Posts Tagged ‘Dave Finlay’

One week from today, it’ll be time to lace up the proverbial boots and step into the pro wrestling ring for the first match of 2016.  Just this past week, on January 7, I passed my 22-year mark since my first live wresting match as an active competitor.  Now, here in 2016, this old dog is still alive and kicking.

Hell, I’m sure there are some that would just wish an old warhorse like me would die out and fade away, but that just ain’t happening.  Not yet.  I will be the one to dictate when and where, barring serious injury or an Act of God.

side buck

There are days that I wonder how long I will want to keep up actively wrestling.  There is a limit to all things, a bump card that keeps filling up, and every year, I just have to find a way to wrestle smarter and navigate better.  It’s a challenge, but one that I embrace.  After all, at heart, I am a fighter.

At 42-years of age, I look at many contemporaries in our business and size myself up against them.  Old friends like Chris Jericho are a mere couple years older than me, and still in good stride, able to compete at the highest level.  My old wrestling coach Lance Storm of Storm Wrestling Academy in Calgary, Canada, gets in the ring daily with his wrestling students and has actual matches against them to help them improve, and Lance is three years my senior.  Heck, when I lost the SMASH championship title to Dave “Fit” Finlay in 2011 in Tokyo, the legendary Irishman was just over 50 at that point, and he ran me ragged!

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Dave Finlay was an absolute beast inside of that ring past the age of 50!

Alas, here in 2016, I sit at my desktop computer, writing this blog, and I ponder my own situation.  I’ve been at this grappling game for a good number of years now, putting in the miles, flying here and there, up against the best competition around the globe.  I look at a guy like Keiji Muto in Japan, a man whom I look up to greatly for his legacy and longevity in our business, and see how beat up his knees are past the age of 50 now.  I think of guys like Triple H, in his mid-40s now, wrestling a very limited schedule, with only a few shots a year at most.  And then there is The Undertaker, who continues to hang on, also grappling a mere few times a year, as everyone asks when his last Wrestlemania moment will be.

As a veteran, it’s hard to hang it up, because at the heart of it all, we are all fans of this game.  Look at Terry Funk, the legendary old NWA World champion and hardcore wrestling legend.  He could never exorcise the wrestler out of his system, and the number of his announced “retirements” has been baffling.  That’s because Terry Funk loves pro wrestling.  Just like the other veterans out there, who refuse to die out and fade away.

I recall Bret “Hitman” Hart saying in his autobiography, that he never wanted anyone to see him wrestle as an old fart, past his due date.  I can relate to that, as it becomes a matter of personal pride in your own legacy and accomplishments.  You don’t want to be in a place where you are just a shell of what you used to be at your prime.  As long as you can produce top-notch matches and carry your personal piece of business with your head held high, I say go.  Don’t let anyone stop you.

And so it is in 2016, that 22 years into the pro wrestling game, I look at the date of January 16 at the Pressa Club in Helsinki.  I look at the match I will have that night and the tag team partner that I am paired with that evening: Stark Adder.

Adder is another veteran, a year older than Yours Truly, but equally a warhorse of high fortitude and morale that keeps the flame alive.  We’ve fought each other numerous times over the past decade, and we have nothing but the highest mutual respect for one another.

Now, on January 16, Adder and I will join forces to do battle with Adder’s former tag team partner and ex-protege, Ricky Vendetta, and his partner, FCF champion, Valentine.  This is a huge tag match on paper, a monumental bout that will see Adder and Vendetta lock horns for the first time since Vendetta turned on his former mentor about a half-year ago.

I warmly welcome you all out to Helsinki on January 16 to see what very well may be deemed as “The Veteran’s League”, as we clash with the kind of opposition that will surely translate into a classic match at the Pressa Club in Helsinki, with a showtime start of 18:00 and doors opening at 17:30, tickets 20e/person.

valentinericky_adderbuck

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I have really been blessed in my wrestling career over the past few years, after making it big in Japan, becoming a name and draw there in 2010.  I have had a load of fantastic matches during my time in the “Land of the Rising Sun”, bringing back the old school approach in my wrestling style to the Japanese fans, perhaps bringing to mind the golden days of acclaimed names in our business such as Harley Race, Ted DiBiase and Dick Murdoch between the 1970s – 1980s.

