Area’s professional wrestler is ready to rumble

Published 5:20 am Wednesday, February 15, 2023

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Maybe you’ve heard the phrase, “And that’s the bottom line, because Stone Cold said so!” or “Know your role, and shut your mouth!”

That’s because the above phrases are catchphrases of professional wrestlers. And while at first glance it doesn’t appear Albert Lea has much, if anything, in common with them, there is one similarity. Albert Lea has its own professional wrestler: Aaron McVicker, who goes by the stage name Irish Aaron Corbin.

McVicker, a sales and leasing consultant at Dave Syverson Auto Center, has been in professional wrestling for almost 21 years while working with over 100 different promotions.

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McVicker’s passion for professional wrestling came about at a young age, when he would rent everything related to wrestling, including Wrestlemania and Royal Rumble events. He was also a big Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior fan.

“That turned into watching wrestling every Monday night on TV during the big Monday Night Wars,” he said, admitting after watching his first VHS tape, he was hooked on the larger-than-life characters and how responsive the crowd was. He also confessed there were times he felt he was watching a real fight.

From there, he found a group of people who wrestled locally, people he described as “backyard wrestlers.” They didn’t have a ring and had never attended a wrestling school.

But they did have a canvas over hay bales to call their ring in Le Mars, Iowa, where he grew up.

“From there we all pooled our money together and bought an actual pro wrestling ring from some people up in Minnesota,” he said “After we bought that, I made some connections up in Minnesota to guys who were just like us.”

He ended up moving to the area, where he and his wrestling companions traveled to a show under a different promotion, where they learned about wrestling school, something he attended in 2001.

“None of us knew they even existed, and from there we went to wrestling school and the rest kind of became history,” he said.

At wrestling school, he learned the right ways to fall, hit the ropes, run across the ring, take a fall and do things to appear like you were beating up on an opponent while at the same time preventing injury. He said it was no different than going to a cosmetology school.

McVicker’s first wrestling match was in Cottage Grove in March 2002.

“I didn’t know I was wrestling that day, I was still in wrestling school at that time,” he said. “… I was sitting in the locker room hanging out with everybody and the promoter came up and said, “Hey, you’re on tonight.’”

He remembers finding the person he was wrestling and talking with him, something he compared to giving a speech in front of a big crowd.

“You kind of have your bullet points of what you want to hit, but you don’t have it mapped out word for word, which is a lot of what a pro wrestling match [is],” he said.

McVicker described his first character, El Viejo, as “comedic-driven.” To that effect, he had a blue luchador mask and a blue outfit. He even came out to “Blue” by Eiffel 65.

“I was absolutely terrified the entire time, and I was out of breath about 30 seconds in cause I forgot to breathe and was incredibly nervous,” he said. “But it went well, the crowd reacted good at the end, and from there on out I was almost on every show at that place every weekend.”

And while professional wrestling is staged, getting it to look natural is not easy.

“Everybody on the show kind of has their own job,” he said.

He also described wrestling as part stage play, live stunt work, improvisation and a concert performance, all wrapped into one ball. He also called it the most sincere and true form of live entertainment.

His favorite part about wrestling: having the crowd react to him, whether that’s getting them angry, sad or laughing and knowing he’s controlling a story through his stunts. He even described those moments as “addicting.”

“The average match lasts anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, and your goal is just to go out there and entertain the crowd the best you possibly can from the time you’re out there,” he said.

But wrestlers don’t practice their fights beforehand, and McVicker said a lot of what happens is talked about beforehand or improvised based on how the

crowd is reacting. And when he goes out there, he said he and his opponent have some idea what will happen, though he admitted a lot could change.

Being a wrestler is a tough job as well.
“When you’re a wrestler you’re an independent contractor,” he said. “You kind of go to whoever wants you that weekend and gives you the fee that you agreed on.”

His work has led him to be a multi-team tag-team champion and a steel domain heavy wrestling champion.

Wrestling has also helped him perform in front of people.

“You can just turn yourself up,” he said. “A lot of times I think to succeed in business or in wrestling … my wrestling character is just myself just amped up to a level 10.”

And that’s what he tries to do in his daily life — be the best (or in this case the worst) version of himself.

“Amp yourself up, don’t be afraid to try stuff,” he said. “If you love something enough, chase it and go do it.”

Wrestling has also taught him not to be afraid of trying things, including performing as different characters. And it has shown him he can recover from “crazy stuff” including an ankle injury that almost prevented him from stepping foot in a ring again.

He has also broken his right big toe so many times it hadn’t healed properly. He has torn his rotator cuff and labrum, something he said he’ll need surgery on. And his right knee has something floating behind the kneecap that will eventually need surgery.

But the only thing that’s made him seriously consider retiring are the seven concussions he has experienced and knows of.

One was so bad he couldn’t remember anything about that day.

“I remember asking where the restroom was because I had been in this building a thousand times and I couldn’t find it,” he said. “A guy came up and said, “What are you looking for?”

“‘The bathroom. Every time I’ve wrestled here at First Avenue, the bathroom is always down the stairs.’

“He goes, ‘You’re at the Minneapolis Civic Center, you’re not even at First Avenue.’”

And it’s helped him with his sales career.

“I can read a wrestling crowd as good as anybody, and to carry that over into sales,” he said. “You’ve got to read people, you’ve got to treat every customer differently, and to be able to get that read on them and know from wrestling that I can kind of control the situation 100% came from wrestling.”

According to McVicker, a lot of time is spent traveling across the country, and most of the work he does is live, in-person entertainment, where he’ll perform for wrestling legions, VFWs, high school gyms and city festivals. He’s also been on television: AWF Explosion.

“Your job is really travel town to town, you get there,” he said. “When you get to the show, you see who you’re wrestling that night, and it’s not a UFC fight. Our goal is not to go up there and hurt each other — we both have families and friends we want to go back to after the show.”

And while his four best friends — people he wrestled with and served as groomsmen at his wedding — are mostly retired due to growing families or getting older, McVicker is currently working for Paradise City Wrestling, which runs out of Elko-New Market-Dundas-Montgomery, where they perform about every six weeks at the Revival on Main.

“It’s a really cool building with a really neat vibe,” he said. “They just had their first championship, and I won their very first championship against the owner and promoter of the company.”

He’s also running a show in Faribault in late March.

“I’ll go a lot of places around Minnesota and Wisconsin as long as the money is right,” he said.

His plans for the future include continuing wrestling as long as possible, and said he’ll retire the day his intro music plays and he doesn’t get nervous.