Posts Tagged ‘Tajiri’

Last night in Helsinki we almost had a tragedy take place.  FCF Wrestling held it’s 10th anniversary of Finland’s equivalent of Wrestlemania, Talvisota X (Winter War 10).  With 500 frantic fans showing up to our mega-show, we had nine matches slated on the card, with the FCF title bout between champion Valentine and challenger King Kong Karhula in the main event.

However, earlier yesterday, we got word that my opponent for the evening, Chaos of Denmark, had been delayed in Copenhagen.  His SAS flight had left for Helsinki and had been turned back after take-off due to a fuel shortage.  SAS rerouted him through Prague later in the day, only to make it to Helsinki airport for 22:30!

Now just me personally, talking not only for myself but for the fans on hand, and in light of the significance of my imprint on the Finnish pro wrestling scene in general, as the pioneer of the sport in our country, for my match to have been left off the card of this 10th anniversary show would have been an all-time low.

Back in 2006, when the first, inaugural Winter War took place in Vantaa, Finland, I was the main event against Bernard Vandamme of Belgium for the Eurostars European championship.  At that event, I won the European title for the first time in my storied career, putting Finnish pro wrestling and FCF as a company on the continental wrestling industry map.

bernard powerslam

The night I took the European title off of Bernard Vandamme in 2006

Now, 10 years later, the boys that were in the opening match of the very first Winter War in 2006 found themselves at the top of the card, in the advertised main event of Winter War / Talvisota X this year, a decade later.  Valentine and King Kong Karhula had one hell of a match last night, which stands to be applauded on all levels, and I was amazed at the public reaction to the newly-turned Karhula as a babyface.  It seems that the Finnish fans really vouched for him and have taken him as a fan favorite fore-runner.  Pitted against one of the greatest heels ever – if not THE greatest heel ever – out of the Nordics, Valentine, both challenger and champion tore the house down with a multi-faceted, highly intricate and masterful match.  Valentine retained his strap, but Karhula won over the entire audience with a moral victory.

About half-way through Valentine’s match with Karhula, Chaos arrived at the Töölö Sports Hall, rushed to the venue via taxi to make it for our advertised match.  He had changed into his wrestling gear during the ride to town, and he was primed and ready to go 15 minutes before our match went on.  Talk about a near-miss!

My Eye of the Tiger theme music began to play and I wondered if Chaos and I could follow the stellar main event match set by Valentine and Karhula.  Still, as a 22-year veteran, I knew I could be certain of what I could produce.  I was also dead-certain of what my opponent could produce.  We had an issue to attend to, a rivalry that crossed national boundaries.  I wasn’t expecting a high-flying match or a technical showcase.  No, what I was expecting was a WAR.  And a war I got!

Chaos lambasted me from behind with a steel chair from the blindside as I made my ring entrance, beating me six shades of senseless before I even knew what was going on!  The man tore into me, literally like a pit bull, unrelenting and vicious in his assault.  I found myself literally fighting for my life in there.  There was no surcease, no slowing down, as Chaos just kept the pressure and heat on me.

Yet, I wasn’t succumbing.  I wasn’t laying down or staying down.  This was Winter War 10, dammit!  Winter War, my personal brainchild and concept, which has since been branded and recognized as the most important pro wrestling event annually in the country of Finland!

StarBuck vs Chaos Winter War 10 (3)

Chaos blasts me with a mean uppercut! (photo: Timo Muilu)

My adrenaline started kicking in.  I struggled hard to clear my head of the cobwebs of Chaos’ vicious assault.  I got in one punch… then another… and another.  I rallied hard, fighting back with the intestinal fortitude of a dozen Finnish war veterans that fought hard to retain Finland’s independence in 1940.  I wasn’t just fighting for my professional wrestling heritage in this country, I was fighting for every person at the Töölö Sports Hall that rallied with me.  Every punch and blow that I could land was delivered with the force and emotional investment of the people that believed in me and my personal contribution to pro wrestling in Finland since 2003.  All of a sudden, my fight became larger than life itself in that moment.

StarBuck vs Chaos Winter War 10 (2)

A brief rally that didn’t last too long, but did the damage intended! (photo: Timo Muilu)

I finished the first Winter War with my head held high back in 2006, and I wasn’t willing to leave the ring last night with anything less than that same feeling and raw emotion.  I finally nailed Chaos in the face with a boot as he charged me in the corner.  With the Dane stung, I blasted him with a second rope clothesline that would have done former WWF world champion Bret “Hitman” Hart proud.

