Dave Finlay

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Dave Finlay
Fit Finlay at Stampede crop.jpg
Finlay in 2012
Born (1958-10-20) October 20, 1958 (age 55)[1]
Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland
Resides Atlanta, Georgia
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Fit Finlay
Dave Finlay
Finlay
Sir Finlay
The Belfast Bruiser
Young Apollo
Billed height 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)[2]
Billed weight 233 lb (106 kg)[2]
Billed from Belfast, Northern Ireland
Trained by Ted Betley[3]
Debut 1974[4]

David John Finlay, Jr[5] (born October 20, 1958) is a semi-retired professional wrestler and road agent from Northern Ireland working for the WWE backstage as (Fit) Finlay.[3][4] He is perhaps best known for his time in World Championship Wrestling (WCW). Finlay has held over twenty championships around the world throughout his career, including the WCW World Television Championship and the WWE United States Championship.

Professional wrestling career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Finlay's first match was for his father's promotion in Glynn in 1974, when he filled in for a wrestler who no-showed.[6] He began wrestling on a full-time basis in Carrickfergus and throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland for the next four years before moving to England in 1978.[4][6] In England, he wrestled for various companies under the Joint Promotions banner.[7] Finlay defeated Alan Kilby on June 9, 1982 to win his first title, the Joint Promotions British Heavy Middleweight Championship.[8] At this time, Finlay's then-wife, Princess Paula became his manager.[9]

He then won a tournament to crown a new British Light Heavyweight champion and fill the vacant position, defeating Ringo Rigby in the finals.[7] Finlay soon lost the championship, but later pinned Marty Jones to win the World Mid-Heavyweight Championship.[7] He traded it back and forth with Jones for over two years before losing it a final time to Jones via disqualification. He defeated Jones to win Joint Promotions' British Light Heavyweight Championship. In the second half of the 1980s, he defeated Frank 'Chic' Cullen on television for the British Heavy-Middleweight championship, but later lost it to Danny Collins.[10] In 1995 he became a champion at the top of the weight range when he won All-Star's British Heavyweight Championship. Finlay often competed on ITV's World of Sport programme as David "Fit" Finlay and had many matches against "The American Dream" Steve Adonis.

During this time, Finlay also began to wrestle in Japan, then in Germany and Austria for the European promotion Catch Wrestling Association.[4][6] While holding the All-Star championship, he teamed with Jones to win the CWA tag title from Tony St. Clair and Miles Zrno.[7] After losing the All-Star championship to Dave Taylor, Finlay began to focus more on the CWA, winning many of their championships.[7]

Finlay appeared at a WWF event, as they continued with their national expansion in late 1989 at a dark match, teaming with Mark Rocco, and Skull Murphy, to defeat the team of Al Perez, Dusty Wolfe, and Tim Horner. This appearance was far away from the time in which Finlay would sign a full-time contract with the promotion in 2005.[11]

World Championship Wrestling (1995–2000)[edit]

Finlay debuted in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in 1995 as the Belfast Bruiser,[8][12] a nickname he had previously used while in the UK. He feuded with Lord Steven Regal in 1996, including a parking lot brawl on Monday Nitro. During the feud, the Bruiser's matches were often interrupted by The Blue Bloods. At Uncensored, Bruiser won a stiff encounter with Regal by disqualification when the Blue Bloods again rushed the ring and assaulted him; Regal suffered a broken nose during the match.[13] The feud died down thereafter and the Bruiser disappeared into the midcard.

