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Posted in: In Laiman's Terms
By Al Laiman
Oct 16, 2013 - 8:47:26 PM

credit Tom Jenner

Email: al.laiman.lop@gmail.com
Twitter: @AlLaimanLOP, @JadedHope1


So I was in the middle of writing this week's 30 Thoughts, finally. Schoolwork got in the way of getting it done Tuesday, so I was on the train writing it today, and then... This being the second time it's happened to me... Word froze, and every time I would try to reboot it to recover my 14 completed thoughts, it would freeze again. So, due to technical difficulties, there will be no 30 Thoughts this week, because I really don't want to start over again.

However, something else in the wrestling news has me wanting to write a bit, and to some of you, this is no surprise.

Low-Ki, my favorite wrestler of all time second to only Kane for nostalgic reasons, announced his retirement via Twitter and Facebook, and has followed up since by thanking everyone for the support along his fifteen years. Whether you knew him as Low-Ki, Senshi, Kaval, or Brandon, there is no doubt in my mind that the circuit is now short of an impressive performer that just never seemed to be in the right place at the right time.

Low-Ki was the first non-WWE wrestler I ever saw that made me go "wow!" simply by performing moves in his arsenal. I saw him for the first time in October, 2006 at the International Wrestling Cartel, and in a match against Super Hentai, he delivered a kick to the kneeling Hentai that looked so devastating that Spiker and I were actually caught on camera in shock.

His deep, almost threatening voice made him a catalyst for a heel, but sometimes the things he did were just so awesome that you couldn't help but cheer. He's not a big-sized performer, but is still one of the most intimidating people I've ever met in my life. The voice he uses on stage is his actual voice, and when you shake his hand, it feels like he could break it off in a second.

He's had classic matches that I never witnessed in person, such as triple threats against AJ Styles and Paul London, as well as CM Punk and Christopher Daniels. He's had clashes with Samoa Joe, KENTA, Bryan Danielson, and in one of my favorite matches, Brian Kendrick in Japan for Zero-1. How about that Amazing Red match in the early days of Ring of Honor? A personal favorite of mine was when he wrestled three matches in the Super Indy IV tournament against Jason Gory, Homicide, and John McChesney, against whom he then began a feud that would stretch across several years.

The ones I'll remember most were the ones I witnessed in person, especially the bouts against John McChesney. In that final Super Indy match, Ki was a heavy favorite and dominated against McChesney, even making his chest bleed from his notorious chops. McChesney, however, took advantage and came out with a surprise victory. This would lead to four more hard-hitting, stiff encounters that tore down the building, two of which I saw in person. The Ghetto Stomp with McChesney straddled across the top ropes was a particular moment that made the crowd stand in amazement, seconds before the match was ruined by interference. The matches were so intense that for one of them, they released a commentator-less version just so you could hear the sounds of those two colliding all over the building.

Ki was one of the TNA originals, and returned later as Senshi. As great as some of his performances were, Spiker and I both remember his TNA run for one specific moment: "Warrior." Nash at the time, playing it perfectly, looks at the ink blot, massively confused, and says, "Do you see Jim Helwig here?"

It was that monotoned yet threatening voice that really stood out about him, because you didn't expect it. When he'd take the mic, if he made a threat, you legitimately believed it. His in-ring work was so fluid, heavy influenced by his legit martial arts abilities. Of course, his kicks and chops were not only known for how well they were executed, but by hearing the sounds in person. TV never did them justice, but being several feet away... Wow. Most chops elicit a "WOO!" These would more draw a "OOH!" because you felt bad for the person taking them, which I did once after a show.

Low-Ki was eventually signed by WWE and competed in NXT: Season 2. His entire run seemed to be to draw a laugh, as he was paired with LayCool, and even busted out a rap for one of the competitions that was honestly pretty awesome. But even after he won the competition, he was never really given much of a chance to do anything. Most NXTers before the format change were given much the same treatment. His "guaranteed title shot" was for the Intercontinental title against Dolph Ziggler, which he lost, and then was pretty much gone soon after. I've heard varying stories about whether he was let go or asked for his release, but it doesn't really matter to me.

I haven't seen the guy in a long time, but as he hangs up the boots, I wanted to thank one of my all-time favorites for what he's done all these years. The Indies still hold a lot of painful memories for me, but the only negative thing I recall about being in attendance for those matches is I'm with my ex-wife on the videos, and who wants to partake in that mental self-mutilation? I don't remember being there with her though. I remember having the privilege of watching someone that I believed was one of the best around, and being in the second row for most of those times.

Farewell, Low-Ki. I was a fan from the first time I saw you. I wish you all the best.

Sorry about the lack of 30 Thoughts again this week.

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