Fale Dojo presented a night of NZ strong style professional wrestling with the ninth edition of the Exhibition showcase series. Quality Over Quantity was the unofficial theme of the night as the young lions of the NZ Dojo displayed their rich and distinct talents, competing in three exciting matches.
Held on May 28 at the Fale Dojo facility in Otahuhu, Auckland, Exhibition IX attracted a remarkably diverse crowd which reflected the Dojo’s welcoming atmosphere, as well as the reputable performances at the Exhibition shows.
The event began with coaches Mark Tui and Tony Kozina welcoming the crowd. The absence of Toks Fale, Head Coach, was acknowledged, with the Rogue General returning to his touring schedule with New Japan Pro-Wrestling.
Referee Lloyd Morgan made his way to the ring to officiate the matches.
RICHARD MULU vs. JAKE TAYLOR
Otara, South Auckland, NZ | Torquay, Victoria, Australia
The opening contest was a singles match that involved two of the larger lions of Fale’s pride, Richard Mulu, and NJPW young lion, Jake Taylor. Both lions possessed different attributes of the big man style due to being different in stature: Taylor was gifted with towering size and strength, and Mulu, the heavyweight, displayed a commanding presence and natural power.
Mulu and Taylor circled each other before meeting in the centre of the ring to lock up. Neither one gained the advantage.
The two big men circled again before their second lock up. Mulu slowly drove Taylor into the corner before Taylor shifted the momentum to his favour. Mulu regained control and walked Taylor up against the corner of the turnbuckle. Again, neither backed down and Referee Morgan ordered the lions to lock up again in the centre.
Taylor grabbed Mulu into a headlock and grinded away. While still in the hold, Mulu reversed both him and Taylor against the ropes and pushed Taylor off to run across the ring. Taylor rebounded and shoulder blocked Mulu, neither lion flinched. Mulu ran against the ropes and came back with a shoulder block of his own and Taylor stumbled back.
Mulu moved in with some clubbing forearm blows on Taylor’s back, but Taylor fended off Mulu with a forearm strike. Taylor Irish whipped Mulu against the ropes, Mulu returned and dropped Taylor with a mighty shoulder block. Taylor slid outside of the ring to collect himself and then returned inside the squared circle.
Mulu and Taylor tied up once again, Taylor managed to apply a go-behind waist lock on Mulu and attempted to lift his opponent. But Mulu reversed the hold and attempted to lift his six-foot-four, opponent. Mulu turned Taylor around to face him and lifted him up into a bodyslam, but as Taylor was lifted off his feet and was about to be slammed, he managed to jump off behind Mulu’s shoulder and countered into a headlock.
Mulu threw forearm shots at Taylor’s stomach and drove him into the corner turnbuckle where he pushed his arms up against Taylor’s throat. Referee Morgan warned Mulu to disengage. Mulu followed up with a shoulder barge into Taylor’s stomach against the turnbuckle before Irish whipping Taylor to the opposite corner. Mulu charged at Taylor who fended Mulu off with an elbow strike, Mulu felt the sting from the elbow, but persisted and charged again, this time Taylor lifted his leg as Mulu ran into his boot. Taylor, seeing that Mulu was feeling the effects of his defence, charged at Mulu, however, Mulu extended his arm and ran forward with a ferocious clothesline, dropping Taylor to the mat.
Mulu went for a pinfall, and Taylor kicked out at two. Mulu struck Taylor with clubbing forearms to the shoulder and back area as Taylor made his way onto his feet. Taylor fought back with a forearm strike which eventuated into an exchange between the two big men. Mulu went to lift Taylor into a suplex, but to no avail before reverting to a clubbing forearm sending Taylor to his knees.
Mulu stood Taylor up against the ropes and attempted to Irish whip his opponent. Taylor however blocked the attempt and went to lift Mulu up into a suplex. Mulu fended Taylor off with shots to his ribs. Mulu then lifted Taylor up and delivered a body slam and followed up with a pinfall attempt.
