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Ite Lemalu’s Interview With Bad Luck Fale

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Bad Luck Fale

This article discusses the baddest man in pro wrestling; Bad Luck Fale. Along with his fellow Tongans and ‘Firing Squad’ members, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa and King Haku; this Polynesian branch of the Bullet Club are causing all sorts of havoc at the New Japan Pro Wrestling’s G1 Climax tournament series. Although Fale is currently a prominent topic of discussion in the wrestling world, this piece focuses more on his backstory as a youngster growing up in New Zealand and the ongoing work he serves in his South Auckland community. I had the privilege of interviewing Bad Luck Fale during his visit back to NZ, to which I gained some valuable insight into the man nicknamed, “Underboss”.

Ite Lemalu:  Please share your memories about your family’s journey, migrating from Tonga to New Zealand?
Bad Luck Fale:  We moved from Tonga to New Zealand in 1989. It was a whole new world, but it wasn’t an easy life. Mum, Dad, and my older siblings struggled with multiple jobs to look after us. We lived in Onehunga (central Auckland) then moved to Mangere (South Auckland) in the early 90’s.

Ite Lemalu:  What are some of your first memories of watching wrestling?
Bad Luck Fale:  The earliest memories of wrestling was when we were still in Tonga. My grandfather had a wrestling videotape, and we watched it over and over, for years. I remember watching Hulk Hogan, King Haku and Andre the Giant, who stood out.

Ite Lemalu:  Could you describe your experience as a student at De La Salle College, specifically your time playing for the 1st XV rugby team: How much did this school prepare you to transition from rugby to pro wrestling?
Bad Luck Fale:  De La Salle gave me the chance to get to where I am today. There were times where I couldn’t afford to pay for my school fees so my 1st 15 coach would help me out, and that wasn’t just me. The school still helps those who are in need to this day.

Ite Lemalu:  When you first arrived in Japan, how were you at adapting to the culture?
Bad Luck Fale:  I arrived in Japan only knowing “Konnichiwa” and expecting to see samurai warriors walking around; it was a very different world. It was not easy at all. Having to learn the language and getting used to the food.

FaleAndRikishi

Fale, with WWE Hall of Famer Rikishi

Ite Lemalu:  The number of Pacific Islanders in wrestling has grown a lot in the last 15 years; other than and yourself and the Islanders you work with in Japan; who are some other Pacific wrestlers that you’ve met?
Bad Luck Fale:  I’ve met the great Rikishi and his son and nephew. I’ve received
nothing but love.

Ite Lemalu:  In regards to the working relationship between New Japan Pro Wrestling and Ring of Honor; have you considered working for ROH or basing yourself in the United States?
Bad Luck Fale:  I actually I haven’t. But if the opportunity arises who knows.

Ite Lemalu:  What are your plans for the G1 Climax tournament?
Bad Luck Fale:  Like I have every year. I aim to stamp my mark as one of the greats and make sure the voice and presence of our Polynesian people are noticed.

Fale4

Fale keeps to his word, applying the camel clutch on his foe Kazuchika Okada at the G1 Climax

FaleIte Lemalu:  What inspired you to set up the Fale Dojo and locating it in South Auckland?
Bad Luck Fale:  The reason I based it in south Auckland is to give the young people there the same opportunity I had. Not all of them play rugby, netball etc. This is just another option. Henare is making a huge impact on the business at the moment and he will be a superstar in the near future. My goal is to open up Fale Dojo in Tonga, Fiji, and Samoa.

 

Henarea

Fale Dojo graduate, Toa Henare making the most of his opportunities in New Japan Pro Wrestling 


Fale3
Ite Lemalu:  During your spare time, you invest a lot back into your community.  Could you share some of the work that you’re involved in?  
Bad Luck Fale:  I like to share my struggles and journey with the local youth groups and schools. Hopefully, some of them will realize that they too can make it.

FaleNakamuraIte Lemalu:  Who has been your favourite opponent so far; and is there a wrestler you’ve yet to lock up with that you’d like to wrestle?
Bad Luck Fale:  Thus far, Shinsuke Nakamura. My dream match is to team up or wrestle against the man King Haku.

Ite Lemalu:  Before we close off, is there anything you’d like to say to your fans?
Bad Luck Fale:  Cheer me or boo me. Thank you!

