'll mention. MCW is always better when he is there. Having not always been a fan favourite I was once asked whether I liked the good or bad version of him. I said both as his quick wit makes him impossible to dislike. Humour is an underrated part of wrestling and he is as funny as anyone that’s ever been in the squared circle. If he does rehearse you wouldn’t know it as he always comes across naturally. He is also a great wrestler, but even then his comedic talents shine through. To sum him up I was at a MCW event with my friend Sandy. I had no idea he was there, so when his entrance music came on I hit her on the arm with the same sort of excitement I would have for a favourite from the USA.

Try as I might I can’t resist the charm of Elliott Sexton. I am a proud man with a spinal cord injury but even I have to admit that I would not mind being him for a day. It helps that he is the MCW champion; it’s also obvious that he is very popular with women. More seriously though he can wrestle, which is refreshing because many his size are average at best. His title win at the 2015 Ballroom Brawl stands out to me. On that same night I got my photo taken with him, which while not essential, is a key component of wrestling. The bond between wrestler and fan is incredibly strong. Very much like a family. So when wrestlers get their photo taken and interact with the fans it does make it easier to come back month after month.

And this is the perfect way to lead into writing about Mr Juicy. I was already impressed with him but once we met that was it. His alter ego and I started communicating on Facebook and we haven’t looked back. What we now both consider a ‘bromance’ developed once I noticed that his humorous side was to cover up the more serious side. In my eyes that made him the most relatable wrestler because, as I recently told him, it’s not unlike me. He's also very underrated in the ring, performing moves that you wouldn’t expect from someone his size. And when it comes to connecting with the fans, there is no one better. Primarily this is because more than any other wrestler in MCW he understands why people love wrestling. Anyway I could go on but I’ll conclude with that Mr Juicy is stuck with me forever!

For different reasons JXT is also family. Having a fan base that is predominantly female I feel comfortable saying I am his biggest male fan. I couldn’t help but take him on after watching him have so many demoralising defeats. I would be devastated by these losses but when I would talk to him about it he wouldn’t complain. It was because of this I dubbed him the nicest man in Melbourne. Due to these conversations I refer to him as my younger brother and proudly say I am his advocate. Earlier this year I finally got to see him win a title. He, along with Mr Juicy, won the MCW tag titles in what I consider one of the best moments of my life. If you follow me on social media you already know something about this. Somehow I still have plenty to say about all of this but all in good time!

And finally, Dowie James. He is arguably the best wrestler in MCW, possibly Australia. If you think I am talking him up just ask him. He will definitely agree, probably thinking I haven’t said enough. He is incapable of having a bad match and always puts his body on the line. A severe eye injury last year couldn’t keep him out of the ring. He truly loves what he does. He also has these grandiose ring introductions, which refer to topics like Superman and Transformers. While this may be lost on many people it’s not on me and I feel this only adds to his appeal.

"Dowie James is arguably the best wrestler in MCW, possibly Australia."

If you have made it this far you can see I enjoy an MCW event. The shows take place on the second Saturday of every month and they have become a part of my life I just cannot miss. For people that have only seen wrestling from the WWE and are concerned that Australia couldn’t possibly compete, have no fear! MCW not only compares to the American powerhouse, it is often better. The quality of matches is generally far superior and seeing it live certainly enhances the experience. And for those who have never seen wrestling, simply it’s $20 for 2 1/2 to 3 hours of entertainment. Anyway you look at it that’s great value for money! Maybe I will see you at an MCW event soon!

And whether it’s spinal cord injury or any other disability, I can’t help but draw comparisons to wrestling. I am well and truly used to it however being misunderstood and not taken seriously is frustrating. It is certainly exhausting feeling like I have to justify my life over and over again. Particularly when often it’s to family and friends. While it may be different I imagine wrestlers have similar experiences, on a frequent basis. This is why I have no problem promoting MCW to anyone that will listen.

For more information about Melbourne City Wrestling click here

Lachlan McLeod has lived with an SCI his whole life. He is currently writing a blog to demonstrate that people with disability do have fulfilling lives. When he is not doing that, he enjoys watching professional wrestling and listening to heavy metal music.

Tags: Blog, Travel & Leisure