Dedication, Respect, Sacrifice, Integrity, Hard Work and Fighting Warrior Spirit! These attributes are what the Fale Dojo trainers look for in a person that attends and takes part in a tryout. Robbie Eagles epitomised each of these qualities when he attended his first New Japan Pro-Wrestling tryout in Melbourne, Australia, 2017. Nicknamed “Sniper of the Skies”, Eagles had nine year’s experience in pro wrestling prior to the Melbourne tryout. Since taking the initiative and trusting the process put before him by Toks ‘Bad Luck’ Fale, the ‘Sniper’ has competed on New Japan Pro-Wrestling tours in Australia, he was a member of Bullet Club – professional wrestling’s longest existing faction, and at Tokyo’s Korakuen Hall Eagles and Taiji Ishimori defeated the team of legends, Jushin “Thunder” Liger and Tiger Mask IV in the NJPW Super Junior Tag League, 2018 which ended with Eagles making Liger tap out to a submission hold. More recently at the ‘Liger Down Under’ event in Sydney, Eagles teamed up with Liger in the main event tag team match.
Robbie Eagles grew up watching professional wrestling in Jonestown, New South Wales, Australia. He first encountered wrestling while watching WCW during its peak in the mid-1990s. The young Eagles’ curiosity with the splendour and theatrics of wrestling came from his love of Marvel comics and the original Power Rangers television series. Eagles was especially fascinated with the masked Mexican Luchadores that competed as part of the WCW Cruiserweight Division.
“My first wrestling memory was when I watched WCW Road Wild at a friends house,” said Eagles.
“At the time, I was really into comic books like X-Men and Spiderman. I was also an avid watcher of the Power Rangers.”
Eagles noted Rey Misterio Jr. and Sting as two of his favourite wrestlers, but he would also become a fan of certain talent he identified with regarding their small stature. Eagles was consistently mindful of his own size and he would use it as a means of motivation.
“I remember seeing guys like Rey Misterio Jr., Psychosis and Sting with elaborate costumes, masks or face paint. It was all of my favourite things combined brought to life,” he recalled.
“I was especially fixed on Misterio and Sting, they were my guys. I also became a fan of X-Pac when I got introduced to WWE”.
“I always was fond of the underdog, the small guy. The more acrobatic, the more I enjoyed them as well.”
Eagles’ sports activities during his childhood included soccer and rugby league. He remembered being somewhat immersed with soccer, however, he didn’t connect with the game. His experience with rugby league was brief when he realised that he wasn’t suited for what the game required of its players.
“I mostly played Soccer as a kid,” he remembered. “I tried my hand at different positions, goalkeeper, full back, and midfield. I never got the knack for it and I didn’t think I was that good.”
“My time with rugby league in high school was brief. I was always one of the smallest on the field, nor was I the strongest or the quickest.”
Eagles’ experiences in outdoor sports were just seasons in his youth. His aspiration was to always become a pro wrestler. Although not everyone in his life was supportive of his goal. Yet, the youthful Eagles stayed true to his passion.
“Since I became a fan, I would always tell people that I wanted to be a pro wrestler,” he said.
“My family was used to hearing me talk about it, though my dad and other family members were always telling me to think of a ‘real career’. I was too determined, I felt strongly that wrestling was what I wanted to do for a living.”
“As I got older, it started becoming more of a talking point with friends and other people, even if they weren’t accepting,” expressed Eagles.
“I think my high school peers will see that my goal wasn’t a phase after all and I hope they are proud to see what I’ve accomplished.”
Being mindful of his size, and seeing how it served as an advantage for his favourite wrestlers, Eagles based his style around the same high-flyers when he began training for the sport of wrestling. Eagles was especially influenced by the WCW Cruiserweight Division and later on by the US Independent circuit and the Junior Heavyweights in Japan.
“My style was inspired by all kinds of wrestlers, starting with the WCW Cruiserweights, especially Misterio,” revealed Eagles.
