Thursday, June 13, 2024
NewsThe Best Of British, Vol. 2

The Best Of British, Vol. 2



Dave Taylor (English)

Ahh yes, a Yorkshiremen like myself. Taylor debuted in All Star Wrestling in 1987 and immedateily found himself wrestling guys like Mark Rocco and Kendo Nagasaki. He went on to win several championships, including a tag team title in Germany with young partner Chris Benoit. The team split when Taylor picked up an injury and Benoit left for NJPW.

In 1995, Taylor traveled to America and debuted with WCW in the stable known as The Blue Bloods, with their names “Lord” Steven Regal, “Earl” Robert Eaton, and “Squire” David Taylor. After Eaton left the group, Regal and Taylor worked together as a team til Regal left the company in 2000, and Taylor left shortly after.

Taylor was used by WWE as a trainer in OVW, and opened a wrestling school with Fit Finlay between 2001 and 2005. In 2006 Regal announced Taylor would be joining him on Smackdown. They challenged for the tag titles unsuccessfully on several occasions. In 2007 the team was split by the brand draft lottery. He was paired with Paul Burchill as a tag team on house shows, but was taken off TV and released shortly after. Taylor believes he knows why WWE decided to fire him.

(From James Guttman asked Dave if he knew it was coming and Taylor tells listeners about the moment he knew his release was on the way.

“I wasn’t surprised by it because I stood up at a meeting and said a few words and I knew as soon as I said it my days were numbered.”

Dave explains that he and Paul Burchill had gotten nothing but praise for their house show work as a team. In fact, one agent even suggested they work main events after the reaction they had received. Taylor tells the story of his conversation with the agent and how it didn’t go anywhere after that. A short while later, WWE held their monthly meeting.

“We had a meeting. They have a meeting every month with all the guys. And they said, we need people to stand out. We need people to get heat. Stuff like that. And I just got a bit sick of it and I stood up and said: ‘Alright. What’s wrong with me and Burchill?’

And they couldn’t answer me. I said, ‘We’ve been to house shows, we get excellent reports. I’ve seen some of the reports.’ I said, ‘I’ve been told of some of the reports. The agents are all (at the meeting) to tell you.’ And they said, “Yeah. Eh, um, eh…” That went on for a good ten minutes. Afterwards everyone was shaking my hand. I said, ‘Yeah. You send me a check when they fire me.’

Taylor continues to wrestle at the age of 59. He trained several wrestlers including Nigel McGuinness and Cesaro. While he wasn’t used in a prominent role on WWE television, he left his mark and should be remembered for his dedication and hard work.

Layla (English)

She was one of the success stories to come out of WWE reality-based shows like the Diva Search which she won in 2006 to claim a $250,000 reward. Prior to winning the show she was a dancer working in Carnival Cruise Lines, the NBA, and made appearences for P.Diddy and Kanye West at the MTV VIdeo Music Awards.

She was noticed during her time on ECW with Extreme Expose as she choreographed dance segments for herself, Kelly Kelly and Brooke. On 14th May 2010 on an episode of Smackdown, Layla and Michelle McCool (LayCool) challenged WWE Women’s Champion Beth Phoenix to a title match with handicap rules. Layla won the match and became the first British woman, and Diva Search winner, to hold the championship.

While Layla was the Women’s Champion, McCool claimed to be a co-holder, and the title was split in half and defended by LayCool. McCool defeated Melina for the Divas Championship, unifying the belts and ending the lineage of the original Women’s Championship; making Layla the last in its history.

Layla was unofficially named the co-champion of the newly unified Divas Championship with McCool. They continued to pair together til McCool was forced to retire in 2011. Layla picked up a serious injury at Extreme Rules and needed surgery. She returned at the following years Extreme Rules to replace Beth Phoenix in a WWE Divas Championship match Nikki Bella, and won her first Divas title. After a 140 day reign she was defeated by Eve Torres.

She wrestled sporadically after the loss, and announced her retirement last summer. She was a breakthrough star as no other British woman had ever won a WWE title before. She succeeded and worked in WWE for nine years, and that counts for something!

Count Bartelli (English)

Before the likes of Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks, you had Count Bartelli and Kendo Nagasaki. The greatest thing about him was he went undefeated for two decades as a mysterious masked wrestler. His name wasn’t revealed til he firs defeat by Nagasaki in 1966. I highly recommend you read the Count Bartelli article to truly appreciate his contributions to British wrestling in its early days.

Jody Fleisch (English)

“The Phoenix” Jody Fleisch is one of the most popular names to come out of the UK in the past 15 years. I first saw Jody wrestling on television against Pac (aka Adrian Neville) in a ladder match, which was truly memorable. He’s fought all over Europe, CZW and ROH in the past, and continues to repesent all over the world. Long live The Phoenix!

Mark “Rollerball” Rocco (English)

A man of sheer talent. Mark Rocco competed for All Star Wrestling, and as Black Tiger in New Japan during the 70’s and 80’s. He fought other light heavyweight wrestlers of the era such as Marty Jones, Clive Myers, Dynamite Kid, and Tiger Mask in Japan.

His matches against Dynamite Kid were so impressive he was contacted to wrestle Tiger Mask as his alter ego Black Tiger in New Japan. The matches between the two masked stars remain some of the highest rated in Japanese TV history. The rivalry was so successful it spawned rivalries between later incarnations of Tiger Mask and Black Tiger (Eddie Guerrero was Black Tiger II).

The two fought throughtout 1982, and Rocco won the WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship by defeating Gran Hamada the same year. In 1989 he returned as Black Tiger to feud with Jushin Liger, a man he helped train. In 1991 he collapsed in the dressing room following a match against Fit Finlay in Worthing.

He had been suffering from pain in his back and kidneys since a match against Dave Taylor the previous night and was taken to a nearby hospital where doctors found his heart was working at only 30% and diagnosed him with a heart condition which forced him to retire from professional wrestling. He was last seen on TV as one of the mentors on TNA Wrestling: British Boot Camp; featuring Rockstar Spud, Marty Scurll and The Blossom Twins.

British Wrestling has produced many amazing talents, and Mark “Rollerball” Rocco is one of them. His feuds with Tiger Mask, Dynamite Kid and others will be remembered by all who saw them. He has made a name for himself around the world without needing to work for American promotions. There’s only a handful of wrestlers who can say they’ve done that, and today we recognize Mark Rocco as one of the Best Of British. Thanks for reading!

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