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By Secret Dave (@Wrestler_Review)
Low Ki, also known as Kaval and Senshi throughout his career, is a wrestler that polarizes opinion. Respected and appreciated throughout his career the world over by dedicated fans (which this writer considers himself) but sometimes verging on feared by colleagues or promoters. It’s no secret that he has flirted with animosity (most notably during his stints in the WWE) but nevertheless he was a pivotal wrestler in the early days of ROH and TNA and I don’t feel he ever gained much recognition for that.
Low Ki started his career in the late 90’s in the area local to him wrestling for Jersey All Pro Wrestling (JAPW) under the tutelage of Homicide (among others). Showing promise right from the start of his career it wasn’t long before WWE came knocking and in 2000 he appeared on their C shows such as Metal & Jakked against some of the lower-card wrestlers of the time.
It was in 2002 during the start of his ROH career (and in fact the start of the company itself) that propelled him into the hearts of Indy fans for years to come. That first main event at ‘Era of Honor Begins’ on February 23rd was absolutely incredible. The match was a Three Way Dance between Low Ki, Bryan Danielson and Christopher Daniels. I won’t spoil the ending if you haven’t already seen it but I implore you to watch it. On my list of top 100 matches not available on WWE Network this match features in the top 10.
The stellar matches came through thick and fast in the coming years including facing the debuting Samoa Joe in a match that was as stiff as any I can remember. Low Ki flitted between TNA and ROH throughout the next few years after frequent disagreements with either company. Some say this stalled his career trajectory but this writer feels it was during this period where he flourished most readily.
In the early days of TNA and ROH Low Ki was a leading figure and a pioneer of the X Division. The double elimination fatal four way between Low Ki, AJ Styles, Jerry Lynn and Psicosis is another classic that features highly on my top 100 list.
It was during the mid-2000’s that Japan came knocking, still relatively early on in Low Ki’s career, and the matches he produced are what turned him into a worldwide star. His match against KENTA for the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship at Final Battle 2005 is a particular highlight but there is simply far too many high quality matches to list here in one article. His matches were increasing in quality as the years went by and it wouldn’t be long before WWE turned their attentions back to the Brooklyn born star.
Aside from winning the second season of NXT his career in the WWE was short lived and he was wildly underutilised and poorly booked. The same could be said for so many brilliant wrestlers who come to WWE later on in their careers but WWE’s loss is the Indy scene’s gain. The possibilities could have been very fruitful and to be fair, Low Ki didn’t exactly leave quietly and it is rumoured he let his feelings be known to various members of the locker room.
It is fair to say that following the shambles that was his WWE tenure he never really regained the form that carried him through the early to mid-2000’s and while he consistently churned out impressive matches they just didn’t seem to have the same feel as earlier bouts. His programme with Kota Ibushi and Prince Devitt are particular highlights from his next tenure in NJPW culminating in a triple threat between them at Wrestle Kingdom 7. Low Ki donned a full suit for the entire match and despite that, the match was still fantastic. Having entered his third and fourth tenures at TNA in the last few years alone it’s safe to say that he probably will end up in Japan again at some point. I can’t help but feel we’ve missed out on him not being in the Best of Super Juniors 2017 tournament for NJPW in what is already a stacked roster, but maybe that’s just me being greedy.
Low Ki still continues to wrestle today and being at only age 37 at time of writing he still has many more years ahead. Hopefully he can stick it out at TNA for more than a couple of years at a time. As it’s been mentioned before, he’s one of my personal favourites and his best matches from the early 2000’s have so much reachability that for me, he’ll always remain high up on the ability list. It’s just a shame that his temper may have cost him the chance to achieve his full potential, although saying that, it’s his no-nonsense style and stiff strikes that are his bestselling point. Much like his namesake, the Norse god Loki, everything about this wrestler seems to breed chaos.
Must see match(s):
Low Ki vs Bryan Danielson vs Christopher Daniels at Era of Honor Begins 2002
Low Ki vs Samoa Joe at Fight without Honour 2002
Low Ki vs Kenta for the GHC Junior Heavyweight title at Final battle 2005
Low Ki vs Jerry Lynn vs Psicosis vs AJ Styles at TNA June 26th 2002
Low Ki vs Kota Ibushi vs Prince Devitt at Wrestle Kingdom 7
Overall rating: A-
For his top tier ability, innovative style, original gimmick, impact to ROH & X-division and his frequency of high quality matches.