This post came about by accident but it's been a fun one. KAI is one of my favorite new guys from watching 2010's AJPW. So here we're going to take a look at some of his bigger matches while in W-1. His arc here probably reflects his booking had Muto & his loyal pals not left and formed Wrestle-1. Anyhow all but the last match are readily available on the 'tube. Let's take a look
vs Seiya Sanada (09/08/13): I think this might be clipped a few minutes based on the time they give at the end...hmm couldn't see a clip in the match anywhere. Regardless a very good match between the junior heavyweight styled heavyweights. My preference is with KAI who is much more like Misawa in that he backs up his fancier moves with very hard strikes. Sanada & he are similar in that they rely upon their big moves and aren't very adroit at filling the time in between. Kuroda from FMW is like this. They are fantastic complimentary players... excellent tag teamers and if they have a good opponent they can have a quality singles match. Sometimes give the right circumstance, a great or even classic one. As it stands, this is a pretty good 'round 10 minute match (or what's shown) with 2 guys doing their thing. Nothing wrong there
vs Masakatsu Funaki (02/15/14): First 3-4 minutes Funaki blisters KAI with stiff as a starched shirt kicks to the legs and chest. Then absolutely blasts his arm and goes for the submission. KAI finds and opening, knocks the Pancrase legend to the floor and annihilates him with a fast as fuck tope! From there it is on like Donkey Kong. They just pound away at each other with hard slaps, elbows and kicks. They mix in the throws as well which all look fantastic. It's an under 10 minute match which plays to Funaki's style. KAI does a great job matching the stiffness and the intensity that the legend brings while still representing pro wrestling style. It reminds me a bit of late 80's NJPW UWF vs NJ...which Funaki was a part of :-) Anyhow Great match! If this were a TV match, you & your friends be super stoked to talk about it the next day at lunch!
vs Manabu Soya (05/04/14): Hell yes, more Soya! This is pretty intense stuff. KAI who is clearly coming into his own is able to get the advantage on the muscular caveman. Eventually that caveman has got to eat and locks KAI into a vicious Boston crab...like Boston crab that is folding up KAI. Holy cow! Then things really get good as the two guys start laying into each other. That's Soya's strength as he's kinda W-1's version of Daisuke Sekimoto. KAI as I've mentioned is down to throw some strikes. It's what locks this in as a great 15 minute match. I mean those lariats...man, it's been awhile since I've seen some Kensuke style lariats. But KAI's kicks to the head are no joke either. It is absolutely what I wanted out of a KAI vs Manabu Soya match.
vs Yuji Hino (05/22/14): Man! KAI vs another gorilla and you know what? It's another great match! Hino is like Juggernaut or Rhino if you read comics. And that is what makes him a great character wrestler. He's got this full speed ahead unstoppable brute thing going for him. That really makes KAI shine as the babyface because he gets wrecked here. Chest scar opened up, bruised pecs, just looks demolished. He keeps fighting though. Like Soya or maybe even moreso he can't lift this human tank up without a struggle. So his high damage moves are not as easy to pull off. So we get the most unique match so far. That said its mainly macho he-man chops, elbows so if you're not interested then, you might not enjoy it. It's Yuji Hino so you know that going in though right? Under 15 minute match.
Masato Tanaka vs KAI (11/01/14): A good kinda by the book 2010's match that really turned up the heat for the last 3-4 minutes. The last 3 minutes are exactly what I wanted for the whole match. The match is only 12ish minutes so it's something that they could have done. Instead we get too many elbow or chop trading segments. This is disappointing considering Tanaka brings much more to the table than Hino for instance. He eventually gets there but I would have much rather see them exchange holds or done a more intense brawling type feeling out opening. If this had a more spirited beginning then settled down into a good middle and finally ramped up the great finish then this would have been a very good match maybe borderline great. The pedestrian start just set a dull tone unfortunately.
KAI vs Masato Tanaka (02/13/15): I just happen to have the rematch on DVD so I watched this right afterwards. And Tanaka is a pro, a vet and a great wrestler...he fixed most of what didn't work and made this a very good match. Perhaps a great one at 12 minutes. There's a little bit of a story. They play off the previous match. The strike exchanges have a purpose or a direction and are kept to a minimum. Instead they focus on their spots that worked from the above fight, added a couple new ones and kept the length the same. It's a tuned up version of the November match. Perhaps a little too similar if you've watched them minutes apart like me. But if you've got to watch one, have it be this one!
If you're interested then you got to check out a match or two. KAI definitely reminds me of a younger Tanaka in the sense of his big heart, his toughness and his ability to go from 0-60mph in 3 seconds. I know in his matches vs Tanaka were just a few years earlier they would have been **** great bouts. Check that last one might actually be a **** (It was kinda unfair of me to immediately watch the rematch). Anyhow, check out some KAI in W-1!
Thanks for reading folks! I appreciate it!