The Fale Dojo second intake for 2019 commenced training in the first week of June. It consists of eight young lions, five of whom have travelled from Australia, Japan and Hawai’i to be trained by founder and Head Trainer Toks ‘Bad Luck’ Fale and his coaching staff. This intake has also welcomed back three graduates who are also Senpais (elders) to the new lions while they look to gain further training. This article features the young lions who have now completed the first half of the three-month pro wrestling training course.
Caveman Ugg is a wrestling veteran. Caveman was not a wrestling fan during his youth although it came naturally to him.
“It wasn’t my intention to be a wrestler,” said Caveman. “My cousin brought it to my attention years ago when he showed me a flyer for a wrestling tryout in Sydney.”
Caveman was trained by Madison Eagles and Ryan Eagles, and made his debut with Pro Wrestling Australia (PWA) in 2009. While his peers looked to current wrestlers to develop their style, Caveman gained inspiration from a wrestler who decades earlier was known for his unusual but effective style.
“Because I wasn’t a wrestling fan growing up, I didn’t pattern my style after any current wrestlers,” explained Caveman. “I tried to be creative in the process, so it was kind of a fresh slate.”
“I was inspired a little bit by George ‘the Animal’ Steel. His style is old school, and his character was slow and timely, and I was drawn to that,” revealed the Australian heavyweight.
Caveman has wrestled mostly as a fan favourite. “I’m a babyface most of the time,” he shared. “I tried to be a heel, but because I’m so different from the other wrestlers, the gimmick didn’t go over too well with the fans.”
In 2018, Caveman was part of the ring crew at the NJPW ‘Fallout Down Under’ tour in Sydney. It was at the event where he realised the opportunities that were opening up for wrestlers in Australia due to Toks Fale’s influence. Caveman was determined to train at Fale Dojo to take the next step in his journey. He found his avenue through a Fale Dojo tryout that PWA hosted.
“There weren’t many opportunities in Australia, so when the ‘Fallout Down Under’ tour happened, it got many eyes on Australia because Fale-San is respected.”
“I took part in three Dojo tryouts and a couple of seminars before I got the chance to come here. That’s how determined I am to make it over to Japan.”
“My short term goal is to be a wrestler, full time,” he stated. “In the long term, I’d strive to be the IWGP Heavyweight Champion.”
Since completing the first half of the three-month pro wrestling course, Caveman has observed a change in his physique and is training in other combat styles.
“I’m feeling good, sore but good,” shared the young lion. “I’ve noticed some big changes in my body. Weight wise I haven’t changed much but I’m losing body fat and watching my gut slowly disappear.”
“I’m learning more MMA style holds and takedowns as well as kickboxing,” he revealed. “I’ve never been a big kicker but I’m really enjoying learning it.”
“My biggest challenge has been conditioning. I’m heavier than the rest of the lions, so I’m moving more weight around.”
“I’m used to more explosive exercises as opposed to the training that we do here. But I do my best and keep up with the team. I have had to duck to the bathroom for a cheeky spew on the odd occasion then jump right back into training.”
“The Dojo has been what I was expecting; hard training and discipline. Just never keep up and take everything on to the best of your ability.”
“Living with the other lions has been good,” said Caveman in closing. “We have all bonded well and are very supportive of each other. Apparently, there
may be a snoring issue but I’ve never heard it :-).”
Yuto Nakashima, from Gifu, Japan joined the Fale Dojo 2019 June intake with the goal of becoming a professional wrestler with New Japan Pro Wrestling. Nakashima brings with him his professional Mixed Martial Arts background, a combat sport in which he has been active for six years. Nakashima has been a wrestling fan for ten years, having attended New Japan’s premier event, ‘Wrestle Kingdom’ in 2018, he was excited to see his favourite wrestlers Kenny Omega, Tama Tonga, Kazuchika Okada and Minoru Suzuki all wrestle in person.
“My time at Fale Dojo is very fulfilling,” said Nakashima. “I believe it was a good decision to come here.”
“A core principle that has stood out for me in my training is not to limit myself.”
“As the least experienced student, I have occasionally been challenged mentally in regards to developing my wrestling skills,” Nakashima shared. “However I have no preconceptions, everything I wanted to learn about pro wrestling is here at Fale Dojo.”
“I have no wrestling career, I am the worst among the young lions. Still, they kindly talk to me,” said Nakashima the humble lion. “I am very happy, I am happy to be able to train, eat and live with everyone.”
