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Phil Schneider

[2005-12-17-ROH-Final Battle 2005] KENTA vs Low Ki

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I was a little worried that this wouldn't age well, juniors wrestling is a style which I have soured on the most as a fan, so much of current wrestling is infected by crossfit juniors style, that stuff which looked great back in the day, tends to really show it seams now. I hated the Tiger Mask stuff on the NJ DVDVR set, really didn't like Ultimo Dragon WAR matches, thought Liger v. Pillman sucked last time I watched it. However, while this match was clearly in the Sayama to Okada lineage, Low-Ki will kick a match into my heart.

The hellacious assbeatings laid in on this match really separated it my eyes, Ki and KENTA both unloaded on every shot and Ki especially did a great job of selling concussive force, I loved his selling of the final Go 2 Sleep, he just crumpled in a ball. The nastiness of the shots really helped the momentum shifts, if a guy needs to go on offense one of those face kicks will really do it. Ki was also such an explosive athlete in 2005, watching him leap to the top rope for a Spaceman plancha or elevate for a double stomp is like watching MVP season Derrick Rose. I also really loved all of the slap exchanges, trading slaps is the one of the most played out things in wrestling, but man do both guys throw fast and hard shots, and they also don't just exchange, but perry, block and counter.

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One of the best debut matches for any wrestler in any company ever. KENTA was welcomed to ROH with a bang - Low Ki was without a doubt the perfect opponent for his first match there, as their styles are quite similar. They beat the shit out of each other with their stiff strikes & quick combinations. Wild stuff. Terrific match. ****1/2

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Mid 00s ROH where dudes hit each other real hard? Yes please. Ki hits insane kicks and strikes and batters the shit out of KENTA. KENTA actually did an incredibly great job selling the first big heat segment where he just takes all of Ki's shit. As soon as they start going toe-to-toe though, things really amp up. They don't let go of selling in the second half of the match either. You can see the wear and tear that the brutality puts on them. Insanity. Ki pulled off what may be one of the finest GTS sells there's ever been. Crazy good match.

 

****1/2

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It is rare that I am ever higher than SmartMark15 and ShittyLilBoots on an ROH match, but here it is. I mean this was fucking phenomenal. I know Daniel Bryan Danielson has had the better career, but I think Low-Ki is the better wrestler. I already think AJ has been, is and will always be better than Danielson, but I think Low-Ki also has a much stronger grasp on psychology and escalation than Danielson. 

GHC Jr. Heavyweight Champion KENTA vs Low-Ki - ROH Final Battle 2017

"Low-Ki just fucked you up!" - Greatest ROH Fan Ever

I am going to state the obvious right up front, Low-Ki is really fucking good at pro wrestling. He may be the greatest offensive wrestler in history. He is so damn smart. I HATE the double stomp in the corner. I knew he was setting up for it. I was already to roll my eyes and be pissed. Then Low-Ki stepped on KENTA's knee and he ground his foot in the knee. KENTA instinctively had to sit up to alleviate the pain and BAM! LOW-KI DOUBLE STOMPS INTO OBVILION! LOW-KI IS THE MAN! Who am I to doubt Low-Ki?

To me this is the Greg Valentine vs Ronnie Garvin of the 2000s all supped up. They just kick the ever loving shit out of each other. This is so engrossing. You can take your eyes off of it. It is just absolute brutality. Low-Ki vs Daisuke Ikeda or Low-Ki vs Yuki Ishikawa is my new dream match. Ki just has this credibility. Look how he switches fighting stances early. He looks like a dude that knows how to fight. This is the best possible KENTA match. It is not a million miles per hour. It is just asskicking. It is wrestled BattlArts style so registering is more important than selling early on so nobody is blowing shit off. I love the escalation and pacing. Ki is so offensive-minded as the challenger. He is challenging for the THE Japanese Title, but he is in America, his home turf so he wants to take advantage of this. He comes out hot. You see why KENTA is the champion because he is able to overwhelm KI after Ki's initial onslaught. I liked the symmetry of each getting a quick transition and then hitting a high flying bomb to cement their advantage. Low-Ki's spontaneous Kappo Kick was eye-popping and such a great transition. I loved him doing the Benoit hanging KENTA out to dry on the top rope spot and then hitting a big dive to the floor. Then Ki just started working the midsection, but it was subtle how he was building to this. It made sense because at this point in Ki's career he loved the double stomp. The double stomp counter to KENTA's sunset flip attempt popped me huge. Another one of my favorite moment of the match (I wish it was a bigger deal) was how when Low-Ki hit this monster double stomp from the top rope he got caught on the ropes and he looked to hit his nuts on the rope. He sold it really well and wished a bigger deal was made of it. It explained why he didnt follow up the stomp immediately with a cover and also KENTA was able to hit a powerslam shortly thereafter. The best part of this is Low-Ki is able to get up first, but he does a great job selling his midsection and thats when KENTA truly cements his advantage with a ton of well-placed, stiff kicks. 

Another one of my favorite spots was Low-Ki is getting his ass kicked and throws a high chop to the throat and KENTA CATCHES IT and turns it into a Butterfly Suplex and converts into a cross-armbar. Beautiful pro wrestling! Turning defense into offense. Great job by Ki immediately clasping the arm, but still selling the arm. You know that double stomp I was raving about in the beginning of this review I forget to mention how well it was set up. KENTA was going for a superplex and Ki blocked it with stiff elbows to the thigh that caused KENTA to collapse into the tree of woe. Genius! 

The finish stretch is just crazy awesome brutality. They just slap the fucking shit out of each other at one point at rapid speed. There is a lot of no selling down the stretch and I would have liked better transition, but fuck it this was ridiculous. It was two badasses being badass. I loved Low-Ki just spontaneously hitting the Tidal Wave or KENTA just leaping from the mat to the top rope to hit a Super Falcon Arrow. I feel like this match deserved that spot. It is just two wrestlers letting it all hang out. I was marking out when KENTA called for the Go 2 Sleep but Low Ki hit the Ki Krusher. KENTA blitzes with an INSANE strike combo that I am going crazy for and then Low-Ki blows him away with a dropkick! TOP ROPE DOUBLE STOMP! Finn Balor take notes brutha thats how you do it. I love the escalation of the final three moves...missed Phoenix Splash...GO 2 SLEEP...KI stumbles, bumbles and crumples...KENTA RUNNING KNEE...1-2-3!

It was not 8 million nearfalls. Ki got two strong nearfalls (Ki Krusher and Double Stomp) and KENTA got the Super Falcon Arrow then they went into the FINAL Sequence that guess what was actually the FINAL Sequence. If you love hard-hitting, explosive asskicking pro wrestling this for you. It is done smartly with great attention to detail and escalation. There was some nitpicky shit that they could have had better transitions late, but fuck that noise thats just because I am doing Greatest Match Ever so I need to nitpick. This ruled fucking hard! Best singles KENTA match ever!  I really like the Low Ki vs Danielson match from ROH Show #2 so I am hesitant to call this the best Low-Ki match ever. I couldnt take my eyes off this one, bell to bell ass kicking that never let up! I have been cheap with my ratings recently, lets call this what it is a ***** classic!

 

 

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