Taylor wants the spotlight as TAMASHII is born in Sydney and Christchurch
NJPW TAMASHII is now mere weeks away, as New Zealand and Australia see the best of the local scene compete with the best of NJPW. That competition will include key figures from the New Zealand Dojo. NZ Dojo media relations manager Ite Lemalu knows the Dojo’s prospects better than anyone, and will be highlighting some of them over the coming weeks.
Since 2016, Fale Dojo has attracted prospects from all over the world and from all walks of life. This often results in nearly every intake ranging in different builds, body sizes, and experiences. On the rare occasion, an intake would include a prospect with a large stature who would find themselves in the most fortunate position in learning the ‘big man’ style directly from Bad Luck Fale.
Such was the case for Jake Taylor. The 6-foot-5 prospect from Victoria, Australia arrived in New Zealand in May 2019, to take part in the Fale Dojo tryouts. Afterwards, Taylor was encouraged to train in the Dojo’s three-month professional wrestling training course that would begin the following month, which he accepted. During his two intakes at Fale Dojo, Taylor immersed himself in New Japan’s Strong Style on top of being guided by Fale in developing his unique attributes.
“Training with Fale-San was a huge experience,” Taylor described of the Dojo’s high demanding expectations. “Fale-San would nit-pick everything I’d do, he would make me do drills multiple times, walk around the ring over and over again until I got it.”
“If I looked small or looked weak in a match, Fale-San would call me out on it,” Taylor elaborated on Fale’s comprehensive and intricate training. “He broke down everything I needed to do as a ‘big man.’ Fale-San was the perfect person to learn ‘big man’ wrestling from. But don’t think for a second ‘big man’ style is all he knows.”
Under the day-to-day guidance of Tony Kozina, the Pro-Wrestling Coach, Taylor’s training was helped being amongst fellow prospects that were of diverse sizes. This in turn benefitted everyone that had the opportunity to spar with the larger Taylor.
Late in 2019, Taylor had the opportunity to train in the New Japan Noge Dojo. “Training at NJPW Dojo was incredible,” Taylor recalled of his experience. “Without Fale Dojo, this may never have happened. NJPW Dojo was a bit of a culture shock. Fale Dojo prepared me in areas such as Japanese etiquette and training in strong style.” After completing his extensive training in Japan in 2020, Taylor returned to Australia just as the COVID-19 pandemic had begun to sweep the globe. While in lockdown, Taylor sustained his fitness by applying the Dojo workouts.
When it was time for the New Zealand borders to reopen midway through 2021, Taylor was finally able to travel back to the NZ Dojo to resume his training during the filming of the Lion’s Roar docuseries. Taylor returned as a “Senior Senpai” to the younger prospects, a role that he naturally fit into. At the culmination of the season, Taylor was one of three to be awarded a contract with New Japan Pro-Wrestling.
This achievement was a result of immense dedication that often comes with emotional battle scars. “Everyone sacrifices, some people luck out with who they know or who their family, like any business, but that isn’t us as a Dojo,” Taylor spoke openly. “We had to fight for every opportunity, nothing was ever handed to us. I had to push through mental and physical obstacles, injuries, relationship issues, being away from home, self-doubt, outside voices, and money. It’s a hard lifestyle but a goal has always been clear, to make it. The New Japan contract is only another step.”
Amidst all of his challenges, Taylor was never alone, always having the support of his coaches and fellow prospects, while staying faithful to his “Senior Senpai” duties. “I’m excited for the NZ Dojo and for everyone who contributed to its short history,” said Taylor, a proud and staunch member of the Dojo’s international fraternity. “The NZ Dojo is the little brother eager to prove itself. The pandemic put on hold a lot of exciting plans for us and for the wrestlers Down Under.”
“Ask any wrestler in Australia and NZ and they will say the same thing – just give us a chance!” Taylor advocated. “I believe Australia has the talent that can compete with the best in the world, and my dream is for wrestlers in Australia to be paid what they deserve. I want my Dojo to continue to build a strong culture and respect recognised around the world, and to continue to attract wrestlers to come train so they can represent us all with pride,” he stated.
“New Japan TAMASHII is everything our Dojo has been working for since it started,” Taylor spoke in anticipation of the upcoming dates. “We have an opportunity for Aussies and Kiwis to show the world what we are capable of. We have fought and clawed to be noticed, and we are now at the point where the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Jay White is a Kiwi, and Australians in Aussie Open are also holding New Japan titles, so the sky’s the limit.’
“I’ve worked hard for this opportunity. I’ve spent every dollar in my bank account to get to this point and dedicated years of my life. Come November, I’ll be more than ready to represent my Dojo and do my Senpais proud,” Taylor let out a roar loud enough for the world to take notice. “I promise that New Japan Tamashii will shine a light on wrestling Down Under. I encourage aspiring wrestlers to follow my path.”