After a hiatus off WCW television, he abandoned the Belfast Bruiser persona and returned under the ring name Fit Finlay while sporting a short, bleached-blond buzzcut and shaved his mustache off. He was given a push upon his return, which culminated in his winning the World Television Championship on May 4, 1998 after pinning Booker T on Nitro, thus setting off a three-way feud with Booker and Chris Benoit, who was also vying for the title.[8] After Finlay lost the belt to Booker at The Great American Bash on June 14, he fell out of the TV title picture. He then entered a feud with Alex Wright, who was angry at Finlay for having ended the wrestling career of his father, Steve Wright. The feud led to a matchup at Halloween Havoc, where Finlay was pinned by Wright.[14] At Bash at the Beach 1999, he won a Junkyard Invitational involving Ciclope, Jerry Flynn, Johnny Grunge, Hak, Horace Hogan, Brian Knobs, Hugh Morrus, La Parka, Lord Steven Regal, Rocco Rock, Silver King, Squire Dave Taylor and Mikey Whipwreck, winning a "hardcore trophy". He legitimately suffered a badly lacerated nerve in his leg during a hardcore match at a house show in Jackson, Mississippi in July 1999, which nearly cost him use of the leg.[6][8] As he was wrestling Brian Knobs, he was thrown into a table in the corner of the ring, causing it to shatter and the shards to cut his leg.[6] He managed to regain use of the limb and came back later in the year, but by that point, all momentum he had from the Junkyard Invitational win was lost.[7] In 2000, Finlay formed a trio of "Hardcore Soldiers" with Brian Knobs and Al Green. They feuded with Vampiro; the feud included a match between Finlay and Vampiro at Uncensored, which marked Finlay's last appearance on a WCW pay-per-view.[15] His final match in WCW was at a German house show in November 2000, losing to Norman Smiley in a hardcore match.

World Wrestling Entertainment / WWE[edit]

Trainer (2001–2005)[edit]

When WCW was purchased by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), Finlay began working for the company as a trainer for new wrestlers. He trained future WWE champions John Cena and Randy Orton and was eventually put in charge of training the WWE Divas for their matches.[6][7] He is credited with having enabled the transition of the company's presentation of the WWE Divas from bra and panties-style gimmick matches to critically acclaimed traditional wrestling.[16] Former WWE Diva Lisa Marie Varon said that "He made us and molded us. He got to know what made us tick, exposed that, and there was nothing we couldn’t do. Today, the girls pick and choose what moves they want to do. If Fit Finlay was around, that wouldn’t happen. We worked stiff. We made contact."[17]

United States Champion (2005–2007)[edit]

Finlay began working on a comeback in 2004, even wrestling in a match against Jamie Noble at a house show in Glasgow, Scotland, and promos began airing for his impending in-ring return in December 2005. His gimmick is that of a proud native Irishman who loves to fight. At the age of 48 Finlay made his first televised WWE match on the January 20, 2006 airing of SmackDown! against Matt Hardy, which ended in a disqualification loss for Finlay. After the match, Finlay dragged Hardy to the steel ring steps and smashed Hardy's face into them with his boot, quickly establishing himself as a villain.[18] This helped to give him the nickname, "The Fighting Irish Bastard". Finlay continued to establish himself on the SmackDown! roster. During February and March 2006, Finlay was involved in a feud with Bobby Lashley which began when Finlay cost Lashley his unbeaten streak by interfering in Lashley's match with JBL at No Way Out.[19] This feud would see the pair brawl on many occasions, including a parking lot segment in which Lashley tried to overturn a car onto Finlay. Later, the pair competed in a Money in the Bank qualifier Lumberjack match that Finlay won. During this time, Finlay began to wield a shillelagh as a weapon. On April 2, Finlay competed at his first WrestleMania, WrestleMania 22. He faced five other WWE Superstars, from both the Raw and SmackDown! brands in a Money in the Bank ladder match which also included Lashley, who won a last chance battle royal. This match was eventually won by Rob Van Dam.[20] Finlay next entered the King of the Ring tournament on SmackDown!, defeating his first round opponent Chris Benoit[21] before being beaten by his rival Lashley, who advanced to the finals at Judgment Day.[22] Finlay helped the other finalist, Booker T, defeat Lashley in the King of the Ring finals.[23] At the same pay-per-view, Finlay lost to Chris Benoit.[24]