“When I discovered independent wrestling and Puroseru (Japanese wrestling), I saw a handful of wrestlers whose styles had a direct influence on me,”
“Wrestlers such as the Amazing Red and Alex Shelley from the American Indies quickly come to mind, and I was enamoured by Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger, Tiger Mask, Super Deflin and Hayabusa,” he added.
“The original cast of the first few ‘Super J Cups’ were repeat offenders of whom I’d watch the most.”
Since the ‘NJPW Fallout Down Under” tour, the Australian wrestling scene has experienced incredible growth. The tour helped create opportunities for Eagles and his peers to wrestle regularly across Australia and all over the world as visiting wrestlers from other countries would recommend the local talent to other international promotions.
“The Australian scene has literally been shaken upside down. It’s become a whole new beast,” said the sniper.
“The first NJPW Australian tour really opened people’s eyes to the local talent. After the tour, I wrestled on three shows across Sydney and Melbourne, and the number of new patrons at the shows made a point to say they saw us and were impressed at the New Japan events.”
“Now these fans are the ones we see at every local event, and they are generally our biggest supporters,” stated Eagles.
“Their interest and participation at the events are helping to bring more attention from different parts of the world.”
“We have more companies and foreign talent touring Australia than ever before, and they are going back to their countries and talking about how fantastic the Aussie wrestlers are,” he added.
“We’ve worked really hard to get to this point and we only want to continue growing from here.”
Eagles’ journey to competing on the ‘Fallout Down Under’ tour began when he first met Toks Fale when he attended a New Japan tryout in Melbourne, 2017. Eagles remembered the arduous workouts and going the extra mile so that he could be noticed.
“I met Fale-San in Melbourne,” Eagles recalled. “There was an open tryout for New Japan Pro Wrestling which also saw Jado and Gedo join the event to scout talent.”
“When I heard about the tryout, I immediately signed up as New Japan has always been the goal for me.”
“The tryout was gruelling and tough,” recalled Eagles. “But I think I showed my heart throughout the process. I made sure to make the most of my performance in the ring that day.”
Eagles stayed hopeful and persisted to gain the attention of New Japan. He would attend a second NJPW Australian tryout, this time in Sydney, 2018. Eagles remembered the support shown to him by ‘Mr Juicy’ Gino Gambino who recently had some success in Japan wrestling at NJPW’s biggest event, ‘Wrestle Kingdom’.
“Fale-San came back to Australia in January 2018 to hold a second tryout which was based in Sydney,” explained Eagles.
“Gino Gambino had just come off his appearance at Wrestle Kingdom 12, and he really pushed for me to be a part of this tryout.”
“I did the same thing from the first tryout, grit my teeth and pushed as hard as I could, and I cheered on my peers. I’m sure that’s when Fale-San started taking notice.”
“Gino helped barrack for me,” explained Eagles. “The next night I was awarded an NJPW Australia t-shirt and told that I would be appearing at the ‘Fallout Down Under’ tour.”
Eagles wrestled throughout the tour. His most notable match was in a three-way contest against Cody Rhodes and Will Ospreay. Following the tour, Eagles built on furthering his knowledge when he attended a training seminar taught by the legendary Jado from New Japan Pro-Wrestling. This event was held at the Fale Dojo facility in Auckland, NZ which Eagles made the trip from his home in NSW.
“I flew over to New Zealand for the first time, and only spent less than 24 hours in the country,” Eagles recalled. “I flew in on the morning of the tryout then flew out the very next morning, so it was a whirlwind experience.”
“Like the Melbourne and Sydney tryouts, I saw this as another opportunity and privilege to be in front of the right people and continue to strengthen my relationship with Fale-san,” Eagles revealed.
“The seminar was much more gruelling and demanding than any of the NJPW/Fale Dojo workouts I had taken part in at the time.”
“I questioned my technique on certain things but was praised a few times in the ring,” he stated.
“I had to just be confident and really show I understood the New Japan style.”
There is always room to learn as Eagles shared. He continues to absorb everything he can from Fale whether the teachings are directed at him or to his peers.
“Since taking part in numerous Fale Dojo seminars and camps, I’ve really made sure to listen to what Fale-San has explained to myself and other wrestlers,” endorsed Eagles.
