Eyeing An Irishman: A Look at the Career of David Finlay

Myles HubbardCorrespondent INovember 8, 2009

We wrestling fans may know him as "the man who loves to fight." To those that know him personally, he is David Edward Finlay Jr.

David was born January 31, 1958 in Belfast Northern Ireland. 

Finlay's first match was in 1974 when another wrestler no-showed his father's promotion. He did begin wrestling full-time in Carrickfergus and the rest of Ireland for the next four years.

In 1978, he ventured to England wrestling promotions. Finlay's first wrestling championship came when he defeated Alan Kilby in 1982, which was the Joint Promotions British Heavyweight Championship.

The title exchanged back and forth with his various opponents for the rest of the year, but in 1983, he lost it for the final time. Finaly won a tournament to name a new British Light Heavyweight champion and filled that position by defeating Ringo Rigby in the finals.

He didn't hold the title for a very long time, but then pinned Marty Jones to win the World Midheavyweight Championship. Much like his first title, Finlay traded it back and forth for two years before finally losing to Jones by disqualification, though he did defeat Jones to win Join Promotion's British Light Heavyweight title.

Finlay also captured the British Heavyweight Championship and competed on a ITV's World of Sport program as David "Fit" Finlay.

The fighting Irishman began traveling to Japan, Germany, and even Austria and wrestled for the Catch Wrestling Association. He was still the All Star Champion (British Heavyweight Champ) and teamed with Jones to win the CWA (Catch Wrestling Association) tag titles from Tony St. Clair and Miles Zrno.

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He finally lost the All Star title to Dave Taylor, but focused primarily on the CWA and captured many titles for that promotion.

In 1995, Finlay signed with World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and was billed as The Belfast Bruiser. He feuded with Lord Steven Regal in 1996. During this feud they had a parking lot brawl that was shown on the WCW flagship program Nitro, which Finlay received a eye injury from some broken glass.

He wrestled with an eyepatch for several weeks afterwards. Regal told the Bruiser, "I"m going to send you back to Ireland picking potatoes." The Bruiser won by disqualification when Regal's "Bluebloods" interfered and attacked Finlay. Regal was awarded a broken nose during this match.

After some time off from WCW rings, Finlay changed his ring name from Belfast Bruiser to Fit Finlay, which by the way, was misspelled on WCW television as "Finley." He died his hair blond and cut it short.

He went on to win the WCW World Television championship in 1998 by pinning Booker T. This led to a three way match between Finlay, Booker T and Chris Benoit. Finlay dropped the title to Booker at The Great American Bash and fell from the contenders at the same title.

He then began a program with Alex Wright, who claimed Finlay had ended the career of his father, Steve Wright. Alex defeated Finlay at Halloween Havoc of 1998.

With his contract with WCW nearing an end, he managed to win the Hardcore Junkard Invitational at Bash at the Beach. He suffered a lacerated nerve in his leg during a hardcore match at one of the house shows (non televised event) in Mississippi in the summer of 1999 and it nearly cost him his leg.

With treatment and rehab he regained the use of his leg and returned later in the year. After the turn of the new millennium, he formed a group that called themselves the "Hardcore Soldiers" with Brian Knobbs (one of the Nasty Boys) and Al Green.

They feuded with Vampire, which led to a match between Finlay and the Vampire at Uncensored, which was his last pay-per-view for WCW. However, his final WCW match was at a house show in Germany, and he lost to Norman Smiley in a hardcore match.

An interesting bit of information is that when WCW was bought out by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF/E), Finlay began working for them as a trainer for up and coming wrestlers and was put in charge of training the divas for their matches.

In 2004, Finlay began his wrestling comeback in a house show in Glasgow, Scotland against Jamie Noble. His gimmick was a proud native Irishman who loves to fight.

His first TV match for the WWE came in January of 2006 on Smackdown. His opponent was Matt Hardy and Finlay lost by disqualification.

After the match was officially over, Finlay dragged Hardy to the steel steps and smashed his face into them with his boot. This established Finlay as a heel.

In March of 2006, Finlay was involved in a big feud with Bobby Lashley, which started after he interfered in Lashley's match with JBL at Now Way Out, which cost Lashley his unbeaten streak.

On several occasions, the two would be in a brawl at several locations. One was in a parking lot where Lashley actually tried to turn a car over on to Finlay. Later, the same two combatants competed in a qualifying match for the Money In The Bank Ladder Match to be held at Wrestlemania, which Finlay won.

It was about this time that he began bringing his infamous shillelagh to the ring to use as an equalizer.

Finlay appeared in Wrestlemania XXII in the MITB match that was won by Rob Van Dam. He entered the King of the Ring tournament, but failed to become wrestling royalty. That was the year of King Booker.

After the King of the Ring was over and done with, Finlay started having his "Little Bastard" come out from under the ring to attack his opponents. He also joined forces with William Regal to become King Booker's "court."

Both were even "knighted" by the king and Finlay was even billed as "Sir Finlay" for a time. Finlay defeated World Heavyweight champion Rey Mysterio in a non-title match which lead to a United States title match against Bobby Lashley.

Finlay captured the gold from Lashley, but eventually lost it to Mr. Kennedy on Smackdown. After losing the title, Finlay began making threats to court leader King Booker and his new World Heavyweight Championship. Finlay defeated the champion in a non-title match, but lost in a fatal four-way at No Mercy.

Finaly drew No. 2 at his first Royal Rumble match and was the 12th man eliminated. Shortly after the Rumble, Finlay began a feud with The Boogeyman. At No Way Out, he and "Little Bastard" defeated The Boogeyman and "Little" Boogeyman.

Finlay was in the MITB ladder match for Wrestlemania 23, but Mr. Kennedy was able to get to the championship contract briefcase first. The Little Bastard is finally given a name: Hornswoggle. Finlay became embroiled in a feud with Kane and defeated him in a Belfast Brawl match.

The Irishman feuded with the Great Khali in 2008. When Mr. McMahon thought he was Hornswoggle's dad, he began to show tough love by scheduling him in matches against other superstars.

Later, after Hornswoggle was injured by JBL in a steel cage match, the longhorn loudmouth revealed to the world and the WWE universe that Finlay was Hornswoggle's father. Finlay admitted he was and he and his son joined forces soon afterwards..

In the 2008 WWE supplemental draft both Finlay and Hornswoggle were drafted to ECW. They challenged the tag team champions, The Miz and John Morrison but came up short.Throughout the rest of the year, he would fail in his quest to capture the ECW Title.

He would go on to have a mini-fued with Mark Henry which culminated in a Belfast Brawl match, which Finlay won.

Finlay went on to become the first person to defeat Jack Swagger, which happened in February of this year. This win got him a title match, but he failed to capture the gold from the All American American at the No Way Out PPV. Soon after, Finlay and Hornswoggle were separated after Hornswoggle was drafted to Raw.

Then in May, he suffered a legitimate eye injury that sidelined him until mid-June. At The Bash, he was once again unsuccessful in his quest to win the ECW Championship.

He was soon moved back to the Blue brand. Finlay quickly tried to establish himself as the number one contender for the IC Title, but would come up unsuccessful. He would go on to be involved in the Bragging Rights Raw vs. Smackdown match, which was won by his team.

The fighting Irishman is married and also a proud father of three. Finlay is also a third-generation superstar. His father and grandfathers were decent professional wrestlers in their own right.

Thanks for reading.


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