After a spirited last-ditch, desperation comeback, I got caught out on the outside of the ring by Chaos, as he ran my kidneys hard into the ring apron.  Rolling me back into the ring, Chaos hit his trademark moonsault and damn near crushed my legs on the landing.  It would be hard to kick out, with my thighs knotted up, but kick out I did!

TSX Chaos moonsault

Chaos hits a mean moonsault on my fallen corpus (photo: Xeniya Balsara)

 

Chaos picked me up for a side back breaker and then ascended the ropes for another huge moonsault, which he hit perfectly across my chest cavity, knocking the wind out of me.  He went for the cover, but just barely, I managed to kick out once again.

At this point, Chaos seemed to be scrambling for ideas, so he went after the steel chair that he used before the start of the match to beat me senseless.  Bringing the chair to the ring, he prepared to blast me with it, but I hit a superkick into the chair, sending the steel into Chaos’ face and knocking him senseless for a change.

Now was my time.  It was now or never.  I hoisted Chaos for my trademark spike piledriver and dropped him with the very maneuver that has put away competition all over the world during my wrestling travels in 20 countries worldwide.  But… he kicked out!!!

TSX piledriver

My piledriver has a match-ending odds on favorite rate of about 98% (photo: Xeniya Balsara)

I was stunned.  Hardly ever had anyone… anyone at all… kicked out of my spike piledriver.  In Japan, “The Japanese Buzzsaw” Tajiri managed to kick out of my piledriver once, and once only.  On that night, Tajiri became the FCF champion back in 2010.  But such are so scarce occasions, that they only happen once in a blue moon, or perhaps, as with most, only once in a lifetime.

I blasted Chaos with yet another spike piledriver and that was finally enough to put away the tough bastard at Winter War 10, as the audience counted with every slap of the referee’s hand against the mat, as Chaos’ shoulders were pinned for the 1-2-3.  And my goodness, the sound of the pop that the live audience emitted at that point could have been registered on the Richter Scale!

What could have been a disastrous night on many levels turned into one of the most satisfying and memorable matches of my 22+ year pro wrestling career.  Thanks to everyone who was on hand, and for those who weren’t, there is a DVD of this event in the works, which will be out in the coming months for sale!

Winter War veterans

The FCF Wrestling veteran crew that has taken part in every single Talvisota / Winter War to 2006 -2016: (left to right) King Kong Karhula, StarBuck, Valentine, Stark Adder (photo: Satu Tapaturma)

 

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With another year gone in the history books, I’d like to glance back and assess the past 12 months both personally and professionally.

The last two years have really been life-altering times of change for me. In 2013 I got married, starting a new chapter of my life. Professionally speaking, 2014 signalled the end of the WNC (Wrestling New Classic) organization that I grappled for, marking the close of an era there also. The financial crunch in Europe began to sting and affect businesses across the board, spreading to Asia, including professional wrestling. Less shows were in the offering and the money just wasn’t there. I find myself amongst the hard-nosed veterans of the grappling game who find themselves working a limited number of dates due the poorly paying scene in general, not counting a few decent promotions on the grappling map who are still putting out top dollar for top talent still. 2014 was no cake-walk for independent pro wrestling, folks.

Yet, 2014 was musically one of the better years that I recall as of late. With my southern rock act Crossfyre we blazed across Europe and all around Finland over 2014, having one helluva time! We toured Poland, Estonia and Germany at the start of the summer and hit a slew of summer festivals and biker gigs to boot domestically. I got to see Lithuania and Latvia in transition between countries on tour and overall it was great experience. Crossfyre really evolved even further over 2014 as a working man’s hard working band, and for that, I am proud.

2014 started off with a bang, as fast food giant Subway had me play the lead and do the voice-over for their American Steak House Melt sub sandwich. I got to play my redneck self, complete with my Michael Hayes-like finger mannerisms, familiar to wrestling fans far and wide, who’ve seen ”The Rebel” StarBuck in action.

2014 also marked my 20th anniversary since debuting as an active combatant in the world of pro wrestling. On January 7 this past year, my old wrestling coach Lance Storm sent me a public message on Facebook, congratulating me on my career milestone. It was Lance who was my first opponent, whom I had a very decent 7-minute match with back in Calgary, Canada in my debut bout. Since that time, I’ve gone on to see the world, kick ass and take names far and wide. Thank again, Lance, for setting me off on that fantastic journey!

Speaking of pro wrestling, FCF started off 2014 with a bang on January 11 in Helsinki, as my four-man team of Mikko Maestro, Sly Sebastian, Kristian Kurki and Yours Truly downed the team of Valentine, Conny Mejsel, Steinbolt and Robert Holmström in a hellacious Survivor Series-style elimination match. This tag bout stands out as one of my personal favorites from 2014, as everyone clicked on all cylinders and the action was hot and heavy-handed.