Beginning on the May 26 episode of SmackDown!, Finlay was joined by The Little Bastard, who came out from under the ring to attack Finlay's opponents.[25] Finlay then joined forces with William Regal as loyal subjects of the newly renamed King Booker and his Court.[26] Both men were later "knighted" by the King, and Finlay briefly used the name Sir Finlay. During his time as part of the court, Finlay picked up a win against World Heavyweight Champion Rey Mysterio in a non-title match before defeating the court's main foe Bobby Lashley to take Lashley's United States Championship.[27] Finlay defended the championship on several occasions, often with help from Little Bastard, and even defended it against fellow court member William Regal at The Great American Bash.[28] He lost the title to Mr. Kennedy on the September 1 edition of SmackDown! in a triple threat match that also involved Bobby Lashley.[29] After the title loss, Finlay continued to attack and wrestle threats to court leader Booker and his newly won World Heavyweight Championship, including Lashley and Batista. Finlay defeated Booker in a non-title singles match and lost in a four way match at No Mercy for the title.[30]

After leaving the court, Finlay continued to feud with Batista. On the November 10 edition of SmackDown!, he returned to fight Batista in a singles match which he lost after Batista pinned him following a spinebuster.[31] At Armageddon, Finlay and King Booker faced Batista and his partner, the WWE Champion John Cena from Raw, but were defeated.[32]

Alliance with Hornswoggle (2007–2008)[edit]

Finlay with his on-screen son Hornswoggle.

Shortly after the Royal Rumble, Finlay began a feud with The Boogeyman. At No Way Out, he and Little Bastard defeated The Boogeyman and The Little Boogeyman.[33] Finlay earned a place in the Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania 23; however, Mr. Kennedy won the match.[34] Following this loss, he would feud with Kennedy, after an attack on Little Bastard (now known as Hornswoggle) during the Money in the Bank match, and Jamie Noble for assaulting Hornswoggle after he won the Cruiserweight Championship. Finlay's feud, however, would quickly redirect to Kane after Finlay spilled coffee on him. The two also became involved with Batista and The Great Khali. At Saturday Night's Main Event, he and Khali lost to Batista and Kane.[35] Kane beat him at SummerSlam.[36] Finlay defeated Kane in a Belfast Brawl rematch a few weeks later.[37]

Finlay and Hornswoggle briefly separated when Hornswoggle was stripped of the Cruiserweight Title,[38] and briefly moving to Raw with his "illegitimate father". Finlay then feuded with Rey Mysterio by attacking him during a confrontational interview with John "Bradshaw" Layfield.[39] At No Mercy, Finlay faked an injury after taking a bump to the outside. Once placed on a stretcher, Finlay suddenly rose and attacked Mysterio, forcing Rey to be carried out on a stretcher.[40] The feud continued at Cyber Sunday, where fans voted for the two to face-off in a Stretcher match. Mysterio came out on top,[41] but Finlay retaliated with a victory on the November 9 edition of SmackDown![42] The feud intensified further when the two faced on opposite teams at Survivor Series.[43]

Finlay reunited with Hornswoggle by coming to rescue him in a match against The Great Khali, effectively becoming a fan favorite.[44] At Armageddon, Finlay was placed in a match with Khali. Finlay scored an upset win after Hornswoggle interfered by hitting Khali in the groin with a shillelagh.[45] Still battling Khali and his translator, Ranjin Singh, with Hornswoggle, he qualified for the Royal Rumble. He drew number 27, but was immediately disqualified when he entered before his time to save Hornswoggle. Hornswoggle, who was also a competitor in the Rumble, was disqualified as well.[46] Finlay fought in the Elimination Chamber match at No Way Out, ultimately being pinned after a chokeslam on the steel floor by The Undertaker.[47]