Thank you @TOKSFALE

 

 

 

@Ite_Lemalu
Ite Lemalu Writings


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Becky Lynch Is A Heel Whether Fans Believe It Or Not

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Becky Lynch is the hottest heel in WWE today. That statement can be denied, it can be argued and it can be dissected from start to finish. In fact it has been and that will likely continue for the duration of her current run on SmackDown Live.

Many fans want to believe that heels and babyfaces do not matter anymore in pro wrestling and especially in WWE. They feel that it’s an outdated concept, best kept for the smoke-filled arenas of the territories in the 1980’s. To them, the hero and villain dynamic is pointless and has no place in today’s modern era of professional wrestling. 

But no matter how often critics want to dispute the validity of good versus evil and right versus wrong, the truth is that the foundation of it is still there. It will always be there and if it wasn’t, this would no longer be pro wrestling. That’s because when everything else strips away, the business is about good versus evil and right versus wrong. Even shades of gray are not enough to change that.

This is evident in Becky’s case, as her story is still unfolding. She was Charlotte Flair’s best friend and the two supported each other through thick and thin. In spite of all the drama happening around them or to them individually, Flair and Lynch were in this together.

But then Charlotte returned to SmackDown Live and was added to Becky’s title match at SummerSlam. In that moment, Becky’s heel turn began. She believed that Charlotte’s ego had taken over and suddenly their friendship meant nothing. Becky saw this intrusion as a betrayal and she wouldn’t let it go unanswered.

Of course common sense says that in the reality of pro wrestling, it’s every woman for herself. If a Superstar wants to get to the top, then she has to take every opportunity given to her and make the best of it. If Charlotte had declined the opportunity to compete for the SmackDown Women’s Championship at SummerSlam and Lynch had lost, then what? Would Becky still be a babyface right now?

In Becky’s mind, Charlotte crossed a line that cannot be uncrossed. Charlotte simply did what anyone in her position would have done but that’s of little consequence now. Becky Lynch is a heel and a heel’s perspective is much different than everyone else. 

Fans know all of this of course, just as they know that WWE is using the whole FairPlay point to bolster Charlotte as the babyface of the story but to no avail. In fact it really doesn’t matter what Flair says at this point, she’s going to be hated. She is hated and that’s okay.

The WWE faithful has its favorites and that’s just how it is. Becky is a huge favorite and that’s understandable. She was also a favorite before she turned on Charlotte and she’s even more relevant now that she ever has been. But for anyone to believe that she’s not a heel perhaps is not paying attention to the way WWE is booking her.

She sneak attacks Charlotte. She mocks her and she belittles her on TV. Becky Lynch had the opportunity, just as Flair did, to compete for the title and just like Charlotte before her, Becky won. Lynch could have taken that victory and moved on to the next opponent, leaving Charlotte far behind. 

But instead Becky keeps provoking Flair. Lynch has beaten Charlotte and Charlotte has every reason to keep chasing the gold but it’s Becky that keeps coming back for more. Lynch proved her point when she beat Charlotte at Hell in a Cell and that could have been the end of it. But it’s not, because Becky’s obsession is proving that she’s better than Charlotte. 

It’s gone far beyond the championship now. For Becky Lynch, this feud is about disgracing Charlotte and leaving her for dead as often as possible. Becky had the title in her sights, she won it and she’s on top now. She has everything she wanted and she could be spending her time proving she’s the best against every single female Superstar on the blue brand. But she won’t do that because she only cares about taking down the woman she’s already beaten. This is the definition of a heel, pure and simple.

This is how the company books Becky and to further prove that point, even WWE Hall of Famer Edge himself could not get through to her. Edge, who has the respect of fans and who typically never receives criticism for anything, could not convince Lynch that she’s doing the wrong thing. The crowd did not turn on Becky for mocking him and in fact, she was cheered during The Cutting Edge.

But just because WWE made the effort to heel Becky out again does not mean it was the most ideal effort. Edge was one of the most notorious heels in WWE history. He was the ultimate opportunist and he took every avenue available to get to the top. He was as devious as any heel on the roster and this is the man that WWE brought in to talk some sense into Becky Lynch?

