Archive for the ‘Professional Wrestling’ Category

There comes a time in every man’s life, when he looks at what he has accomplished and accumulated to this point and what lies beyond, yet to pursue.  I found that when I hit the pivotal age of forty back in 2013, I took stock of my life at large and contemplated the brevity and breadth of it all.

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When you step back and take a look at your life from the outside, you can assess things at face value for what they are and what they have meant. (Photo: Hannu Eskelinen)

Forty is like a half-way marker.  It’s a brutal, unforgiving assessment of what is, for real.  It’s half-way to eighty, and eighty is an age that spells pretty much the end of one’s life here on Planet Earth.

I look back at the greatest, single influence on my pro wrestling career early on, “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, the 16-time world heavyweight champion in our grand game of professional wrestling.  I recall the year 1990, when Flair was wrestling against Lex Luger at a WCW (World Championship Wrestling) pay-per-view event called WrestleWar ’90, that it also happened to be on his birthday.  The announcers tried to sell it as if it was Flair’s 40th birthday, when in reality, it was his 41st.  Nonetheless, I remember this detail speaking to me in volume even back then.

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When I started my pro wrestling career, I always asked myself “What would the ‘Naitch do?”

My old friend Chris Jericho currently wrestles for WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) as their US Champion, a belt that he will be defending against fellow Canadian grappler Kevin Owens next weekend on April 2nd at Wrestlemania 33.  Jericho is about three years my senior, now age 46.  He’s still doing well, hanging in there at the top of his game, arguably on one of his last runs with the company.  I applaud him.  He’s done very well, staying in shape and being able to connect with a changing audience and parlay his character across various generations of wrestling fans.  Yet, the end is drawing nigh, even for my old pal Y2J, simply based on age.

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When I started my pro wrestling career in Calgary, Canada in 1994, they used to call me Jericho Jr.  Really, I didn’t mind.  Chris has done incredibly well in the business, and I’m happy for him.

Now, back to my original point: the things left to pursue in one’s chosen career or life path.  Tallinn, Estonia was such a waypoint for me personally this past weekend, the reason being that the event I took part in was a professional boxing card.

For the longest time, since the onset of my personal pro wrestling career, I’ve been fighting to defend the credibility of my fighting art, called professional wrestling.  There have always been detractors and shit-talkers and there always will be.  Still, I have always felt compelled to defend the honor of my business, which many see as a faux sport.  Like one of my early role models, Bret “Hitman” Hart, said in his autobiography some years back, “It seems as though I’ve been defending professional wrestling my entire life.”

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Bret Hart and Ric Flair slugging it out back in 1992 in the World Wrestling Federation.

For me, I’ve always prided myself on being legitimate when I step into the ring.  I take my sport seriously.  Regardless of how many people – some contemporaries included – have prostituted and bastardized our trade, for me, I’ve always strived to take the higher road of credibility.  I’ve gone the extra mile and fought tooth and nail to retain integrity in the believability of professional wrestling.  For me, it’s a matter of professional pride.

Being able to parlay my skills and take part in the Warrior Fight Series 1 event this past Saturday night in Tallinn, Estonia on March 25 was a true milestone for me.  It was history in the making.

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Photographer Karli Saul captures my ring entrance in Estonia in dazzling colors.

I was able to step into the ring in front of a virgin audience, engage them and win them over, making believers in the process, as I fought against a true athletic stud in Vladimir Kulakov of Russia.  This was an international match of epic proportions: the time-tested, world-traveled ring veteran against the younger Russian pro wrestling champion and a literal wolverine amongst his peers.  It was action and reaction, just as professional wrestling should be, in front of an audience that was there with an open mind, ready to make their initial assessment of the grappling game that is professional wrestling.  It was an ambitious endeavor to win over a new fan base and build where no one else had built or wandered before.

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Photographer Martin Ahven gets a good shot of the intensity of my match with Kulakov.

It is in this – venturing out into new, uncharted territories – that I take personal gratification in at this stage of my pro wrestling career.  I pioneered the business in Finland back in 2003 along with promoter Patrik Pesola, which launched an entire scene in the country.  My hallmark is set in stone as the most successful professional wrestler ever out of the Nordics and the northern sector of Europe.  My track record globally attests to that claim, and my championship reigns worldwide, along with my lengthy list of name opposition all around the world support that argument.  Now, I need a new mountain to climb.  A new challenge to contest.

