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[2003-05-17-FWA/ROH-Frontiers of Honor] Low Ki vs Flash Barker

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Going back in time, having Low Ki on the card was one of the strong selling points. In 2002 he’d been ‘the guy’ in ROH, being the first champion and having a great series of matches against all comers. He was also a guy with a real badass aura to him, which to a large extent, he still has when he appears on a show today. Interestingly though, this was at a time when his standing with ROH really had been slipping, and after this he only appeared for them very sporadically for the rest of the year. At this stage though, he arguably gets the biggest reaction of the night.


He’s up against Flash Barker here, who the previous year had been the British Heavyweight Champion and the centre piece of the Old School stable. Following the ending of that storyline, Barker would turn face as the respected veteran of the locker room, with a strong-style MMA inspired persona, which is why I would imagine he’s been matched up with Low Ki here.


This match is wrestled at much different pace to ones earlier on the card, and it feels more like a match that could’ve been on one of the early ROH shows. There’s lots to enjoy in the early mat exchanges with the two trading strikes and holds, but cautiously rather than unloading everything they have. Low Ki decides early to fight off his back during the initial feeling out process. They exchange some brutal looking kicks until Low Ki hits a Dragon Screw to take over. From there Low Ki starts to dominate, and there are fewer better wrestlers who it just feels right when they are in control. Some might think he can take ‘too much’ of a match, but in an age where too many matches are heavily back and forth, it’s enjoyable to watch him just brutalise opponents. Barker is great at taking the punishment, with his thick frame, and he’s able to stay alive by getting plenty behind any of the moves or strikes he’s able to hit to slow down Ki’s momentum.


While Barker is surviving (just), his problem in the match is that he can’t ever seem to get any sort of sustained attack going, as soon as he gets in a move, Ki is able to hit right back; he hits a short clothesline, Ki comes back with a springboard front kick, Barker ranas him, Ki hits a Kappou Kick, Barker hits a spinebuster, Ki catches him with a Hanging Octopus Scissors and the Tidal Wave. That’s the pattern. Flash shows great tenacity to hang in there with Ki busting out all his high impact attacks, so Low Ki then tries to wear the bigger man down instead with submissions like the Hanging Dragon and a cross armlock, but the change of strategy isn’t successful and the 20 minute time limit expires. Predictably for a 2000s crowd, the crowd wants five more minutes, as do both guys, but FWA Head Ref Steve Lynskey plays stickler for the rules and doesn’t allow it, even when Samoa Joe and AJ Styles come down to back up Ki. Even with the draw I really enjoyed this, particularly the cat and mouse exchanges at the beginning, and then the pretty vicious beating that Barker is able to survive. I’d recommend to check this one out. (*** ¾)

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