Finlay’s back to bend bones in the UK!
By Phil Allely
Former WWE superstar and Irish wrestling legend Dave ‘Fit’ Finlay is about to make waves in the UK once again, after many years of making his mark in the US (both in the ring and behind the scenes for the WWE and WCW). Thanks to our great friend Ross Williams, Fame’s wrestling columnist Phil Allely was able to catch up with Finlay to find out what he has been up since his release from the WWE and just what he hopes to achieve whilst back wrestling in the UK .
Phil: Hi Dave, you are back in the UK to appear at a series of events for Varsity Pro Wrestling; what made you decide to work with VPW?
Finlay: This gives me an opportunity to spread my wings a little and come back to Britain to wrestle for the first time in quite a while. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Varsity Pro Wrestling, they’re a tremendous up and coming British promotion. If I’m coming back over here to wrestle, I want to work with a company at the top of the list and that’s VPW – it’s a company that is committed to a higher standard. I’m looking forward to working with them and doing my bit to help build up the company – it’s going to be good fun.
Phil: VPW have had an exciting few months and now are on the cusp of bringing British Wrestling to UK TV as part of a deal with SKY. As a man who played a big part in the boom period of UK wrestling on TV, what's your opinion on this latest development and can we go back to those days of ratings-winning British Wrestling TV shows?
Finlay: Yes, I think we can. It’s been a long time coming. The old World of Sport days played a big part for the British wrestling scene but there’s definitely some great talent here now, especially within VPW. If these wrestlers keep working hard to improve – if they’ve got the heart and the talent and continue to push themselves, they’ll do well. There’s a lot of competition for VPW and British wrestling with the glitz and glamour of the US promotions but these guys put on a great product. The VPW TV deal is a great opportunity to get British wrestling back on the map. It won’t be easy and everyone’s going to have to come together as a team to make sure that they’re all rowing the boat in the same direction but if we don’t try, we won’t know.
Phil: Since you left the WWE what have you been up to?
Finlay: I’ve been coaching amateur wrestling four days a week at my Son’s high school. All of my three kids are into wrestling; I’ve got an 18 year old Son with an offer to go to the NJPW dojo, my 10 year old girl is the Georgia State champion and my 9 year old boy wrestles too, although his heart seems to be more into football – soccer, not American football. Aside from all of that, I’m going back on the road some weekends, getting back in the ring. I’ve been to Germany, I’m going to Africa and Japan soon. I’m definitely pretty busy.
Phil: Are you enjoying the freedom of being a freelance grappler?
Finlay: Yes, I like it although I did have freedom within the WWE system. The offer was always there for me to do some things on the independent scene if I wanted to but it just didn’t happen that way. It was always a full time job. They looked after me and I did the best I could for them, really committed myself to the job. Being back on the independent scene is definitely interesting – I’ve seen a lot of bad wrestling and a lot of good wrestling!
Phil: Will we see you back in a WWE ring again and are there any comments you'd like to make about the circumstances of your release from the company?
Finlay: I don’t know – I hope so. I’ve got lots of friends there; John Laurinaitis is a good friend of mine. I do love the WWE scene and miss it tremendously but I’m not going to curl into a ball about not being there, you’ve just got to get on with it. There are no hard feelings about my release; I take responsibility for what happened.
Phil: I was fortunate enough to see a preview of the documentary made about you and your family (The Fighting Finlays). It really seemed to take an honest look at how wrestling has shaped your life and how your son is following in your footsteps. What did you think of the finished film?
Finlay: It was ok. The guys worked hard on in but I’m not sure how widely it will be distributed. People who are close to wrestling will enjoy it, I think. It was certainly very emotional for me. As with anything, it could have been better, but I enjoyed it.
Phil: Have any other US companies offered you a contract, for example TNA or ROH? If so, were you tempted or would you be tempted?
Finlay: They all got in touch and I listened but the offers weren’t right. They weren’t enough – it’s not like it’s my first day in the business. I’ve been doing this for 37 years now and one thing I know is that you can’t sell yourself cheap.
Phil: As a fellow Irishman, Belfast born and bred, I must admit I always felt proud to have someone of your calibre flying the flag for us in the UK, Germany and of course in WCW/WWE, no matter if you were a heel or face. Do you feel the same when you step through the ropes and represent our wee country on the world's stage?
Finlay: Absolutely – I felt that way from the very beginning. I’ve always taken pride in being an ambassador for my country. I’m proud to be Irish and love my country. I’ve been the best I can be for myself and for my country, travelled the world and flown the flag for Ireland. Maybe the tourist board should cut me a cheque!
Phil: You were instrumental in making the WWE women's division a success; I recently interviewed Mickie James and she had nothing but high praise for you and the work you did with the girls. Did you enjoy that period in your career?
Finlay: Initially, I think the job was a joke – not a joke as in treating the women as a joke but as in they thought ‘let’s give the girls to the tough guy’ but I took it as a serious task, got all the girls together and told them what I wanted to do. I was going to make them wrestlers, we weren’t going to have any complaints, no broken nails, they weren’t going to wrestle like girls, they were going to do it properly and it was going to be tough. They trusted me and I made sure I was there for them. There was no ego from me in it; it was all about them making it on a big stage.
Phil: What has been the high point in your career to date and is there one moment that you think defines your in-ring best?
Finlay: I don’t know that I can bring it down to one moment; over 37 years, there have been so many great ones. I think the high point for me is having lasted this long. As 51 years of age, I’ve only had one major injury, I’m still healthy and I’m still active. I reckon I can still outlast most of the younger guys in the ring! I take pride in still learning from everybody where I can and keeping an open mind. After all this time, I still love the business and I take it seriously – I’ve never taken a drug in my life, I eat properly, certainly no fast food. Maybe a couple of pints of Guinness now and then...
Phil: Do you keep up to date with the WWE or TNA programming?
Finlay: If I’m honest, I can’t say I get to see too much given how often I’m teaching or on the road.
Phil: Finally, is there a hobby or interest you have that your fans might be surprised you have?
Finlay: I’ve been into Scuba Diving for 5 or 6 years now. My eldest son is into it too; we sometimes go diving off the Caribbean Islands and check out the Shipwrecks around there. It’s amazing. My wife’s not so much into it but she’s been snorkelling with me before. A few years back, we were about 5 miles off the Florida Keys and she was actually attacked by a small shark – she wasn’t hurt though. My wife is German, so I think the shark was probably more scared of her...
You can catch up with Finlay, Daivari, Leon Shah, Rob Holte, Jake McCluskey and many more Varisty Pro Wrestling stars on Sky channel 219 (MyTV Channel) from December 2011. Check back here at Phil Allely’s Running The Ropes for more news on the first broadcasts of this exciting new UK based wrestling programme.