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.
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.
Ite 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.
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.
Ite 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
Mathew’s Wrestling Quickies #4 Feat Violent Giants vs Strong BJ
Time is a flat circle, and there’s a lot of wrestling. Mathew touches on a few matches that he wasn’t able to cover so far this year!
Time is a flat circle, and there’s a lot of wrestling. Mathew touches on a few matches that he wasn’t able to cover so far this year!
Welcome back to my Wrestling Quickies! The last time I did one of these was about three months ago, so I wanted to bring this back since I really enjoyed doing these.
For those that don’t remember how it works, I’ll be covering 6-8 random matches from any promotion as you’ll never know what you’re gonna find from each addition of my quickies and long as they’re uploaded between a 2-3 week period since not all of them are aired live. So which matches will be added to this version of my quickies?
Let’s find out.
World of Stardom Title Match
Kagetsu (c) vs. Hazuki
Review: I know I cover Stardom, but I’m a little behind on the shows and wanna move out of January since we’re halfway through February already. We have Kagetsu defending her World of Stardom Championship against her fellow Oedo Tai member, Hazuki. Kagetsu wanted this challenge once she defeated Jungle Kyona to retain the title. Hazuki won a tag match in the Oedo Tai vs. Oedo Tai bout to get some momentum and she could become Hazuki two belts if she can defeat the leader here. Will Kagetsu retain again or does Hazuki win the big one?
Kagetsu is already treating Hazuki like any of her other opponents when she doesn’t give her special treatment during her little beatdown as she starts throwing Hazuki around the outside of the ring while Sumire watched on as the two fight in the ring. One little critique I would give the match would have to be Hazuki while great in the ring, didn’t show her best work in the match as she had a few slip-ups that were noticeable and not sure if it was the pressure of the main event for the big title or not. Kagetsu though seems to really be stepping up her game recently in these title matches as she’s showing much better work in her performances. Aside from my one little comment, I thought the match was nicely executed for the majority of the match with some nice moves displayed, a good story involved, and very nice near falls.
Kagetsu would hit Hazuki with the Chokeslam and it looks like Hazuki is out of it but would still kick out at two this time around. Kagetsu went for the Oedo Coaster as Hazuki quickly went up to hit a Brainbuster off the top rope. Hazuki would finally hit the Atomic Bombs Away in the match as Kagetsu after failing to do so the first time and would somehow kick out of the move. Hazuki hits another Brainbuster for a two count and once she picked Kagetsu up, the Prime Minister would knee her in the face for the two to fall down. Kagetsu hits a Michinoku Driver off the top rope and goes for the Oedo Coaster for a second time as Hazuki moved out of the way to apply the La Hazukistral and this could be it, but Kagetsu kicked out again! Hazuki went to the top rope as Kagetsu would push the referee into the turnbuckle for Hazuki to fall down and hits another Michinoku Driver. Kagetsu would finally hit the Oedo Coaster onto Hazuki but she picked her up to hit the Death Valley Driver and instead of pinning her, she started to apply a Sleeper Hold and modifies it up a little bit as Hazuki is passed out, meaning Kagetsu retained the title!
Rating: Bruce Prichard
David Starr vs. Timothy Thatcher
Review: Our next match takes place in Germany’s promotion, wXw during their January 19th show called Back To The Roots XVIII where David Starr is scheduled to take on Timothy Thatcher. David Starr is someone I’m not too familiar with but I’m gonna find out more about him when he fights Timothy Thatcher, who is one of my favorites in the UK scene right now. This is sure to be a technical bout and time to see who wins this.
I was right to say that this match was technical in the beginning with the both of them getting even ground until Timothy would now get the control of the match when he worked David’s injured arm. What I enjoy about this match is the shoulder manipulation Timothy would be doing to David throughout the match with submissions, strikes, and impact moves. David did well going with the underdog type of role in this match while taking the punishment Timothy would lay out to him while getting some good comebacks into the match. Timothy would hit a beautiful Butterfly Suplex for a two count and once David kicked out of it, Timothy would quickly get him into a submission hold with that injured shoulder. Timothy would try to roll with the submission but David would roll with him and would get the big pinfall for the surprise victory in a short and sweet match!
Rating: Eric Bischoff and a half
World Tag Team Title Match
Shuji Ishikawa & Suwama (c) vs. Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi
Review: Since I’m not subscribed to BJW and this is for All Japan’s World Tag Team Championship, I thought it would be a good idea to talk about the match on here. We got The Violent Giants defending the titles against Strong BJ, Daisuke Sekimoto and Yuji Okabayashi at the BJW show, To Was Gat Early on the January 13th show. After Violent Giants retained over The Bomber, Strong BJ came out to make the challenge at their show and the Giants would accept the challenge. It should be a great match and can Violent Giants retain again or does Strong BJ beat AJPW in their turf?