In another huge tag team outing, I teamed with FCF’s King Kong Karhula against the duo of Sweden’s Conny Mejsel and Harley Rage in Gothenburg on February 1, which turned out to be perhaps the hottest tag team match that I have ever wrestled. I am speaking solely about fan reaction to the bout here, but I am in no way undermining the quality of the wrestling in that match. Everyone brought their A-game to the show, and I am glad that my Spandex Sapiens movie producer Oskari Pastila was able to come and film the bout, because this crowd and atmosphere was most definitely worth capturing on film.

The Gothenburg fans went bananas when their hero Conny Mesjel got the upper hand on me.

The Gothenburg fans went bananas when their hero Conny Mesjel got the upper hand on me.

Speaking of Spandex Sapiens, premature expectations had the 100-minute documentary movie about my persona and wrestling career coming out in 2014. Yet, director Pastila decided to wait out the possible financial commitments of various third parties before tending to the actual release, and thus, the movie debut was delayed until 2015. Now, the release has been set for autumn 2015 and all signs are go at this point. I personally can’t wait! In addition, 2015 will mark the return of Mad Max to the silver screen, as Fury Road comes out in the summer. When I was a kid, Mad Max: The Road Warrior was my favorite movie.

2014 also saw Yours Truly doing a guest DJ spot on Finland’s top rock radio station, Radio Rock. This was a personal milestone for me, much like getting featured in an exclusive article in Hustler magazine several years ago (true story!) about my wrestling career (Hustler publisher and boss Larry Flynt has always been an icon to me as an anti-establishment kind of guy who swims against the stream at large). I got the opportunity to play whatever I wanted, chosing obscure songs by lesser-known bands like Living Sacrifice, Bolt Thrower and even my own bands, Overnight Sensation and Crossfyre. Talk about a great PR opportunity!

February 27, 2014 was a huge day for me in my wrestling career. I defeated ”The Japanese Buzzsaw” Tajiri for the WNC championship in Tokyo, capturing my second title in Japan to date (I became the first champion in SMASH history back in October 2011, also defeating Tajiri then in a tournament final). Tajiri is arguably my greatest nemesis of all time, over the entire span of my wrestling career. He and I have waged numerous wars, both in Japan and Finland, and I am honored to have had such a great fighting chemistry with him.

One week after winning the WNC title, I hit an all-time career low, as I lost both the WNC championship and the BWA (British Wrestling Alliance) Catchweight belt in the same night at FCF Wrestling’s biggest annual showcase event, Talvisota VIII, on March 8. With my wife Diana as my wrestling valet, I also put her career on the line against Valentine in what I can now assess was a bad case of overconfidence on my part. Valentine pulled out a tainted win, complete with brass knuckles, as I lost the BWA title to him. Immediately thereafter, Belgian powerhouse Bernard Vandamme demanded that I wrestle him and defend the WNC title. Never one to back down from a fight, I valiantly did my best, losing in grand fashion in two minutes. It was possibly the lowest point of my career, and it haunted me for the rest of the year in all of my Finnish matches. I can see now, that it was psychologically a demon and monkey on my back, losing my wife as my valet, along with two championships, in one night. In 2015, I plan to rid myself of that jinx for good.

I was able to grapple again in Belgium in March 2014, this time laying waste to a promising young rookie named Tyson Heel out of Andorra, along with a return to Germany to wrestle for EPW. Things were going great for me outside of Finland, as the wins kept coming, but my jinx returned when FCF’s Jatkosota 2014 rolled around on April 12 in Helsinki once again. In a six-man tag team match, my team of Sly Sebastian, Kristian Kurki and myself lost to Heimo Ukonselkä, Stark Adder and Ricky Vendetta when Ukonselkä assisted Vendetta in gaining a pinfall over this disgruntled Rebel. Ricky Vendetta would go on to brag and boast about gaining the biggest pin of his career, shooting his mouth off all throughout 2014 at my expense. Vendetta became a real thorn in my hide at this point.

I became embroiled in a bitter rivalry with young Ricky Vendetta this year (photo: Marko Simonen).

I became embroiled in a bitter rivalry with young Ricky Vendetta this year (photo: Marko Simonen).

2014 marked my 19th country in pro wrestling, as I went to Holland to wrestle for a fabuolus company called Dutch Pro Wrestling on June 1 against Bernard Vandamme. I was out looking to avenge myself and beat Vandamme into the ground, but as fate would have it, Vandamme found a way to thwart my end goal, eeking out another victory over Yours Truly. That WNC title loss really stung bad after that repeat defeat, I can assure you!