Tallinn was the beginning of another chapter in my personal pro wrestling career.  I want to thank the promoter of EST Boxing, Mr. Grinkin, for having the faith to present pro wrestling on his card.  I want to also thank the Estonian media at large for covering the match to the degree that it has received media attention, which you can see e.g. from the link below:

http://sport.delfi.ee/news/voitlussport/poks/delfi-video-esmakordselt-eestis-ameerika-wrestlingu-sou-naerutas-tondiraba-publikut?id=77670846

Every one of us has the chance to build our own legacy in whatever our chosen endeavor is.  The true question is, how much heart do you really have to pursue your ambitions and goals, turning your dreams into a reality?

Life is short.  Make yours spectacular.

 

The news was just released officially this week that I would be facing my former protégé Mikko Maestro at the annual flagship supershow in Finnish professional wrestling, Talvisota XI – which translates to Winter War 11 – this coming February 18 at the Nosturi club in Helsinki, as promoted by FCF Wrestling.

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I was there at the inaugural Winter War on December 2, 2006 – an event that I coined and created back in the day to be the Finnish wrestling equivalent of Wrestlemania – and here I am over a decade later, turning another page.

This match-up against Maestro is significant on a few levels.  Firstly, it’s arguably the biggest match to date in the six-year career of young Maestro.  Secondly, I took the kid under my wing back in early 2013 to groom him for the years ahead, seeing that his charisma was catching on with the Finnish wrestling audience.  This made him my protégé, a pet project that I invested considerable time and coaching into, and Maestro finally was able to up the ante and make a breakthrough in 2016 against top competition like Ivan Markov of Russia, Mark Kodiak of Holland, Swedish champion Harley Rage and Heimo the Wildman here in Finland.  Thirdly, Maestro has shown himself to be ambitious in the fact that he has gone on to countries like Denmark, Germany and the USA to gain more experience.  This last bit is something I’d like to elaborate on.

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Maestro was able to defeat Heimo the Wildman in a Last Man Standing match at Talvisota X in March 2016, which gave him major momentum.

Every talent out there with any inkling of ambition will take the chance to spread their wings and test their mettle in the shark-infested waters of global pro wrestling.  Many young wrestlers will end up having to pay their own way just to get exposure, build a resume and get noticed, as they build up their personal value in order for a booker or promoter out there to invest in them.  If they are lucky, and to any degree own a moderate modicum of talent, they will be able to make headway in a very convoluted age in their aspirations to become stars in the world of pro wrestling.

Maestro has shown ambition.  He has gone out there and found a way to get noticed and get booked where other contemporaries, even those with greater in-ring talent, have fallen short.  Maestro has shown heart, even over-ambition at times, if you ask me.  Nonetheless, he’s been able to consistently climb the ladder rung by rung.  That brings us to Talvisota XI / Winter War 11 on February 18.

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Mikko Maestro wrestling a marquee bout in California during 2015.

As with any young talent, everyone has role models that they aspire to pattern themselves after and learn from.  At the start of my pro wrestling career in 1994, my biggest influence was Ric Flair.  I believe that for many of my generation, growing up a teen in the 1980s, Ric Flair was the consummate pro to look up to, if you had any understanding of the complete package that made a pro wrestler.  For the Millenials to a large degree, that role model became Shawn Michaels and a bit later on The Rock and Stone Cold.  In Finland, for many, including one Mikko Maestro, that role model was StarBuck, the founding father of Finnish pro wrestling.

I recall a young Mikko Maestro back around 2009, when I was cycling near Munkkiniemi Beach in Helsinki.  It was there that I ran into the kid for the first time.  As I was riding by, getting in my cardio, Maestro recognized me as he walked down the street and yelled out “StarBuck!”.  I simply smiled, recognizing his fanship, and kept on cycling. One year later, he showed up for wrestling schooling.

As a mentor, I took Mikko Maestro as high as I could.  The rest, of course, was all up to him.  At the Winter War event in 2013, I took Maestro as my tag partner for a heated, key match-up against Stark Adder and his protégé, Ricky Vendetta.  The vet and the pup against the vet and the pup, as it was, back then.  It was the starting point for my on-hands mentorship of one Mikko Maestro.

