Posts Tagged ‘Japan’

I did an extensive interview with my birth country Canada’s top internet sports media, SLAM! Sports, for their website.  Journalist Blaine Van Der Griend went to extensive lengths, cross-checking and getting the low-down from some influential people that have seen my pro wrestling career sparkle in Japan.  This piece of media is really a treat, folks.  The gloves come off here, so sit back, take 15-minutes and read some good inside stuff: http://slam.canoe.com/Slam/Wrestling/2015/07/05/22488981.html

starbuck

Thanks again to SLAM! Sports for this feature, and a big shout-out to all my Canadian compatriots out there!  Reach for the stars, eh!!!

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Today marks my 42nd birthday.  I don’t feel so young anymore, nor do I feel very old.  I’m somewhere in between.

Like most folks out there, I don’t fancy the limitations and slowing down process that age brings with it.  I’ve strived to reach the upper echelon in all things that my heart has burned after, and I have held nothing back.  I’ve been all around the world, reached pinnacles that many only dream of, becoming a star player in my chosen sport far and wide.  I’ve toured many lands with my various rock bands, been here, there and a little bit of everywhere.

StarBuck birthday

So here at 42, on April 24, I look back on what has been and ahead to what lies in wait.  As a lone wolf, not part of any clique out there, I’ve done a hell of a lot in my 42 years.  Everything I’ve achieved, I’ve earned with hard work, honesty and reputation.  Not by kissing ass, playing politics or stabbing other people in the back.  For that, I am proud.

I achieved my dream of superstardom in Japan as a wrestler in 2010-2011, which was my career goal, and everything from here on out is a bonus.  I garnered three European wresting championships during my career so far, and I am happy with that number.  It’s a magical number; three.  Anything above that is also just a bonus.  I’ve wrestled in 19 countries over the past 21 years, and I’d like to add a few more before I hang the boots up one day, so that is something to still strive towards.

My old arch-rival and Finnish wrestling veteran Stark Adder wrote a powerful blog about me to commemorate my birthday.  Take a look: http://starkadderkomorebi.blogspot.fi/2015/04/the-mightiest-adversary.html

I have no idea how long my saga on this Earth will be, but I can honestly say, that I have lived the life of a journeyman, the life of a wayfarer, the life of legend.  If all of this were to end tomorrow, I would have to be happy, content that I went out there and actualized my dreams.  I didn’t just talk the talk, I walked the walk.

So today, for me, 42 is an inverted 24.

I had the honor of participating in my old tag team partner Akira Nogami’s 30th pro wrestling anniversary show in Tokyo this past Friday, October 10.  I wrestled the main event of the evening, a triple threat match between myself, Akira and Masakatsu Funaki.  It was memorable, let me assure you!

My former Synapse teammates -- Syuri congratulates Akira on 30 years in the game.

My former Synapse teammates — Syuri congratulates Akira on 30 years in the game.

As anyone out there worth their stock in Puroresu and MMA knowledge knows, Masa Funaki is one of the founders of Pancrase, along with Minoru Suzuki.  The man is a fighting sport legend in his own lifetime, and one of the hardest, if not THE single most hardest kicker that I have been in the ring with in the last 20 years.

In our match, I found myself fighting an overwhelming 2-on-1 attack from both Akira and Funaki for the first half of the match, before things between them became strained and they turned their focus on fighting each other.

Locking an STF on Akira (photo by Kenji Yamaguchi)

Something incredible happened during the match that I have never encountered before in all my years: I spike piledrove Funaki to cut off the 2-on-1 assault I was under, and moments later, he just popped back up and began lacing into me with knees and kicks!  It was downright scary.  The man is almost not human, and most definitely is one of the toughest opponents I have ever been in the ring with.

Masa Funaki kicking like a government mule! (Photo by Hidekazu Tsuge)

Finally, after several altercations with both opponents, I was able to capitalize on a fortunate intervention by Akira’s and my former Synapse teammate Syuri, who saved Akira from near-defeat by Funaki.  As Masa Funaki’s attention was diverted at ringside on Syuri, I was able to hit my trademark spike piledriver in the ring to score the elusive win.

StarBuck piledrives Akira (photo by Corbata Japón)

It was surreal, as the understanding of StarBuck defeating Akira sank in on my esteemed opponent’s 30th anniversary card.  I am sure this outcome was also a shock to many in the media on hand, as well as the rabid fans on hand at Shinjuku Face arena that night.  As wrestling legend Masahiro Chono got in the ring and raised my hand in victory, I realized once again, these are the grand moments that we live for in this business.  Moments that live on vividly in our memories, that one day we tell our grandchildren about.

Masa Chono and StarBuck (photo by Michihiro Tomita)

At the end of it all, everyone that wrestled on the card got into the ring to pay homage to our great brother-in-arms, Akira.  All of my respect to the man, who is one of the kindest individuals and kindred warrior spirits that I have gotten to know in this tumultuous game we call professional wrestling.

lineup Akira 30th anniversary

In closing, I dedicate this video to my brother and friend, Akira Nogami, the Musasabi Warrior!  Live long and prosper!

