He goes by a simple one-word, two-syllable name. But Tarik’s name is growing in recognition all over the wrestling world. He seems poised to gain even greater renown. His in-ring name, a slight variation on his real name of Tariq Ghani, is reflective of his straight-ahead, no-nonsense approach to his craft and his career, both in the ring and out. When he comes to ring there are no frills, no pomp, and circumstance. Instead, he slowly and steadily marches to the squared circle exuding intensity and displaying a grim focus. Once he is in there, that intensity remains on display through his aggressive, stiff, attacking style. His motto is ‘Punch, Kick, Chop!’ and his offense includes an abundance of all three. But Tarik is no mere plodding brawler; his matches are fast-paced and his opponents get no rest or respite when they are facing him.
Tarik was born in Calgary, Alberta but grew up, and still lives in, the suburbs of Toronto. Like so many of his contemporaries on the independent circuit, Tarik was a wrestling fan from a young age. He grew up idolizing the Ultimate Warrior and Shawn Michaels. By 2006 he was determined to pursue a career in the ring, and after attending his first independent show two years later, and discovering that a local wrestling school was connected to the show, his path was clear.
‘Punch, Kick, Chop’
His initial training took place at the now-defunct Squared Circle Training in Toronto, under the tutelage of Rob Fuego and Steve Cvjetkovich (brother of Nick Cvjetkovich, who is better known as Sinn Bodhi and Kizarney). During its time in operation, that facility produced a number of students who went on to accomplish a great deal in the industry. After that training, he had his first match in 2009, and it has only been onward and upward since then.
In the early years of his career, he wrestled under the name ‘Rocksteady’ Alex Vega. As Vega, he wrestled for many independent promotions around Toronto, such as Pro Wrestling Eclipse, Crossfire Wrestling, Alpha-1, and Border City Wrestling. Along the way, he was gaining experience and learning from the veterans of the circuit. For instance, he got to know the legend of the independents Tyson Dux, spent time under his learning tree and thus found himself a lifelong mentor in the business.
Tarik is best known as one of the Four Pillars of Smash Wrestling, the well known Ontario independent. The promotion started in 2012 and Tarik, still calling himself Alex Vega, was part of it from day one. He began using the name Tarik at the beginning of 2015, which coincided with a dramatic increase in success and exposure. It was around that time he also became a regular performer for Toronto’s Superkick’d promotion, which could be considered his second home after Smash. However, he has performed for virtually every promotion in Ontario and more recently has performed for FLQ and NSPW in Quebec, as well as Empire State Wrestling in New York State.
During his time with Smash, Tarik has teamed with or opposed a who’s who of wrestling. During a tremendously successful heel run when he was easily the most despised man in the promotion he was part of the Fourth Gun faction along with Johnny Gargano, Drew Gulak and Biff Busick, all of whom are now in WWE (Busick now uses the name Oney Lorcan), and, for a time, Chuck Taylor. And in the Smash ring, he has faced men such as Zack Sabre Jr., Kyle O’Reilly, Kassius Ohno, Rich Swann and most recently WALTER and Jordan Devlin. He can keep up with any opponent, and his battles with these men have been physical knockdown drag-out fights.
Tarik on the Rise
As was stated at the outset, Tarik’s star is definitely on the rise, and there are clear signs of this. He has had the opportunity to wrestle on television for Impact Wrestling when they have filmed in Ontario. And he was recently one of 40 Canadians to get a tryout with WWE in Toronto during SummerSlam week. It seems likely this is not the first time the company has taken a look at Tarik, and he also did extra work for them during that week.
Currently, Tarik is perhaps the number one ‘babyface’ in Smash, and is seeking to regain the promotion’s championship after losing it to the despised Kevin Bennett in an underhanded fashion. He has proven to be a great representative for Smash, and his hard striking, up-tempo style is emblematic of what they are all about. But even as he leads Smash to greater prominence and success, it is clear that his own star is on the rise, and he is leaving a pile of ‘mark-ass busters’ in his wake.