“Fale-San is honest, and to the point, and that makes it easy to really knuckle down. I still look to Fale-San as a mentor, and I ask for advice whenever I can.”
Eagles believes that there is a place for Australian and New Zealand wrestlers in New Japan Pro-Wrestling due to the relationship that was established by Toks Fale. Eagles is proud to be a product of the Australian and NZ influence. He also cites ‘Switchblade’ Jay White’s reign as the IWGP Heavyweight Champion not just as an incentive of the possibilities that await wrestlers, but as a reminder that the road to NJPW is not easy. Such is the case for White who was hungry and willing to hone his skills at the New Japan Dojo and abide by the strict culture.
“Having Aussies and Kiwis in New Japan shows that there is a place for us,” he said.
“Jay White just held the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, and it wasn’t by fluke. It was due to his passion and skills blending together to create the well-rounded wrestler that he has become.”
“Fale-San helped open the doors because these opportunities only used to go to those wrestling in the UK, or the USA and Canada, as well as the Mexican Luchadores due to their ability to have easy exposure,” explained Eagles.
“You’d hear about these wrestling sensations online, in magazines and on television, and we didn’t have that exposure in Australia and New Zealand. But when Fale-San proved that our wrestling was just as good, if not better through Jay, Toa Henare, Gino and myself, it solidified our countries wrestlers as top prospects to be considered.”
“It’s almost like we are an untapped goldmine,” Eagles shared. “There’s a lot of hidden gems tucked away in the Southern Hemisphere.”
The Australian wrestling landscape has become fully immersed with New Japan Pro-Wrestling since the company’s first tour in 2018 which is soon to be followed up with the much-anticipated ‘Southern Showdown’ tour in June.
Eagles observed a strong desire from the Australian fans for a different aspect of wrestling. Perhaps the Japanese strong style also identifies immensely with Australians due to their love for physical contact sports such as rugby.
“I believe the Australian fans have wanted an alternative to the mainstream wrestling for a long time,” expressed Eagles.
“Even when we had other wrestling promotions on TV, they’ve been fairly similar to the mainstream. New Japan is a fighter’s organisation. Seeing matches like Katsuyori Shibata vs. Tomohiro Ishii makes people’s jaw drop and eyes widen. They have that sudden realisation that these two wrestlers are engaging in no-nonsense strong style wrestling. You don’t get that anywhere else.”
As the ‘Southern Showdown’ tour approaches, Eagles is hopeful to see more growth. Throughout his career, Robbie Eagles has personified the Fale Dojo spirit and clearly possesses the Dedication, Respect, Sacrifice, Integrity, Hard Work and Fighting Warrior Spirit that are needed to succeed in the world of NJPW. Robbie Eagles clearly is a man who enjoys a challenge, and will not allow any barrier like unsupportive family, friends or indeed his size to stand in the way of his dreams. Add to this, his passion for the current wrestling product in the Southern Hemisphere and his determination for it to flourish and grow. Eagles will clearly be carrying the flag and proudly represent Fale Dojo and Southern Hemisphere wrestling for years to come.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the progression,” stated Eagles.
“I was relatively unknown when I first competed for New Japan at the ‘Fallout Down Under’ tour, and since then I’ve wrestled a few times in Japan.”
“I want to see what reaction people like myself and Gino receive now,” he shared. “I want to see what the fans respond to, who they cheer for, who they dislike enough to boo and possibly throw things at.”
“I want to see how many Bullet Club shirts are there in the audience since the first tour. Everything points to wrestling growing in this country, and this tour is going to be proof of it.”
“I’m very humbled to be in the position I am in currently. Being a member of Bullet Club and being on the New Japan Pro-Wrestling roster is a huge achievement for me,” expressed Eagles.
“I would never have gotten here without my peers back home in Pro Wrestling Australia and without people like Fale-San who believed in me and gave me an opportunity to prove myself,” Eagles concluded.
“It’s time for all of us in Australia and New Zealand to band together and make these upcoming events huge.”