WRESTLING HERITAGE

F: Dave Fit Finlay


Dave Fit Finlay


The Belfast Bruiser

He was known as the Belfast Bruiser for a reason. Dave Finlay was considered by many to be one of the most exciting wrestler of the Twentieth Century. was one of a handful of a new, aggressive breed of British wrestlers of the 1980s who could have propelled British wrestling successfully into the twenty-first century had the promotional infrastructure remained in place,


He was born in Carrickfergus in 1958 and trained by his father,who was himself an accomplished wrestler well known in Ireland, and Ted Betley. Dave turned professional in 1974, wrestling in Ireland until coming to Britain in 1978. Initially he worked for independent promoters Orig Williams and Brian Dixon


It was during 1981 that he began receiving bookings from Joint Promotions and it was then that Dave Finlay became Fit Finlay, “Because he is so fit” commentator Kent Walton kept telling us. He made his television debut in October, 1981 against Chris Adams, followed in March with a bout against another Betley trainee Davey Boy Smith. He established himself as a television favourite and was able to rank himself alongside Marty Jones and Rollerball Mark Rocco as one of the powerhouses of British wrestling. The clashes between any combination of these three, reaching new levels of fury, are talked about decades.


A win over Alan Kilby allowed him his first championship belt when he took the British Heavy Middleweight title in June, 1982. It was to be the first of a series of British and World championship successes at four different weights, including defeat of Tony St Clair for the British heavyweight championship and Marty Jones for the World Mid Heavyweight; though his talent and charisma made title recognition unnecessary.


In 1984 Dave formed a successful professional partnership with his wife, Paula, a former wrestler, as Paula Valdez, who now acted as his manager. Paula played her role to perfection and only enhanced the drawing power of the talented wrestler. Lancashire women had a reputation for tenacity, and when Dave did not get something right the fans enjoyed seeing Paula vent her displeasure.


As The promotional infrastructure began to crumble in the 1980s, and with many wrestlers feeling insufficiently rewarded they found greater appreciation amongst the independent promoters. Finlay joined the trickle that became a torrent of big name wrestlers who left Joint Promotions and worked for Brian Dixon’s All Star Promotions.


With the popularity of British wrestling going into decline talent such as Dave Finlay found overseas work increasingly lucrative (although admittedly British wrestlers had always travelled extensively overseas) and he began working mostly in Germany, Austria, and Japan. Eventually the lure of life across the pond proved irresistible and Dave signed for World Championship Wrestling in 1995, and later wrestled for WWE and continued to work for them in other capacities following retirement in 2012.



Page added 01/05/2022