Fale Dojo celebrated its tenth Exhibition student showcase. The Exhibition series has been a staple in the development of the Dojo’s young lions since its debut in March 2019.
Notable graduates that have honed their skills through this stage of the Dojo’s three-month professional wrestling training course include Aaron Solo, Yuto Nakashima, Juicy Finau, Oskar Münchow, and Tome and Stevie Filip.
Held on June 11 at Auckland’s Fale Dojo facility in Otahuhu, Exhibition X featured the NZ Dojo young lion’s from the June 2022 intake. Training commenced that same week.
“We have a diverse class of young lions who have made the sacrifice to come to Fale Dojo,” Tony Kozina, NZ Dojo Pro-Wrestling Coach shared with the crowd.
This was also the first intake since 2020 to have international students take part since New Zealand reopened its borders to the world. Those who seized the opportunity, have travelled from parts of Australia, Israel, and the United States.
Overall, the June 2022 intake consisted of young lions with various levels of experience. While some lion’s competed on the Exhibition card, the rest of the intake surrounded the ring to observe the matches; tasked with responsibilities identical to those of the young lion’s at the Tokyo NJPW Dojo during the New Japan events.
“Throughout the next three months, every lion in this intake will get the opportunity to get in the ring and have a match,” Kozina continued.
“The end goal for these young lions is to make it to New Japan Pro-Wrestling, competing at the largest event, Wrestle Kingdom, at the Tokyo Dome,” Kozina concluded before handing over to Coach Mark Tui who handled the ring announcing.
Referee Lloyd Morgan entered the ring to prepare for the first match.
Singles Match – 15-Minute Time Limit
MICHAEL RICHARDS vs. NIKOLAI ANTON BELL
Mount Wellington, Auckland, NZ | Christchurch, Canterbury, NZ
Michael Richards and Nikolai Anton Bell entered the ring and shook hands before circling each other. Richards initiated the lock-up, while Bell, with much to prove to his senpai, opposed as the aggressor.
Richards and Bell engaged in a series of chain wrestling that evolved with Bell overtaking Richards. Richards however, used his experience to escape Bell’s dominance.
In the lock-up that followed, Richards grounded Bell with a drop toe hold before working his way to Bell’s upper body and applying an armlock. Bell got to his feet while Richards still had the hold applied. Bell walked Richards back into the corner turnbuckle. Richards complied with Referee Morgan’s orders to disengage from the arm lock.
Bell drove his forearm up against Richards’ throat, to which Referee Morgan used the five-count warning for Bell to let go. Bell made use of the count and let go at the fourth count before striking Richards with an antagonising forearm strike.
Richards kept his composure and executed a headlock takeover. Bell avoided being pinned as he lifted his shoulder off the mat. Bell rolled onto his stomach to escape Richards’ grip, but Richards moved with Bell to maintain the headlock.
Bell then assessed his next move, he got to his feet with the headlock still intact and struck Richards in the stomach before pushing the NJPW young lion off to run against the ropes. Richards bounced off and hit Bell with a huge shoulder block sending him crashing to the mat.
Richards went to lift Bell into a bodyslam, but Bell hopped off behind Richards’ shoulders and clipped his senpai’s leg with a chop block. Bell then stomped on Richards’ leg repeatedly, before dragging his opponent to the centre of the ring for a pinfall attempt, but Richards kicked out.
The young lion from Christchurch applied an inverted ankle lock on Richards. This time, Richards, who was lying on the mat, was desperately fighting through the pain while having to raise his shoulders off the mat to avoid getting pinned and losing the contest.
Richards tried to kick Bell off with his other leg, but the strikes were not strong enough for Bell to let go. Richards then inched his way to the ropes to break the hold.
Using the ropes in the corner for assistance, Richards managed to stand himself up while Bell was calmly taking his time. Bell walked in with clubbing forearm blows followed up with a chop, and a snapmare into an attempted pinfall.
Bell reverted his focus to the inverted ankle lock as Richards sat up and desperately tried to swing punches at Bell. But Richards could not reach his cocky tormentor. Bell then stomped some more on Richards’ vulnerable leg.
Bell casually took his time, allowing the pain that he caused Richards’ leg to seep in. This showed Bell’s inexperience in allowing Richards, an NJPW young lion some time to rejuvenate and strategize a comeback.