On June 8, I had the pleasure of playing the 2014 Harley-Davidson Super Rally in Tallinn, Estonia with Crossfyre. We had the main stage, we got to meet Mr. Bill Davidson of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles, and we got to treat throngs of bikers from all across Europe to our special southern rocking brand of rock’n’roll from the north. Top of the line hotel, top treatment, top spot on the event line-up = no complaints!

Bill Davidson mugs between me and Crossfyre's session bassist Sami Salminen.

Bill Davidson mugs between me and Crossfyre’s session bassist Sami Salminen.

The summer of 2014 signalled the end of the WNC organization that I wrestled for in Japan. Tajiri, Akira Nogami, Yusuke Kodama, Rionne Fujiwara and a couple of other wrestlers moved on to Keiji Muto’s Wrestle-1 organization, while everyone else from WNC went their own, separate ways. I was saddened to say goodbye to my old Synapse teammates Syuri Kondou and Akira, with whom I enjoyed a tremendous chemistry. We travelled a lot of miles up and down the roads in Japan, kicking asses and taking names for almost two years together. It was a memorable time, and Synapse will always live on in my memories as a unit that I was truly happy to be a part of.

The summer gigs that we played with Crossfyre live strongly in my memories, as I mentioned at the start of this blog. The summer of 2014 was awesome and we really rocked all summer long, as the lyrics to a certain song go. The shows we had in Poland especially warm my heart, as we had Polish audiences dancing on tables and losing their inhibitions (in a good way!) every single night. Poland was one helluva time! I also warmly recall going for a kebab after our gig on the Reperbahn in Hamburg, Germany with a black 74-year-old jazz and blues musician, whose name now escapes me. Talk about experience and the wisdom that only comes with years!

Photographer Igor Uciński captures one of the best shots of me on stage in Poland.

Photographer Igor Uciński captures one of the best shots of me on stage in Poland.

The summer of 2014 also saw FCF Wrestling join forces with fast food restaurant Snacky in Finland for an event called Snacky Slam at the end of July. This show was held outdoors, and we had more media exposure through Snacky for FCF than I recall en masse in recent years. Finland’s top entertainment magazine, 7 Päivää, jumped in as the media sponsor for the event, proving to be the ideal, perfect match in terms of hype. I am proud as punch of the promo work that FCF and myself got to do through 7 Päivää, and the vast, new audiences reached thereby. It was at Snacky Slam that Ricky Vendetta was able to gain yet another tainted win at my expense in a six-man war, featuring myself along with Sly Sebastian and Mikko Maestro against Vendetta, Stark Adder and Pyöveli Petrov in a super-hot match that had the Snacky outdoor audience rocking. Adder was the pivotal man to assist Vendetta this time, leading to the pinfall win for Vendetta over good ol’ StarBuck. Ricky Vendetta was really beginning to piss me off at this point.

In August, I had the pleasure of coaching a week-long training camp for young wrestlers in Denmark. I was able to take my wife along for this trip, and we had our official summer vacation in the process. Danish Pro Wrestling organized the camp, and I had kids from four different countries attend. I saw some real potential amongst the 21 participants that busted their asses that week, and I am sure the world of pro wrestling will be hearing from some of them in the future.

The summer of 2014 also allowed me to mend the fence with Boogie Mustonen, the seven-time Finnish heavyweight bodybuilding champion. Boogie had trash-talked Finnish pro wrestling and my personal legacy many years ago on a certain Finnish bodybuilding online forum, and I had taken personal offense to his derogatory comments. You see, Boogie had once wrestled in the neighborhood of about 20 matches, after getting his training in Australia around the mid-’90s. Since speaking out less than favorably about Finnish pro wrestling, Boogie had amended his opinions and views. Back then, Boogie had never really understood the pro wrestling business, and his career was cut prematurely short after failing to convince in his match against Tony Halme (Ludvig Borga in WWF) in Joensuu, Finland back in July 1997. I had been the referee for that specific match, and it had been Boogie’s tryout bout to get into Otto Wanz’s CWA promotion (Austria) back then. To make a long story short, the match was flop. Boogie went on to concentrate on his bodybuilding career and Halme went on to become a boxer before getting into politics and then eventually killing himself in early 2010.

It's like the past never happened, Boogie is a great guy!

It’s like the past never happened, Boogie is a great guy!