What an incredible combination of power and wrestling mixed into this tag match as it was something you would expect for things to go out between these two powerhouses. If you enjoyed when Daisuke and Jun fought Violent Giants during the Real World Tag League, then you’ll love this bout as it was as hard hitting as this match but just had a better display in this match. Yuji being involved in this made it a bit better as he shows a better display of strength, especially when Suwama would have him in a Sleeper Hold and he just grabbed his hair to flip him over to get him to break the hold. Violent Giants were on point in this tag match displaying tag team wrestling and if people haven’t heard of this team, I would recommend start following them immediately.
Shuji was in the ring with Daisuke as he would start doing his combo with a running knee to the face and does a Dragon Suplex but Daisuke would kick out of the pinfall at two. Violent Giants start attacking Daisuke with a Double Lariat as Shuji has him by the ropes now to get the advantage and hits the Fire Thunder for Yuji to break the hold. Suwama and Yuji go at it now as Yuji would hit a Lariat as Suwama gets up to hit a Backdrop Driver to get him out of the ring. Daisuke and Shuji are back at it again as Daisuke starts to hit a few Lariats onto Shuji to try and get him down but Shuji would still kick out of it. Daisuke hits one final big Lariat for a two count before he hits the German Suplex Hold for the pin and we have new tag champs! Stong BJ has won the Tag Team Championships and wonder what it’ll mean for the titles due to BJW wrestlers winning the AJPW titles. Will Violent Giants get them back or will a new team try to dethrone them? Great tag match!
Rating: Bruce Prichard and a quarter
Wrestle-1 Title Match
Shotaro Ashino (c) vs. T-Hawk
Review: You all remember Wrestle-1, right? They’re still around and I know I kinda stopped covering them for the time being until I find a good day to write about them again, but I would still like to talk about Shotaro’s next title defense as he goes to take on Strong Hearts member, T-Hawk. Strong Hearts is still apart of Wrestle-1 as the rivalry is still going on in the company and the show took place on January 5th at Wrestle-1 Tour Sunrise. Shotaro was able to defeat Manabu Soya twice and this is his first title defense for the year as he looks to drive Strong Hearts out of their company while T-Hawk looks to win his first big title. Will Shotaro defend W-1’s honor or do Strong Hearts take another big win?
It’s been quite some time since I’ve seen T-Hawk in singles competition, so let’s see how he fairs here against the champion. I thought T-Hawk has gotten a lot better over the years and you can see the progression in his character and skills once he left Dragon Gate to join CIMA with STRONG HEARTS and seeing how much he’s grown as a wrestler for the past eight years. Shotaro is still showing how amazing he is in the ring and how good he is with the body manipulation as he would work on his ankle once he got the opening from tossing Hawk into the turnbuckle post to make him land on his ankle and once that happened, Shotaro had him right where he wanted him as he just worked on the ankle any chance he would get. Hawk would sometimes get time to shine when he would try to chop Ashino in the match along with a Brainbuster. What I loved about this match was that neither STRONG HEARTS or Enfants Terribles interfered in the match to give it a fair fight and it worked out better this way because it turned out to be a great match.
Shotaro would apply the Ankle Lock in to try and make Hawk tap out as he was able to get the ropes in time but he’s not done as he would be able to hit strong European Uppercuts into the match to get Hawk down and out and once Ashino ran towards Hawk, Hawk would toss him up to give him a knee to the face and a Reverse Suplex for a two count. Ashino was able to get a Running Uppercut in there before he would get him for a few German Suplexes to try and put Hawk away and ends it with a German Suplex Hold as T-Hawk kicked out of it. Ashino calls for the ending of the match as he attempts the T-Bone Suplex but Hawk would fight out of it and picked him up for the Night Ride and this could be it, but no since Ashino kicks out of it! T-Hawk would quickly get back up and hits the Cerberus to knock him down as we have a new Wrestle-1 Champion! T-Hawk has won his first major singles title in his career and it was the right time to pull that trigger in Wrestle-1. I wonder who will take the belt away from him but I would love to see these two go at it again in the future.
Rating: Bruce Prichard and a half
ROH Women of Honor World Title Match
Kelly Klein (c) vs. Mayu Iwatani
Review: Sure, I’ll throw ROH a bone and give one of their matches some love. Their first show since The Elite left the company has had negative reviews for the most part and now we’re gonna cover their recent show on February 10th, Bound by Honor 2019 as we’re gonna cover their Women of Honor Title match where Kelly Klein defends the title against Stardom’s very own Mayu Iwatani. The last time they fought was at the Five Star Grand Prix where Kelly defeated Mayu and it even happened during their first-round tournament for the WOH title as well. Mayu has a lot to prove here tonight as she looks to try and defeat her rival. Will Mayu win her first ROH title or will Kelly retain?
