Alas, as the Good Book tells, there is a season for all things under heaven.  A season to reap, a season to sow.  A season to gather stones, a season for throwing stones away.

And so it was, that on December 1 in Helsinki, Finland, seven years and 10 countries grappled in since his debut, my former protege Mikko Maestro finally achieved his dream: he defeated The Man in Finnish FCF Wrestling today, Yours Truly, “The Rebel” StarBuck.

In a game match fought over the course of a half-hour, Mikko Maestro showed no quit and would not be denied.  He wanted the 30-minute Iron Man match, and he got it.  In the end, with literally one second remaining on the clock, Maestro got the one and only duke of the match after hitting his second trademark Uranage (Rock Bottom for you casual WWE fans out there) of the night.

No complaints, no qualms.  Mikko Maestro struggled hard to get this spotlight opportunity and he made good on a fatal 13th installment of a tradition that I started back in 2006, the Finnish Winter War aka Talvisota.

Mikko Maestro is now FCF Champion but I’m cashing in my rematch clause this coming weekend on Saturday, December 8 in Tampere, Finland.  Mikko Maestro has now become the hunted, and in a few short days’ time, he’s going to have to pray for a miracle to retain that title and keep a sixth record FCF title reign from happening for this old dog of war.

Get ready, and count your blessings… Champ.

Wrestling Show Live Tampere StarBuck vs Mikko Maestro FCF championship

(All match photos by Timo Muilu, more match photos up at my official Facebook fan page)

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This past Saturday, November 24, in the city of Kotka, I entered a new phase of life.  One which saw me embark on a the beginning of a new chapter with my SLAM! Wrestling Finland company.  Because yesterday, we pulled off our maiden voyage with SLAM!

I recall my father saying to me back when I was a younger man, that one day he believed I’d be a leader, a boss.  He saw that stock in my persona and character.  I kept his words in mind as I traveled down the roads of life, feeling in my heart that one day, indeed, I would become what he believed back then.

I look at my life at the age of 45 and I draw parallels to my old friend Chris Jericho and the lessons to be learned from his life over the past couple of years.  Chris left WWE on the top of the mountain, as a favorably featured main star on RAW.  He dropped the Intercontinental Championship to Kevin Owens at Wrestlemania 33 and then left the company riding the high wave.  Chris hooked up with his old buddies Jado and Gedo, the bookers of New Japan Pro Wrestling, and orchestrated a deal for him to come in to NJPW and become a lead star for the second biggest wrestling company on the planet.  To this day, he holds their IWGP Intercontinental title and just sold out his own Jericho Cruise, which was highly touted in the media.

Now Chris could have chosen to stay with WWE after Wrestlemania 33 but he chose not to.  In retrospect, I think I can assess his situation: he had done everything he could for that company.  He’d been a multi-time WWE Champion, holding a plethora of titles, and at the age of 46 back then, he surely understood that his days as a regularly featured talent were coming to a close.  The younger stars of today were coming up fast, being pushed hard, and the older stars would need to take supporting roles before long.  So the question really seemed to be: do I spin my wheels and remain here, collecting a nice payday, or do I want to grow as a human being and see how else I could spread my wings beyond what I’ve already achieved?

As I’ve gotten older, I understand this train of thought perfectly.  Like life coach Tony Robbins often says, out of the seven basic human needs, the last two are the needs of the spirit: the need to contribute and the need to grow.  I can underline this with clarity.

Here in 2018, it was time for me to take an honest look at my life and ask myself the pivotal question: what do I want to do with my life from hereon forward?  How do I see myself facilitating a living for my family and myself in the future?  Where do my talents lie, and should I venture off into a new field and trade, or should I attempt to make a living utilizing and doing what I already know over the course of accrued life experience?  I chose the latter.

And so it was, that last night in the city of Kotka at Power Tech Group‘s annual pre-Christmas party, SLAM! Wrestling Finland was launched upon the world.  It was done under the most optimal, high-class circumstances possible: professional lighting and sound, customized entrance way, a fresh and new audience that was excited to be there, and a card of pro wrestling action featuring the best, carefully-selected talents for each match that would facilitate a fun and dynamic night of action for everyone on hand.

Thank you, Power Tech Group, for not only sponsoring and making our SLAM! Wrestling Finland ring, but also for giving us the stage and spotlight to set forth on the waters of live entertainment service providers in the Nordic sector!

This is only the beginning.

Facebook cover photo SLAM KOTKA V2

(All photos by Jary Högnabba, www.kuvanuotta.fi)

Ahoy, mates!  It’s the middle of the month and we’re under a week away from the Maiden Voyage of my new enterprise SLAM! Wrestling Finland.  I began this trek in the summer of this past year and now, on November 24 in Kotka, Finland, we’ll hold our first debut offering at Power Tech Group‘s Greatest Little Christmas Ever event.

