Wrestler of the Day – January 9: Ludvig Borga

We continue our international trend with perhaps the only major wrestler ever to come out of Finland and a guy I’ve grown to like a lot more in the last few years: Ludvig Borga.

Borga, real name Tony Halme) was a legitimate tough guy with a boxing background, only enhanced by being a jerk based on most reports of his attitude in the locker room. Halme started off over in Japan for NJPW, including this match against Big Van Vader. I can’t find a date on it but it would likely be from the early 1990s.

Big Van Vader vs. Tony Halme

Vader is the big crowd favorite here. They stall to start with neither guy interested in doing much. Vader taunts Halme with some strange noises so Halme fires off punches to the ample midsection. That’s fine with Vader as he pounds away in the corner to take us to a stalemate. More punches have Vader in trouble as the announcers talk about Sting and WCW, putting this at some point in 1992 or later.

Vader comes back with a splash in the corner and a suplex to send Halme to the floor. A few shots have Halme in trouble on the outside but he milks the referee’s count for all it’s worth before coming back inside. Vader misses a splash and Halme gets his first advantage with some hard elbows and stomps. A back elbow and running clothesline get two for Tony and a top rope clothesline sends Vader to the apron.

More shots to the ribs have Vader in trouble but he just blasts Halme in the face and sits on him. Simple yet effective. The standing splash puts Halme down again and some hard clotheslines have him rocked. He starts no selling and says bring it on, so Vader runs him over again. A pair of splashes get two but Vader misses a cannonball down onto Halme’s chest, letting Tony grab a quick cover for the upset pin.

Rating: C. Surprising ending aside, this was one heck of a slugout with both guys beating the tar out of each other. Early 90s Vader is as good of a monster as you’ll ever find and it’s a treat to see him just punch people in the face. The ending was really surprising and sucked the air out of the crowd which isn’t a good thing most of the time.

Halme’s Japanese stuff was good enough to get him hired by the WWF with his first prominent match being held at Summerslam 1993.

Marty Jannetty vs. Ludvig Borga

Borga is basically the original Antonio Cesaro but from Finland. Marty fires away to start but gets punched in the corner by the former boxer. A hard clothesline puts Jannetty down before Borga throws him into the air for an uppercut (much like Cesaro). More punches in the corner have Jannetty in trouble and a clothesline stops his comeback dead. Borga blows his nose on Jannetty before putting on a bearhug. Marty escapes and makes a quick comeback with a pair of superkicks but gets caught in a powerslam and a torture rack for the submission.

Rating: D-. This was one of the lamer squashes I can remember in a long time. Borga looked slow and limited in the ring but the rack looked good. Other than that though, Borga came off as much more flash than substance. He would get better, but at the end of the day he never quite did anything in the company.

Borga’s anti-American rhetoric made him the perfect opponent for the American Hero Lex Luger, which culminated in a Survivor Series match between the All-Americans and the Foreign Fanatics.

Foreign Fanatics vs. All Americans

Yokozuna, Crush, Ludvig Borga, Jacques

Lex Luger, Undertaker, Steiner Brothers

The Quebecers are the tag champions and have Johnny Raven Polo as their manager. Yoko is world champion. Jacques and Scott start things off and Jacques offers a handshake. Scott says screw you in classic Freakzilla style. Scott hits a quick belly to belly for two and it’s off to Rick. Jacques brings in Yoko and things slow down almost immediately. Rick hits a clothesline and a shoulder to knock Yoko out to the floor but it doesn’t do much good.

Off to Borga who died in the last year or so. Rick gets knocked to the floor but comes back in off the top with a shoulder for no cover. Borga misses an elbow and Rick goes up again, coming off with a cross body. Borga rolls through it and Rick isn’t moving at all, giving Borga an easy pin. Rick finally starts moving and holds his leg, so I’m thinking that’s a legit injury. Rick can’t stand up on the floor.

Scott comes in next and gets to fight Jacques. Rick eventually limps off on his own power which is a good sign at least. Scott hits a great gorilla press but Crush catches a falling Jacques and I guess that’s a tag. Steiner wants nothing to do with a test of strength so Crush pounds on him a bit. A butterfly powerbomb puts Crush down and apparently Savage is back in the building. Crush kicks Scott down and here’s Macho.

Crush throws Scott down to the floor over the top but he won’t go after Savage. Randy gets sent to the back and the dull match continues as Scott may have hurt his knee on that fall. The knee gets targeted now with Crush firing away some kicks and Savage is coming back AGAIN. Scott dropkicks Crush to the floor and Crush goes after Savage for long enough to draw a countout.

