Low Ki has always had the warrior’s spirit throughout his career.
He took the physicality and in-ring aspect of professional wrestling very seriously. This is why the grappler is among the most respected workers in the business today.
The Brooklyn native looks forward to returning to New York for House of Glory’s Fight or Flight event against champion Ricochet on 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1 at the NYC Arena.
Ki sees it as a battle of one generation against another.
“Every profession including pro wrestling is cyclical,” he said. “Whatever the sentiment was years ago may no longer be the case today simply because another cycle is in place. There is a newer generation of wrestler who has come up. The current generation is Ricochet, Rich Swann, Sami Callihan, El Generico, Pac and Prince Devitt. That’s the current generation of guys. The generation before that was my generation.
“Every generation is different because there’s different motivation behind them. Now, especially with this 10 and 15 years of the ‘Attitude Era,’ older generation wrestlers on their way out, you’re seeing more of an advancement of my generation. As time goes on you’re going to see an advancement of Ricochet’s generation. It’s natural progression. Every so often you see changes made.
“If you notice the past 10, 15 years the athleticism has actually increased. The abilities have actually increased of the athletes. It’s because of the nature of the competition. In the past pro wrestling was the original format of MMA. The only arena you would find multiple disciplines in one platform. Now you have all these companies with different styles of presentation. You have WWE being more entertainment. TNA is a little more gritty and with a little more ECW extremism behind it. New Japan Pro Wrestling is a little more traditional sport aspect of wrestling. It’s cyclical and identifiable by region, but you can identify also by generation.”
There have been many changes in WWE since the well-traveled performer’s stint with the company as Kaval. Despite athletes like Daniel Bryan headlining WrestleMania and other former co-workers getting the proverbial push, Ki doesn’t see things going differently for him had he signed today.
“It’s still the same management system in place,” he said. “My issues were not with the wrestlers. My issues were with management. They fired me before Christmas, so that tells you something. It’s still run relatively the same. The only difference is you have a different person with a similar mentality in position, which is Triple H. With Triple H, in all fairness to WWE, at least he was a wrestler.
“So his perspective on how to manage the company and arrange things may have a little more intimate detail in mind than what Vince [McMahon] would do because Vince was never a wrestler. At least Triple H has the in-ring experience to see things differently. The reason why I say Vince McMahon has never been a wrestler is because he has never put his body through hell to the degree of what his performers do and then advance into management. At least Triple H has that insight into potentially directing the company into a different position.”
For Ki, it’s still the same environment with a corporate mindset. He cites an example.
“Triple H was doing public relations several months ago right before the debut of Kenta,” he said. “The question was brought up with names. Why are you changing the names of these guys who have worldwide followings? I know from personal experience they have the contractual freedom to use existing names to market them however they like. However, it’s the egotism behind the company and mentality of this should be ours. This should be our brand, our reputation or whatever. Now you have guys who have worldwide followings and destroy those names for other names that are poorly designed to begin with.”
The former X Division champion returned to TNA Impact Wrestling recently for a string of successful appearances. He is happy with the company’s direction and atmosphere compared to when the star was last there.
“This is a different time in the company,” he said. “The managerial approach is different with John Gaburick in position, which is a good surprise. Then you have a different roster. I’ve been around since the beginning of the company. So I’ve seen the styles that have come in, the wrestlers that have come in and attitudes that have come in and gone. I’ve seen the big spectrum of change that has gone in. I guess it’s kind of like what they say when you light a fire under somebody. They will respond.
“In this case with the company being questioned about their future with TV network and where they are going to be, it seems to have ignited the product. The cool part about that is you see a little more traditionally how it should be with the management does the management stuff and the wrestlers do the wrestler stuff. You don’t interfere in each other’s responsibilities. I think because of that you are seeing a little more personality of the wrestlers. You are seeing a little more value out of them.
“Whereas they aren’t under the thumbs of management, and you don’t have people sitting there telling them who they are going to be without them even knowing about the person. At least in TNA, this is a roster that knows what it’s like to be hungry. Why? They had to come up that way. If you’ve done that, you can recognize that. It’s a stacked roster. Now you have a roster that knows what is at stake. Everyone wants to do well because if everyone is doing well, everybody is getting paid and is happy and moving forward. That current state, you want to give them a benefit of the doubt. Even though it’s still labeled TNA, it’s a new system and mentality to some degree. This could be potential good business moving forward.”
Ki does recognize the reputable damage he says the past TNA management has done. He is optimistic about the company’s future, but doesn’t dwell on things out of his hands. Instead the consummate athlete concentrates on what he does best: wrestle. Ki is ready for Ricochet.
“Regardless of what people think, this is still an art,” he said. “There are still a lot of craftiness that goes on in this presentation and its execution. With Ricochet, he is a younger guy. I remember seeing him in IWA Mid-South when he was probably half the size he is now. He doesn’t look anywhere near what he used to look like, which is great. It shows his ability to evolve. At the same time this generation kind of got away from the traditional hold-for-hold wrestling.
“A majority of these new generation guys don’t know how to grapple. The problem is its still wrestling and you need to know how to wrestle. When I see these guys I am paired against, it’s cool. It’s all fair game. Show me what you know because I’m going to show you what I know. You better be ready for it. The bottom line is whatever we do in the ring have to excite and entertain these people who come to see it.
“…I’ve never wrestled him before. First time match between the two of us. Without dating myself I’ve seen him advance from being a lesser experienced wrestler to figuring out who he was in the ring and developing his technique that he is recognized for. For him to be on the path he is now, he is on this momentum swing. He seems to be slowly but surely earning his way and putting himself into higher profile positions.”
Ki was impressed when Ricochet won the 2014 Best of the Super Juniors, a longtime NJPW tournament won by greats like Jushin Liger and the late Eddie Guerrero under the persona of Tiger Mask II.
“Being in New Japan, it’s the oldest and biggest active company in Japan, but also the most successful,” he said. “For it to be the most successful and for him to go there and win is a big deal. From a wrestler’s standpoint, the competition was nowhere near how it should be. But it doesn’t take away the fact he went through several rounds of competition to pull that off. That’s hard.
“I don’t see him at world class just yet. He is right there. So when I wrestle him, I’m going to test him out. I’m pretty straightforward to the point where when the bell rings I’m going to be physical.
“You do what you can do to defend yourself because I’m not playing any games with anyone. Plus the fact it’s in New York, and I get to perform in my home and hometown crowd and get to wrestle a world renowned high-flier who is the House of Glory champion, it should be fun and exciting for the people to come see.”
- Ricochet meets Low Ki at House of Glory’s Fight or Flight event 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1 at the NYC Arena.
Visit www.houseofgloryonline.com for details.
- Watch Low Ki on TNA Impact Wrestling 9 p.m. EST Wednesdays on Spike TV.
- Follow Low Ki on Twitter @OneWorldWarrior.
- Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN.
- PRO WRESTLING ON THE WEB