We have the UK’s top professional wrestler, James Mason, coming in.  We have Russia’s and Sweden’s premiere female wrestlers (respectively) coming in also, Natalia Markova and Helena Sixt.  In addition, we have a top cast of the finest, hand-picked Finnish professionals, both veterans and upstarts alike, in action at this big debut event!

SLAM Kotka square INSTA main matches graphic alt

I’ll be facing James Mason, who is one of the toughest, craftiest competitors I have ever wrestled against.  I equate him to being the James Bond of professional wrestling.  It’ll be a true test and a damn hard rock to climb against Mason in Kotka, as when I wrestled him last in Hannover, Germany back in October 2017, he out-wrestled me and pinned me in the end after a very spirited struggle.  This will be chapter two for us on November 24!

I also just got back from Germany, where this past weekend on Saturday night, November 17, I wrestled at DWA Harley Night in Wittorf.  As the reigning DWA World Heavyweight Champion, I met the challenge of Joe E. Legend, who wrestled for a time with WWE back at the end of the 1990s also.  We had a solid wrestling match, one that didn’t quite go Joey’s way at the end as he found himself on the receiving end of my jumping spike piledriver, which had him starting up at the lights for the referee’s three-count when all was said and done.  This was my first title defense after winning the DWA World title back on September 1.

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Head on over to our SLAM! Wrestling Finland Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages to check out our journey up ’til now.  There’s pictures of the first-ever SLAM! ring being build at Power Tech by metal industry engineers and workers.  It’s a helluva story, and I’m sure you’ll be delighted to join us, so smash the follow and like buttons and jump aboard with us as we head on toward November 24 in Kotka!

Shoorin' the Shizzat

I’d also like the share the big news about my new podcast called Shootin’ The Shizzat, co-hosted by Canadian-born wrestling referee Dylan Broda and myself!  Dylan is originally from Canada, just like myself, and we talk pro wrestling for an hour to tickle your ears.  It’s an eye-opener in many ways, whether you are a fan or in the wrestling business yourself.  Good gab and current content, worth checking out!

 

This upcoming Saturday night, November 17 in Wittorf, Germany, I’m scheduled to put my recently won DWA World Heavyweight Championship on the line at an annual German event called Harley Night.

Challenging me will be former DWA World Champion from several years back, Joe E. Legend.  Joe also happens to be Canadian, just like myself, and in the latter half of the ’90s he briefly wrestled for WWE as Just Joe.

StarBuck vs Legend.jpg

I know Joe from my early beginnings in pro wrestling, going back to my sophomore year in the business.  It was the year 1995 and Joe took the Greyhound bus down from Toronto to rendezvous with me in Sudbury, Ontario to drive onward to Winnipeg, Manitoba to wrestle for Tony Condello’s IWA.  On that same tour were Ultimo Dragon from Japan, Chris Jericho, Sexton Hardcastle (WWE’s Edge), Lance Storm, Bad News Allen and former AWA World Heavyweight Champion, Rick Martel.  It was a star-studded tour to be sure, and it was a crash course for a green boy like myself back at that time.

Joe Legend is a veteran of the ring wars, just like myself, here 23 years later.  How ironic, that we meet under these circumstances now this coming weekend at DWA’s Harley Night!

Be that as it may, Joe E. Legend is in for the fight of his life in one week’s time.  He’s a former DWA World Champion and I plan on making it stay that way.

DWA Nov 17 2018

“Stoner Kings are benchmarking a whole new sound standard for stoner rock as a whole!”

Hannu Leiden 01.jpg

Hannu Leidén

Alas, we’ve reached the end of recordings for our third Stoner Kings album, which will carry the name Alpha Male. As a special introspective we thought to do a second interview with our producer, Hannu Leidén, following the grand close of this monumental project.
Hannu initially had a certain vision of things as we set out last year on recording the songs for this album. You can read that interview here: https://www.facebook.com/stonerkingsband/posts/854157918075740?__tn__=K-R.
Let’s see what views and things have changed and how our producer feels about the new Stoner Kings material overall as we close the loop on our third album before its release!
* * * * *
Q: How have your views and impressions about Stoner King’s third album material changed over the course of this past year, having recorded and produced the band over the past 12 months now?
A: In my opinion, Stoner Kings have been searching for their own style inside of the stoner rock/metal genre since their beginnings. On this album, they’ve finally arrived. They’ve found their own style, their own niche. It’s damn near impossible to define stoner rock in general in only a few words, as the boundaries of the genre itself are very vague. With this forthcoming album, Stoner Kings are benchmarking a whole new sound standard for stoner rock as a whole!
Q: What was the most challenging part of the recording process in your role as producer?
A: The hardest part was definitely the fact that there was no set example that Stoner Kings were attempting to emulate. We had to construct an album from scratch that would come to define an entire musical genre from here on out, as auspicious as that sounds.
Q: You’ve now worked with sound engineer Eero Kaukomies for several years. You guys are like a team in many ways. What makes working with Eero so fluid?
A: Eero happens to be a very capable musician in his own right (having played in Geman metal powerhouse Gamma Ray, amongst a host of others) and he has the same work ethic as me. I’m still very much an analog guy. Eero, on the other hand, is more in tune with the digital age. Combining these two approaches helps produce optimal results in my opinion. Eero also happens to be one of the most adept Pro Tools users that I have ever seen.
Eero Kaukomies and Hannu Leiden