So about this match, I didn’t think it was an awful match but I also felt like they definitely could’ve done a lot better for this one as well. My problem with the match really was that it didn’t felt like a Mayu match and what I mean by that is that there was no story fully told in the match or just Mayu not giving it her all as she felt like she was just there. Also, guys, it’s a Dragon Suplex and not a Tiger Suplex, how did you guys mess that up? The match also felt very one sided with Kelly doing most of the dominating and we know how Mayu works and can give Kelly a run for her money and they just didn’t seem to be going for that role in this match which just felt odd.
Anyway, the more I think about these issues, the more I get mad about it and then realize that they’re not in Stardom and this is a different promotion, which is also not the best promotion or best division right now. One thing that really threw me off is that they treated Mayu’s Dragon Suplex like it was nothing in this match when we know it did put a lot of people away and Kelly felt like she just brushed it off and I know she’s a big girl and all, but come on. Aside from the complaints I had about the match, it wasn’t the worst one I’ve seen, just how ROH handles that division and their wrestlers. Mayu would hit a Moonsault off the top rope for a two count and then Mayu would go for a second one for the pinfall as Mayu wins the WOH Championship. I know a lot of people were mad about the fact Kelly lost it quickly after chasing it for nearly a year, but I guess Kelly is set to go to AEW and they needed a new champion crowned, at least it’s not Sumie Sakai again. The good part of this is that I can hopefully see Mayu with the title at the garden now since I’m going to that show.
Rating: Tony Schiavone and a half
IWGP Heavyweight Title Match
Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs. Jay White
Review: Well, I guess it’s time for another surprise with New Japan Pro Wrestling with their recent big show on February 11th, New Beginning in Osaka where Hiroshi Tanahashi will defend the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Jay White. Tanahashi went from having a classic match against Kenny Omega at Wrestle Kingdom 13 to win the title for the eighth time to defending the belt against the new Bullet Club Leader. Jay White has been on a roll lately with his new leadership when he defeated Kazuchika Okada at Wrestle Kingdom, cleanly no less. Jay now looks to go for the big title in this match against the ace at the New Beginning show. Will the ace reign supreme or will it indeed be a new era in NJPW?
This match was mostly about one thing and that was the evolution of Jay White and his character in New Japan over the past year and everything he’s been doing since this new persona has been unveiled to the world. Jay’s character has evolved with how his mindset works, how he speaks, the mind games, and the following he has gained when he was the new leader of Bullet Club. Tanahashi, despite having a classic with Kenny Omega recently, he’s still injured and body is still busted and you can see that with how he moves in the ring and when Jay attacked his knee recently, he found a target point to use throughout the match. The best part about this was that the interference with Gedo was very minimal and I’m glad that was the case since that would’ve been overkill if he did it constantly, even Tanahashi would attack Gedo a few times when he just had enough of his shit.
Gedo would be used as a distraction once again to give Jay enough time to try and hit Tanahashi with the chair but would move out of the way as he accidentally hits Gedo with the chair. Tanahashi was able to get High Fly Flow in but onto Jay’s back and wasn’t enough to put him away and as he went for the second one, Jay would roll out of the way. Whenever Tanahashi would try to hit a big move in the match, Jay would use the ropes to hold himself up so that Tanahashi wouldn’t get a chance to hit a Slingblade. This was a smart move as he would do it a few times and whenever Tanahashi had him away from the ropes to try and hit it, Jay would fall to his knees to buy himself a little bit of time. Jay would attack the knee a little bit more but Tanahashi would finally get a chance to get some Dragon Screws in before applying the Lucky Cloverleaf to try and make JAy tap out but Jay had the ropes just in time. Jay caught Tanahashi to try and go for the Blade Runner but Tanahashi turned it into a Slingblade and would hit another one to put Jay down. Tanahashi is up on the ropes once again as he would attempt another High Fly Flow but Jay caught him in midair to hit the Blade Runner and he connects this time for the pinfall and we have a new champion!
I’m actually speechless as to seeing Jay White win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship here since I expected Tanahashi to at least have a few successful defenses under his belt before dropping it at the G1 Supercard or Dominion, but it looks like they backed themselves up into a corner with Jay White since he had a ton of momentum leading to this match that losing here would hurt him slightly. Jay White has been wrestling for six years and has been with New Japan for about four of them and he has now defeated the ace to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. It looks like New Japan has a new star made to fill the void of Kenny Omega, which Jay did beat early in 2018 along with Kazuchika Okada, and now Hiroshi Tanahashi, Jay is the new star and we’re indeed in the Cutthroat era.
