Since 2016, the Fale Dojo professional wrestling training facility has been an international destination for aspiring wrestlers from all walks of life. Such is the case for Juicy Finau: Nicknamed ‘Big Toko,’ the American born Tongan followed the Dojo closely on social media; observing the career of Toks Fale, aka ‘Rogue General’ Bad Luck Fale of New Japan Pro-Wrestling.
Finau travelled from Ontario, California to Auckland, New Zealand in pursuit of his wrestling aspirations where he trained as a young lion in the Dojo’s 2019 September intake. The experience gave Finau valuable insight into the wrestling profession at a high level through an international lens. This helped refine Finau’s craft which he put into action upon his return to the United States.
“I have been working and travelling on the independent scene here in the U.S., paying my dues and making a name for myself,” said Finau; his schedule increased gradually during 2020 and continues to grow throughout 2021.
He explained: “When I came home, there were a few companies that wanted to work with me because of my ties to Fale Dojo. I still had to put the work in, but the Dojo helped boost my popularity that’s for sure.”
“The independent scene in America is filled with absolute studs and people who LOVE wrestling,” Finau shared from his experience. “If you don’t come in with a humble heart and a mindset ready to work, then I believe the indies will eat you alive.”
“I currently work for some of the top independent companies around the United States, such as West Coast Pro Wrestling (WCPW) in San Francisco, Future Stars of Wrestling (FSW) in Las Vegas, and Game Changer Wrestling (GCW) in New Jersey,” the young lion stated, alluding to the fact that his bookings had expanded from coast to coast.
In fact, Finau’s work ethic and the initiative was what gained the attention of these promotions.
“When I debuted at the GCW collective show in 2020, I flew out on my own dime to help the ring crew,” Finau stated. “I was awarded a spot on their flagship show ‘Joey Janella Spring Break 4’ as a participant in the battle royal. When I made my entrance, the commentators brought up that I was trained out of Fale Dojo.”
Presently, Finau is among a small group of Americans that have emerged from Fale Dojo, alongside Hikuleo and Aaron Solo. Experiencing New Zealand’s strong Pacific presence and the Dojo’s cultural values resonated deeply with Finau – to such an extent that he has interwoven these influences into his energetic and infectious personality. This has made Big Toko stand out as a crowd favourite.
“I take pride in representing Fale Dojo,” said Big Toko who wears Fale Dojo apparel to the ring in acknowledging his alma mater. “As a Tongan, like Fale-San; I feel I have a duty to uphold the Dojo’s name every time I step inside the ring.”
He explained: “In the Tongan culture, we go all out when it comes to embracing our people and our identity, whether it’s at cultural festivals or cheering on the Tongan national rugby team as I found out while training in New Zealand: I celebrate Fale Dojo with the same spirit.”
“I’ve represented the Fale Dojo in GCW against Chris Dickinson who is part of the NJPW Strong roster,” said Finau. “I’ve also represented the Dojo in main events of FSW shows against opponents like Alexander Hammerstone, and EC3.”
For more than a year, Finau has been campaigning NJPW of America on social media to include him as a Fale Dojo alum on their events. Finau recently succeeded in his efforts through a working relationship that NJPW of America forged with West Coast Pro Wrestling.
At WCPW’s upcoming 3rd Anniversary Show on the 8th of October, Finau will wrestle in a six-man tag team match. This is an exciting milestone for Big Toko as he will be part of a unique trio consisting of representatives from New Japan’s respective dojos. Finau, who will of course represent Fale Dojo, will team alongside Yuya Uemura from the NJPW Dojo, and Karl Fredericks from the LA Dojo.
“Being a part of that handful of Americans who are trained under the Fale Dojo banner has helped me a lot thus far,” said Finau, who from first-hand experience has seen how well-received Fale Dojo is by the wider wrestling community.
“Fale-San and Tony-San [Kozina] are among the most respected people in wrestling,” he shared. “I’ve been in some star-studded locker rooms and people have only good things to say about Fale-San and Tony-San.”
Upon reflecting on his time at Fale Dojo, Finau revealed the most significant lessons of his training; particularly, what drives Big Toko to excel for greatness.
“I’m blessed to have trained in New Zealand. But I almost took my time there for granted,” Finau recalled. “I went originally to immerse myself in the training and food. Then I connected with the beautiful culture, and I fell in love with NZ. For me, it was like coming home to my people.”
The young lion added: “I formed lifelong friendships with my fellow lions who came to the Dojo from other parts of the world for the same reason as me, and we still talk with each other nearly every day.”
“Yes, the training was hard and frustrating; but it was the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Finau assured unreservedly. “The one thing that I always take with me are the words that Fale-San shared with us during our training; “DON’T GIVE THEM A REASON!”
Finau explained: “When Fale-San was training at the New Japan Dojo: He told us that he was the biggest in the class, but he never limited himself. Fale-San did every workout, task, and match that the smaller guys were doing, and through that, he never gave his Senpais a reason to cut him. To this day, I do my best to live by Fale-San’s example.”
“I cannot wait to return to Fale Dojo to resume my training. Fale San and all the trainers are there to help you succeed in this business,” Finau expressed in closing. “You have some of the best trainers in the world and the Dojo is going to keep producing more legit talent! Just remember, ‘DON’T GIVE THEM A REASON!'”
Credit Cover Graphic: Michael Richards, WWGFX