Fale Dojo Exhibition took place on March 30 at the Dojo’s training facility in Otahuhu, Auckland. The festivities began with a BBQ as well as Silver Lion Sports selling New Japan Pro Wrestling merchandise. As the doors opened at 6 pm, people began making their way into the Dojo.
Fale Dojo founder Toks ‘Bad Luck’ Fale opened with a welcoming speech. Fale reminded the crowd that the wrestlers were still students, therefore, were in the middle of their training. He also told the crowd of their role in the event and how their voices would be a great help to the students learning experience.
General Manager/Coach Mark Tui followed up with a statement as he humbly reflected on the Dojo reaching this point of its three-year journey. Tui thanked the audience before handing the night over to Head Trainer and the evening’s ring announcer, Tony Kozina.
The Exhibition showcased current students and graduates from the Dojo classes Young Lions three month course, plus several from the professional wrestling advance course and some of the coaches.
“The students are from all over the world,” announced Kozina.
“These young talents come from South Africa, Germany, Australia, the United States, and of course New Zealand.”
Before announcing the first contest, Kozina introduced the referee, Lloyd Morgan. Morgan is also the newest addition to Fale Dojo.
The show which had six matches demonstrated a great emphasis in strong style. Unlike like its known counterpart, ‘sports entertainment’, strong style is a blend of pro wrestling and mixed martial arts. The genre requires the wrestlers to engage in physical combat and move naturally as opposed to looking choreographed. Strong style is the foundation of the Dojo’s training regime and was notably referenced in the wrestling action throughout the evening. This style resonated with the audience as they became better acquainted to the genre.
Arthur Papali’i (New Zealand) vs. Vik Shiva (India):
The first match featured Fale Dojo coach Arthur Papali’i against the very first Dojo graduate and returning young lion Vik Shiva. The two opponents engaged in an intense tie up that Papali’i initiated. As Papali’i established his stance with vicious chops, elbows and forearm strikes as well as a simple but effective body slam which wowed the audience, Shiva retaliated with his share of forearm strikes and a defensive arsenal consisting of submission holds. This matchup demonstrated a promising contrast of the striker vs. the wrestler, a fitting role for Papali’i who is also an amateur boxer. Although Papali’i had dominated the bout, Shiva’s persistence in submission holds paid off when he submitted Papali’i with a Boston crab.
Winner: Vik Shiva
Daniel Puru (New Zealand) vs. Anthony Richards (South Africa):
The next contest pitted the youthful Daniel Puru against Anthony Richards. Puru is a student in the kickboxing, boxing and pro wrestling advance classes while Richards is a recent graduate from the Young Lions programme, both were making their pro debuts. Richards took control early on with an aggressive headlock takedown. Puru stood up only for Richards to execute a series of hard chops. Puru soon responded with some loud forearm shots which then became a heavy exchange as Richards refused to back down. The crowd erupted in Puru’s favour when he took momentum and the crowd’s approval of not just Puru, but of the match grew in volume when the two opponents laid into each other with their re-emphasis of strong style. Puru, the hungry young warrior from Manurewa, South Auckland had the full support of the audience. However, Richards’ experience helped him gain the upper hand with a schoolboy roll-up pin over Puru. In spite of his loss, Puru’s passion gained the respect of his elder Richards’ who opened the ring ropes for the youthful Puru to exit the ring as a gesture of his support.
Winner: Anthony Richards
Michael Richards vs. Oskar Müchow:
The following singles bout involved Michael Richards, a Fale Dojo graduate and trainer, and New Japan Dojo graduate going up against Germany’s Oskar Münchow from the February intake. Richards received a great ovation from the crowd although his tactics would soon decide him as the villain. Both wrestlers possessed a look which complimented the other. Richards had worked hard to build his physique and so did Münchow who stood at 6’5 which made is look impressive. The experienced Richards helped bring out the best in his young opponent. Münchow’s size was noted as Richards forcefully ran into the big man with a shoulder block, however, Münchow didn’t budge. Instead, he retaliated with a massive shoulder block of his own followed up by a hip toss and a thunderous body slam which made Richards retreat outside of the ring to regain his composure. Oskar showcased a series of offensive moves but would fail to gain momentum against Richards’ rule-breaking practices. The crowd’s support shifted to Münchow who eventually matched Richards’ intensity with a leg drop and a series of clubbing forearms to the back, showing glimpses of his idol Stan Hansen. As Münchow charged towards Richards who was thought to be trapped in the corner, the graduate lifted the young lion and crashed him face first into the turnbuckle. Münchow landed on the mat and this allowed for Richards to cover his less experienced opponent for the three-count while planting his feet on the ropes for leverage.
