Posts Tagged ‘Tajiri’

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!!!

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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

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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…

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

I will be leaving tomorrow for a WNC (Wrestling New Classic) tour of Japan.  I will be wrestling once again alongside AKIRA and Syuri in our SYNAPSE team, and at least one of the matches on the tour features our trio against that of “The Japanese Buzzsaw” TAJIRI, WNC women’s champion Lin Bairon and WNC champion Osamu Nishimura at Shinjuku Face arena in Tokyo.

The schedule reads May 24 in Tokyo, May 25 in Osaka and May 26 in Nagoya.  For all the fine folks and great wrestling fans in Japan, you can see the locations and venues on the poster below.

WNC summer tour poster 2013