Mulu got to his feet as Taylor lay hurt from the bodyslam, Mulu then backed up against the ropes and delivered a leg drop, but Taylor moved out of the way as Mulu landed on the mat. While Mulu got back on his feet, he was met with a series of strikes. Taylor shouted at Mulu to return fire, to which Mulu retaliated with some knife-edge chops, however, Taylor regained control with his own strikes. Taylor ran back against the ropes, with the intention to clothesline his opponent. Mulu had the same idea, and the two dropped to the mat when they collided. Referee Morgan began to initiate the ten count.
Both wrestlers eventually made it to their feet before the count expired. Mulu and Taylor began exchanging strikes. Taylor Irish whipped Mulu to the ropes, when Mulu returned, Taylor hit him with a clothesline that sent him to the mat.
Taylor went to apply a Boston crab, but Mulu countered by kicking Taylor off which sent him stumbling back into the corner. Mulu got on his feet and threw forearm strikes at Taylor. Taylor fought back with his own strikes. Mulu still feeling the effects of what he endured previously allowed Taylor the opportunity to lift him up into a suplex.
The move took a lot out of Taylor as well, Morgan began administering the ten count. Taylor managed to get up first, and immediately went for an attempted pinfall. However, Mulu kicked out in time. Taylor, the NJPW young lion went to the corner to prepare for his running big boot finisher. As Mulu got up, Taylor charged in, Mulu dodged the boot as Taylor bounced off the other side of the ring. Taylor ran back and hit Mulu with a running knee strike. Taylor pinned Mulu and hooked the leg while Referee Morgan made the three-count, giving Taylor the victory.
Winner: JAKE TAYLOR
ANDREW VILLALOBOS vs. MARK TUI
Sydney, NSW, Australia | Mount Roskill, Auckland, NZ
The match that followed featured Andrew Villalobos, NJPW young lion, against Mark Tui, Fale Dojo co-owner, graduate, and coach. Tui last competed in December 2019, in Sydney on the Liger Down Under event, which was part of the farewell tour for the retiring Jushin Thunder Liger.
The match displayed a battle of styles between the technical fluidity of Villalobos, and Tui’s striking abilities which were embodied by his background in pro-wrestling and boxing.
Villalobos circled Tui with caution. The two graduates locked up in a grappling position, Tui took Villalobos to the mat with a fireman’s carry take over.
Tui and Villalobos engaged in a second lock up, Villalobos applied a wrist lock into a headlock. Tui reversed with the same moves – wristlock into a headlock and followed into a quick take over onto the mat.
Villalobos countered the headlock with a scissors lock across Tui’s neck and proceeded to squeeze away. With Tui laying close to the edge of the ring, he turned over and touched the bottom rope to release the hold.
In their third lock up, Villalobos applied a go-behind waist lock, and Tui countered with a drop toe hold. Villalobos managed to ground Tui with a headlock and then grab Tui’s arm while standing over him and executing a leaping butt drop across the arm which caused Tui severe pain.
Villalobos Irish whipped Tui against the ropes, Tui ran back and struck Villalobos down with a thunderous shoulder block. Villalobos fell back into the corner as Tui stomped away before planting his boots up against Villalobos’ face, causing the lion from Sydney breathing difficulties. Referee Morgan warned Tui off with the five-count warning, which Tui made the most of when he released contact at the fourth count.
Villalobos found his opening as Tui walked back towards him, fending him off with a boot before twisting his arm and then deliberately dropping all his weight to the mat, taking Tui’s arm with him. Tui managed to slide outside of the ring to regain his composure.
Tui hopped back in the ring where Villalobos resumed contact with his arm while adding pain to his shoulder. Villalobos then shifted his focus to Tui’s leg and applied a variation of the leg lock, bending it in painful positions. Tui kicked Villalobos away with the leg that was free, however, the pain was noticeable.
Villalobos attempted a pinfall with no success. Villalobos laid in a combination of strikes in the middle of the ring, then performed some submission holds to Tui’s upper and lower body, all the while taunting Tui. Villalobos settled for a leglock, Tui was in so much pain, and would often have to lift his shoulder off the matt to avoid losing the match via pinfall.
Tui managed to kick Villalobos off with his other leg, however, Villalobos quickly recovered and circled Tui like prey as Tui inched his way to the ropes to use as leverage to try and regain his balance. Villalobos moved in with knife-edge chops and raked Tui’s eyes, temporarily impairing his vision.