Hailing from Sydney, Australia, Jackson Lucia aka Luchi Baggins is a life-long wrestling fan. He remembered in his youth spending all night watching wrestling with friends, however, Luchi never grew out of it. In 2016, he was trained by Madison Eagles, and Fale Dojo graduate, Robbie Eagles for the sport of pro wrestling and was an active member of the PWA roster right up to his current training at Fale Dojo.
“I was inspired to come to Fale Dojo to take the next step,” said Luchi. “I wanted to push my limits and to mentally challenge myself. So I’ve come to Fale Dojo to get the necessary training.”
Luchi attended the NJPW ‘Fallout Down Under’ tour in 2018 where he shared how the experience was a vital role in why he took the next step in his pro wrestling journey.
“It was amazing to be at the ‘Fallout Down Under’ tour,” recalled Luchi. “I was sitting in the crowd, but I wanted to be backstage, wrestling and entertaining. New Japan’s presence really pushed me a lot after being at that event.”
As Luchi reaches the halfway mark of his training, he shares his thoughts about his training so far.
“Now that I’ve completed the first half of training, I feel stronger than when I started,” stated Luchi. “It’s been challenging but fun to push myself to levels I could never achieve alone. I’m excited to see what the next two month have to offer.”
“During the first month, I’ve learnt how to tap into a different level of intensity. With the help of kickboxing and MMA training, I’ve been able to feel more comfortable when facing my opponents.”
“There have been many challenges throughout the first half of our training,” explained Luchi. “Such as the lack of days off to rest, the constant training can be very demanding on your body. Though over time my body has built up a little resistance.”
“Being away from my family and friends has been challenging as well,” the young lion added.
“Before coming to the Dojo, I had heard about how physically demanding it is. So I had an understanding of what the training entailed.”
Luchi shared that he is enjoying journeying with his fellow young lions at the Dojo. Although he is outgoing and has a love of adventure, Luchi is focused on his long term goal of becoming a member of the New Japan roster.
“I’ve enjoyed living with the other lions,” said Luchi. “It’s been a pleasure learning from them and hearing their stories on how they got to the Dojo.”
“These boys are very passionate and help me get through the sessions.”
“I like the journey that we’re taking together,” said Luchi in closing. “I like the culture and meeting people. I also like to work hard and I will continue to work towards my goal to be part of the New Japan roster.”
SIU’EA LANGI II
Siu’ea Langi II comes from a wrestling family. He is the nephew of King Haku and the cousin of Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, Hikuleo and Bad Luck Fale.
“I am Tongan, born and raised in Hawai’i,” said Langi. “Both of my parents are from Tonga and met in Hawai’i where my brother, sister, and I were born.”
“We were brought up in the typical Tongan style. God first, go to church, respect your elders, and always look after the family. I still had my flaws while growing up but my family was always there to put me in check and keep me on the right path.”
In 2017, Langi moved to Florida, it was at the same time that his cousin, Tama approached him about becoming a pro wrestler.
“My cousin Tama asked if I wanted to wrestle, and it came at a very great time,” Langi explained. “I was living in Hawai’i not really going anywhere in life with no direction. So I took the opportunity he gave me and made sure to make the best of it and have a purpose in life while also working toward a dream I’ve had when I was a little kid.”
Prior to his arrival at Fale Dojo, Langi gained his initial training at the Team 3D Academy in Kissimmee, Florida. With support from his family, Langi decided to pursue further training at Fale Dojo in Auckland, New Zealand.
“My previous experience of wrestling before coming to Fale Dojo was training at the Team 3D Academy in Kissimmee,” he shared. “I started in mid-2018 under the Dudley Boys, Billy Gunn, Jon Cruz, and Jay Rios.”
“I have yet to perform at any shows, but have practised matches.”
“I chose to train at Fale Dojo because my family helped me to get here,” he explained. “It will make me a better wrestler and even a better person.”
“I was told that Fale Dojo is the best place to learn the Japanese style of wrestling and it will put me in a great position to progress in my career.”
Langi also expressed excitement about his new environment at the Dojo while also staying focused on his goals.
“Completing the first half of training at Fale’s Dojo has really opened my eyes to the world and I am really enjoying this ride,” revealed Langi. “I’m also keeping my eyes on the prize and what the goal is. I’m taking in as much as I can to be better all around.”