However despite how many times the company tries to salvage Lynch’s heel turn and fails, the point is that the work is taking place. WWE wants the fans to hate Becky. That was the plan from day one and everything the company has done proves that. Fans may not want to play along, but that does not change the facts. Becky Lynch is a heel and that’s just how it is.

But fans want to love her, so that truth is denied. Fans want to hate Roman Reigns so they lie to themselves and claim that he’s really a heel anyway. Charlotte is the daughter of The Dirtiest Player in the Game but she does nothing to heel out against Becky. Yet, fans hate her anyway. Just like Roman, fans believe WWE is pushing Charlotte as a face on them and they don’t want that. Once again, the audience disregards the truth in favor of controlling the narrative.

The point is that WWE is not going to change the way it does business. Fans can believe whatever they want and the company itself can suggest anything it wants. But it’s all in the execution and the timing. It was not the right time to turn Becky heel, just as the time came and went to turn Roman heel but WWE did nothing. 

The fact that fans can’t determine which way is up should be no mystery. The most well-laid plans tend to fail when WWE does not establish the most basic elements from the very beginning. That’s not on the fans, it’s on the company. No matter who’s right in this scenario, the truth is that fans are enjoying the ride and that’s what matters the most.


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Opinion

Bianca Belair Overrated?

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This weeks NXT had a double main event of Undisputed Era  vs the War Raiders for the Tag Team Titles and a rematch between Nikki Cross vs Bianca Belair.

It would be Belair vs Cross that ultimately closed the show which is nothing new as NXT have always put the spotlight on their women’s division. It was a good match which ended when Black returned to demand Cross tell him who attacked him.

I’ve already talked about who might have attacked Black so I don’t want to talk about that much more instead I want to talk about Belair.

Despite losing in the second round of the first Mae Young Classic to Kairi Sane, Belair has been undefeated on NXT TV. She’s good in ring despite only being a year or so into the business helped by her athletic background. Her whip sets her apart and she plays a good heel.

My question is though: Why am I not interested in her?

Every time I see her I think she’s not as good as the commentators make her out to be and for a while I thought she was overrated. Maybe she plays that good of a heel that I’ve worked myself into not liking her. I don’t think having an undefeated streak helps her either. It’s a trait we see too often with NXT when a new person comes in. So far they’ve done a good job of protecting her and finding ways to have her lose and keep her streak like in her first match with Cross.

Eventually she will have to lose because the longer a streak goes on for the more it begins to hurt the persons opponent and story telling. Especially if she wins the Women’s title will undefeated like Asuka did. I think she will be champion eventually because she would a great heel champion lording it over everyone.

I thought when she did that sit down interview a while back talking about her upbringing I would be more invested in her but I’m not. It just reinforced that her gimmick is simply I’m better than you at everything.

A gimmick that’s worked in the past but I think we need more than that now. It’s like how just having the gimmick of just being a good wrestling is not enough anymore since the quality of wrestling has vastly improved. She strikes me as a female Mr Perfect.

I also get vibes of what Sasha Banks was when she was in NXT and we’ve seen what’s happened to her since she went to the main roster. If I’ve seen that there’s a chance main roster officials might see that which would not help her at all.

Hopefully my opinion of her changes in the near future as Belair continues to develop. She’s going to be in NXT for at least another year or so considering she’s still very young. With some small improvements to her character along with how good she is in the ring Bianca Belair could be a figurehead in the women’s division for years to come.


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Opinion

While You’re Distracted, Drew McIntyre Is Taking Over

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WWE NXT Drew MyIntire

There’s been a lot going on this week. Much of our attention has been taken by the developing situation in Saudi Arabia, which has led to some backlash towards WWE due to their relationship with the Saudi regime. Every part-time star & legend that we can think of has come back in recent weeks. Oh, and there’s everything else going on in the world. It’s a lot to take in.

Sometimes, things fly under the radar. We don’t take proper notice of events that end up shaping the future of the wrestling business. Steve Austin adopting the nickname “Stone Cold” didn’t garner much attention when it happened. Most of The Rock’s catchphrases didn’t immediately catch fire the first time he used them. Heck, it took a few months after Mankind got tossed off of Hell in a Cell for people to realize how big a deal it was.