StarBuck vs Nishimura

In January 2011, I was voted by the readership of Weekly Pro Wrestling magazine as having the Match of the Year for 2010 in the SMASH organization against “The Japanese Buzzsaw” TAJIRI (from Nov. 22, 2010), and the runner-up ballot went to my match vs. AKIRA (from Sept. 24, 2010).  In 2012, the readership of Weekly Pro Wrestling magazine voted me as MVP of the Year in SMASH, plus I won the accolade for Match of the Year for 2011 in SMASH once again, this time against Dave “Fit” Finlay (from Nov. 24, 2011).

Here I offer up promos and videos of my personal favorite matches from Japan, which I have contested over the past three years.  Enjoy!

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StarBuck vs. AKIRA:

StarBuck vs. TAJIRI:

StarBuck vs. Genechiro Tenryu

StarBuck, TAJIRI, AKIRA vs. Keiji Mutoh, Shuji Kondo, BUSHI

StarBuck, AKIRA, Syuri (Team Synapse) vs. TAJIRI, Hajime Ohara, Kana

On December 27 in Tokyo, Japan, history will be made as my SYNAPSE teammates AKIRA and Syuri vie for the WNC (Wrestling New Classic) Men’s Championship and WNC Women’s Championship respectively.

triad at gym

First off, I must say I am damn proud of my SYNAPSE partners, who more than deserve the top spots in Japanese professional wrestling, as champions.  AKIRA has wrestled an active career nearing 30-years in the business, and to this day he is one of the best in the country of Japan.  Syuri has worked her ass off to become one of the brightest female combatants in Japanese rings since her debut in 2010, also successfully doubling as an competitive kickboxer.

TRIAD collage

When AKIRA, Syuri and I joined forces to form SYNAPSE this past summer, we had a common agenda and end goal in mind: Total dominance.  It was clear from the onset, that we would go on to rule the wrestling world in Japan as a unit, and our united front has proven to be an awesome force to this day in all of our matches, both in terms of singles matches and tag team bouts.

This past October, I took part in the opening round of the WNC title tournament, losing in very controversial fashion to my former FCF teammate Hajime Ohara in a violent and spiteful encounter.  This marked Ohara’s first-ever win over me, and it also sent him straight into the semi-finals of the tournament.  AKIRA and Syuri also won both of their opening round matches, advancing to the semis last month in Tokyo, where AKIRA downed former ECW Champion Tommy Dreamer and Syuri defeated FCF Wrestling’s gender bender Jessica Love.

AKIRA vs Dreamer by Kengo Takahashi 01

AKIRA applies his Old Boy submission stretch on Tommy Dreamer (photo by Kengo Takahashi)

Now on December 27 at the infamous Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, the final round in the WNC title tournament sees AKIRA up against SYNAPSE arch-nemesis TAJIRI, as Syuri does battle with team DQN’s Nagisa Nozaki.  New champions will be crowned in those matches, and history will be written.

Last year, when SMASH held its championship finals in the men’s and women’s divisions, I faced TAJIRI in the men’s final and defeated him to become the first-ever SMASH Champion in history.  One month earlier, Kana defeated Syuri to become the first-ever SMASH Diva Champion.   I would go on to lose the SMASH Championship to Dave “Fit” Finlay in November 2011, whereas Syuri would get her comeuppance over Kana, winning the SMASH Diva Championship in February of this year, right before SMASH ceased operations.

Syuri (photo by Kazu Yanagi)

Syuri (photo by Kazu Yanagi)

I would have personally loved to have been able to make it to the finals of the WNC title tournament, but as the saying goes, “United we stand, divided we fall.”  In so saying, I can only wish for the best of luck to both AKIRA and to Syuri, both of whom I respect very much as teammates and competitors.  They are worthy of the gold.

I just arrived back home from Tokyo a few, scant hours ago.  Yesterday, I took part in the gigantic SMASH.25 event at TDC Hall in Tokyo, teaming with FCF wrestlers Hajime Ohara and Jessica Love to face the ZERO1 trio of Masato Tanaka, Shinjiro Otani and Ikuto Hidaka.  In a fast and furious match, Tanaka scored the pinfall over Jessica Love with his sliding elbow strike in 12:40.  In the main event of the card, hard-nosed ring veteran Dave “Fit” Finlay retained the SMASH Championship (which he won from me on Nov. 24, 2011) defeating “The Japanese Buzzsaw” Tajiri in one of the most credible and awesome professional wrestling matches that I have EVER seen live in my life.  Also, Syuri finally defeated Kana for the SMASH Diva Championship in another absolutely stellar ladies match, that has to be seen to be believed.