 

On October 10, my good friend Akira Nogami celebrates 30 years of active competition in the wrestling business with a special card dedicated to his imprint on our grappling industry, to be held in Tokyo at Shinjuku Face Arena.  A literal plethora of who’s who from the world of Japanese Puroresu will be on hand to honor our brother-in-arms, and I am stoked to be taking a part in this special evening of in-ring combat, by direct invitation of Akira himself.

Akira Nogami in 2010 (photo: SMASH)

Akira Nogami in 2010 (photo: SMASH)

Akira and I have a storied history together, both as adversaries and as tag team partners in our business.  If I could hand-pick my opponents, Akira would easily make the top five of that list on any given day.  He is smooth, flowing like water and moving like a panther inside of that ring.  I have often likened him to the legendary former NWA World and WWF Intercontinental champion, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, in terms of his fluid wrestling style.

Some of my best memories from Japan have been shared with my brother, Akira.  We have fought some amazing battles.  We melded like clockwork in a team called Synapse, alongside female standout, Syuri Kondou (a multi-time women’s wrestling and kickboxing champion).  Upon our inception in the summer of 2012, our trio was passionately compared to the classic 1996 nWo unit with Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall in the belated World Championship Wrestling (WCW) organization.  We were cool baddies.  We kicked ass and took names, downing the competition all across Japan for much of 2012-2013.  In February of this year, on the same card where I won the WNC (Wrestling New Classic) championship from “The Japanese Buzzsaw” Tajiri, we disbanded our Synapse team, all going our separate ways.

SYNAPSE 2012

Akira, StarBuck, Syuri (photo: Kazuhiko Kato)

Akira started his legendary career in New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), famous for hosting and organizing the world-famous 1976 wrestler vs. boxer match-up between Antonio Inoki and Muhammed Ali.  Akira was part of the same class of ’84 that saw the launch of Keiji Muto (aka The Great Muta), Shinya Hashimoto, Masahiro Chono and Masakatsu Funaki.  Nowadays, Akira grapples for Keiji Muto’s Wrestle-1 office in Japan.

My first encounter against AKIRA, from SMASH.8 in September 2010 in Tokyo

My first encounter against AKIRA, from SMASH.8 in September 2010 in Tokyo (photo: SMASH)

Akira first notable title win was the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight championship, defeating Jushin Liger in August 1991.  Since then, he has been a journeyman wrestler, both in Europe, the USA and Japan.  Akira took part in the NWA world tag team tournament in 1992, held under the Bill Watts regime as the head of WCW, teaming with Hiroshi Hase in the opening round.  Akira was injured, and could not compete a month later in the second round alongside Hase, so he was replaced by Shinya Hashimoto (Hase and Hashimoto would lose to Barry Windham and Dustin Rhodes in the semi-finals of the tournament).  Akira is also a former IWGP Jr. Heavyweight tag team champion, alongside old foe Jushin Liger, and the first ever WNC champion from 2012, defeating Tajiri in the WNC title tournament finals.

I am proud to be taking part in this big card on October 10 in Tokyo to pay tribute to the career of Akira Nogami, a real friend and brother in this hard, dog-eat-dog business called professional wrestling.  He is someone who has always had my back, whether we have been against each other, or if we have teamed together.  We share a mutual respect and a bond of friendship, a warrior’s bond.  This is truly rare in any walk of life.

Akira-san, I salute you!  KAMPAI!!!

akira30th-poster2-2 akira30th-poster2-1

I just came home last night from a tremendous few days in Tokyo, where this past Thursday night, February 27, I defeated my long-time nemesis “The Japanese Buzzsaw” Yoshihiro Tajiri for the WNC (Wrestling New Classic) championship title.

StarBuck WNC photo 01

Our match was grueling and hard, as Tajiri laid his kicks into me so hard that I thought I was a soccer ball.  He went after my arm, the psychology of which I only understood later on in the match when I attempted to first hoist Tajiri for my trademark finisher, the spike piledriver.  He was able to escape by capturing my weakened arm on the lift portion of the move, trapping me in a unique submission attempt.  I made a rope escape, and moments later, as Tajiri charged me, I caught him out with a hotshot, landing his throat on the top rope, after which I immediately captialized with a successful spike piledriver for the pinfall and victory.

Tajiri kicks awat at me (photo by Yuichi Kojima)

Tajiri kicks awat at me (photo by Yuichi Kojima)

This win puts good ol’ StarBuck into the wrestling history books, as the fourth WNC champion in history, behind Akira Nogami, Osamu Nishimura and Tajiri.  On a personal note, this victory was incredibly sweet for me, as I returned to Japan after a nine-month absence, during which I had to rehabilitate my herniated neck.  In my first match back to Japan since May 2013, the fans at Shinjuku Face arena in Tokyo exploded in support of Yours Truly, rallying behind with much support as I claimed the WNC title.