I had a blast doing another TV commercial shoot during the summer, this time for Vesileppis Sport & Spa Hotel. Hotel manager Kimmo had been the promoter for FCF’s Karjalan Turpakäräjät show in Nurmes, eastern Finland back in October 2012. Kimmo thought StarBuck would be a great fit as a main actor alongside Vesileppis Hotel’s ladybug mascot, to provide a comical contrast. The end production speaks for itself, so take a look…

During the summer, I also got to do a TV commercial shoot for Finland’s biggest dairy manufacturer, Valio Ltd., with NHL ice hockey legend and Stanley Cup winner, Teemu Selänne. The double exposure of both Subway and Valio definitely lay down some serious exposure for me in preparation for my Spandex Sapiens movie next year, as my mug will be familiar to the entire nation pretty much. As the Bible says, the Lord works in mysterious ways!

2014 was a bit of a transitional year for my hard rock band Overnight Sensation, as we have been focusing on writing new material by and in large. We only had a handful of domestic gigs this past year, and granted, we could have done more. Nonetheless, we are planning on releasing a mini-LP of sorts featuring our new songs with our current drummer Jesper in 2015.

On the 13th of September, I finally had the chance to gain a measure of retribution on Ricky Vendetta here in Finland, as we met in a singles match in Helsinki. Yet, Ricky didn’t want to face me square-up. Earlier in the evening at FCF Wrestling’s Syyskuun Selkäsauna, I introduced the new debuting Class of 2014 to the fans present at Hotel Presidentti. Seven new trainees had passed their 2014 schooling to enter the world of professional wrestling, and during this presentation ceremony, Ricky Vendetta chose to attack me with a monkey wrench in his hand. In the ensuing melee, he bruised my ribs, leaving me at less than 100% for our singles match later that night. Regardless of my best efforts, Vendetta thwarted yet another bullet and managed to gain another tainted win over me. I had promised to make Vendetta tap out for his insolence, not content with just pinning him. I promised to make him scream for his life and submit. That is still going to have to wait for another day, and luckily, my opportunity lies in achieving that goal at FCF’s Talvisota IX event in Helsinki on February 9, 2015, when I will face Vendetta in a submission-only match!

I had the pleasure of returning to Japan again on October 10 for my good friend and former Synapse tag team partner Akira Nogami’s 30th anniversary show in Tokyo. Whereas I celebrated 20 years in pro wrestling this year, Akira’s landmark was a decade better. In the main event of Akira’s 30th anniversary card, I wrestled against my old friend Nogami and also against Pancrase founder Masakatsu Funaki in a triple threat match. I got to find out first-hand about Funaki’s legendary kicks, which I felt on numerous occasions during that match. In the end, even I was astounded at the fact that when all was said and done, I had pinned Akira at his own anniversary show! Japan has always been a very special place for me, and my favorite country to wrestle in, and this event once again reminded me just why that is.

lineup Akira 30th anniversary

Akira’s 30th anniversary show line-up

 

On November 1, traveled to Stockholm to fight Ken Malmsteen in a Last Man Standing match. I took it upon myself to teach Malmsteen a stern lesson about respect for the way that he disregarded and cheapshotted former Swedish Olympic hero, Frank Andersson. Frank had wrestled in WCW and New Japan way back in the day circa. 1993-1995 or thereabouts. He had made his comeback to pro wrestling this past year in Sweden, challenging Malmsteen to a match for the Swedish wrestling championship after Malmsteen first cheapshotted him when Frank was a special referee in a prior bout. Frank went on to make good and capture the title, but after the match he was diagnosed with a concussion after a loaded uppercut from Malmsteen in their match. On November 1, I beat Malmsteen from pillar to post and was well on my way to busting him open good and proper. Malmsteen got hold of the STHLM Wrestling title belt and blasted me in the face with it during our no-DQ outing, which sliced my head open, instead. After yet another shot with the title belt to my wounded head, I was unable to get to my feet by the referee’s 10-count, and the match was awarded to Malmsteen. At least I did manage to soften up Mr. Malmsteen for Frank Andersson the next time they meet…

I was thinking I had Ken Malmsteen beat (photo: Johannes Tegner).

I was thinking I had Ken Malmsteen beat (photo: Johannes Tegner).

On November 7, I travelled to France for the first time in five and a half years, which was a welcome return to fight for Wrestling Stars. I had become accustomed to wrestling mixed tag matches with Synapse in Japan over the past couple of years, and this time I teamed with the feisty Miss Agathe against French fan favorite Jimmy Gavroche and Sara Elektra from Finland. I don’t think Sara had ever been rag-tagged so badly in her life as in that match, and it was a valuable lesson for her about the relentless world of pro wrestling. I have always had the same philosophy with training and wrestling, regardless of whether it’s been a man or woman. Pro wrestling is an incredibly hard and remorseless grind physically, and if there ever was a thing called Sexual Equality, the world of pro wrestling is such a place. Hell, I recall facing multi-time Japanese women’s wrestling champion Kana on several occasions a couple of years back, and her kicks were on par with those thrown by Masakatsu Funaki!