Jacques goes after the injured Scott now with a rear chinlock followed by an elbow to the jaw for two. Scott somehow hits a gorilla press on Jacques and there’s the tag to Lex. He slams Jacques down and drops a middle rope elbow for the elimination. It’s now Lex, Taker and Scott vs. Borga and Yoko. Borga comes in to face the still limping Scott. Taker hasn’t been in the match yet.

Borga pounds on the ribs and whips Scott in the corner so he can clothesline Steiner down. Borga goes up top but gets suplexed back down for two. Yoko comes in and pounds away, but Scott gets in some offense. He tries the freaking Frankensteiner which goes about as well as you would expect it to, resulting in a legdrop from Yoko eliminating Scott to get us down to two on two.

Luger comes in as we’re almost 20 minutes in with no Taker at all yet. Borga, a Finn, waves the Japanese flag. Yoko misses a splash and Lex pounds away, only to get clotheslined down with ease. Off to Borga who runs Luger over again and kicks him in the ribs. Back to Yoko who misses a charge, and it’s FINALLY off to Taker.

Taker hits his running DDT and sits up but a Borga distraction lets Yoko suplex Taker down. There’s the situp and another after a clothesline. A legdrop keeps Taker down and there’s the Banzai, but Yoko goes for another, and Taker moves. A clothesline puts Yoko on the floor and they brawl to a double countout. See you at the Rumble boys. Taker was legally in the match for less than two minutes and forty seconds.

So it’s Lex vs. Borga now and as Taker and Yoko brawl on the floor. Ludvig has taken over and drops a leg on Lex. A side slam puts Lex down for two and Borga gets more two’s off various other power moves. He isn’t covering well though so he isn’t ready to pin Luger yet. A suplex puts Borga down and they clothesline each other. With Cornette distracting the referee, Borga hits Lex with Fuji’s salt bucket for two. Lex gets fired up and hits a powerslam and the loaded forearm for the final pin.

Rating: D+. This didn’t work either. Taker was the main draw of the match and he wasn’t even in there for a tenth of the match. Yoko vs. Taker would go on to screw up two PPVs and Lex would never get the title, basically making the second half of 1993 totally pointless. This match didn’t work at all, and a lot of that is due to the heel lineup. Unless there was an injury or something, I don’t get why Pierre was taken out.

Borga had one more prominent match at a house show in Lowell, Massachusetts on December 14, 1994 which was released on Coliseum Video’s Inside the WWF.

Intercontinental Title: Razor Ramon vs. Ludvig Borga

It’s always interesting to see an arena so small that you can see the walls during the entrances. They talk a lot of trash to start until Borga shoves him around and lifts the very large Razor in the air for a choke. A headlock has Razor in more trouble and a hard shoulder puts the champion down. Ludvig easily wins a test of strength but Razor comes back with some kicks to the ribs and a suplex to send Borga running to the floor.

Borga can’t quite suplex Razor to the floor but the champion hooks a suplex of his own for two. A clothesline puts Razor down again but Borga misses an elbow. Razor comes back with right hands but gets caught by a jumping clothesline. Borga follows up with the clothesline’s top rope cousin for a shocking three count but Razor’s foot was on the ropes. Razor can barely move so Ludvig picks him up for a side slam, only to miss a charge into the corner and get suplexed down for two.

A belly to back superplex sets up the Razor’s Edge but the referee gets bumped, allowing Shawn Michaels to run in. Dang that’s some serious overbooking for a house show match. Borga covers for the pin and the title, but another referee FINALLY comes out to say what happened, giving Razor the DQ win to keep the title. Side note: there are two title belts now due to Shawn bringing his own. I wonder what that could lead to.

Rating: C-. As mentioned, that was a pretty overbooked match for something at this level. Razor wasn’t really doing much out there but the false finishes had the crowd way into things. That’s one of the cool things about house shows: you can get different finishes like this that play to the crowd in the arena instead of the national audience. It’s very different but very fun.

That’s really about it for Borga. He was only in the WWF about ten months but he’s consistently remembered as a top heel and for good reason. The guy was kind of a combination Antonio Cesaro and Ken Shamrock. He played the evil foreigner to perfection and had the boxing skills to make him a dual threat. Borga would wind up being the Finnish National Boxing Champion, an MMA fighter (0-4 career record) and a member of Parliament. To say he was an interesting guy is an understatement, but his backstage attitude was apparently horrible and people were glad to see him go. I’ve always been a fan and would have loved to see more of him.

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1 comment

  1. ted says:

    Borga was always a guilty pleasure of mine.