Time passed, Maestro gained experience and confidence, and alas, in September of last year, he made a bold challenge.  Mikko Maestro wanted to publicly challenge the man that taught him, the role model that he aspired to pattern his career after, and see if he was up to the task.  I figured this day would eventually come, but I don’t think Mikko Maestro is anywhere near ready to take on the old war dog yet.  He still has some miles to go before he can realistically hang at my level, and believe me when I tell you: he’s going to need all the help he can get, ‘cos the fans and their cheers won’t make a bit of difference when he finds himself overwhelmed by 23 years of ring experience on the other end of the spectrum.

Well, when he last needed my help, I was there.  But… he didn’t listen.  At the crucial, key point in Maestro’s match against Ivan Markov of Russia in December of last year, the kid chose to disrespect the deal that we had set forth going into the match.  In short, he went into business for himself, disregarding his coach, and pulled out his ridiculous, asinine “stinkface” maneuver, which he found funny enough to rip off of WWE Hall of Famer, Rikishi.  In a serious match-setting, where a killer like the Russian Markov was present, I expressly told Maestro to leave the gimmicks, bells and whistles at home.  But no.  He had to take the forbidden fruit.  He had to dally out onto thin ice.  He had to do things his own way.  And it was at that point, that I disowned Mikko Maestro as a protégé.

There comes a time in life when every person is going to have to stand on their own, no supports and no crutches to be had.  This is that time for Mikko Maestro.  At Talvisota XI, my former protégé is going to find out that legends don’t die, they just get better with age.

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Tickets 28€/22,50€ (all ages) to Talvisota XI on Feb. 18 at Nosturi in Helsinki available online now: http://www.ticketmaster.fi/event/197193

To all, there comes a time when the support structures that you’ve long held, which assist you in whatever your chosen endeavor might be, are taken away.  Times when you have to learn to dig deeper than ever before to be able to stand on your own.  After all, your parents are not going to hold your hand forever to keep you from falling down.  Neither will your coach.

This past Saturday night at FCF Wrestling’s Wrestling Show Live: December Rumble in Helsinki, such an example took place in the battle of Finland vs. Russia, where my protégé Mikko Maestro took on Ivan “Locomotive” Markov in one of the marquee match-ups.

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Ivan Markov proved hard to take down for Mikko Maestro.

 

Prior to the match, Maestro had implored me to step into his corner and coach him through this, the biggest match of his five-year professional wrestling career.  Maestro had long been on his own, after I took him on as my personal pet project in early 2013, and he had done pretty well for himself, especially after catching fire this year.  Maestro has been on a roll since defeating “Wildman” Heimo Ukonselkä at FCF’s premiere annual supershow, Talvisota X (Winter War 10) this past March.  Maestro stood strong in his battles with the likes of Swedish wrestling champion Harley Rage and even managed to defeat Dutch wrestling champion Mark Kodiak on Finnish soil in September this year.

Yet, as December 10, 2016 inched ever closer, Mikko Maestro understood he was up against something that he wasn’t sure he was ready for.  So he enlisted his former coach, Yours Truly, to help prep him and coach him through the match he would have against Ivan Markov at WSL: December Rumble.  After all, I am the man that defeated Markov in the first-ever pro wrestling match-up between Finland and Russia, which took place last year, so who better to approach for advice than myself?

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Photographer Jarmo Katila captures one of the many nasty predicaments during the match.

I accepted, with one condition and one condition only.  This was that Maestro leave behind his ridiculous stinkface spot, which serves absolutely no purpose other than to get a rise out of the audience when he smothers his backside into an opponents face in the ring corner.  Me personally, I find this spot to be stupid beyond description and totally unnecessary, especially when it comes to winning matches and staying alive in the heat of battle against a verifiable killer like Ivan Markov.

Well, in their ensuing match this past Saturday night in Helsinki, Mikko Maestro went against our set agreement, and at the opportune time, he did his stinkface anyway.  He simply couldn’t be without it, and he let the audience get to his head.  He wanted to play superstar and he went into business for himself.

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This ended up costing Mikko Maestro dearly.  I grabbed his foot to get his attention at ringside, scolding him for the disrespect that he showed me, as his coach, by doing exactly the thing that we had agreed that he would not do.  This was his death knell.  Ivan Markov capitalized and blasted Maestro with a scintillating discus forearm blow that knocked his Finnish opposition for damn near into dreamland.  One powerbomb later, Russia scored the decisive victory.

I stepped into the ring and contemplated what had just happened.  Of course, the people and even Maestro himself would blame me for the downfall.  That is what victims do.  They victimize themselves.  Me personally, I see this as an action and a direct consequence.  Every action bares a consequence, and Mikko Maestro’s disobedience cost him the match.  Simply put, he didn’t deserve to win.  Had he listened and abided by the game plan, we very well might have had a different outcome.  But Mikko Maestro has to look into the mirror this time and see the truth for himself.

