Gino Gambino is a Fale Dojo graduate, he is also the Dojo’s Australian liaison. Gambino’s role is to help set up Dojo try-outs in Australia and put forward talent to go through training via the Dojo system in Auckland, NZ. Gambino is widely known as a veteran of 14 years – a quick-witted powerhouse and a member of the notorious Bullet Club stable.
As a lifelong fan of New Japan Pro Wrestling, Gambino made his wrestling debut at a time when the Australian wrestling industry was in a drought, a state it had been experiencing for decades. Despite years of low crowd attendance and a lack of coverage, Gambino stayed true to his passion.
“The Australian scene when I joined was at its lowest point,” said Gambino.
“Sometimes we were wrestling in front of 10 to 30 people, unlike today where we’re wrestling in front of thousands.”
Gambino’s faith in the local wrestling landscape was strengthened years later when he met Toks ‘Bad Luck’ Fale while visiting New Zealand. Fale had ascended to the top of New Japan Pro Wrestling as one of their premier wrestlers, and his friendship with Gambino was founded on a common goal to better the wrestling scene down under. They even discussed early on the possibility of bringing a New Japan tour to Australia which seemed impossible at the time. However their vision was too ambitious for some naysayers in the local scene to fathom in spite of efforts to include them in the plans, Fale and Gambino put the wheels in motion to organise the first NJPW tour of Australia. This event held in 2018 spread across four states and was held in venues such as Festival Hall which hasn’t hosted wrestling in many years.
“The first tour that I helped Fale-San co-promote in 2018 was crazy,” recalled Gambino.
“It changed the Australian scene in a sense that we could do this. We really stamped our comeback on wrestling by being at Festival Hall again, somewhere we haven’t wrestled for over 20 years.”
“Festival Hall was our Korakuen Hall, or our Madison Square Garden, or our York Hall. It was the venue where Australian wrestling was born,” stated Gambino as he detailed the resurgence of wrestling in his home country.
“To be able to go back there and hold a huge New Japan show was massive for us, and to have crowds of three to four thousand people was really important. I think that stamped our comeback on wrestling that we are here and we’re ready.”
In April 2019 Gambino made his debut as part of New Japan’s English language commentary at the ‘Road to Wrestling Dontaku’ tour. His presence was well received by fans that he resumed his duties at the climax of the ‘Best of Super Juniors’ tournament. The addition of Gambino not only gave the Bullet Club a spokesperson, but this also created awareness of the Australian and New Zealand influence on the New Japan product.
“I was lucky to be asked by New Japan to come and do some colour commentary for them,” stated Gambino.
“I’ve always been a fan of the product for a long time. Being a wrestler and having that experience to bring on board to an already awesome broadcast team was really cool.”
As the anticipation builds toward the ‘NJPW Southern Showdown’ tour, Gambino would like to encourage every wrestler from both sides of the Tasman to support the event. Gambino, a veteran of 14 years has always emphasised the importance of supporting and promoting local talent, helping the wrestlers themselves to grow into better performers and the promotions to expand to give fans more choice. Gino Gambino wrestled in front of very small crowds at the start of his career and is now involved with New Japan not only as a member of the roster but also assisting Toks Fale to get the product more well-known in the Southern Hemisphere. His closing comments still show how enthusiastic he is for the cause of local wrestling and how eager he still is to see it flourish and develop both locally and internationally under the NJPW banner.
“I’m looking forward to good wrestling and great crowds again,” said Gambino.
“I think it’s really important that all wrestlers get behind this tour, that we prove to the world that both in Australia and NZ we are on top of our wrestling game, and we’re as good as anyone else.”
“Like the first tour, this next one will show that there is a wrestling fan base here, that we are ready and willing to take on the world,” Gambino concluded.
“So go out there, buy a ticket, support your local industry and support wrestling, because this tour is going to be amazing!”