Villalobos persisted with more strikes as Tui blindly tried to fight off the NJPW young lion. As Tui’s vision cleared up, he fought back with a huge knife edge chop against Villalobos’ chest which dropped him to the mat, Tui went for an attempted pinfall, but Referee Morgan only counted one as Villalobos the aggressor had wisely paced himself and therefore had a lot of energy remaining.
Still reeling from the pain in his leg, Tui used the ropes to get back on his feet as Villalobos closed in with some kicks, Villalobos ran against the ropes with the intention to rebound and strike Tui to the ground. However, as Villalobos came charging back, Tui stunned his opponent with a sidekick, Tui then followed up with his famous sweep kick that sent Villalobos to the mat.
Despite the damage already done to his leg, Tui showed his fighting spirit, limping towards Villalobos who awaited the wounded Tui with a boot to the gut. Villalobos attempted a suplex. Tui reversed the hold into a small package, but Villalobos kicked out.
Villalobos then grabbed Tui and executed a side Russian leg sweep. He followed up with a pinfall as Referee Morgan counted to three.
After the match, Coach Kozina announced that there would be an intermission. However, the crowd remained put as Referee Morgan checked on Tui. It was not until when Tui was able to leave the ring that the crowd left their seats.
Winner: ANDREW VILLALOBOS
Main Event Tag Team – 2 Out of 3 Falls
RICHARD MULU & TONY KOZINA vs. MICHAEL RICHARDS & MARK TUI
Otara, South Auckland, NZ, and Portland, Oregon, USA | Mount Wellington, Auckland, NZ, and Mount Roskill, Auckland, NZ
Jake Taylor handled the introductions for the main event which the young lion described as a 2 Out of 3 Falls tag team contest with a one-hour time limit between Richard Mulu, and Tony Kozina, NZ Dojo Pro-Wrestling Coach against, Michael Richards, NJPW young lion, and Mark Tui.
Michael Richards and Tony Kozina began the match for their respective teams. The two wrestlers engaged in some back-and-forth grappling which saw Kozina gain the upper hand before taking Richards into his corner and tagging out to the popular Richard Mulu. However, quick-thinking Richards escaped back to his corner before tagging in Mark Tui.
Mulu and Tui tied up with Mulu pushing Tui into his corner. They went to lock up for a second time, but Tui kicked Mulu in the stomach and started throwing clubbing forearm shots that sent Mulu to his knees. Mulu returned fire with his own forearm strikes, however, Tui blocked Mulu’s momentum by kicking him again.
Tui, the well-versed striker backed Mulu into his corner and tagged in Richards who went to add his own strikes but was easily struck down. Mulu saw an opening and tagged Kozina back in.
Kozina applied an armlock on Richards and took him down to the mat where he proceeded to add pressure to Richards’ arm. Richards managed to get on his feet and strike Kozina to break the hold. Richards Irish whipped Kozina into the corner turnbuckle and Kozina connected with great velocity as his back took the brunt of the collision.
Richards went to execute a suplex, but as he lifted Kozina the two-time NWA Junior Heavyweight Champion in the vertical position, the veteran used the momentum of the lift, bent his knees, and rolled Richards down onto the mat into a small package. Referee Morgan counted three, giving the first fall to Mulu and Kozina.
Winners of the 1st Fall: MULU & KOZINA
Mulu and Kozina blended well as a tag team. Their styles complemented each other with Kozina, the veteran bringing his technical prowess while Mulu added his youth and tremendous power. But as the match progressed, Richards and Tui demonstrated an aggressive perspective of tag team wrestling with their questionable tactics.
Kozina hurt himself when he executed the small package. This gave Richards and Tui the opportunity to capitalise on Kozina’s vulnerability. Richards ferociously threw Kozina into his corner and tagged in Tui. With his striking abilities, Tui hit Kozina with a variety of chops and jammed his knee against Kozina’s face as he lay against the bottom corner turnbuckle.
Tui then picked up Kozina and executed a side backbreaker. As Kozina landed back first onto Tui’s knee, Tui held Kozina in position and bent down across Kozina’s throat and abdomen screaming at Kozina to submit. When Kozina refused, Tui lifted the veteran and executed a side slam. Tui went for an attempted pinfall, but Kozina kicked out which did not please Tui.