“ASK HIM IF HE WANTS TO STOP!” Bell ordered Referee Morgan in a sarcastic tone to check on Richards, a message which he spoke recurringly.
Bell went to apply the single-legged Christchurch crab (a distant cousin of the Boston crab) as Richards lay in agony. Richards finally managed to throw a few kicks at Bell who was affected by the strikes and fell but still held onto Richards’ leg and maintained control.
Referee Morgan noticed Richards’ shoulders were on the mat and went to administer the three count, Richards however raised his shoulder to avoid being pinned. Richards was close to the ropes and managed to inch his way to reach it, therefore Bell had to release.
Bell picked up Richards and began striking him with knife-edged chops, Richards fought back with forearms. The two lions’ exchanged heated strikes with Richards from Mount Wellington, gaining the upper hand as Bell fell to the mat.
Richards attempted to suplex Bell, but as Bell was taken up, he hopped behind Richards and applied a dragon sleeper. Richards tried to escape, but Bell maintained control while falling back and adjusting the maneuver into a rear-naked choke hold.
Although Bell had the submission hold locked in, he was on his back with his shoulders close to the mat. Richards, utilising his experience and technique, was able to counter the hold by shifting his body weight back onto Bell. Using all his weight and strength, Richards got Bell’s shoulders onto the mat long enough for Referee Morgan to get into position to administer the final three count, giving Richards the victory.
Bell sat up and thought he had won the match. To his surprise, Bell was told by Referee Morgan that Richards had pinned him while his shoulders were on the mat.
Winner: MICHAEL RICHARDS
Singles Match (15-Minute Time Limit)
TONY KOZINA vs. ROWAN DAVIS
Portland, Oregon, USA | Christchurch, Canterbury, NZ
Newcomer, Rowan Davis, who also hails from the resilient city of Christchurch joined the NZ Dojo June 2022 intake. Coming in with previous experience, Davis was thrown into the deep end in a match with Head Coach, Tony Kozina.
Before locking up, the two wrestlers shook hands. Davis applied a front face lock into an armbar. Kozina escaped the hold by tripping Davis on his back before attempting a quick pinfall.
In their second lock-up, Davis drove Kozina up against the ropes and had to disengage per Referee Morgan’s orders. Kozina then quickly applied a go-behind waist lock into an armlock. Davis executed a forward roll to escape the hold before countering into his own armlock.
Kozina rolled forward to reverse the hold to his favour, however, Davis was waiting and turned the armlock to his advantage. Davis had the move synched in well, due to the pain caused, Kozina had no choice but to drop to his knees. Davis attempted to secure a pinfall but to no avail as Kozina kicked out.
As Kozina got on his feet; Davis charged in the corner turnbuckle with a running boot to Kozina’s face, followed up with some forearm strikes. Davis Irish whipped Kozina to the opposite corner, and Kozina bounced off the turnbuckle and landed on the mat, Davis attempted to secure a second pinfall, but to no avail.
Davis reapplied the arm lock, and Kozina positioned himself in front of Davis as the hold was still applied. Kozina used his arm that was free to execute a snapmare take over that caused some pain to Davis’ spine.
Kozina the veteran picked up Davis and threw a series of forearm and elbow strikes to his face before ramming the young lion’s head into the turnbuckle. Kozina attempted a pinfall, but Davis the crusader from Christchurch kicked out.
Kozina threw a series of forearm shots, with the third sending Davis crashing to the mat. Kozina again picked up Davis and proceeded to land some stinging chops across his chest as he lay leaning against the rope.
The dazed Davis tried to walk off Kozina’s offense and made his way towards the corner turnbuckle, but Kozina followed behind and continued delivering some forearm shots. Davis began to fight back with his own strikes, but Kozina established his dominance with his persistence of lethal chops.
Kozina Irish whipped Davis to the opposite corner and charged in shortly, but Davis moved out of the way as Kozina collided into the turnbuckle. Davis attempted to lift Kozina into a suplex, but Kozina threw forearm shots to Davis’ ribcage which dropped the newcomer to the mat.
Kozina then applied an abdominal stretch on Davis. Kozina, the ring general stretched Davis’ side as much as he could. The pain was unbearable for young Davis, and he had no choice but to submit, giving Kozina the victory.
Just like they began their match with a handshake, Kozina and Davis concluded with the same gesture of respect. Kozina raised Davis’ arm before leaving the ring while the young lions from the outside tended to the wounded lion.