Winner: Michael Richards
Victor Faletogo (USA) and Richard Mulu (New Zealand) vs. Jordan Allen-Wright (New Zealand) and Vik Shiva (India):
Victor Faletogo and Richard Mulu have both trained at Fale Dojo in the pro wrestling advance, boxing and kickboxing classes. Along with Papali’i and Puru, these young and passionate Polynesians from South Auckland have journeyed together at the Dojo with the same goal of becoming full-time wrestlers. Their opponents consisted of Vik Shiva and Fale Dojo coach, Jordan Allen-Wright. In addition to Wright’s wrestling experience, he also holds a background in MMA and kickboxing. This tag team contest displayed strong style as well as an element of humour incited by Faletogo and Mulu which went down well with the audience. Notwithstanding their antics did not take away from their immense power and cohesiveness. Mulu, especially executed his brute strength by dropping Wright with a heavy forearm strike and following up with a ferocious leg drop, showcasing his agility. Shiva and Wright were faced with the daunting task of fighting an uphill battle against the Samoan duo, and it would pay off when they delivered a double belly to back suplex on Mulu. This gave Shiva and Wright the opportunity to get the three-count pinfall.
Winners: Jordan Allen-Wright and Vik Shiva
Tome Filip (Australia) vs. Stevie Filip (Australia):
This special attraction between brothers Tome and Stevie Filip from the Young Lions programme was first initiated while they were wrestling together in Melbourne, Australia. The Filip’s resumed their rivalry at the Exhibition show, where under their new training in the strong style approach, their match had enhanced greatly from their previous encounter. In fact, the strong style influence most likely added more authenticity to the sibling rivalry. Unlike the most notable brother rivalries in wrestling like Bret vs. Owen, and Rick vs. Scott, where the younger sibling was the jealous antagonist, Tome vs. Stevie depicted the other narrative where Tome (the eldest) was the aggressor. Tome, the bigger of the two not only had the advantage in size and power but also psychologically as the older brother. He believed that he could smash Stevie and that he did. This was clear in the way Tome was a step ahead. Regardless of Stevie being quicker, and showing more wrestling ability and heart, he was also too anxious and furious. Tome remained level-headed and struck with a number of well thought out moves and strikes that were effective because of his height and therefore would’ve taken a toll on Stevie’s physicality. Stevie’s incredible and courageous effort to beat Tome did not go his way. Tome was victorious in the end. Nonetheless, the Filip brothers reconciled after the match when Tome embraced Stevie before leaving the ring together. This was an amazing match.
Winner: Tome Filip
Dojo Pro Championship – Aaron Solow (c) (USA) vs. Liam Fury (New Zealand):
Before the wrestlers made their entrance, Kozina announced that the winner of the championship match would have the honour of defending the title in the United States.
The challenger Liam Fury arrived at a hero’s welcome, a stark contrast to the champion Aaron Solow who followed and was met with hostility.
The match began with the champion and challenger engaging in some intense grappling while the audience cheered on Fury. As the match progressed, Solow reacted to the crowd’s sentiments with remarks such as, “I’m the best in New Zealand while I’m here!”, and “it looks like you’re not going to America anytime soon.,” a comment he made at Fury while in control of the match. Solow even rejected his own support when a fan started a ‘USA!’ chant, only for Solow to reply, “we wouldn’t allow you in our country.” This epic seesaw battle saw both wrestlers utilise their kickboxing skills in an exchange of intense strikes.
The lions also exchanged submission holds as Fury trapped Solow in the Boston crab to the delight the crowd chanting for the champion to tap out. Solow countered Fury’s hold into an ankle lock which diminished the crowd’s cheers. The fans were still hopeful that Fury would take the championship, however, when he attempted to execute the GTS, Solow reversed the move into a devastating fisherman buster suplex. This put an end to Fury’s quest for the Dojo Pro Title. Solow picked up the victory and retained the Dojo Pro Title at 14 minutes, 38 seconds.
Winner, and still Dojo Pro Champion, Aaron Solow
Solow then signalled for the microphone to make his victory speech.
“It’s no secret I’m American,” said Solow, jokingly.
“I came here to be trained by the best, and I asked to be given the best competition.”
“Liam Fury, it wasn’t personal. I was trying to get the best out of you,” Solow stated.
“I’m a believer, you are the best in New Zealand.”
The audience responded with applause as Solow handed the microphone to Fury.
“Aaron Solow, you are indeed great,” said Fury to which the audience again agreed in applause.
“Here at Fale Dojo, we don’t just do wrestling, we learn hard work, we learn discipline, and we learn respect.”
“I think that’s one thing that pro wrestling is definitely about, and Fale Dojo represents all of that.”
“I may not be going to America now, but I still intend on going to Japan. I’m excited about the future”.
Fury thanked the audience for supporting Fale Dojo and NZ wrestling before inviting the students and coaching staff to the ring to take part in a traditional Japanese sending to end the evening. This, a fitting way to close the first Exhibition show, and indeed a proud moment for Fale Dojo.