by Tony Quant
Low-Ki has been one of the most recognisable names across the independent wrestling scene for many years and after shining during his early ROH run, has bounced between several top promotions across the World including New Japan, PWG, Impact Wrestling and the WWE. He is currently back working with Global Force Wrestling and has had a string of highly entertaining matches with Sonjay Dutt in the promotions X Division. During a recent tour of the UK, Steelchair Magazine had the opportunity to speak to Low-Ki about the change in the business since when he started, the current UK scene, his career highlights and much more…..
You have been in the Wrestling industry since 1998. Can you tell us from your perspective how different the industry is now compared to when you started out?
The business model that used to exist no longer exists. Meaning that the grooming stage for wrestlers to advance no longer exists because patience no longer exists. The motivation now is financial gain or egocentric behaviour. The grooming stage is no longer the same, what I mean by that is that there is not as much guidance from older generation but it’s beginning to come back. In the past you was paired with a more experienced performer. This is craft that takes time to mature within and the way it is now they don’t focus on quality of performances, it’s much more focused on ratings and numbers. This is an art which needs to be practised but people are much more impatient now. If you are getting into this your goals should be to become a World Champion but you can tell from many of the current performers that this isn’t what they are looking for.
Touching on the impatience of people, how much do you feel that social media has impacted the industry and do you think it’s a good or bad thing?
I think it’s a catch twenty two. It can be a very useful tool in personal marketability, however, as you mentioned it’s a cultural thing and people have been groomed to want it now. In past if you wanted to learn about something you had to go library and read book, now it takes seconds to go online and find out detailed information. For example with WWE providing a service which offers 24/7 accessibility, it conditions people not to be patient.
As a performer for getting close to twenty years, how have you been able to reinvent yourself throughout the years and how important is it that wrestlers look to reinvent themselves?
If you’re going to develop longevity you need to find out what works, my success has never been mine it’s been my mentors both in and out of the ring. All I did was take info shared with me and apply it. Based off my work ethic is how I would develop what outcome there would be. It’s a necessity to reinvent yourself if you are going to survive in a creative realm. For example, John Cena used to be a rapper, now he is a super hero. He has been pulling that company for over 10 years. As far as his work ethic and changing that’s a good example. How you are today is not how you are 10 years ago. Creativity makes you competitive.
Talking of being competitive, you have an outstanding list of achievements so far. Is there a moment that stands out to you which makes you the proudest?
My return to New Japan Pro Wrestling in 2012 where I had to dethrone Prince Devitt which become my 2nd reign as IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion. It was much more of an intense accomplishment because it was post WWE. I realised over a year and a halves worth of toxicity and when I went into New Japan I was more ferocious and I was fully prepared as a fighter. Conquering all the negative stuff that could of destroyed me as a performer.
You are currently in your fourth stint with Global Force Wrestling. What is the current culture backstage and how different do things seem backstage this time round?
It’s quite similar to early days of TNA back in Nashville. With Jeff Jarrett at helm he isn’t micro-managing anybody. He has more insight into the performers, more awareness about nature of environment for television. It’s a new testing ground for advancing forward. As far as family atmosphere it is way friendlier than it has been in past. There is definitely not as much walking on egg shells/back stabbing and it doesn’t seem to be a toxic environment. Everyone is eager to match up with each other and it’s much more of a friendly and welcoming environment.
This weekend sees you compete for Fight Club Pro in the UK. What do you make of the current UK scene and what do you think has driven it to get to this stage?
It’s just that people have taken control themselves, from the performers, to the companies and all the men and women involved. Rather than wait for someone else to do it they are doing it themselves. WCPW, Fight Club, Progress now they exist and they are doing quite well and growing. I remember back when I wrestled Zack Sabre Jr and after that match I had said you are going to see a rise out of British wrestlers because I could already recognise where they are going. I have more insight governing my thought process and after wrestling with Zack, I can see the difference. The environment didn’t exist for performers to advance and get better back in years past. Now you are seeing why everyone is doing so well because they are working together. They are not trying to cut each other’s throats, its 2017 there is more motivation to work together.
Your style has been heavily influenced by MMA, have you ever thought about crossing over and competing in MMA?
I began martial arts training at the age of 16, the same time I began training in professional wrestling so it’s been a constant cross over throughout my career. The beautiful part is that the disciplines I practised in MMA, I have been able to work in my pro wrestling career. As it’s a business for the individual you have to have level of discipline and control that doesn’t prohibit that for another person. As a professional wrestler I am not allowed to injure or hurt an individual. With martial arts it was a healthy Segway into pro wrestling, I am able to apply technics and display skill in a controlled atmosphere. I knew I would never be able to get taller or put on weight so I needed to have different things to set me apart in wrestling. I only ever done MMA for the discipline, I have no interest in fighting unless it’s with Conor McGregor. I’ll fight him, I have no problem with that.
Moving back to Wrestling, are there any opponents who you haven’t had the chance to wrestle that you would of loved to have shared the ring with?
Originally it was Benoit because when I was bought into WWF in early 2000’s I wrestled Eddie, Dean and Perry and looked up to them. Benoit was the last one I wanted to work with, we were quite friendly in WWF at that time. He saw my style was not the typical Junior Style and had an aggressive nature behind it. Unfortunately it didn’t work out, but he would be high on that list. I’ve been in ring with legends of our craft, including most of the people that the WWE regard as stars. I’ve gone through all of them already. I would go toe to toe with Brock in a heartbeat. If anything there is going to be newer guys coming up. I have accomplished everything I wanted to do, my goal now is to take what I know and share it.
Be sure to follow Low-Ki on twitter @OneWorldWarrior