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Maestro is on his own.  He errantly challenged me in his over-exuberance to a match earlier this year,  after defeating Holland’s brutish Mark Kodiak.  He can blame it on the heat of the moment or what have you, it doesn’t matter.  The bottom line is, he got my attention.

He wants to see if he can defeat his mentor and coach.  I understand that, it’s part of the development of every young lion.  But this time, Maestro is going to come to understand that he is still not ready to make good against a tried and true veteran like myself, because simply… he is not good enough yet.

Talvisota XI on February 18, 2017 at the Nosturi club in Helsinki will be the day when Mikko Maestro has his date with destiny.

Start counting down the time…

It’s been a good two-and-a-half years plus since I last wrestled in Germany, but that gets rectified tomorrow night in Wittorf, Deutschland!

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It’s DWA (Deutsche Wrestling Allianz) Harley Night XVI – Double or Nothing!  Let’s see who ends up facing “The Rebel” tomorrow night…

Man, this one has been a long time in the coming… on Friday, Nov. 18, I will travel to Randers, Denmark to take on my old, storied Danish rival, Chaos, inside of a 16-foot high steel cage!

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Chaos and I have an extensive past as adversaries, stemming back to 2009.  We have spilled each others blood, beaten each other black and blue and done a lot of damage to one another.  Both of us represent the veteran guard of our respective pro wrestling cultures in Denmark and Finland, making this a feud of Baltic and Nordic proportions.  We are literally the standard-bearers of our trade in our respective countries.  Two warring leader wolves, looking to out-do the other.

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In 2009, the Street Fight match Chaos and I had left both of us busted up.

Last summer in Denmark, the DPW (Danish Pro Wrestling) organization dropped my booked match against Chaos and instead, opted to put Ken Andersson of TNA fame (Mr. Kennedy in WWE) in my stead.  Then, they simply positioned me as a guest referee in that match, to add insult to injury.  Well, as you might expect, I took exception and laced into Chaos with a timely superkick at an opportune moment late in has match, leaving him a prone duck to be pinned by Anderson, as I counted to three.

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Annulling my match and putting me in there as a guest referee was not smart of DPW…

At Talvisota X (Winter War 10) in Helsinki, Finland this past March, I faced Chaos in a No-DQ grudge match, following the events in Randers last summer.  In Helsinki, Chaos beat me within in inch of my life, ambushing me from behind with a steel chair as I made my ring entrance.  I literally fought for my life inside of the ring that night, and managed to even walk away with a victory after delivering a devastating spike piledriver to my opponent.

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Our last match was off the charts intense! (photo: Marko Simonen)

Now, on November 18, things come full-circle.  Chaos and I lock horns inside of an unforgiving steel cage on his turf in Denmark.  Both of us will fight like dogs, I am assured of that.  I know things will get violent and I am prepared to sweat, bleed and pay the price, to quote the legendary “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, so that I will be able to walk out of that cage with my hand raised in victory.

Chaos, you asked for the beating you are about to receive this coming Friday!

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I never thought I’d come to this day. A day when I write about politics, which is something I have no belief nor trust in. But alas, Donald Trump winning the 45th Presidency of the United States of America warrants a blog of its own, even from a non-believer like me.

First and foremost, I write this because of Donald Trump’s ties to the world of professional wrestling; an industry that I have been an integral part of since 1992. Going all the way back to 1988 and 1989, Donald Trump’s very own Trump Plaza in Atlantic City (NJ) hosted WWE’s Wrestlemania IV and V events.

This was Trump’s first foray into the grappling world, which would parlay into a full-blown role for him at Wrestlemania 23 in 2007 with ”The Battle of the Billionaires”, as Trump went head-to-head with WWE boss Vince McMahon, fronted by their chosen advocates Bobby Lashley and the late Umaga, respectively. Trump has actually appeared on WWE television several times over the past few years, even owning Monday Night RAW (in storyline) for a brief moment.  In addition, Trump was voted in to the WWE Hall of Fame celebrity wing in 2013.

So with this in mind, I would like to break down a little bit about the psychology of the latest Presidential race and how over-the-top it was in all aspects, across the board, between Hilary and Trump.