Winner: TONY KOZINA
Singles Match (15-Minute Time Limit)
RICHARD MULU vs. ANDREW VILLALOBOS
Otara, South Auckland, NZ | Sydney, NSW, Australia
The introductions of Richard Mulu and Andrew Villalobos sent excitement throughout the crowd at the Fale Dojo facility. This would be the first time the two lions would be meeting in a singles match in front of spectators
Mulu had become a favourite throughout the Exhibition shows due to his ability to connect with the crowd with his immense presence and powerhouse style. Villalobos has been consistent in his growth. In addition, the NJPW young lion continues to add layers to his tremendous wrestling ability, and he did not disappoint in this recent matchup.
As soon as the match began, Villalobos charged at Mulu in the opposite corner with strikes. Villalobos ran back to his corner and charged again at Mulu with a flying clothesline. Villalobos tried a third time to charge at Mulu, however, Mulu charged forward and wiped-out Villalobos with a massive clothesline.
Mulu went for an attempted pinfall, and Villalobos kicked out. As Villalobos made his way to his feet, Mulu struck him with clubbing forearms to the back. Villalobos fought back with three knife-edge chops, but Mulu did not flinch. Mulu proceeded to lay in more strikes to weaken his opponent, backing Villalobos into the corner and wrapping his hands around Villalobos’ throat before he was counted off by Referee Morgan.
With a powerful Irish whip, Mulu swung Villalobos to the opposite corner, and charged in with an avalanche splash, sending Villalobos crashing to the mat.
Mulu then applied a stand-over reverse chin lock as Villalobos, who was on his knees managed to make his way to the ropes to break the hold. However, Mulu choked Villalobos on top of the middle rope until Referee Morgan warned Mulu to break the hold.
Villalobos was coughing and gasping for air due to the beating he was receiving at the hands of Mulu the Otara powerhouse. Villalobos in desperation repeatedly kicked Mulu who had him trapped against the corner turnbuckle.
Villalobos managed to grab Mulu into a lock-up and attempted a suplex, Mulu, however, reversed the move, easily picking up Villalobos and landing on the mat. Mulu went for a pinfall attempt, but despite the excessive punishment Villalobos had suffered, his fighting spirit led him to persevere and kick out.
Mulu went to lift Villalobos into a body slam, Villalobos jumped off behind Mulu’s shoulders as he was being lifted. Mulu turned around, and Villalobos met him with a succession of strikes. Villalobos did not have time to spare, ran against the ropes, and charged forward, hitting Mulu with a flying enzuigiri to the crowd’s amazement as Mulu crashed to the mat for the first time in the contest.
Referee Morgan administered the 10-count warning, as both Mulu and Villalobos lay on the mat. Villalobos the Sydney young lion willed his way back to his feet, hoping to be the first standing. Villalobos threw a succession of strikes at Mulu. Knowing that he could not go toe to toe with Mulu the heavyweight, Villalobos rebounded off the rope and attempted to execute a flying clothesline. Mulu, however, was waiting, and caught Villalobos and dropped him with a high-angle power slam into a pinfall attempt, but Villalobos courageously kicked out.
Mulu, then picked up Villalobos from behind to execute a belly-to-back suplex. But as Villalobos the NJPW young lion was lifted into the air, he managed to roll forward and counter into a snapmare takeover. The maneuverer took Mulu by surprise, as the height that Villalobos dropped from sent Mulu crashing onto the mat.
Villalobos laid back first on top of Mulu for a pinfall attempt. Mulu however, clutched Villalobos’ arms into a crucifix roll to counter the pinfall. Villalobos kicked out, got on his feet, grabbed Mulu’s legs, and executed a jack knife roll-up. Referee Morgan counted to three, giving Villalobos the victory.
Mulu had dominated most of the contest. But Villalobos endured a severe beating and persisted even when the obstacle presented itself as too great to overcome. This encounter serves as a life lesson to never give up.
Winner: ANDREW VILLALOBOS
6-Man Tag Elimination Main Event (60 Minute Time Limit)
NIKOLAI ANTON BELL, ANDREW VILLALOBOS & MICHAEL RICHARDS
vs. TONY KOZINA, RICHARD MULU & JAKE TAYLOR
Christchurch, NZ; Sydney, Australia; Auckland, NZ |
Oregon, USA; South Auckland, NZ; Torquay, Victoria, Australia
Jake Taylor and Michael Richards began the match for their respective teams. Taylor wrestled Richards into a go-behind waist lock, which Richards reversed into one of his own. Taylor then applied a headlock take over into a pinfall attempt.