The piledriver spells title victory! (photo by Yuichi Kojima)

The piledriver spells title victory! (photo by Yuichi Kojima)

Tajiri and I have had our wars, and I highly respect him as one of my greatest opponents ever.  In 2010, we traded the FCF championship back and forth a couple of times.  In 2011, I defeated Tajiri in the finals of the SMASH title tournament to become the first SMASH champion.  Now, in 2014, I was able to go over Tajiri to claim the WNC championship.

With my friends Mayumi and Dr. Terasaki at Antonio Inoki's famous Saka Bar

With my friends Mayumi and Dr. Terasaki at Antonio Inoki’s famous Saka Bar

It should also be noted, that at the end of the night, after I had won the title, my Synapse teammates entered the ring and Akira Nogami took the mic, announcing that our group is disbanding and going our separate ways.  I would like to thank Akira, Syuri Kondou, Yusuke Kodama and Horizon (the latest member of Synapse) for the times that we had as a unit.  I never fought alongside Kodama or Horizon, as they joined the team after my last tour of Japan in May 2013, prior to my return now this past week, but with Akira and Syuri I team on numerous occasions.  We were a dominant in 2012-2013, but all good things must come to an end, and so it is with the tale of Synapse.  No bad blood, no remorse, no regrets.  A friendly parting, with mutual respect displayed by all.

Synapse's last stand (photo by Michiro Tomita)

Synapse’s last stand (photo by Michiro Tomita)

More infos: www.wnc-pro.com

linestar

Now, this coming Saturday at Winter War VIII (Talvisota VIII) in Helsinki, Finland, the WNC organization has demanded that I defend my newly-won crown against the challenge of former European wrestling champion, Bernard Vandamme!

I already have a gruelling Stretcher Match against Valentine for the BWA title, and with my wife’s valet career riding on the line, so this new development means double duty for me on the night of March 8 in Helsinki!

I will have to be training like an animal all this week to get ready for the double-edged sword that awaits me.  You can be sure that Vandamme remembers 2006, when I tood the Eurostars European championship from him at the first first Talvisota event in Vantaa, Finland, and this means Vandamme would be hungrier than ever to redeem himself against me now with the WNC title riding on the line.

I am not turning away any challengers, however, regardless of the circumstances.  Bernard Vandamme can bring it on, because this old war horse is waiting for him.  The Alpha Male, try to take his piece of meat away from him.TSVIII_starbuck_vandamme

TSVIII_jullari

Looking back on my extensive wrestling career, I can say I’ve had a lot of great opponents.  Some of those opponents have offered me feuds to remember for a lifetime, matches that I will one day tell my grandchildren about.

Many notable foes come to mind over the years, whom I have had the pleasure of doing battle with: former ECW world champion Steve Corino, ex-GSW champ Michael Kovac, EWA world champion Chris Raaber,  my former FCF teammate Hajime Ohara, multi-time Eurostars European champion Bernard Vandamme, former FCF champion Stark Adder, just to name a few.  Yet, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the most notorious feud of my wrestling career has been with one “Japanese Buzzsaw” Yoshihiro Tajiri.

Tajiri is, without question, the most persistent adversary I have ever fought.  We have duked it out over the FCF championship – putting that title on the map globally as one of the top trophies in our industry today – on a couple of memorable occasions; we have fought over the SMASH championship, which I won in a tournament final in Tokyo, defeating Tajiri in 2011; and now, on February 27  in Tokyo once again, I will face Tajiri for the WNC championship, should he retain his title after a defense against Hiro Tonai on February 23, just days before our showdown.

WNC poster Feb 2014

There’s something to be said for Tajiri as a trailblazer and main mover in the wrestling industry.  The man is undoubtedly the most prominent Japanese star in WWE history, being well-featured for nearly six-years and Smackdown and Raw broadcasts, having held the WWE US, WWE Cruiserweight and WWE tag team championships.  Tajiri’s trademark kicks have become the stuff of legend, and his famous Buzzsaw Kick has given me more headaches than I care to remember.  The man has a brilliant mind, and is one of the smartest people that I have come across in our industry.  I have a lot of respect for Yoshihiro Tajiri, and I believe the feeling is mutual.

Now, on February 27 at Shinjuku Face arena in Tokyo, once again, it will be another chapter in the ongoing war between Tajiri and myself.  I still clearly remember a couple of concussions that this man gave to me in the heat of battle, in 2010 and 2013.  Tajiri kicked one of my front teeth out of my mouth in 2012, which is something that is hard to forget.  We have beat each other from pillar to post, from Europe to Asia, and we are still at it, four years after it all began at FCF Wresting’s Talvisota IV event back on February 20, 2010 in Helsinki.

StarBuck vs Tajiri HELSINKI

The night that it all began in Helsinki, Talvisota VI (photo by Kari Helenius)

I personally highly look forward to this next encounter with “The Japanese Buzzaw”.  I sincerely hope he retains his WNC title against Hiro Tonai on February 23, because I need to pay Tajiri back for some of the damage that he did to me previously, as aforementioned.

This feud is one for the ages.

The cultural significance of PURORESU.