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Wrestling’s Greats: The Irishman Who Loves To Fight, Finlay

“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.

Screen Shot 2013-10-09 at 2.13.41 AM

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.

About Ben Gartland

Ben is a college freshman who loves writing anything and everything. He is a WWE writer for Wrestle Enigma and has been part of the site for over a year.
  • Kevin Berge

    Finlay was never the most charismatic star, and he was always going to be a midcard talent. However, that didn’t stop him from being incredibly likable and just fun to watch most of the time. I loved watching Finlay during his reemergence in WWE. His hard hitting style made him a talent anyone would love to work with because he could teach you so much.

    I like that you some of the guys he trained because that may be Finlay’s biggest contribution to professional wrestling. He understands so much about the business, and it allows him to pass on so much to the future generations. He’s a great trainer and agent. If I were getting into wrestling, he and William Regal would be near the top of guys I’d immediately turn to for support.

    Good article, Ben. Always love reading about guys like this, underrated workhorses who made a subtle but important impact on wrestling,

  • Josh Rushinock

    There isn’t anything not to love about Finaly. He’s a great trainer, great mind for the business, great brawler, and can still get in the ring and put on a great match. Great write up here Ben.

  • Grasby

    I do really miss Finlay as an in-ring performer. His entire WWE run was very solid, but the thing I most enjoyed him doing back then was his interactions with both King Booker & William Regal. Hilarious times with all three of them.

    I feel – aside from when he was being a children’s character – that his bad-ass Irishman gimmick was exactly what WWE have wanted to make Sheamus over the years, to less success. I even prefer Finlay when he’s telling jokes.

    During his run on the independents, he had one of my favourite series of matches with Sami Callihan. Ever since Sami started rising in the ranks, people were starting to compare his smash-mouth style to that of a Finlay or Regal. Getting the chance to see a great young talent get a series of long, hard-hitting matches with someone the style of Finlay really helped elevate both’s career value. I wouldn’t be surprised if Finlay was influential in getting Sami his current job with the WWE as Solomon Crowe.

    Finlay is a valuable commodity for any company — no matter the role he’s in.

    • Ben Gartland

      He was one of the guys who was on every week when I first got into wrestling. I like seeing him wrestle but it’s even better now because I get to see how much impact he has had on the divas and the other wrestlers he trained, such as Kurt Angle. He’s a versatile and useful man for wrestling for sure!

  • Jacob Stachowiak

    List of wrestlers copied directly from wikipedia….

    Anyways, his off screen contributions were absolutely great through the training of some of the best women’s wrestlers the industry has had in decades upon decades.

    He was also a great smashmouth wrestler who was a very solid midcard contributor.

    • Ben Gartland

      It was a much cleaner screenshot than the source it came from, so I went with it. The visual was easier and more eye-appealing that just writing the names.

      His impact on the Divas of the early 2000s is really great. I wish he was the trainer now, they could definitely use it.