A significant lesson that’s resonated with Langi during his training at the Dojo is the cultural aspect he has rediscovered from a wrestling perspective. Such growth does not happen without obstacles.
“Everything I learn stands out to me,” said Langi, the young lion. “It’s things that I’ve learned while growing up but really applying it as an adult such as respect to all those that have come before you.”
“Always learning to take care of yourself and the place you live. The wrestling lessons are all still brand new to me but I love all the new things that I’m learning.”
“The challenges have all been in me in pushing through the tough drills,” he noted. “But I always remind myself why I am on this journey and make sure to never give up.”
One of the experiences at the Dojo that Langi has enjoyed is his time spent with his peers.
“Living with my fellow lions is a great experience,” Langi shared in closing. “We all work together to get to that dream and always push each other.”
Jake Taylor, from Melbourne, Australia has been an active wrestler for two years. Taylor gained his initial training from Australian wrestler Danny Psycho and has wrestled over 70 matches. Taylor grew up a fan of wrestling in spite of being the only wrestling fan in amongst his group of friends. Taylor played Aussie Rules Football (AFL), although pro wrestling was always his first love. However, at that point in time, there were no opportunities available to pursue a career in the squared circle until the opportunity arose for Taylor to train with Danny Psycho and quitting AFL to pursue his wrestling aspiration. Taylor also became an avid fan of New Japan Pro Wrestling, and he would start taking steps to develop his skills which he did studying matches of Bad Luck Fale, Prince Devitt and other members of Bullet Club as well as Kazuchika Okada. Taylor’s friend and Fale Dojo graduate, Stevie Filip encouraged Taylor to train at Fale Dojo which Taylor did so when he attended Fale Dojo’s New Zealand tryout on May 2019.
“Stevie warned me that I would be pushed and that the expectations were very high,” said Taylor. “I flew to Auckland and stayed in a bad hostel in town and I was exhausted because of a bad night.”
“The tryout was an eye-opener to be serious,” Taylor recalled. “I was told after the tryout that I didn’t make it, but I was encouraged to still do the course if I was serious.”
“Mark-San liked the way I interacted with everyone and how I presented myself afterwards,” explained Taylor. “That’s why I’m here, to become a full-time wrestler, to train at Fale Dojo and then go on to Japan, that’s my goal.”
Coming to Fale Dojo has also been somewhat of a homecoming for Taylor who shared about his cultural ties to New Zealand.
“Being able to train here in New Zealand is amazing. My Father’s mother’s side is Maori,” revealed Taylor. “I’m really proud of my Maori side and wish I had more time with my Nan before she passed to learn about our history and Iwi, Ngati Rarua, Ngati Tama and Te Atiawa.”
“I have plans to one day get a Ta moko. Thanks to my Aunties and Uncles I’ve been finding out more about our culture.”
With the young lions reaching the halfway mark of their training, Taylor spoke of the growth that he’s experienced as a result of embracing the Japanese culture and overcoming the intense workouts.
“I feel stronger mentally and physically,” said Taylor, the young lion. “My main goal is to make it to New Japan Pro Wrestling.”
“The training at Fale Dojo is tough of course, I’ve felt like passing out and I’ve pushed myself to vomit and even been injured. But with my goal at the front of my mind and what I have sacrificed back at home, failure isn’t really an option.”
“I love learning more about Japan, the language, the culture and how the Japanese show respect,” he added. “I’ve also enjoyed the MMA training, I have been a sponge with it.”
“To learn the Japanese style, I feel you need to learn how to fight first then translate it to the ring. I’m always trying to get better.”
Like others that have travelled to the Dojo from overseas while in a relationship, Taylor shared the vulnerability that he has experienced being away from his partner.
“The most challenging thing about the Fale Dojo has been the uncertainty,” expressed Taylor. “Leaving my girlfriend back home has been a horrible feeling.”
“She wants me to succeed and has always been my number one supporter. We are both struggling not knowing if I’ll get the opportunity to go to the New Japan Dojo. But she knows I didn’t leave her just to half-ass it here.”
Although Jake Taylor is without his greatest supporter, he is still delighted to be surrounded by his peers, the young lions. Most of whom have travelled from other parts of the world for a common goal.
“Living with the young lions is easy,” he noted. “We have people from NZ, Australia, Hawaii, Germany and Japan.”
