Wrestling on the fringe: An Adelaide performer’s path towards his dream

Image Source: Digital Beard/MCW

By Aidan Curtis | @AidanCurt15

We grow up being told we can do anything that we want to do in life; in reality, there are very few people that chase their dreams, and even fewer who succeed.

There are those who prefer to pursue their talents just as there are those who do what they think will give them the best chance of success.

In truth, it takes bravery to stand up and do what you’re most passionate about in the face of all that could go wrong.

For Elijah McGregor-Dey, the journey towards following his dream started in a high school drama production that, at least in his social group, was straying from the norm.

“High school is that real boisterous environment where you just give each other stick for every little thing, and I remember being so nervous and scared to perform in front of my friends,” Elijah said.

“I was viewed in school as something so different from what I was about to do because I was the guy who played football and hung out with the wogs.

“But performing is what I’m passionate about, and I feel like I broke the status quo by coming out of my shell and telling everyone that this was what I loved doing. That was the start of where I am now.”

Like many people before him, Elijah had no idea what he wanted to do with his life and cruised his way through school trying to have fun and chase his passions.

It wasn’t until his final day of high school when he was invited to see a friend make his debut at Riot City Wrestling that Elijah realised what he wanted to do.

“[My friend] had been training for about a year at that point and was finally ready for his big show, so me and a few mates got together and watched him, but it dawned on me after the show that wrestling was something I could do,” he said.

“I made that decision right there, and there was a tryout about six months down the line, so I did everything I could to get mentally and physically prepared.

“I actually had tonsillitis when I did my tryout, but they signed me up anyway and within about four months of training, I did my first show in front of people.”

Within a year of making his debut under the stage name Eli Theseus, Elijah was introduced to another rookie wrestler, Gabriel Aeros, and they went on to form their wildly successful wrestling tag team, The Parea, which is still headlining shows today.

“We hit it off straight away because we’re both Greek and Greeks tend to get along really well, and he was like me; he picked up wrestling so quickly and is such a showman that [Riot City] saw something in him straight away,” Elijah said.

The two have been performing together for some years now, winning tag team championships and the affections of Riot City Wrestling fans.

“I think the thing Adelaide fans really like is when they think you’re for real. They can tell straight away by your energy in the ring whether you’re serious about this and whether you want them to come along for the ride with you,” he said.

“I think because I was so amped up and so ready to get out there to show the world I’ve got what it takes to be a wrestler that my energy resonated with them and they got behind me straight away.

“Gabriel was exactly the same, so when they made us a tag team it was just like these two huge bundles of energy coming together and—put our in-ring talent aside—it was our energy, our passion, our personalities that resonated with them.”

In his ever-lasting search to improve his skills, Elijah took some time away from Riot City and his wrestling partner to train under wrestling legend, Lance Storm, at the Storm Wrestling Academy in Calgary, Canada.

“I felt that was something I had to do by myself, for myself,” he said.

“It opened my eyes to the reality of the wrestling business. It was hard to leave the team behind, but Lance is a true genius and it did heaps for my career.”

Elijah’s passion for performing has not only opened doors on the wrestling circuit but also gave him the opportunity to perform in Frolic and Follies: a cabaret show written by Lauren Pisaniello in the 2019 Adelaide Fringe Festival.

“My younger brother, Addison, has been a high-level dancer since he was little and dances for Precizion Dance, and his coach put together this Fringe performance.

“She wanted it to be more than just a dance show; she wanted to bring in other elements like singing, magic, general showmanship and entertainment, and she had a role in mind for two males with great chemistry. Since Addison is one of her best dancers, she asked if I wanted to give it a go since my brother and I are really close, and she knows I’m a showman.

“It was obviously a bit of a shock at first because I’ve been doing mostly wrestling for the last four or five years, but she saw something in me and the show ended up being a huge success.”

Frolic and Follies have been signed on to perform again, both in the Adelaide Cabaret Festival and internationally in the Edinburgh Fringe.

Elijah was disappointed to find out his brother would be at Camp America during the Edinburgh Fringe and unable to join the rest of the cast, so Pisaniello—with some convincing from Elijah—agreed to bring Gabriel in to fill Addison’s role and keep the dynamic chemistry that was so central to the two male characters in the story.

The casting changes have also provided The Parea with an opportunity to bring their brand of tag team wrestling to the United Kingdom, with Elijah and Gabriel signed on for wrestling matches after the Edinburgh Fringe.

“There is so much undeniable wrestling talent all over Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales that their drawing consistent crowds and putting on such awesome performances; so much so that a lot of Australians are going over there to learn, to train, to get more exposure and we’re no different in this case,” Elijah said.

“We’re using the Edinburgh Fringe opportunity to get ourselves over there and make a name for ourselves as both wrestlers and performers because we have such a strong gimmick, such a strong character and so much chemistry in the ring.”

Having already performed for Australia’s premiere wrestling promotion, Melbourne City Wrestling, Elijah is hopeful that his international experience will give The Parea the boost they need to become a more permanent fixture in the MCW roster.

For now, he juggles rehearsals, wrestling, a teaching degree, part-time work and social life, but is always looking to the future of his wrestling career.

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