The two NJPW young lion’s reset in a second lock-up with Taylor getting the upper hand and applying a side headlock. Richards tried to muscle out against strong resistance from Taylor. Richards managed to escape before tagging out to Nikolai Anton Bell while Taylor tagged in Tony Kozina.
Kozina entered the ring and immediately applied an armlock onto Bell which he then successfully followed up with a fireman’s carry takeover. Kozina and Bell engaged in a lock-up, Bell walked Kozina into the ropes where his tag team partners were situated, While holding Kozina captive, Bell tagged in Andrew Villalobos who swiftly moved in and executed a side headlock takeover on Kozina. Kozina countered with a head scissors and proceeded to add pressure before Villalobos escaped.
Kozina made the tag to Richard Mulu who locked up with Villalobos. Villalobos applied a go-behind waist lock and landed strikes on Mulu’s back. Villalobos turned Mulu around and threw a variety of strikes that included forearm shots, knife-edge chops, and a European uppercut. Mulu retaliated with a boot to Villalobos’ stomach, followed up with a thunderous clubbing forearm that dropped Villalobos to his knees, Mulu pursued multiple pinfall attempts but to no avail.
Mulu then applied an armbar as he stood over Villalobos who was on his knees. Villalobos got to his feet and threw forearm strikes at Mulu to try and break loose of the armbar. Mulu then threw Villalobos into his corner where his tag team partners, Kozina and Taylor stood.
Taylor was tagged in and hit Villalobos with a forearm shot and applied a mat-based front face lock. Taylor put all his weight on top of Villalobos. This hold was beneficial to Taylor and his team as he had not wrestled previously that evening, giving the young lion the luxury to use his big man stature to simply lie on top while Villalobos would have to use all his energy to fight his way out which he eventually succeeded in doing.
Although Villalobos had managed to push his way to his feet, he was still trapped in Taylor’s grip. Taylor then hit Villalobos with a series of strikes and then executed a snapmare take over into a pinfall attempt.
Taylor Irish whipped Villalobos to the opposite corner, Taylor charged forward with the intention to connect with a Helluva Kick, but Villalobos moved out of the way while Taylor’s leg went over the top rope and hit the ring post causing him immense pain.
Villalobos escaped into his corner and tagged in Richards who charged at Taylor in the corner. Richards Irish whipped Taylor, but Taylor charged back with a running boot. Taylor tagged out to Kozina before falling outside of the ring to recuperate.
Kozina Irish whipped Richards into the corner turnbuckle and charged in. However, Richards was able to counter Kozina with a clothesline. Richards put Kozina into a front face lock and tagged in Bell.
Bell threw a series of wild clubbing strikes at Kozina before attempting a pinfall, but Kozina kicked out. Bell tagged Richards back in and went to apply what appeared to look like a LeBell lock. Kozina rolled forward to escape the hold, but Richards maintained contact. Richards then attempted a pinfall, but Kozina kicked out.
Richards held Kozina captive with an armbar and tagged Bell back in. Bell applied an armbar on Kozina. As Kozina tried to inch his way to his corner, Bell unleashed some boots on Kozina and clamped the armbar back on the veteran. Bell was close enough to his corner to reach over and tag Villalobos. While facing his team, Villalobos went to pick up Kozina for a bodyslam, but as Kozina was lifted, he managed to hop off behind Villalobos’ shoulders to escape back to his corner where he tagged out to Mulu.
Mulu cleaned house with a series of hefty clotheslines dropping both Villalobos and Bell. Mulu then Irish whipped Villalobos into the corner turnbuckle and came charging in with an avalanche splash which dropped Villalobos to the mat.
Mulu then applied the Otara crab (a distant relative of the Christchurch and Boston crabs). Villalobos used his forearms to crawl to the ropes and break the hold. Mulu however, pulled Villalobos back into the middle of the ring while still applying the crab. Mulu pulled back further as he put all his weight onto Villalobos’ back. Villalobos tried once again to crawl back to the rope, but the pain became so unbearable that he was forced to tap out, marking the first elimination of the match.
While Taylor was legally part of the match, he was still holding on to his leg outside the ring, unable to take part. The elimination of Villalobos added relief to Kozina and Mulu.