“Everyone gets along really well, there aren’t any egos, and whether it’s years of experience or zero, we have the same goal and we have each other’s back with support.”
“We make sure everything is done properly as a team,” said Taylor in closing. “If one of us makes a mistake we all deal with the consequences.”
Hunger, ambition, a good work ethic, perseverance and supporting your fellow lions are values that are essential to be successful not only in the Fale Dojo training programme but also to go on and live out your dreams as a member of the NJPW roster. The current intake is fortunate to be training alongside three returning trainees in Jordan Allan-Wright, Oskar Münchow and Stacey ‘Smashahontis’ McInnes who display these values and by returning to the course for a second time demonstrate their hunger and desire to succeed. The experience of these three individuals will be invaluable to the current young lions as they will be able to offer support and guidance throughout the training programme, teaching them what to expect and what standard is expected of them not only in terms of wrestling ability but also regarding the values and culture of Fale Dojo. The three returning graduates are leading by example by showing the new intake that whilst not everybody succeeds the first time, if New Japan truly is their goal and ambition they must be willing to work at it and keep on persevering in order to fulfil their career goals and objectives, Setting a good example for the new recruits as they set out on their journey to fulfil their ambitions to one day be members of the NJPW roster and demonstrating hard work pays off.
Auckland, New Zealand
February 2017 Graduate, Fale Dojo Coach
“What has truly motivated me to do another intake are the two goals I set for myself two years ago when I first joined the Fale Dojo. One of the goals was to debut and wrestle for New Japan Pro Wrestling, and the other goal I have set for myself is to one day to be the first New Zealander to win the coveted IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.
As a senpai, I feel a major responsibility that myself and the other senpais have is introducing the new lions to the Dojo way of life, that includes the cleaning, cooking, learning Japanese and how we present ourselves when representing the Dojo.
One of the major challenges I’ve had in this intake is the fear of having another concussion. At the first Fale Dojo Exhibition, I took a bad bump and had to stop training to allow myself to heal. I wasn’t happy with how that went, which was another reason I wanted to come back, so as soon as I was cleared I began preparing for this intake.
Since the June intake started, I have felt an immense growth in my wrestling ability. I’m learning every day from Michael-San, Mark-San, and Fale-San. I feel more comfortable in the ring, and the Dojo has helped me grow more into the person I want to be. I should be looking forward to the rest of this course and I cannot wait for what’s to come because no matter the result, I will keep on fighting until I have achieved my goals.”
February 2019 Graduate
“I have returned for further training because I haven’t achieved my dream yet. My goal is to make it to the NJPW Dojo.
Firstly I want to be a young lion at the New Japan Dojo and my long term goal is to wrestle on the New Japan Pro Wrestling roster. I want to be the first German to hold the IWGP Heavyweight Champion.
As I have already been through the young lions programme, I know what the training entails. Part of being a Senpai is to help my fellow lions with learning the Japanese culture.
I have learned in both intakes to be more disciplined and I still continue to learn. My work ethic in this intake is also higher since Fale-San wants me to gain more weight. I often hit the gym after morning training.
The June 2019 intake is a good group just like the last intake that came in February. We all get along really well. Fale San and Michael-San have taught us how to make a traditional Japanese dish called Chanko Nabe.”
Auckland, New Zealand
February 2019 Graduate
“I know I’m not good enough yet and I need to do this until I get that breakthrough and am good enough. I’m still wanting to break out and develop my character and I’m still struggling with it.
My long term goals are to be involved in the wrestling scene and be paid to wrestle. I want life to be an adventure and I still want to see the world, I hope this is where wrestling takes me.
I want my passion to make a difference in the world, I want to be a good role model to other people especially the girls. I’ve been through a lot of hard times in my life and I want to show no matter what you have been through you can make it if you just don’t give up.
The responsibility of a Senpai is to show the other lions what the protocols are and procedures in the Dojo. I am doing my best to lead by example.
In this current course, I am now able to do some things that initially I found really hard. For example, I struggled so hard with the lion push-ups but was determined that I would be able to do 20 in a row and this has now been achieved.
I was injured before this intake and that has been very frustrating for me. I felt I was falling behind, however, I’ve been doing everything I can and participating as much as I can
It’s also a challenge being the only girl and living with eight guys, but the boys are pretty good. Everyone is good at giving each other space and working hard together.”