Eero Kaukomies and Hannu Leidén

Q: You and sound engineer Eero Kaukomies really tried to make this new Stoner Kings album arguably the best sounding stoner rock release recording quality-wise that the market has to offer. Open up the world of sound in this regard to the readership, to give them a better understanding of the standard you aimed to achieve.
A: We tried to retain some of the core aspects of the stoner rock soundscape, such as the grit of the genre’s aggressive garage sound, as well as making sure that the vocals weren’t too up-front. With the drums we kept the cymbals quite in the forefront. I wanted the arrangements to be clear-cut and anything that was unnecessary we trimmed away. For example, one of the band’s new songs called Universal has vibes going back to ‘70s acid rock acts like Hawkwind. I wanted to ensure that Stoner Kings’ bassist Rude Rothstén’s playing was duly noted as a defining factor in the band’s music, as he has a very unique sound. Another key factor was to run all of the rhythm guitars through a Marshall JCM 800 amp. This way, we were able to get more true rock’n’roll into the overall sound.
Q: Which songs of the lot overall stand out in your ears and for what reasons?
A: Bringing Out The Dead. This song is founded on a hypnotic drum rhythm which has a nifty, little hook here and there. The beat is strong and the vocals are very unique. The cherry on top here is the guitar riff, which carries the song from start to finish. Plus, vocalist StarBuck’s highlight coughs (channeling Black Sabbath’s Sweet Leaf) are as authentic as can be! Another song I just mentioned a moment ago, Universal, pays homage to the ‘70s in spirit, making this old rocker’s heart all warm and fuzzy.
Q: What kinds of people would you see enjoying the new Stoner Kings album?
A: I hope and believe that everyone and anyone that’s into heavy rock in general, and especially the diehard metalheads out there, will find something intriguing and captivating here. One thing is for sure; the stoner rock faithful will sure get a new bone to chew on with this one!
Q: What market sectors and countries would you see this third Stoner Kings album resonating in most of all? Thanks for your time and kudos for the good work on this upcoming album!
A: I believe that central and southern Europe, as well as Japan and the USA, would be best suited for this new Stoner Kings material. But even moreso, I believe that stoner rock bands worldwide will take influences from this upcoming album after hearing it, regardless of where they come from.
Stoner Kings at Sonic Pump with Alexi Laiho from Children of Bodom (photo by Marko Simonen)

Stoner Kings mug with Alexi Laiho from Children Of Bodom (middle) as well as Eero and Hannu at Sonic Pump Studios in Helsinki (photo: Marko Simonen)

I’ve been a performing musician for the past 19 years, and as such I’ve enjoyed a modicum of adventure and success around the world.

My own baby is a band I created back in 2000, which I called Stoner Kings. The name is a takeoff on Josh Homme’s Queens Of The Stone Age band, which I found to have an absurdly contradictory name back in the day. “If there’s a queen, there must also be a king!” I mused to myself. And alas, in my personal bravado and grandeur, I auspiciously called my own heavy rock outfit, complete with chunky, grooving riffs and heavy drums beats, Stoner Kings.

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STONER KINGS 2018

We released our debut album back in 2001, entitled Brimstone Blues. At the time, I felt like I had conquered the world. It was my maiden voyage, with my very own crew, me, the captain of the ship. Sure, I had been in a band prior to this, but it was someone else’s ship. I was just a crew member. With Stoner Kings, it was mine, all mine.

We went through the ups and downs, trudged the roads of trial and tribulation, met adversity from those others might have deemed “brothers” in our chosen genre, were kicked off stage in the middle of a particular set, and traveled Europe together. It was a brilliant time, one I wouldn’t trade for anything.

