Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

2002 Match of the Year

Low-Ki v. American Dragon JAPW 6/7/02

PAS: This was the matchup which defined indy wrestling in the early 2000s. Their final of the Super 8 was probably the beginning of the athletic NJ juniors style of wrestling which would be the house style of dream match indy wrestling and is currently the house style of WWE main events. They were in the final of APW King of the Indies which was the tourney that Meltzer claimed inspired Rob Feinstein to launch ROH (I call BS on that, as ROH was mostly JAPW and USA Pro dudes, and RF was taping JAPW shows at the time), and they main evented the second ROH show. For such an influential matchup, it really didn't happen that many times and this was one of the lower profile examples (and the only one outside WWE development I didn't go to live).

This is a tap out match, and thus the majority of it is worked on the mat and it is some beautiful interesting innovative violent grappling. This was more BattlArts then Shinjiro Ohtani, which is always going to hit my wrestling soft spot. This might of been the peak of grappling Danielson, he works a ton of different counters and approaches to submission, he does these crazy hybrid lucha and shootstyle submissions, at one point he uses a rocking chair and turns it into a rear naked choke. Ki was less innovative, but no less skilled, I loved how he used short up kicks to keep an advantage, we have some nasty kicks and chops by Ki, but Dragon wins the violence contest by hitting Ki with some jaw loosening crossfaces. The parts that aren't grappling are fine, but not essential, but the mat attacks here were so awesome, and really made me wish that wrestling went in this direction.

ER: This was such an exciting time in my wrestling viewing life, and my life in general. A year + prior to this match I had been turned onto Low-Ki by Phil's comp tape of him, I'd been buying tapes of TWA TV for the American Dragon and Spanky matches (and the Shooter Schultz matches, which are words that wouldn't make sense to most current wrestling fans), and then finally got to see all of them live and wrestling each other at King of the Indies, a show that Phil and I each attended separately, before we knew each other (also, I believe the KOI begets ROH claim is that Feinstein wanted to take all of these "tourney" big names and just construct the roster out of them, using them not as special attractions but instead as the main guys on every show; dream matches as regular matches).

Local boy Mike Modest was my favorite indy wrestler in the world at this point, followed by Danielson, Ki and Christopher Daniels. Some of those choices have aged well, some haven't. But this match right here hasn't aged a damn bit. If anything it still feels fresh and as innovative as anything currently out there. There's things in this match that would look crazy in a Volk Han match from 8 years before, and things that look crazy in 2016. And none of it comes off as jerk off flash. It's nasty as hell, no exhibition fluff here, and it all flows organically and violently. This was probably my favorite era of Danielson, which sounds crazy, as he went so many places and worked everyone in the next 15 years, but this Danielson? This is a Danielson I could've grown old watching. What a monster! Ki has a way of bullying his way through matches, and Danielson is having none of it. He breaks out an absolutely sick STF and one of the coolest subs I've seen, where he gets Ki in an Indian deathlock/bow and arrow, and then rolls through it, and it looks like it's turning Ki inside out. The attack just keeps up and Ki has weird little counters you don't see, like when Danielson has him in a cravate and Ki uses his short attack kick strength to kick Danielson in the face. He's doing this...while he's in a cravate! The ring positioning and use of rope breaks is killer, and the wild positions and situations they'd wind up in had me hooked. I love Danielson finally deciding to go for throws, launching Ki with some brutal, fast germans and planting him with a dragon suplex, but then that same standing grappling and throws lead to Ki grabbing a slick and almost desperate standing armbar, and it rules. I love this.


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