On November 15, I celebrated my 20th year in pro wrestling with The Roast of StarBuck at Hotel Presidentti in Helsinki. Although January 7 was officially my anniversary career landmark, FCF Wrestling wanted to toast and roast my contributions to the grappling game at year’s end. Many names from my past dropped by to grill me, including media personality Wilma Schlizewski, Renne Korppila of Radio NRJ, my uncle Lasse, former amateur champion Jouni Mörsky and FCF’s Valentine and Robert Holmström. The best verbal jabs were dealt by Holmström, Valentine and Korppila, who had no mercy on my poor person. Regardless, I was a good sport and hung in there for the duration, until once again, Ricky Vendetta tried to ruin even this occasion as my wife Diana gave me a closing blindfolded lap dance. Vendetta tried to assault me with the trophy FCF handed to me as a commemorative token, which I was able to avoid and then procede to lay a beating on Vendetta, sending him scurrying out of the ring to await his final judgement at Talvisota IX this upcoming February 7, 2015 in Helsinki.

To cap off my eventful 2014, I was asked by Europe’s biggest MMA organization M-1 to ring announce their M-1 Challenge 54 / ACB 12 event in St. Petersburg, Russia on December 17. I did the ring announcing for the M-1 Semi-Finals in 2010 in Helsinki, and M-1 president Vadim Finkelchtein recalled that I did a great job for his organization then. One of the things that I have always prided myself on is having a strong voice and dynamic delivery. This has proven to be an asset for me over 2014, as I have had a slew of voice-over jobs through Finland’s oldest voice-over agency, Dictum.fi. I was once again able to parlay my talents and offer my voice to ring announcing for the M-1 Global live stream of their event from St. Petersburg. I was told the organization was more than happy with my work this time also, and hopefully we’ll be able to work together in 2015.

Yours Truly in a snazzy suit ring announcing M-1 in St. Petersburg.

Yours Truly in a snazzy suit ring announcing M-1 in St. Petersburg.

Thanks to all my fans for the support over 2014. 2015 should be even bigger and better, as the Spandex Sapiens documentary movie about me hits the silver screen this autumn. Stay tuned to http://www.starbuck.fi for developments and all the latest!

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

When you look back on the best times and highlights of your life, one tends to wax emotional.

Yesterday, the Japanese sporting press announced the end of WNC (Wrestling New Classic) and its merger with Keiji Mutoh’s Wrestle-1 organization.  From WNC’s roster, Tajiri, Akira Nogami, Rionne Fujiwara, Yusuke Kodama, Koji Doi and Jiro Kuroshio join the Wrestle-1 roster.  Everyone else becomes a free agent.  I was the second last champion for WNC (Bernard Vandamme of Belgium is the current and final titleholder), and was with the company since its inception in April 2012.

Yours Truly as WNC champion (photo by Marko Simonen)

Yours Truly as WNC champion (photo by Marko Simonen)

Time for a reality check.  We are living in hard times, and it honestly doesn’t look like it’s going to get any easier, globally speaking.  The rich keep getting richer, those with less are losing even that which they have, and the the big are eating up the small.  Mergers are the business word of the day, be it Time-Warner or Microsoft swallowing up Nokia.  At the end of it all, it all boils down to money; those who have it and those who don’t.  The financial crunch that has burdened much of the world over the past several years certainly isn’t helping.

When I look back on my time with WNC, I reminisce with fondness.  I made a friend, a great friend, in Akira Nogami.  Along with Akira and Japanese kickboxing and multiple-time women’s pro wrestling champion Syuri Kondou, I was part of the coolest rebel unit to hit Japan in ages in Synapse.  We wrecked havoc, took names and kicked volumes of ass.  I still fondly recall my first teaming with Akira and Syuri against Tajiri, Hajime Ohara and Kana back in on August 2, 2012 in Tokyo.  It was a hard-hitting, feisty brawl from start to finish, and during the melee, Tajiri kicked one of my front teeth out.  Battle scars, medals of honor.  No hard feelings, of course, just business as usual in the modern day arena of the gladiators.  It was Tajiri’s sister’s dental office in southern Kagoshima, that even fixed my missing lego at the end of that tour.  I remember the barbed wire matches that Synapse had with Tajiri, Kana and Mikey Whipwreck … matches that definitely had you on the edge of your seat, as everyone tried their damndest to keep from being mangled by the barbed wire sticking out of the boards in the corners of the ring.  I recall the outings against various three-opponent trifectas around Japan, all of whom we put down and convincingly so.  Then, as my last, great memory from my time with WNC, I remember February 27 of this year, when I beat Tajiri himself for the WNC championship title in Tokyo in one of the hardest slobberknocking matches of my career.