In 2006, we released our sophomore effort, entitled Fuck The World. I was pissed off, angry at our detractors and tired of smacking our heads against the glass ceiling. In Finland, it was a small circle of inside members, and if you weren’t hip with the big boys, then you weren’t playing ball. I bucked the system with FTW, gave as good as we got and then some. That said, we did pretty good with FTW domestically in Finland, although we failed to make a bigger imprint with it globally.

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Eero Kaukomies and Hannu Leidén

In 2007-2008, Stoner Kings went through some major upheaval. All the guys in the band got overhauled and changed, except for Yours Truly, Captain StarBuck. It was a tumultuous time, one that saw a very disjointed and wavering adaption of Stoner Kings. It wasn’t going to last and it didn’t. At the end of 2008, I called it quits and hung it up with my baby.

I engaged in different bands after Stoner Kings, finding solace in other musical endeavors and efforts. Yet, deep down, I knew Stoner Kings was my brainchild. It was my imprint, for better or worse. You can’t run from who you are and you can’t bullshit yourself. And so it was, that at the end of 2016, I felt the urge become undeniable. I reformed Stoner Kings, complete with my my original drummer Janne Kontoniemi, 2007-2008 bassist Rude Rothstén and a young, hungry guitarist named Joonas Vepsä.

dav

Alexi Laiho (Children of Bodom) lends a hand to one of our new songs with a mean lead & solo!

I had a vision. I had unrealized songs hidden away in my musical drawer, just begging to be released. Songs I had written in part 15 years earlier. They were ready, awaiting to be incarnated on tape. Other tunes had been spawned within the past few years. Yes, I was still churning out the only kind of rock that I knew how to make with my eyes closed. Chunky, heavy, groovy, catchy, riff-laden, attitude-infested raw rock. The kind that cavemen would dig. Primal. Animalistic. Simple.

And so it was that over the past year, from the fall of 2017 to the fall of 2018, we did our due diligence in the studio. We performed and laid down recordings over three separate sessions in order to focus our energies on writing a quartet of songs at a time. We got serious. Driven.

Now, here in the autumn of 2018, on a Monday tagged October 8, we brought our newest Stoner Kings incarnation of an album to a successful close. We mastered the thing at Chartmakers West in Espoo, Finland, under the auspices of Svante Forsbäck. Our producer Hannu Leidén and our sound engineer and mixer Eero Kaukomies stood by with us as we finalized the deal. It was a group effort, and we all shared in the thrill of the kill.

dav

Svante Forsbäck puts the final mastering touches on our new album today.

So alas, here we are now, with a complete, finished third Stoner Kings album in hand. Even in today’s desperately crappy record label jungle, I’ll still shop this doozy around to see if any possible players are game out there. Knowing the nature of the game and dire numbers of physical album sales, I’m not holding my breath for any miracles. Nonetheless, I’ll do my best on behalf of my baby. I believe staunchly in the product we’ve created and it’s an absolute killer in my ears.

Soon, very soon, you’ll hear it, too.

Remember the name: Stoner Kings.

Returning from what had to be one of the best tours I’ve ever had of Japan, I can only be grateful and happy for the experiences I enjoyed in The Land Of The Rising Sun between September 22-30.

First and foremost, I want to thank my friends Dr. Hiroaki Terasaki, Mayumi Miyazawa and Fumi Saito for making this trip truly memorable.  In addition, thanks to promoter Jimmy Suzuki of Tokyo Championship Wrestling, Masa Anchan, ASUKA Project, my old tag partner Akira Nogami, Yoshitake Hatada and his wife for the hospitality afforded to both me and my wife, Diana, on this trip.

In the first match that I had on September 24, I tagged with UTAMARO against Mitoshichi Shinose and Shota Nakagawa, the latter of whom was still reffing for WNC back in 2014 when I was in Japan last.  We beat our opposition after I pinned Shinose following my world-famous spike piledriver to score the win for our team at ASUKA Project’s event in Tokyo.

On September 27, I tagged with UTAMARO once again to face the duo of my age-old rival Yoshihiro Tajiri and my former Synapse teammate Yusuke Kodama.  This was the main event for Tokyo Championship Wrestling’s big event at Shinjuku Face Arena on a show that featured 50 wrestlers in total.  Sabu vs. Masato Tanaka vs. Yuko Miyamoto in a hardcore Triple Threat was also one of the feature matches at the event with Atsushi Onita of FMW fame refereeing.

In our TCW Shinjuku showdown, we fought like spirited dogs of war, ending the battle when Tajiri nailed UTAMARO with his infamous Buzzsaw Kick to the head, claiming the win for his team.  Regardless of our past rivalry, Tajiri extended his hand after the match and raised my arm in a show of respect and mutual admiration as the Tokyo crowd ate it up.

Thanks once again, Japan!  This has been a truly memorable trip and here I share some of the moments with you in photos.