Nobody told Sean Neligan it’s time for him to leave pro wrestling for good, but his body was speaking to him loud and clear.
Neck and back aches have plagued him over the past couple of years, so Neligan – known to ECCW fans as Sid Sylum – is nearly done with stepping into the ring.
At age 28, with a couple of herniated disks in his neck and another in his back, he says he’ll wrestle one last time during an event at Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom.
The “Ballroom Brawl VI” on July 16 will cap an 11-year run for Neligan, who saw his very first live wrestling event as a wide-eyed five-year-old at Cloverdale Fairgrounds in 1992.
Pretty much from that day forward, it was his dream to climb into the ring.
“Hopefully when it’s all said and done, I’ll feel good and not sad that it’s over,” Neligan, a Surrey native, told the Now.
“You know, I had a good 11 or 12 years, got to travel around Canada and everything and got flown out to places and had WWE tryouts, all that, so I like to think I can look back and be happy with what I did and have no regrets. I lived my childhood dream.”
For years, playing the bad-guy “heel” in the ring was much better than, say, being a paralyzed guy or, worse, a dead guy.
Neligan last wrestled in the fall of 2014, when a friend kept bugging him to get checked out by a doctor.
He was a Canadian champ at the time.
“I kept dropping stuff with my left hand and couldn’t open it fully,” Nelligan recalled. “I finally went (to the hospital) and they did a bunch of strength tests, even though I didn’t feel like I was hurt.”
The doctor’s prognosis wasn’t good.
“They said if I move wrong or took another bump in wrestling, a disk could sever my spine or poke into my spine more.”
Despite that medical advice, Neligan is certainly game for a no-holds-barred “retirement match” with Bishop, his former tag-team partner, at what should be a sold-out hall on Granville Street in mid-July.
“I’ve been doing physio and can open my hand again, with no numbness or anything,” Neligan said. “It’s still not a great neck, still some grinding when I move,” he added, “but apparently no immediate danger, and I’m feeling good. I’m in better shape than I’ve ever been.”
With a certain amount of nervous excitement, Neligan recalled the time he was seriously injured during the Ballroom Brawl II event at the Commodore, back in the summer of 2014.
“I almost died because I cut an artery in my head and (blood) was squirting out,” he explained. “I went to hospital because it wouldn’t stop bleeding. They had to inject something into my head to make it swell so they could stitch it up. That was scary, and it was the day before my birthday.”
That night, Bishop was his partner in a “Mumbai Street Fight” with The Bollywood Boys, who this month announced their participation in an upcoming WWE Cruiserweight Classic tourney.
Further back in time, in the spring of 2005, Neligan’s name first appeared in the Now in a byline, as a Grade 12 student completing his career placement program at Sullivan Heights Secondary. That same year, at age 17, he also enrolled himself in wrestling school at a place in Whalley called Perfection Kickboxing Academy, and wrote about his adventures there.
Journalism didn’t work out for him, but wrestling sure did – at least until now.
In October, Neligan plans to move to Portland and marry an American woman originally from North Pole, Alaska.
“Wrestling isn’t my life anymore,” he said. “Money’s always a powerful thing, you know, but at this point I’m going to try normal life for a bit.”