Tony Kozina, Pro-Wrestling Head Coach invited the young lions to the ringside area to kick off Exhibition XI, held at the Fale Dojo facility in Otahuhu, Auckland.
“This is our most diverse crew as far as experience is concerned from zero to ten years in a wrestling ring,” Kozina spoke of the June 2022 intake. The Exhibition took place on 16 July and began with a demonstration of exercises which was followed by a sumo-style tournament that included the young lions, Nikolai Anton Bell, Rowan Davis, Shep Alexander, Seth Reese, and Fraser Pittard.
The tournament helped remind the spectators that wrestling – when stripped of theatrics and gymnastics, was a fight. The tournament final culminated between Bell and Davis, with Davis picking up the win. Homegrown lions Bell and Davis are two to look out for.
Referee Lloyd Morgan entered the ring to officiate the Exhibition’s professional wrestling matches.
15 Minute Time Limit
MICHAEL RICHARDS vs. NIKOLAI ANTON BELL
Mount Wellington, Auckland, New Zealand | Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand
The contest between lion’s Michael Richards and Nikolai Anton Bell was a rematch from the previous Exhibition. Much of the old-school wrestling that Bell aspired to connect with was notable throughout this encounter.
Bell confidently traded Richards hold for hold while they grappled. Bell then Irish whipped Richards to the opposite corner, as Richards charged in, Bell who was facing the turnbuckle, grabbed onto the ropes, and leapfrogged behind Richards, before grabbing the Senior Senpai into a side headlock takeover.
Richards attempted to gain control as he got back on his feet with Bell’s headlock still intact. Richards pushed Bell across the ropes and delivered a simple and effective strike to the abdomen sending Bell to the mat.
Richards picked up Bell and delivered a massive body slam in the middle of the ring. Bell changed his defensive plan and fought off Richards with knife-edge chops, however, Richards retaliated with his own strikes.
Richards applied a reverse chin lock while executing a succession of elbow strikes against Belle’s neck. Bell attempted to fight off Richards’ grip, but Richards remained dominant.
Bell reversed an Irish whip by Richards and floored him with a superb dropkick; his feet leaving the mat for the first time in executing a high-impact move.
Bell went to apply the young lion’s Boston crab on Richards who managed to crawl his way to the ropes to break the hold. Bell attempted a suplex, but Richards blocked the hold. He then lifted Bell onto his shoulder and dropped him face-first on the turnbuckle.
Richards moved in for the kill and delivered his spinning fisherman suplex. Referee Lloyd Morgan made the three count as Richards picked up the win.
Winner: MICHAEL RICHARDS
15 Minute Time Limit
TONY KOZINA vs. SHEP ALEXANDER
Portland, Oregon, USA | Ipswich, Queensland, Australia
After a decade of wrestling on the Australian independent scene, Shep Alexander entered an integral stage in his wrestling journey as a NZ Dojo young lion. What better way for the native of Ipswich, Queensland to step into his next chapter than to debut in New Zealand against Tony Kozina, the esteemed veteran.
The teacher and the student made contact in a collar and elbow tie-up. Alexander applied a go behind waist lock, Kozina untied the youngster’s hands and countered into an armbar, Alexander reversed the hold, however, Kozina the wily veteran swept the young lion off his feet and attempted a pinfall.
Kozina’s ruthlessness surfaced as he delivered a knee strike to his opponent’s gut. Kozina followed up with meticulous elbow strikes against Alexander’s spine.
Kozina Irish whipped Alexander into the turnbuckle and connected with intensity. Kozina calmly approached Alexander who lay in agony, Kozina executed a snap mare into a pinfall attempt.
Kozina applied a front face lock, but Alexander fended off his teacher with elbow strikes to the gut.
Alexander channeled his fighting spirit and initiated an exchange of strikes with Kozina. Kozina sensed Alexander gaining the upper hand, so he broke the momentum with a dropkick that sent the young lion flying across the ring.