Raw on Monday was one of those shows that we barely noticed while it was happening. Much of our attention was focused on Saudi Arabia, along with the SmackDown 1000 show the next night. Raw’s main event pitted The Shield, who have been fighting off rumors of dissention for weeks now, against Braun Strowman, Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre. While Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins had their moment of unease, it was Braun Strowman’s alliance that broke apart at the end of the night.

Braun’s logic in associating with Dolph & Drew was always flawed. He thought he was getting two guys to watch his back, to stay in the shadows and handle Roman Reigns’ friends while he set about his goal of obtaining the Universal Championship. He wanted a couple of flunkies. If Braun had paid any attention to the careers of the men he was trying to put in these roles, he would have seen all of this coming.

Dolph Ziggler’s best quality as a professional wrestler is his ability to serve as cannon fodder. He has the ability to make almost anybody across the ring from him look like a million bucks. When you enlist him as part of your group, you do so with the understanding that he’s going to be taking a lot of pinfalls. It isn’t ideal, but hey, it keeps you from taking the fall. Getting mad at him over it is counterproductive. It also has the side effect of getting his tag team partner really mad at you. That’s the last thing you need right now.

Which one of these guys is supposed to be the star?

In case you haven’t noticed, the Drew McIntyre that’s emerged onto the Raw scene in 2018 isn’t the same Drew McIntyre we remember from back in the day. It was almost a decade ago when he debuted on SmackDown as the Chosen One. He was a pretty young Scottish fella with Vince McMahon’s stamp of approval as a future world champion. Getting Vince’s endorsement is a big deal, but as some of our top Superstars have learned over the years, it makes it tougher for the fans to buy into you.

Drew showed a ton of potential early on, but something was missing. A reign as Intercontinental Champion & with Cody Rhodes as SmackDown’s Tag Team Champions didn’t quite click. There was also the business with Drew’s marriage to Taryn Terrell blowing up & the fallout souring WWE higher-ups on him. He didn’t do too much of note after that, except form 3MB with Heath Slater & Jinder Mahal. Don’t get me wrong, 3MB definitely had its entertaining moments, and the group has already seen one of its members become WWE Champion. It was, however, a huge step down from being the Chosen One and a future world champion.

Drew got released in June 2014. Some guys get released from WWE and are never heard from again. Others take their new status as an opportunity to reinvent themselves & step their game up to another level. That’s exactly what Drew did. He dominated EVOLVE Wrestling from his first night in the company, winning their championship in his first match there. If that wasn’t enough, he was one-half of their first Tag Team Championship team. He went to TNA/Impact Wrestling and won their top two championships. He tore a path through the United Kingdom wrestling scene, winning titles wherever he went.

While doing all of this, Drew developed his persona and became a more effective talker. He got bigger & more effective in the ring. Basically, he improved everything about himself as a wrestler & sports entertainer. By the time he returned to WWE, via the NXT brand, Drew McIntyre was ready to be the top star we thought he could be. The only thing keeping him from dominating NXT for longer than three months was a torn bicep. Once Drew recovered from that, it was time to hit the main roster.

His run on Raw since the Superstar Shakeup hasn’t seen a lot of bumps in the road. His teaming with Dolph Ziggler has made the Showoff relevant for the first time in a long time. McIntyre has yet to take a pinfall loss while on the Raw roster. There have been some disqualifications for kicking too much ass & things like that, but Drew has been portrayed as an unstoppable force since his return. To the point where he can lay out Braun Freaking Strowman with a Claymore kick and it doesn’t surprise anybody. Well, except Braun, who actually thought that McIntyre would serve as one of his toadies. Silly Braun. If the Monster Among Men wants to keep this alliance going, it’ll be on the Scottish Psychopath’s terms.

We all know that the Saudi Arabian quagmire is going to disappear in the rear view mirror at some point. WWE (and professional wrestling in general) has withstood every crisis that people thought would bring its demise. Publicly revealing that wrestling was predetermined didn’t kill the business. The sex & steroid scandals of the early 90s didn’t end it all. Chris Benoit killing himself & his family didn’t derail the industry. These issues were big bumps in the road, but pro wrestling survived.

When Saudi Arabia is far off in the distance, Drew McIntyre will be standing in front of your windshield. Probably with somebody’s head hanging from his hands, and maybe the Universal Championship over his shoulder. While you were distracted, he was making his mark. Bring in all the part timers & legends you want. The future is here, and ready to kick your head off.


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