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From Oshawa to Tokyo

Wrestler Michael Elgin talks about getting his start in Legion halls before moving on to packed stadiums in Japan

Michael Elgin, center, is joined by Hiroshi Tanahashi and Yoshitatsu during the trio's brief run as NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team champs earlier this year. The Oshawa native has made his way around the world as a professional wrestler, recently signing a contract with New Japan Pro Wrestling, the country's top promotion.

Michael Elgin, center, is joined by Hiroshi Tanahashi and Yoshitatsu during the trio’s brief run as NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team champs earlier this year. The Oshawa native has made his way around the world as a professional wrestler, recently signing a contract with New Japan Pro Wrestling, the country’s top promotion.

By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express

Aaron Frobel was just a teenager who wanted to wrestle. The Oshawa native, having learned how to wrestle like the stars he saw on TV, was held back by rules put in place by the Ontario Athletic Commission, which barred those under the age of 18 from stepping into the ring.

So he took his talents to shows in Quebec and south of the border in the United States until the rules changed, and he wrestled in Legion halls in Oshawa and across Ontario.

More than a decade later, Frobel – now going by the ring name Michael Elgin – is still following his dream of being a professional wrestler.

Despite the obstacles put in his way, Elgin says the choice to be a pro wrestler was not just an option – it was what he had to do.

“That decision was made a long time ago,” he says.

“It’s always cute for teachers to ask young students what they want to be when they grow up, and my answer was always I’m going to be a pro wrestler. You ask friends, family, anyone that was around me when I was kid, that was always what I wanted to be.”

Elgin has taken that dream to the next step, signing a two-year deal earlier this year with New Japan Pro Wrestling, one of the top promotions in the world. Prior to that, Elgin was signed with Ring of Honor, one of the top promotions in America behind only World Wrestling Entertainment. In Ring of Honor, Elgin saw much success, going on to win the promotion’s world championship title in 2014.

However, even with that international pedigree, that has not stopped Elgin from remembering where he came from, recently performing at the Royal Canadian Legion for a show by local promotion Pro Wrestling Eclipse.

For the man who performed at Wrestle Kingdom 10 – the largest show of the year for Japanese wrestling – at the Tokyo Dome in front of tens of thousands of people earlier this year, one might think wrestling at the Legion might be a step down for Elgin.

He would disagree with that statement.

“Some people have a certain mentality, and that mentality is that no matter what venue you’re in, you have to perform at a certain level because whoever sees it, they’ll talk about it, and you want them talking about you,” Elgin told The Oshawa Express while preparing for his match at the Legion.

“I think that to be wrestling in places like the Legion and going out there and just wanting to have the best match possible, that’s what enabled me to go out and be able to wrestle in Ring of Honor, to wrestle in the Tokyo Dome. So really, man, I just wrestle with the same mentality no matter where I am.”

Having wrestled with the world’s top companies, Elgin says one day he would like to get in with the top promotion in the game, World Wrestling Entertainment. However, Elgin says he is content with the decision he made to go to Japan.

“Anybody who wrestles really wants to go to WWE. Earlier this year, I had decisions to make, and I was talking with TNA (another American promotion), WWE and New Japan. And I chose New Japan because it was something I always wanted to do. And I think after the two years, it really depends on whether there’s still a place for me in New Japan, if there’s still things I need to do, or I want to move on,” he says.

“I set goals for myself, and I don’t like leaving those goals unfinished. I couldn’t move on from Ring of Honor until I was world champion, and I won the world title. Now I’m in New Japan, that was one goal, but I also have the goal to be a singles champion in New Japan. In two years’ time, if I haven’t been a singles champion, then I want to stay in Japan because I’ve set that goal for myself.”

In fact, Elgin will have a shot at a singles championship on June 19, when he takes on fellow Canadian Kenny Omega for New Japan Pro Wrestling’s IWGP Intercontinental Championship at a pay per view event in Osaka.

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