The first ever teaming of Synapse (all photos by WNC)

The first ever teaming of Synapse (all photos by WNC)

SB vs Markov SB vs Tajiri StarBuck vs Nishimura

I want to publicly thank WNC and especially main man Tajiri himself for giving me the golden opportunity to wrestle for their company over the past couple of years that they were in existence.  It has been a hell of a ride.  Thank you Akira, my brother, for your friendship.  Thank you Syuri, for your warm smiles.  Thank you Yusuke Kodama, Rionne Fujiwara, Nozomu Matsuzawa and all of the young boys and girls of the WNC roster.

Once again, the words of King Solomon from Ecclesiastes chapter 3 come to pass:

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”

So desu ne!!!

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.

Well, today is the last day of the year.  A fitting time to look back on the tumultuous year that has been 2013.

Personally speaking, it’s been the hardest year on many fronts in my life to date.  Sure, I’ve had both good and bad this year, but the dark side casts a major shadow on what has been 2013.  Some economic seers were predicting a shitstorm for this past year at the tail end of 2012, and lo and behold, that shitstorm came with sinister fury.  Financially, 2013 was a horrendous year.  The sooner forgotten, the better.  I really have no idea what is going to stem the tide and turn the course of the economy and job market, but something needs to happen — big time.  Maybe it’s just the foreboding clouds of impending doom that forecast the doing away with of cash money, moving society towards a total digital transaction empire.  Maybe it’s the speedy dissolvement of the middle class, ushering in a greater disparity between the those who have and those who have not.  Maybe it’s the last, great rush of the greedy and self-centered, the liars and the thieves, to capitalize on the few remaining remnants of everyone else’s piece of pie.  Whatever it is, it’s come to not only reach, but exceed the limit.  Stop already!

But yeah, there has been good in this past year, also.  I started 2013 off with a surprise engagement to my sweetheart, Diana, at a wrestling show in Lohja, Finland on January 4.  After my match against Ricky Vendetta, I took the house mic and proposed in center ring to my girl, leading to our marriage on March 13 in Espoo, Finland.  Diana told me that both numbers 3 and 13 have always had a lucky significance for her during her life, and it was her wish that we tie the knot on 13.3.2013.  It took me almost 40 years to reach marriage, but dammit, I finally found my diamond in the rough and took the head-first plunge!

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My parents pose with my brand spanking new wife and I

In March, I had the honor of representing my homeland of Canada in the Four Continents Cup of 2013 in Brugge, Belgium.  The match was a four-man random tag elimination bout, with wrestlers also representing Spain (Europe), Japan (Asia) and Ecuador (South America).  In the end, it boiled down to myself and Makoto Morimitsu of Japan, with my foe escaping my finishing piledriver attempt, capturing me in a rolling side cradle hold for the pinfall and win.  It was a hard-fought match that was eight years in the making, as I had originally faced Makoto in Italy back in 2005, where I left him laying the ring after my spike piledriver.

SB vs Makoto 02

StarBuck piledrives Makoto in the Four Continents Cup

I got to the critical age of 40 this past year, back on April 24.  My wife organized a surprise birthday party for me at my old friend and ex-Stoner Kings drummer Janne Kontoniemi’s Bar Chaplin in downtown Helsinki.  It was nice to see so many people turn up for the occasion.  That said, it really feels like at 40, my life may as well be half over.  I’ve been able to “live the dream”, as the boys call it in pro wrestling when one is able to enjoy a good modicum of success, rock all over the world with several of the bands I’ve fronted in, create characters with SONY music sensation Hevisaurus that have turned into a smash-hit all across Finland with kids far and wide, and a whole hoopla of other stuff.

Yet, somehow at the milestone age of 40, all of this feels somewhat … empty.  It’s strange.  When you think, that in the end, all you have ahead of you is an endless eternity that you cannot cancel out on, even if you’d have hoped, it all just becomes so very strange.  The words from my band Overnight Sensation’s song Fool Like You resound in my head: “If I could, I’d return to the womb … way the hell back to nothing, before I even set to bloom.”  Maybe it’s the hardships over the past year, but it makes one somber and philosophical.

In the Spring of 2013, I had the honor of facing WNC (Wrestling New Classic) champion, Osamu Nishimura, as part of a spectacular tag team main event in Tokyo, where I was paired up with my Synapse teammates AKIRA and Syuri against TAJIRI, Nishimura and WNC women’s champion Lin Byron.  My good friend, heart surgeon Dr. Hiroaki Terasaki, claimed that this was the best match that I had wrestled in Japan in his opinion.  I must say, that working against Nishimura in that match left me hoping I would have gotten a singles title match against the man over the course of this year.  However, the financial hardships that are troubling the west are also now being felt harshly in the east, and I didn’t get the chance to grapple solely against Nishimura, as he dropped the title to TAJIRI this past summer.