Rating: Brice Prichard and a half
Overall: Aside from the ROH match being lackluster, the rest of the matches would deliver in quality with W-1 and NJPW giving us my favorite matches for this set of quickies in this one. I had to reset the list a couple of times since I wasn’t happy with the lineup I originally had set up, but I was satisfied with this one.
Favorite Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Jay White
Least Favorite Match: Kelly Klein vs. Mayu Iwatani
New Beginning in Osaka Fallout: New Japan’s Reshaping Process
New Beginning has caused some discussions amongst the IWC. Let’s read Valentin’s assessment of the fallout!
New Beginning has caused some discussions amongst the IWC. Let’s read Valentin’s assessment of the fallout!
New Japan’s New Beginning tour just came to an end as these lines are written, and it is safe to say that the ending of the tour, which saw Jay White becoming the IWGP Heavyweight Champion, is making people discuss and wonder what is now next in New Japan’s new era. With that said, let’s discuss the perspective of a very exciting year, for New Japan Pro Wrestling.
If you still were not convinced, there is indeed a new era in New Japan, starting fittingly during the New Beginning tour. In a similar, yet quite different fashion than how Kazuchika Okada began his rise as New Japan’s newest top star, Jay White has done just that. It was only a matter of time for White, whom looking at his first year since coming back, was being built as a potential threat around the company’s main event scene. Now that he is New Japan’s top champion, we can only wonder what the Switchblade’s reign will bring to the table, what impact it will have. None can say for sure, but to at least try to get an idea of what’s to come, we need to take a more global view of New Japan’s landscape. Some recent events can help us figuring things out.
One other big event to occur during this last New Beginning show was Kota Ibushi’s return, which saw him announce to the crowd that he would be staying in New Japan. Ibushi also announced he would be taking part in the New Japan Cup. The big news here being that Ibushi seems to now be fully committed to New Japan, so we can now expect him to get to the level he seemed destined to reach, which is being an established main eventer. As much as everyone knows how good Ibushi is, can we really say he’s an established Heavyweight star so far ?
Sure, Ibushi won the New Japan Cup once, had great outings for the Heavyweight and IC championships over the years, as well as managing to claim the NEVER Openweight championship in December, but I think most people expect more at this point. Hiroshi Tanahashi has said himself that Ibushi has everything to be the future of New Japan, and with no storm inside of Bullet Club to be unwillingly apart of, there is nothing stopping Ibushi from getting to the spot he possibly should already be in. With the early ending to Tanahashi’s potential last reign as Heavyweight champion, there will be a spot to fill when the Ace starts stepping out of what we tend to call “New Japan’s big four”. This year should give us some answers if whether or not Ibushi will be the man to eventually take that spot.
Speaking of members of that “big four”, let’s now look at another big topic concerning New Japan’s main event scene. Since recapturing the Intercontinental championship, Tetsuya Naito has made his intentions clear. The leader of L.I.J wants to hold both the Heavyweight and Intercontinental championships, at the same time. As it surely looks like 2019 will be another big year for Naito’s group, it’s quite easy to expect the faction’s leader to get something more than a third IC championship run, as this chapter of his own story is reaching its end. Let’s not forget that this summer, Naito will not have been Heavyweight champion in three years, which is quite long even in New Japan standards, when you are one of the company’s top stars.
Making history has been a recent trend with New Japan, and another opportunity to do just that is presenting itself with Naito.
The point now is that New Japan needs to build up wrestlers for years to come, and it is not just be about Jay White becoming the Ace’s main foe. It is also about re-establishing guys who have been waiting for their opportunity to rise, which are long overdue by now. New era tends to mean new faces, and while I’ve been focusing on the main event scene so far, it doesn’t stop there.
Without even mentioning the constant waves of Young Lions coming in, New Japan has started establishing new faces throughout the divisions in the last few years. Hiromu Takahashi and Taiji Ishimori in the Jr division, Roppongi 3K in the Jr tag team division, EVIL & SANADA both as a team and as singles competitors. Let’s not forget about Zack Sabre Jr, Juice Robinson and Will Ospreay as Gaijins on the rise. The most recent example being Shingo Takagi, who will likely look further than being Jr Heavyweight Tag Team champion.
To make it short, New Japan has entered a reshaping process. The company is making a bet for the future, and if recent history has taught us one thing, it is that the last time such a bet has been taken, it worked out.
With that in mind, how do you envision New Japan’s future ?