Posts Tagged ‘puroresu’

As I wrote just a few days back, I dissolved Team FCF in Japan, the contingent I had with Hajime Ohara, after Ohara failed to produce in our last tag team match on July 15 in Tokyo.

I am proud to introduce my new teammates: AKIRA and Syuri!

Syuri, AKIRA and StarBuck

On August 2nd at Shinjuku FACE Arena in Tokyo, our trio will face TAJIRI, Ohara and female star Kana in the Wrestling New Classic main event.  From there I move on with my new team to establish wrestling dominance in Osaka on August 3rd, Hiroshima on August 4th, Hakata on August 6th and Kagoshima on August 7th.

More infos at the WNC website!

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This past Wednesday night – March 14, 2012 – a somber mood set over Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, as Japan’s SMASH organization held its final show, closing its doors forever.

The capacity crowd on hand at Korakuen Hall watches the main event of SMASH.FINAL

Many people are both asking and wondering what has led to the closing down of the promotion, considering SMASH rose in its two-year run to become one of the leading puroresu organizations in Japan.  SMASH started from zero in March of 2010 and rose like a phoenix amongst both fans and media alike over the next couple of years.  Their events in Japan drew great houses and showcased some of the finest pro wrestling to be seen anywhere.  So what exactly is at the root of the demise of SMASH?

Starting the match off against Tajiri in classic wrestling fashion

Very simply, the answer lies in the divergent visions of SMASH president Mr. Sakai and SMASH creative director Tajiri for the company and its future.  As Mr. Sakai owns the SMASH name and its respective title belts, this rift and separation proved to be a fatal blow to the company.  Without the creative genius of Tajiri, SMASH would simply not exist.  Tajiri was truly the soul and heartbeat of SMASH, and for Sakai to continue without him would have been foolhardy and a questionable risk.  Thus, at SMASH.FINAL on March 14th when all was said and done after the main event, Mr. Sakai announced publicly that there will be no SMASH v.2 post-Tajiri.  SMASH is now finished.

Tajiri clamps a chinlock on Yours Truly

The video below narrates (in English) the meat of the matter rather well.

I am greatly honored to have taken part in the SMASH.FINAL main event alongside FCF Wrestling teammate Hajime Ohara against the team of Tajiri and Akira Nogami.  I think it would be safe to say that SMASH was built largely on the four of us and our contributions to the promotion, so having this tag team main event headline the final SMASH show in history is truly prolific.

Double-teaming Akira Nogami, I plant the elbow into the upper back as Ohara stays the course

I really couldn’t think of a better way to go out on a high note.  Being in the ring with three of my best friends in this often cold, dog-eat-dog business on a night that enveloped so much emotion and weightiness meant a lot to me.  We fought tooth and nail for 25:50 of a wrestling classic before Akira was able to nail Ohara with his Musasabi Press splash off the top rope to end the epic encounter.

Akira has me in the Old Boy submission as Ohara tries to make the save

The night prior to the SMASH.FINAL, I was able to be part of Akira’s birthday party at the world- famous Ribera Steak House.  Although we knew that the next night we would be facing each other in the fight of our lives, only the sense of mutual respect, admiration and friendship was present at our table.

At Ribera Steak House, toasting Akira's birthday with Josh O'Brien and Tajiri

Knowing that I have fought so many times in the same ring against esteemed opponents the calibre of Akira and Tajiri only heightens and strengthens the comraderie between us.  The quality of our matches has always been top-notch, and being able to bring out the best in each other, regardless of the outcome, is definitely a key element that spawns great friendships in our trade.

Akira eats a nasty spike piledriver from Yours Truly

I can only hope that Tajiri starts up a new wrestling company in Japan following the demise of SMASH, as the man is one of the smartest minds in our business, and if anyone can do it, Tajiri most definitely can.  Tajiri definitely knows what classic wrestling should be all about, and I will most certainly support him in whatever his future endeavors are.

Akira pins Ohara following a huge Musasabi Press in 25:50 of a wrestling classic

After the main event was said and done at SMASH.FINAL, SMASH Diva Champion Syuri also vacated her title, as the wrestlers came to the ring to bow out and say goodbye to all of their supporters and fans over the past two years.

A real sweetheart of a girl, Syuri was the last SMASH Diva Champion

The last SMASH Champion Dave “Fit” Finlay vacated his title last month at SMASH.25 after defeating Tajiri in a fantastic match.

The wrestlers pay their respects to the company and the audience at the end of SMASH.FINAL

I would also like to thank all of the SMASH fans personally this one, last time for allowing me to become a star in their country.  As I said at the SMASH.FINAL afterparty, Japan is the #1 country in the world for pro wrestling, and it has been a dream come true for me to become a household name and celebrity in Japan through my pro wrestling adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun.

The Finnish Embassy in Japan came out to see SMASH.FINAL

Soudesune!!!

(Match photos my SMASH/SportsNavi Japan)

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.

European professional wrestling legend and 37-year ring veteran Dave “Fit” Finlay defeated me this past Thursday night, November 24th, at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo at SMASH.23 to become the new SMASH Champion.

photo by SMASH (from SportsNavi Japan online)

Finlay fought like a ravenous beast, putting me on the defensive for the whole match, which lasted 15:58 before the Irishman was able to put me away and pin me following his jumping tombstone piledriver.  The Japanese crowd responded in shock as Dave Finlay was announced as the new champion.