First and foremost, if anyone was paying attention, everything Donald Trump said and did during his Presidential campaign was straight out of a WWE playbook. The WWE creative staff could have booked and penned this entire run, and it would have played out exactly like it did. From Trump not even having a background in politics (raise your hat to the man for that) to becoming the decisive underdog early on, having the Republican Party that he represented all but leave him for dead, Donald Trump fought the system and won. This was a Wrestlemania-worthy payoff.

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Everything about Donald Trump screams professional wrestling. From his swagger to his verbatim, Trump has learned his lessons from the showbiz world and has mastered his approach. He didn’t flinch a single time during his campaign run, regardless of the mass amount of hostile and derogatory flames thrown his way. He laughed it all off, held his head high and spearheaded straight for the goal. He was the ultimate anti-hero, akin to ”Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s infamous WWE run on top. He was cocky, confrontational, devil-may-care in his approach. He went Spinal Tap with what he did and he still won. Somebody hand this man a show of respect only for the aforementioned here!

Trump’s campaign and his Presidential election reminds me of Ridley Scott’s 2000 classic The Gladiator movie and the interaction between the aging Ceasar and his general, Maximus (Russel Crowe). Take a look at the clip below and you will see my point.

I find it truly remarkable, that a man with no background in politics took the Presidency of the United States. Perhaps there is still hope. The hope that Trump has not (yet) been poisoned by the politics of corporate America and Washington makes one wonder if there is somehow a way to still turn this ship around. And I am talking about the ship of the common man, the blue collar worker, the middle class citizen of the world.

In the last Bush-era, they finagled a way to redistribute wealth by taking away the homes of the middle class and put them in the hands of the banking system. Over the course of the Obama administration, the big businesses have benefited tremendously while the middle class has kept on disappearing into oblivion. The rich have consistently gotten richer while the poor have gotten consistently poorer. There has been no Robin Hood to tip the scales of justice and ”stick it to the man.”

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Is Donald Trump the new coming of Robin Hood?

One can only hope.

Even if you – like I – don’t believe in politics, we can still suspend our disbelief… like watching a good WWE main event match, hoping that maybe… maybe there is a chance that the shit is going to get real. In a good way.

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On July 29 at Ropecon (Role-Playing Convention), to be held at the Helsinki Expo and Exhibition Center, I will take on my Spandex Sapiens arch-rival, the gender-bending Jessica Love one last time.  I say one last time because this time, I will stamp out my opponent for good.

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Be there when the last bell chimes.

Last time we fought, at the LGBT crowd’s Eurogames on July 1 in Helsinki, I broke Jessica Love’s arm.  Like the old saying goes about a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest, so it goes with Jessica Love in a fist-fight.  Now, I wouldn’t put it past my adversary to show up with arm in sling, because Jessica is just that thick in the head, daring to brave danger head-on.  Actually, that is quite admirable.  But it will also prove to be Jessica Love’s downfall on July 29.

Now, a lot of people are still asking why, much like Anakin Skywalker turning into Darth Vader, why did StarBuck turn to the dark side?  I find this quite amusing actually.

I said this at the Eurogames event on the microphone in front of the masses, and I will say it here again: I didn’t turn my back on anybody.  I have stood for traditional, straight, masculine values as long as I have been around.  Certainly, my entire media career I have toted the same line and stood for the same, unwavering cause.  I have never flinched or backed down, even in the face of adversity and backlash.  Now, in 2016, when my movie Spandex Sapiens came out, people had a chance to take and pick a side.  You could either side with my counterpart, the transgender, liberal, Jessica Love, or you could side with a real man in the iconic, conservative StarBuck.  It was really a simple choice.  Whatever resonated with you and your world, you could freely choose black or white, left or right.  And the people chose Jessica Love.

Looking back, I can say that I have not changed at all.  I have stayed the course.  Society and the flavor of the day has changed.  I have lived long enough as the hero to see myself become the villain.  The people have chosen.  The people have spoken.

So it is now, on July 29 at Ropecon, that I will do what a vigilante and lone wolf would do in terms of personal agenda.  I will put down, once and for all, the ambiguous hero of your modern day liberal Finland and western world at large.  I will trample underfoot Jessica Love for the final time, arm in a sling and all.  And I will do it without remorse.

You, the audience, have given rise to the anti-hero.  Now deal with it.

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Spandex Sapiens movie theater showtimes this week:

Helsinki: Tennispalatsi
July 19, Tuesday 18:15

Tampere: Arthouse Cinema Niagara
July 21, Thursday 20:30