A show of respect between WNC Champ Nishimura and myself after our match.

A show of respect between WNC Champ Nishimura and myself after our match.

On May 11 in Espoo, Finland, I captured the BWA (British Wrestling Alliance) Catchweight title from Valentine, gaining a measure of revenge on my adversary for attacking my wife a couple of months earlier at an event in Helsinki.  My victory was bittersweet, as I had promised not only to take the title, but to send Valentine out on a stretcher for good measure.  I didn’t get to collect on the stretcher ride portion of it all, but that receipt is still coming, be assured of that.

2013 was a hard year also in the way of physical injuries, particularly the herniated disc between my C6-C7 vertebrae, which was diagnosed in mid-August.  I had been experiencing numbing pain in my upper left shoulderblade/trapezius/arm, and I am talking 24/7 pain that just wouldn’t relent.  I finally could take no more, and I went to one of Finland’s most highly-regarded sports physicians, Dr. Tuomo Karila, who had been the doctor for the Finnish wrestling team in the last Olympics.  That is when I understood the severity of my condition.  Had I continued to wrestle, especially in a highly-anticipated match against 190kg Cannonball Grizzly at the end of the summer, I would have risked paralysis.  I tried to snake my way out of a match in Gothenburg, Sweden, against local hero Conny Mejsel, but the President of GBG Wrestling, Lady Delores, demanded that I wrestle.  I was given a substitute, as I declined the hard challenge that Mejsel would surely present, and in lieu, I faced masked man Aguila Roja.  I trounced Roja, as I was irate that GBG wouldn’t let me sit the match out, due to my aggrevated injury, but at the end of it all, Mejsel appeared to save the day.  I beat Mejsel bloody with a folding chair, paying him back for conniving against me with the Bättre Folk contingent in FCF Wrestling back in the summer of 2013 in Helsinki at one event.  When I am fully healed, I will be more than glad to face Conny Mejsel, be it in Sweden or in Finland or any place for that matter.  All that said, I have still not fully recovered from my herniated disc, as of December 31 today, as I get pins and needles from time to time in my left index finger from the damage done to my disc.  Deadlifts, chin-ups and back squats are off limits for another three to four months, as this thing has to get properly healed up.

I got some good news from Oskari Pastila, the director of my Spandex Sapiens documentary movie.  Originally, the movie was slated to be out in January 2014, but lo and behold, the flick just kept getting more and more funding, which meant that more and more people were getting involved.  This of course meant that the release date of the film had to be pushed back to either Spring 2014 or Autumn 2014, since the summer vacation months do not warrant putting anything notable out.  So, for all of you who have been asking and wondering, now you know the lowdown on the situation.

Spandex Sapiens promotional artwork by Janne Yliruusi

Spandex Sapiens promotional artwork by Janne Yliruusi

In September, I returned to action in England for the first time in thirteen years at an event in Gloucester, entitled Wrestling Rampage.  I faced local hero Matt Jarrett aka The English Bulldog, dropping him with my trademark spike piledriver to get the duke in under 10-minutes of combat, as Jarrett suffered a neck injury during the course of our bout.  I was even asked to go to BBC studios, promoting our match-up prior to the event, which I thought was very cool, in addition to making local newspaper headlines.

The Citizen newspaper runs a big piece on my match

The Citizen newspaper runs a big piece on my UK match

September also signalled the release of my hard rock band Overnight Sensation‘s Life’s a Bitch album, which was released solely as a digital record in todays Internet market.  It’s sad to say, but by and in large, it seems that the day and age of the CD as a salable item is in its twilight period.  So much of everyone’s business has become virtual, that it’s downright scary.  Still, I am damn proud of the end result with Life’s a Bitch, which is a very catchy and solid rock album.

OS pormestari

I got to play director on my southern rock act Crossfyre‘s Devil’s Daughter music video, which I also did the storyboard and wrote the story for.  My wife even got a sponsorship for the girls in the video through mineral make-up company, Gaya Cosmetics.  The end result was stellar, as you can witness from the official video.

All in all, 2013 doesn’t sound too bad from the highlights mentioned above, but in many other ways, especially financially, this year is not one that I would like to revisit, outside of a few peak moments.  Only God knows what 2014 holds in store, as right now, it’s just a black hole with a huge question mark at the end of it.

Nonetheless, thanks to all my fans and supporters for keeping the faith alive and flame burning over the past year!  Let’s keep our thumbs up for 2014…