There are very few men in the wrestling business who are as brutal and remorseless in that ring as Finlay.  The man is a legend in this sport, and I brought my A-game, but it just wasn’t enough on the night of November 24, 2011 in Tokyo.

photo by SMASH (from SportsNavi Japan online)

Many are already calling my match with Finlay as the match of the year in SMASH, which is saying a lot, as there have been numerous great matches throughout the year.  For a fantastic look at the action from the SMASH.23 title match, check out the ringside photos here.

photo by SMASH (from SportsNavi Japan online)

I was also given the opportunity to face one of my all-time favorite wrestlers in Keiji Mutoh (aka The Great Muta) in Tokyo the night before SMASH.23 at All-Japan Pro Wrestling‘s event, as I teamed with SMASH compatriots Akira Nogami and Yoshihiro Tajiri to face the trio of Mutoh, Kondo and Bushi from AJPW.  I pinned Bushi in 13:48 of a hot match following my trademark spike piledriver.  Check out the photos from that match here.

photo by AJPW (from SportsNavi Japan online)

On a separate note, I heard the sad news about the passing of American superstar Bison Smith (found dead on Nov. 22 in Puerto Rico) while I was in the dressing room at the AJPW event.  Bison was a big star in Japan, and his death at 38 – the same age as I am – is indeed an early passing.  The cause was deemed to be heart failure.

I cannot begin to describe the kind of elation and happiness I am feeling, coming home to Finland last night as the very first SMASH Wrestling Champion in Japan, defeating one of my greatest opponents ever, “The Japanese Buzzsaw” Yoshihiro Tajiri in the finals of the SMASH title tournament on Friday night, October 28 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo.

I have faced Tajiri several times in the past in both Finland and Japan, and every time our matches have been hard, physical clashes.  This final match last Friday night in the SMASH Championship tournament finals was no exception.  No, this one was WAY harder than ANY single one of our past, classic encounters.

We all know that many critics of professional wrestling vocally criticize our game as being “fake” and/or theatrical.  I find that kind of slander disparaging, and I would love to have those same critics step into a Japanese wrestling ring and feel the kind of punishment that we experience as professionals inside of that squared circle.

That said, my match against Tajiri on October 28 was one of the stiffest, most hard-hitting, SMASH-mouth affairs of my career.  Tajiri’s trademark kicks were brutal and his forearms and punches rocked my jaw.  I have to believe that “The Japanese Buzzsaw” felt the same at the other end of the equation, as the fighting spirit in our championship final bout was most definitely REAL.

Neither one of us held anything back, as we traded offense and fought a very even bout, going back and forth, neither competitor really gaining a clear-cut advantage over the match that lasted 15:12 before I dropped Tajiri with two vicious spike piledrivers after just barely kicking out of his Buzzsaw Kick.

After the match, both of us just lay on the mat, wasted from the physical toll of our bout.  Both of us took – and dealt out – one hell of a beating to one another in the quest to become the first-ever SMASH Wrestling Champion.  Both of us gave it our all, and I can only very humbly say that I am honored by my huge title win over a tremendous opponent in Yoshihiro Tajiri at SMASH.22 this past Friday.  I have the highest respect for the man that I pinned to become the new SMASH titleholder, and I will always remember the night of October 28 at Tokyo’s Korakuen Hall.

A huge THANK YOU to: the tremendous Japanese SMASH Wrestling fans for believing in me; to the SMASH office for the spotlight opportunity; to Tajiri for an incredible match; and to my Great God in Heaven and Lord Jesus Christ who makes all things possible (Philippians 4:13).

Arigato gozaimasu!  Soudesune!

(Photos by Ken Suzuki)

I have been blessed to have enjoyed such an incredible amount of success wrestling in Japan, where at the beginning of this year the readership of Weekly Pro Wrestling magazine voted me as one of the top 5 gaijin in their country for the 2010 period.

Last year, FCF Wrestling Champion Valentine lost our Finnish strap to former WWE US and Tag Team Champ “The Japanese Buzzsaw” Tajiri in May 2010 on the SMASH.3 card in Tokyo.  I would venture to the Land of the Rising Sun to recapture the FCF Championship at SMASH.6 on July 24 last year.  Tajiri would win the FCF Championship back from me at SMASH.10 on November 22, 2010 in the biggest event in SMASH company history at JCB Hall in Tokyo, before over 2000 enraptured fans.  Tajiri and I have fought each other numerous times over the past year and a half, both in singles and tag team matches, and our fights have always been very tight and even.

Now, on October 28 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, once again it has boiled down to the top two wrestlers in SMASH, as I face off against Tajiri one more time, with the new SMASH Heavyweight Championship Title on the line.  This match is the tournament final to crown the very first SMASH Heavyweight Champ, and I will do everything in my power to procure the coveted new Japanese title.

Tajiri, get ready – the Lord of FCF is coming for SMASH gold on October 28!  This will truly be the battle of the Nordic Barbarian against the Japanese Samurai – StarBuck vs. Tajiri at SMASH.22!