“My name is Finlay…. and I love to fight.”
Those words that were spoken by a man with a strong Irish brogue announced the arrival of Finlay to the Smackdown audience during his tenure with the WWE. However the career of Finlay started way before he came to the WWE as a trainer and wrestler.
Dave Finlay made his debut in Northern Ireland, filling in for a wrestler who no-showed for his father’s promotion back in 1974 at the age of 16. He started working for promotions all around Ireland before moving on to England. He would work around the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany and Japan before moving to the United States in 1995.
Finlay worked with World Championship Wrestling for the next five years under the name Fit Finlay, where he first used his first bleached-blonde haircut that he would keep for the rest of his on-screen career. He managed to win the World Television Championship during his WCW years but that would be the highest he went on the card. He almost lost the use of his leg during a hardcore match where he was thrown into a table and the table shards cut into his leg. He was able to rehab his leg and return to wrestling, but he lost all momentum in WCW. He slowly lost his on-screen time as WCW started to falter until he had his last match in 2000.
Finlay did not return to an on-screen role when WCW was bought out by the WWF but still made impacts as a trainer. He worked with the Divas and helped transition the divas into actual wrestlers who wrestled good matches. You can see the amount of talent he worked with in the list of wrestlers he trained below.
He would be a trainer for four years before making his on-screen return at the tender young age of 48. Finlay would be a solid mid-carder on Smackdown and ECW for the next few years, winning the United States Championship once and competing in a couple of Money in the Bank matches. He would get the chance to main event Smackdown on a couple of occasions, such as the match with the Undertaker below. He gets his ass kicked, but it was still the main event.
He would continue with the WWE, switching between ECW and Smackdown before becoming a full-time agent and trainer in 2010. However he would be released in 2011 after authorizing the Miz to interrupt a national anthem during a house show, which was appreciated by the audience. He worked the independent circuit for awhile including a stint at Ring of Honor before returning to the WWE in July 2012 as a backstage producer. He’s made some cameos since then, including this past Sunday at Battleground.
Finlay is one of my favorite wrestlers. He was always on Smackdown when I first got into wrestling and I found his gimmick to be awesome. His theme, wrestling style and use of a shillelagh as a weapon. When looking at his career, the length at which he wrestled is astounding. He wrestled for nearly thirty years and was still going strong in his late forties and early fifties. Plus his impacts are still being felt today because of his years as a trainer and backstage producer. He may never have been main event material but he was always entertaining to watch and very good at what he did both on-screen and off-screen.