Finlay then began making occasional appearances on Raw to protect Hornswoggle from Mr. McMahon, who had been showing him "tough love". After Hornswoggle was injured in a Steel Cage match by John "Bradshaw" Layfield,[48] Layfield revealed that Finlay was Hornswoggle's father, and not McMahon.[49] A week after, on March 3, Finlay admitted to this fact.[50] At WrestleMania XXIV he was defeated by Layfield in a Belfast Brawl, where Hornswoggle also reappeared.[51]

Brand switches (2008–2011)[edit]

As part of the 2008 WWE Supplemental Draft, Finlay was drafted to the ECW brand.[52] He and Hornswoggle challenged The Miz and John Morrison for the WWE Tag Team Championship at Night of Champions, but lost. Throughout the rest of 2008, Finlay challenged for the ECW Championship. He, along with Matt Hardy, Chavo Guerrero, The Miz and ECW Champion Mark Henry participated in the first ever Championship Scramble match at Unforgiven which Matt Hardy won.[53] He defeated Mark Henry on an episode of ECW to earn an opportunity for the ECW championship, but was defeated by the champion Matt Hardy. Then he started a feud with Henry, and the feud ended when Finlay defeated Henry in a Belfast Brawl match at Armageddon.[54] Finlay became the first person to defeat ECW Champion Jack Swagger on the February 3, 2009, edition of ECW, and, as a result, became the number one contender and challenged Swagger at No Way Out, but was unsuccessful.[55][56] In the 2009 Supplemental Draft, Finlay and Hornswoggle were separated when Hornswoggle was drafted to Raw.[57] In late May 2009, Finlay suffered a legitimate eye injury, sidelining him temporarily.[58] He returned on June 16, attacking ECW Champion Tommy Dreamer, Christian, and Jack Swagger. At The Bash, he participated in a Championship Scramble match for the ECW Championship, which also included Christian, Jack Swagger and Mark Henry, however the defending champion Tommy Dreamer retained. Finlay did not return to ECW after that.

He was traded to the SmackDown brand on June 29, 2009.[59] His first match returning to the brand was against Ricky Ortiz, which Finlay won. He went on to form part of John Morrison's team at Survivor Series, but he was eliminated by Sheamus. In late 2009, he began pursuing the Intercontinental Championship by feuding with Drew McIntyre. In 2010, Finlay became a full-time trainer and agent.

Finlay was released in March 2011 after authorizing the interruption of the American national anthem by The Miz during a house show, which offended many, including National Guard members who were in attendance.[16] Finlay stated that his intention was to intensify the audience's dislike of The Miz in preparation for the latter's WrestleMania XXVII main event appearance but accepted full responsibility for his dismissal.[16]

Independent circuit (2011–2012)[edit]

Finlay versus Harry Smith in November 2011

After being released from WWE, Finlay was contacted by TNA Wrestling several times but was unable to agree upon contractual terms.[60] He began to wrestle again on the independent circuit, making his first appearance on July 26, 2011, defeating Sami Callihan at Evolve 9.[61]

On August 20, 2011, Finlay made his debut for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, taking part in the 2011 Battle of Los Angeles tournament. He was eliminated from the tournament in the first round by PWG World Champion Kevin Steen.[62]

On October 28, 2011, Finlay's debut for Yoshihiro Tajiri's Smash promotion was announced, when he was revealed as the mysterious "King of Terror", Michael Kovac had promised to bring to the promotion and named first ever Smash Champion StarBuck's first challenger for the title.[63][64] On November 24 at Smash.23, Finlay defeated StarBuck to become the new Smash Champion.[65] On February 19, Finlay made his first successful defense of the Smash Championship, defeating TAJIRI. Prior to the event, Smash had announced that it would cease its operations on March 14, which led to Finlay vacating the Smash Championship after the title defense.[66]

On November 6, 2011, Finlay wrestled in the main event of a Stampede Wrestling show in Barrie, Ontario[67] in a losing effort against Harry Smith.[68]