Kozina and Bell continued the match for their teams with an exchange of strikes. Bell gained the upper hand with some leg strikes before trapping Kozina into a magistral cradle while Referee Morgan made the three count.
Nikolai Anton Bell eliminated Tony Kozina via pinfall.
Bell’s confidence grew due to his elimination of Kozina; Bell began striking the larger Mulu with some ambitious forearm shots. Bell then rebounded off the ropes and charged at Mulu with some clotheslines, but Mulu did not flinch. In his third attempt, Mulu dropped Bell with a back elbow. Mulu picked up Bell to execute a massive bodyslam before rebounding off the rope to deliver a legdrop, only for Bell to move out of the way.
Bell tagged in Richards, who came in with boots and forearm shots as Mulu was lying on the mat from the effects of the missed leg drop. Richards went for a pinfall attempt but Mulu kicked out.
Mulu made his way to his feet in the corner, as Richards continued to land with striking blows. Mulu retaliated with his own strike which dropped Richards to the mat.
Mulu then Irish whipped Richards into the corner turnbuckle and went charging forward intending to hit an avalanche splash, but Richards moved out of the way. As Mulu connected with the turnbuckle, Richards rolled up Mulu from behind with a schoolboy cradle and illegally grabbed onto his tights to help secure a pinfall, thanks to Richards’ deceitful tactics.
Michael Richards eliminated Richard Mulu via pinfall.
Richards and Bell taunted Taylor to get inside the ring. Kozina waited ringside and joined the crowd to encourage Taylor to continue with the match.
Taylor rolled into the ring and was met with striking boots by Richards. Richards laid Taylor’s leg on the bottom rope and proceeded to stand on the leg. Richards went for an attempted pinfall, but Taylor somehow managed to kick out.
Richards tagged Bell who applied an inverted ankle lock. Taylor powered out which sent Bell flying, as Taylor crawled to the rope – without a tag partner, this was his only strategy of defence since his opponents would have to pry him away to execute an offense.
Bell quickly went back to attacking Taylor’s leg while he was still grabbing the rope as Referee Morgan warned Bell to disengage.
As Taylor used the ropes to stand up in the corner, Bell charged in with forearm strikes. Bell attempted to Irish whip the larger Taylor to the opposite corner, but Taylor held tightly to the ropes which prevented Bell from making progress. Taylor then let go of the ropes as Bell persisted with another Irish whip, however, Taylor reversed the momentum as Bell hit the opposite corner and bounced off. Taylor hit Bell with a big boot.
Richards was tagged in and charged at Taylor with some forearm strikes, but Taylor was resistant to Richards’ offense. Taylor retaliated with his own strikes, then Bell tried to interfere, but he too was not immune to Taylor’s fury.
Taylor was unable to lift Richards into a bodyslam, which gave Richards the opportunity to ground Taylor and drop an elbow onto his leg.
Bell was tagged in and rushed at Taylor with a series of forearm strikes while Taylor was getting to his feet. As Taylor stood tall, Bell threw a couple of knife-edge chops that did not affect the young lion from Torquay. Taylor then retaliated with a single chop that dropped Bell to the mat, Taylor covered Bell as Referee Morgan counted to three.
Jake Taylor eliminated Nikolai Anton Bell via pinfall.
The main event had come down to Jake Taylor and Michael Richards. Taylor had the full support of the crowd behind him.
Taylor and Richards circled each other before Richards rabidly targeted Taylor’s leg. Richards pushed Taylor to the mat and went to apply the Mount Wellington Crab (a distant relative of the Boston, Christchurch, and Otara crab family). Kozina screamed at Taylor to not let Richards turn him over.
Taylor managed to power out then he used the ropes to get to his feet in the corner. Richards stood on his feet in the centre of the ring, and charged at Taylor, however, Taylor ran forward and hit Richards with a heavy dropkick which sent Richards crashing to the mat. Taylor seized his opportunity and went for the pinfall as Referee Morgan counted to three, giving Taylor the win.
After enduring severe pain to his leg, only to come back and eliminate the dastardly Bell and Richards; Jake Taylor demonstrated heart and fighting spirit in leading his team to victory, therefore sending the crowd home happy.
Winner JAKE TAYLOR
Kozina thanked the crowd for attending the tenth Exhibition before the young lions ended the evening with the Japanese prayer which was led by Nikolai Anton Bell.