Ohara also took Jessica and myself to eat at NOAH & PRIDE wrestler Yoshihiro Takayama‘s yakitori (chicken) Stomach Hold restaurant, which I must say has a brilliant name when you consider the fact that it is owned by a wrestler.  I had the pleasure of meeting the boss himself, who was a very friendly big man, along with his wife Natsuko, who helps run the place.  For anyone traveling to Tokyo, be sure to check out Stomach Hold, you will love the food there!

Hajime Ohara, Yoshihiro Takayama and StarBuck (photo: Satomi Kanau)

I also visited the world-famous Ribera Steak House in Tokyo with my Japanese friend Mr. Terasaki, and was pleasantly surprised to see my photo posted on their wall of fame alongside wrestling greats such as Bruiser Brody, Stan Hansen, The Funks, Dick Murdoch, Hulk Hogan and a slew of others.  All I can say is that it was a very humbling experience to join such esteemed company, knowing the significance of Ribera in the wrestling world.  The boss of Ribera even gave me a new black Ribera jacket as a present on this visit, and every wrestler worth his weight knows that those jackets are given like medals of honor to those who wear them.

Me with Veneno from Mexico at the SMASH.25 afterparty (photo: Shinobu Tanaka)

At the SMASH.25 afterparty, I was once again presented with gifts from the Japanese fans.  Among the items I received were seven DVD album box set releases, given to me my my superfan Mayumi, and a stunning framed portrait of my SMASH Championship win from October 2011, given by superfan Masa.  I must say that there is absolutely no other place on Earth that I am aware of, where the fans make the wrestlers feel like larger-than-life icons through their actions, such as noted above.  Just one more reason why Japan is indeed the #1 country for pro wrestling in the world, bar none, in my humble opinion.

Pointing to my photo on the wall of Ribera

I was also pleasantly surprised to see Finnish press from STT (www.stt.fi), who were at ringside shooting the FCF vs. ZERO1 match for Finnish media coverage.  This came totally out of the blue, as I received an email upon landing in Japan from the STT people, claiming they had seen the article on me in Finnair‘s Blue Wings magazine, and of course SMASH.25 was plugged in that piece.  They got in contact with the SMASH office, received accreditation, and were part of the official press crew at the event.  In addition, members of the Finnish Embassy in Japan were on hand, rooting for FCF Wrestling, which was very cool indeed.

Next up, Winter War VI (Talvisota VI) on Saturday, Feb. 25 in Helsinki, where I face Finnhammer Halme as part of a huge card.  Talisota VI will be topped off by the first-ever TLC (Tables, Ladders & Chairs match) in Finnish history between gender bending fan favorite Jessica Love and the huge human tank Ibo Ten, and FCF Champion “Wildman” Heimo Ukonselkä defends his title against bad boy and media darling Johnny McMetal.  Eight matches altogether at Talvisota VI on Feb. 25, so be a part of the biggest show of the year in Finland this coming Saturday!

Buy your tickets online through http://www.wrestling.fi or get them at the door!

I am very happy to announce that this week I will be returning to Japan for the first time since losing the SMASH Championship to Dave Finlay back at the end of November 2011.

On Sunday, February 19 at TDC Hall in Tokyo, I will team up with FCF Wrestling representatives Jessica Love and Hajime Ohara to take on the Zero1 contingent of Masato Tanaka, Shinjiro Otani and Ikuto Hidaka in a huge six-person showdown at SMASH.25.

It will be a great honor for me to step into the ring with especially Tanaka and Otani, who are two of the most revered pros in the game worldwide.  Many will remember Masato Tanaka’s match against Mike Awesome on the WWE version of ECW’s One Night Stand pay-per-view from 2005, while Otani was a legendary junior heavyweight in the early and mid-’90s with New Japan Pro Wrestling, holding both the WCW Cruiserweight Championship (beating the legendary Chris Benoit) and the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship in addition to a slew of others.