On May 12, 2012, at Border Wars, Finlay made his debut for Ring of Honor (ROH), unsuccessfully challenging Roderick Strong for the ROH World Television Championship.[69] On May 24, Finlay made his debut for Wrestling New Classic (WNC), the follow-up promotion to Smash, defeating Akira in the main event.[70] Two days later, Finlay defeated Zeus in the main event of another WNC event.[71] Finlay's first tour of WNC concluded on May 27, when he, Akira and Syuri defeated Kana, Mikey Whipwreck and Tajiri in a six person main event.[72] On June 24 at ROH's Best in the World 2012: Hostage Crisis iPPV, Finlay was defeated by Michael Elgin.[73]

Finlay returned to WNC on September 20, when he defeated Ray Mendoza, Jr. in the main event at Korakuen Hall.[74] Following the match, Finlay announced that he was done with WNC for the time being due to re-signing with WWE.[75] Despite no longer scheduled to make appearances for WNC, Finlay was named the head of the WNC Championship Committee.[76]

Return to WWE (2012-present)[edit]

Following a stint in the independent circuit and a year after the house show incident, Finlay returned on July 11, 2012 as a backstage producer. The two sides had been negotiating since WrestleMania XXVIII, but there were situations that delayed the deal being finalized.[77]

Finlay made a cameo appearance on the 20th Anniversary Raw episode in January 2013. He was one of the officials who separated The Rock and CM Punk's brawl. He then appeared on the WWE Active set on the WWE app to talk about the Elimination Chamber Match. He appeared again on October 7, 2013 when the Rhodes family were celebrating their victory after their match with The Shield at Battleground, and again the next night on Raw to separate Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton's brawl outside the ring. Finlay also appeared on the July 7, 2014 episode of Raw, separating Roman Reigns and Kane. Finlay was then speared by Reigns. He made another appearance on the July 28, 2014 Raw, separating a brawl between Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella.

Personal life[edit]

Finlay was previously married to his former manager, Princess Paula.[3] Finlay is currently married to a German woman named Mel and has three children, the eldest of which, David, was born in Germany.[4][6] His children are all amateur wrestlers; his eldest son has received an offer to train in the New Japan Pro Wrestling dojo and his daughter has won the Georgia State championship.[60] The family resides in southern Georgia, United States.[6] Both Finlay's father and his grandfathers were professional wrestlers, and his sister was a referee.[6] His brother, Albert, was a goalkeeper for Glentoran FC in the Irish League in the late 1960s / early 1970s.

WWE Pay-Per-Views[edit]

