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[2004-11-28-FWA-Goldrush 2004] Hade Vansen vs Low Ki


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This is a match that got a very bad rep at the time, and in many ways it’s easy to see why – it’s way too long, and as was the case when some FWA wrestlers went up against imports at the time, the crowd didn’t buy them going toe to toe. But while I don’t think it’s very good, it’s not the abomination that it was painted as back in the day.

This is for the All England Title – the FWA’s IC level belt – and Vansen has been champion for over a year. He’s just finished his feud with Jack Xavier at British Uprising III. Before the match he complains about being forced to defend against Ki claiming that it’s a vendetta on the part of FWA Commissioner Flash Barker as revenge for Vansen ending his career in storyline terms. I’m not sure if they were trying to build to a match between the two, but that’s where the storyline suggests it was heading. I’ll have to see in my rewatch as I go on if we get that match as I don’t recall it ever happening. As was the way with FWA booking between 02-04 there is nice continuity in the storyline, with Barker being Low Ki’s opponent at Frontiers of Honor back in 2003.

At this stage in his career, Vansen was getting over as a cocky prick heel from South London, and while I think he’d had a decent in-ring year in 2004, he was still awkward and sloppy at times, exacerbated when in there with someone clearly on a much higher level than him. The storyline of the early part of the match is art imitating life – Vansen can’t hang with Ki, trying desperately to avoid his kicks but instead getting lit up with chops. This match has a lot of chops. That part is fine – as shown in his ROH run at the time, and indeed his current (2018) reign as MLW Champ, Low Ki is great to watch just battering his opponent. The problem with this match comes when it’s time for Vansen to take control.

Despite what I said about the fact he’d been improved a lot in 2004 since being pretty dire in 2003, Vansen just didn’t have the skills at this time to put together a coherent or interesting control segment; there’s a bit of leg work, a bit of neck work but nothing to get invested in. His matches with Jack Xavier and Zebra Kid worked as they were frenzied, brawling type matches, but this just goes far, far too long. What’s more, the crowd had come to see Low Ki – who they perceive as being on a far higher level than Vansen – kicking the cocky heel’s arse, but what they get is having to see him sell in holds for long periods.            

There’s not really a big changing point in the match, Ki, after some prolonged selling just starts to take back control and hits multiple chops and kicks, as we at last get back to the story they set up at the beginning of a desperate champion trying to survive with his title. A springboard kick to the face gets 2 before Ki is able to lock in the Dragon Clutch, but before Vansen taps the 20 minute time expires. Playing back into the storyline before the match and FWA history, referee Steve Lynskey, just as he did at Frontiers of Honor in Low Ki’s match there denies the fans 5 extra mins, until the Commissioner Flash Barker – who was Ki’s opponent that day – overrules him and we get a restart. Ki immediately hits the Tidal Krush and once again hooks the Dragon Clutch, but with Vansen in the ropes, Lynskey DQ’s Low-Ki for not letting go of the hold, which was played up as part of his ‘heel ref’ persona and feeling slighted at having his authority undermined.

 It’s a pretty terrible end to a match that’s pretty bad, although not the complete shit show that it was perhaps painted as at the time. It’s not good mind. The simple storyline which they should’ve stuck to was Vansen being the sneaky champion trying every trick to escape with his belt, even if you still have the screwy finish, as at least the fans get the cathartic experience of watching Low Ki brutalise an opponent who the hate. Here they get neither. (**)

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