Kozina Irish whipped young Alexander to the corner and charged in at the young lion, Alexander lifted his leg in time for Kozina to connect with his boot. Alexander applied a front face lock to try and ground the veteran Kozina in retaliation, resorted to pulling Alexander’s hair to escape the hold which gave him the opening to execute a fireman’s carry knee strike – a variation of the Go To Sleep.
Kozina continued to add punishment to Alexander’s back while Alexander fought as hard as he could to fend off Kozina’s vicious assault. There were a few openings where Alexander almost regained control, but Kozina the experienced veteran overwhelmed the young lion with his savvy tactics.
Kozina picked up the win following a dropkick to the back of Alexander’s neck while he sat up. Alexander bowed to Kozina.
Winner: TONY KOZINA
30 Minute Time Limit
ANDREW VILLALOBOS & ROWAN DAVIS vs. JAKE TAYLOR & NIKOLAI ANTON BELL
Sydney, NSW Australia, and Palmerston North, Manawatu-Whanganui, NZ | Torquay, Victoria, Australia, and Christchurch, NZ
The Exhibition XI main event was a tag team encounter featuring a blend of experience and intensity between Jake Taylor, and Nikolai Anton Bell, against Andrew Villalobos, and Rowan Davis.
Taylor and Villalobos, the NZ Dojo Senior Senpais began the match for their respective teams. Villalobos, cautious with Taylor’s size and brute strength circled around the big man and moved in with a side headlock into a drop-toe hold and pinfall attempt before both tagged out to their younger contemporaries.
Bell grabbed Davis into a side headlock, and Davis reversed with an arm ringer before tagging Villalobos back in. Villalobos and Davis proceeded to engage in quick tags and keep Bell in their corner. Taylor instructed Bell with a loud roar to break away from their opponent’s momentum which Bell did by striking Villalobos before tagging in Taylor, the six-foot-five heavyweight.
Taylor charged at Villalobos who awaited the larger lion with an arm drag takedown onto the mat. Taylor managed to make his way to his feet and struck Villalobos with a forearm, Villalobos retaliated with a knife edge chop. This angered Taylor who hit Villalobos, though Villalobos used his superior agility to escape Taylor’s strikes with an arm drag before tagging out to Davis who took over with an armbar, however, Taylor broke the momentum with a forearm strike. Davis went to initiate a tie-up, but Taylor tricked Davis when Davis went to move in to lock up, Taylor stepped back and slammed Davis face-first onto the mat.
Davis made several attempts to regain control, but Taylor was too big and powerful to combat. Taylor proceeded to weaken Davis with several massive shots to his body while Bell screamed words of support to his Senior Senpai before being tagged into the ring.
Bell hit Davis with some elbow shots which infuriated Davis who retaliated with forearm strikes. Bell, almost rocked by the hits, fought back with some powerful kicks, and applied an arm lock, thereafter he tagged Taylor back in.
Taylor and Bell worked cohesively exchanging quick tags while holding Davis captive in their corner. Bell went to apply a suplex, but the move was countered when Davis hit back with a snap suplex. Both lions inched towards their respective corners and tagged out to their Senior Senpais.
Villalobos and Taylor stormed into the ring and charged at the opposite corners with Taylor striking Davis, and Villalobos striking Bell before turning their attention to each other.
Villalobos tripped Taylor with a drop-toe hold, as Taylor stood up in the corner, Villalobos charged in with a flying elbow strike before following up with a running enzuigiri that dropped big Taylor to the mat.
As Taylor lay on the mat, Villalobos seized the opportunity and synched in a single-leg crab in the middle of the ring. Taylor, however, easily crawled to the ropes to break the hold, but Villalobos dragged Taylor back in the middle and doubled down with the Boston crab. Bell ran in to break the hold and applied a sleeper hold while riding Villalobos. Villalobos managed to walk to his corner and tag in Davis before both Villalobos and Bell fell over the top rope and landed outside the ring. Davis went to charge at Taylor who also charged forward and dropped him with a claymore kick before gaining the decisive pinfall.
Winners: JAKE TAYLOR & NIKOLAI ANTON BELL
Credit Cover Graphic: Michael Richards, Squared Circle Graphics
Credit Photos: Isoa Kavakimotu