Year Pay-Per-View Match Stipulations Result Notes
2006 Royal Rumble Finlay VS Brian Kendrick Singles match Won The match was before the event
WrestleMania 22 Finlay VS Rob Van Dam VS Shelton Benjamin VS Ric Flair VS Matt Hardy VS Bobby Lashley Money in the Bank ladder match Lost Rob Van Dam won
Judgment Day Finlay VS Chris Benoit Singles match Lost
The Great American Bash Finlay (c) VS William Regal Singles match Won For the WWE United States Championship
No Mercy Finlay VS Booker T (c) VS Bobby Lashley VS Batista Fatal four-way match Lost Main Event
For the World Heavyweight Championship
Booker T won
Survivor Series Finlay, Big Show, Test, Umaga & Montel Vontavious Porter VS John Cena, Kane, Bobby Lashley, Sabu & Rob Van Dam Five-on-five Survivor Series elimination match Lost Main Event
Armageddon Finlay & Booker T VS John Cena & Batista Tag team match Lost Main Event
2007 Royal Rumble 30-man Royal Rumble match Lost Main Event
For a world championship match at WrestleMania 23
The Undertaker won
No Way Out Finlay & Hornswoggle VS The Boogeyman & Little Boogeyman Mixed tag team match Won
WrestleMania 23 Finlay VS Mr. Kennedy VS CM Punk VS Randy Orton VS Matt Hardy VS King Booker VS Jeff Hardy VS Edge Money in the Bank ladder match Lost Mr. Kennedy won
SummerSlam Finlay VS Kane Singles match Lost
No Mercy Finlay VS Rey Mysterio Singles match No Contest
Cyber Sunday Finlay VS Rey Mysterio Stretcher match Lost
Survivor Series Finlay, Umaga, Mr. Kennedy, Montel Vontavious Porter & Big Daddy V VS Triple H, Kane, Jeff Hardy, Rey Mysterio Four-on-five Survivor Series elimination match Lost
Armageddon Finlay VS The Great Khali Singles match Won
2008 Royal Rumble 30-man Royal Rumble match Disqualified Main Event
John Cena won
No Way Out Finlay VS The Undertaker VS Batista VS Montel Vontavious Porter VS The Great Khali VS Big Daddy V Elimination Chamber match Lost Main Event
For a World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania XXIV
WrestleMania XXIV Finlay VS John "Bradshaw" Layfield Belfast Brawl Lost
Night of Champions Finlay & Hornswoggle VS John Morrison and The Miz (c) Tag team match Lost For the WWE Tag Team Championship
The Great American Bash Finlay & Hornswoggle VS Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder VS John Morrison and The Miz (c) VS Jesse and Festus Four-way tag team match Lost For the WWE Tag Team Championship
Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder won
Unforgiven Finlay VS Matt Hardy VS Mark Henry (c) VS The Miz VS Chavo Guerrero Championship Scramble Lost For the ECW Championship
Matt Hardy won
Armageddon Finlay VS Mark Henry Belfast Brawl Won
2009 Royal Rumble 30-man Royal Rumble match Lost Main Event
Randy Orton won
No Way Out Finlay VS Jack Swagger (c) Singles match Lost For the ECW Championship
WrestleMania XXV Finlay VS CM Punk VS Kane VS Mark Henry VS Montel Vontavious Porter VS Shelton Benjamin VS Kofi Kingston VS Christian Money in the Bank ladder match Lost CM Punk won
The Bash Finlay VS Tommy Dreamer (c) VS Jack Swagger VS Christian VS Mark Henry Championship Scramble Lost For the ECW Championship
Tommy Dreamer won
Bragging Rights Finlay, Chris Jericho, Kane, Matt Hardy, R-Truth & The Hart Dynasty VS D-Generation X, Big Show, Cody Rhodes, Jack Swagger, Kofi Kingston & Mark Henry Interbrand 14-man tag team match Won Main Event
Survivor Series Finlay, Matt Hardy, John Morrison, Evan Bourne & Shelton Benjamin VS The Miz, Drew McIntyre, Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler & Jack Swagger Five-on-five Survivor Series elimination match Lost Main Event
2010 WrestleMania XXVI 26-man battle royal Lost Yoshi Tatsu won

In wrestling[edit]

Fit Finlay applying a Fujiwara armbar on Harry Smith.
Finlay with his signature shillelagh.
  • Entrance themes
    • "Belfast" by Boney M.[92] (CWA / Europe; 1977–1997, 2000–2001)
    • "Byakuen" by Osamu Totsuka (NJPW; 1991–1994)
    • "Pride (In The Name Of Love)" by U2 (NJPW; 1998)
    • "Rock Energy" (WCW; 1996)
    • "Scattered" (WCW; 1997–2000)
    • "Lambeg" by Jim Johnston (WWE; January 2006 – May 2008)
    • Finlay used a song by The Swaggerin' Growlers as his theme on the March 3, 2008 edition of Raw[93]
    • "Hes Ma Da" by Jim Johnston[94] (WWE; May 2008 – June 2010)

Wrestlers trained[edit]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

  • British championships
    • World Mid-Heavyweight Championship (4 times)[96]

References[edit]

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