My Weekend At Starrcast: Calvin Loncaric

Written by: Calvin Loncaric

On Thursday the day before Starrcast I had been travelling home after a long drive up to Ballarat to help prepare the Mining Exchange for the convention, another hour and a half ride home gave me a lot of time to contemplate how the weekend would fare. Wrestling is a lot of hard work for not a lot of gain most of the time, “you give 100 times to get 1 back” is a common phrase I hear. As a wrestler in their “rookie” period I’ve helped out at many shows and sometimes it isn’t clear how it might assist you. However I had no clue as to what would await me as Starrcast began.

The convention began and we as volunteers were assigned our charges to handle, I was told I’d be managing Shelton Benjamin, a performer I’ve looked up to personally in my career and so I was incredibly eager, not letting it on however. He wasn’t slated to arrive until 11am however so I had a bit of time milling about the convention helping where I could. One little thing amused me is that Nate Hunter, getting assigned to Lisa Marie Varon as she was slated to arrive at midday but decided to show up at 9:45 and hustle like no one has ever hustled. In addition to the advice and conversations I had it was also the observing how professionals interact and in Lisa Marie I saw an inspiration of how to interact with fans and work your business.

Shelton soon arrived and we got to work, quickly I saw his experience as he devised a plan to make the line of people move much quicker. It was a joy to see every fan’s interaction over the weekend and see the experiences they got to have. The first day Shelton and I didn’t speak too much on wrestling but just chewed the fat.

After Shelton’s time was up and he left I noticed that Shanky Singh didn’t have anyone attending to him, so I volunteered, this was around 2pm so the first day of the convention was dying down. Given we had less activity Shanky invited me to sit with him and we had a chance to talk wrestling and it was a valuable time to get some information on his track to the WWE and what the lifestyle is like. More than the advice we made each others acquaintance and it was nice for the rest of the convention to wave to each other and say hello.

At the HER show itself I was on door tickets but still managed to see most of the matches, specifically featuring our Relentless crew Erika Reid and Elaine Hope, who it was absolutely wonderful to see getting their time in the ring. It’s good to see some of our own getting these opportunities after all of their hard work and dedication.

The next day I was working with Shelton again, we started off with a photo session with fans. It was chatting here that Shelton and I found our shared enjoyment of video games, him showing me his Steam deck. That day was much more relaxed, Shelton imposing his wisdom of the business and asking about my own experience in the ring. Shelton reminded me of the fluctuating nature of our industry and that while he was on his side of the table today, next time he might be taking my pictures for me. That level of humility Shelton showed will stick with me, in other words, he’s just a real cool dude.

The highlight of that day however had to be in the afternoon when an impromptu seminar with Bret “The Hitman” Hart occurred, a few of us were outside with him when word spread round he was out back talking wrestling with us. As more of our students came outside he looked eager and simply said “I’ll need somewhere to sit if we’re going to do this”. To learn from Bret and just the values he places on wrestling really puts things into perspective. Obviously in our work we don’t want to hurt each other, but even hearing Bret’s disdain for chops just because it’s just used to get a reaction and actually hurts was really impactful.

I can’t express into words the influence the Hitman had on the events of Starrcast and later on for the students of Relentless where, because of our hard work we were granted a seminar with him whilst he is still in town.

Come showtime I think we all were in a state of high, coming off our lessons with Bret, we all were eager to watch some wrestling and work another show. My personal highlight was definitely being used on the fly by Mance Warner when he and Josh Alexander brawled in the crowd. While doing crowd control Mance took a punch and fell on me, a quick “We’re going for a walk” and we were going back down the steps of the grandstands, me in a headlock supporting Mance. It’s always fun to get involved with the show and do a bit of “wrestling” even if it’s just one moment and doing it for OPW made it all the sweeter.

I always enjoy bigger shows with international talent as it shows different styles but just different attitudes towards our art. It allows us to reflect on ourselves as aspiring wrestlers to go “what do I need to do to get on this stage” and I felt that very much watching all of the matches during the weekend.

I could go on about little stories from the Saturday night, but I’d be here all day, the night ended with me crashing on the hotel floor of a pair of fine individuals known as The Physicals, a tag team from our own school Relentless. It certainly helped not having the massive drive there and back for a night. Out of all the lessons I learnt this weekend the biggest was definitely to book a hotel for next time.

Finally we came to the Sunday where I was paired with SoCal Val for a brief period and then Vix Crow before she had to leave for her plane. I had seen Vix for the whole convention in flamboyant outfits and being incredibly friendly to anyone coming up to her table and it was great to have a chance to work with her here. I’ll not forget the look on two young women’s faces when Vix casually gave them one of her rings after a lengthy chat, it was pretty damn cool.

Following that was an afterparty held by OPW at a local hotel The Grand, and we didn’t get too crazy but it was nice to let our hair down after a jam-packed weekend and decompress. Like they say “business happens at the bar”, and I’ve learned it’s never a bad idea to hang about for a bit and see who you can talk to.

I’m incredibly proud of our team at Relentless, we’ve built a school that takes in anyone and turns them into professionals, not just wrestlers but every aspect along the way of becoming a wrestler – be it sound guy, camera man or just the talent relation roles we assumed. The feedback we got and the praises sung for us not only by the organisers but the talent themselves warmed my heart.

All in all I had a great time and picked up so many little tidbits I’d have never thought of, I’ve made contacts and friends that I hope I get to see across the pond sooner rather than later. For me, Starrcast has in a way changed me in that it’s made me hungrier than I was before to put in the hours and get more out of this business. It is inspiring to meet and work with so many hard-working, successful people in our industry and I want nothing more than to continue growing in this crazy world of wrestling.

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