Richards was tagged in and applied an armlock while Kozina lay helpless. Kozina repositioned himself and countered the hold with a head scissors. The two wrestlers got on their feet as Kozina struck Richards in the gut, Richards backed up and bounced against the ropes and charged ahead, but Kozina hit Richards with a high impact dropkick. Kozina went for a pinfall attempt in hopes of gaining two straight falls, but Richards lifted his shoulder off the mat before Referee Morgan counted to three.
Kozina struck Richards with a variation of strikes and Irish whipped the NJPW young lion. However, Richards reversed the momentum, as Kozina bounced off the rope, Richards hit Kozina with a devastating knee strike in the gut.
Richards then threw Kozina into his corner with such ferocity that the veteran bounced off the turnbuckle, adding more pain to his spine. Richards tagged in Tui who mauled Kozina with a succession of strikes, most of his hits aimed at Kozina’s back.
Kozina fended Tui off with some strikes, he bounced off the ropes with the intention of landing a forearm, but Tui, who outsized Kozina, caught the ring general and applied a vicious bearhug, throwing the lighter Kozina around like a rag doll. Kozina refused to give up,
Tui went back to his corner while still applying the bearhug and tagged in Richards. Richards grabbed Kozina and applied his signature spinning fisherman suplex to gain the three count, giving Richards and Tui the second fall.
Winners of the 2nd Fall: RICHARDS & TUI
Mulu stepped in to check on Kozina who was lying hurt on the mat. Referee Morgan asked Kozina if he was ok to continue while Richards and Tui waited impatiently as the crowd watched with deep concern.
Kozina slowly got to his feet to the crowd’s applause, and Richards immediately charged at Kozina. However, as Richards rushed at the veteran Kozina, Richards was tripped into a drop toe hold.
Richards immediately stood up and booted Kozina trying multiple pinfall attempts. Richards applied a rest hold while Mulu roared encouragement to Kozina, his tag team partner who also got the crowd’s support. Tui, in the opposite corner, was doing everything he could to dismay the crowd.
Tui also distracted Referee Morgan to prevent him from seeing Kozina escaping Richards’ front face lock to tag in his partner, Mulu. Tui even went to great lengths to leave his corner and infiltrate the other side to attack Mulu from behind. Mulu’s loud roars had become a threat to the opposition, and Tui was willing to do what it took to prevent Mulu from gaining the tag.
Richards and Tui kept Kozina captive in their corner while exchanging tags. Tui punished Kozina with an offense of strikes towards Kozina’s lower body, while Richards executed a variety of holds. One of which was Richards’ signature move, the hanging neckbreaker.
As Kozina was being held against his will, he would noticeably etch away from the opposition’s corner. Richards pulled Kozina by the leg back to his team, but Kozina managed to kick Richards off. While Richards leaned back to his corner to tag Tui, Kozina seized his opportunity and rolled towards his corner where he tagged in Mulu.
Mulu got the hot tag and the crowd erupted! He immediately started cleaning house, dropping Richards and Tui with a series of clotheslines.
Mulu then Irish whipped Richards into the corner turnbuckle, then Irish whipped Tui into Richards before Mulu charged in with a ferocious avalanche splash onto both his opponents.
Mulu was about to execute a powerbomb on Richards, but Tui intercepted with a clothesline onto Mulu. Tui went for an attempted pinfall, but Mulu kicked out.
Tui then picked up Mulu, and held his arms from behind, Richards bounced off the ropes and attempted to strike Mulu in the face. However, Mulu lifted his leg as Richards came charging toward him and was hit with a boot to the face.
Richards fell and rolled outside the ring while Mulu found himself in a timely position and executed a stunner, dropping Tui to the mat.
Mulu covered Tui for the pinfall as Referee Morgan counted three while Kozina held onto Richards’ leg to prevent him from breaking up the pinfall attempt.
Winners: RICHARD MULU & TONY KOZINA
The evening concluded with the young lions reciting the Japanese prayer.
Fale Dojo Exhibition will return for its tenth show on June 11.
Credit Cover Graphic: Michael Richards, WWGFX