Former Ring of Honor Champion and Impact Wrestling Star LOW KI spoke with Donald Wood from Ring Rust Radio and Bleacher Report on a lot of topics. Here are some of the highlights. Watch the full interview below.
Ring Rust Radio: The 2017 edition of Destination X takes place LIVE Thursday at 8 pm ET on POP TV. While you were originally scheduled to face off against Alberto El Patron for the world title, he has been stripped of the belt. What are your thoughts on the situation and do you know what the company has planned for you now?
Low Ki: Well my thoughts on the situation concerning Alberto are it’s an unfortunate situation because it’s outside activity that has influenced on the in ring stuff. It’s one of those situations especially for any pro performers when your outside activity has some type of effect and in this case a negative one on your in-ring performances. For me, I understand it. I’ve been in this profession for a real long time, so I understand the difficulty of balancing your personal life and your professional life and the risk that is always there when you make your personal life public. Unfortunately, now he’s been stripped and that sucks because as performers, look at how much we give of ourselves in order to earn the opportunity to be in that ring. He’s another long-time performer, a long-time professional, so for him to be stripped and to lose the title in this fashion, I feel for him. I understand the hard work that goes into becoming a champion, but moving on to Destination X, as far as plans for the company, I have no clue. My game plan has always been to go after Alberto, my training has been detailed or tailored more towards dealing with him, but as I am always prepared that’s not really that big of a change for me. It’s just changing the target. If it’s not Alberto, who’s next in line? At the moment, I don’t know who that is.
Ring Rust Radio: Your return on Impact Wrestling in April caused a lot of buzz and you’ve been one of the featured parts of weekly programming ever since then. What contributed to your desire to return to the company, and how did that whole process of returning play out?
Low Ki: Well it was an initial contact to see if there was any expressed interest in returning. The last time I had been there it was under a negative pretext so it was more of just a feeler to see if I’d even be interested. Understanding that management has changed, the direction of the company has changed, as well as the presentation style. It seems to be something that was a little more favorable than what I had with my last experience. Coming back to Impact, especially in the fashion in which I did and the position that I was presented with. Obviously, it’s an opportunity that I’ve had in other eras in the company’s history but to me an opportunity is an opportunity. I’m always looking to build onward and upward and that’s what I did.
Ring Rust Radio: We’re big fans of your Hitman-inspired gimmick. How did that develop and how would you like to see GFW portray your character moving forward?
Low Ki: It began as far as its initial presentation in New Japan Pro Wrestling and I preface this with I don’t want anyone to see New Japan in a negative light. This is according to my personal experience there and I still consider them one of the top companies for improving the craft of professional wrestling. With that being said it began as an initial silent protest against the company’s business practice. I was contacted towards the end of 2012 whereas before I was contacted in October 2012 and scheduled to perform in Fukushima. I did my own personal research of information within the country as well as information outside the country to have an informed position. With the information that I did receive and the information I did discover, I didn’t feel comfortable performing in Fukushima. They had a meeting regarding that and it was regarding moving forward into the next year which would be 2013. I was told that if I could not make Fukushima, which was a large television market, that I will not be used in its initial presentation. I thought okay I’ll just miss out on that one event, but they came back with no this will disqualify you from being used for the entire year. I took that as disrespect considering the first 10 events I was a part of New Japan we sold out. I would like to believe my contributions to the company were positive especially in the first 10 events I was a part of. That was disregarded. Why? Because I was told this is a large television market. My concern had nothing to do with money. It was with safety. Not only for me, but for the staff. Not only for me, but the other wrestlers. So, when I was told that I wouldn’t be used and I only had one more match under contract, which was the Tokyo Dome. And that’s where I was going to make my final stance. It was my final performance with New Japan. I did it in silent protest. But it wasn’t necessarily to show up any one saying I am a Hitman, it was to let everybody know I’m the professional, so I am going out the way a professional does. I’m going out with a bang and I believe we did that.
Ring Rust Radio: Recently, you joined LAX as their secret weapon. What went into your decision to join the faction and what are you hoping to accomplish now with the support of LAX?
Low Ki: Well joining LAX was something that had been brewing for over 10 years. Konan had been trying to recruit me to LAX as far as back as 2006. It just never came to be. The opportunity presented itself and this is one of those instances where there is power in numbers. I come from a very different background than other wrestlers. The interesting part is as a fellow member of LAX, an original member of LAX was Homicide and he was my first teacher in professional wrestling. Not only do I have a long standing relationship with Konan trying to bring me in but I have a long history with another original member in Homicide. Homicide was my first teacher so being in this group and being together with like-minded individuals, not only like-minded individual wrestlers in wrestling but like-minded individuals in life. We understand one another and we come from similar backgrounds. We understand what the Latin American Exchange is representing and the noise it creates so coming together in this fashion was an easy decision.
Ring Rust Radio: You’re one of few wrestlers to experience WWE, Ring of Honor, New Japan, and multiple variations of TNA Wrestling. It seems a lot of wrestlers frown upon WWE’s scheduling and often praise TNA’s. What is your take on scheduling in the business in general and how would you change things, if at all?
Low Ki: I think it’s poorly done because you have management in all companies who have never wrestled organizing schedules and booking according to whatever preferences they may have. They’ve never stepped foot in a ring so they don’t know what it takes to actually be prepared for day one of a series of events and then have the condition required to still be able to perform at a professional level moving into deeper stages. When you get to like day three or four or so on, so management has always done poorly with scheduling with the exception of New Japan Pro Wrestling. I’ve been in every major company in Japan, I’ve been in every major company in the United States, I’ve seen all of the scheduling, and it’s always been a consistent issue. New Japan has the best-arranged schedule with sensitivity to the performer’s workload. You take WWE, five cities, and five days a week. You’re running these guys into the ground. These are human beings, they are not horses, but this is a continuing method of practice and that’s why you got guys on the chopping block for minor things or what led to them being injured was things that were avoidable or things that were minor initially which led to bigger problems. This is mismanagement on scheduling but it comes from management because there’s a lack of familiarity from performers. If you live this lifestyle, you understand the pitfalls of what comes with jet lag, you understand the pitfalls of what comes from that lack of sleep, and the irritation that goes on when you have to travel. You understand you get beat up sometimes worse on a plane than you do in a ring but they don’t care about that. What they care about is production. So, every company that I’ve ever been a part of has had an issue with scheduling. One of the hardest schedules of ever done was for Zero One. In the beginning of 2003 or 2004 when I was part of a Zero One, we ran nine days in a row and that company had a fighting style that I considered more like pit fighting because we had crossover MMA guys come over to pro-wrestling and pro wrestling guys getting murdered by the MMA guys. The guys are getting injured leading up to big events so then you have lesser performers or you have performers that people are interested in seeing but you can’t see them because they’re banged up. So, there’s a lot of mismanagement that goes on in the scheduling side. As far as I see, New Japan has the best model so far.
Ring Rust Radio: As a TNA original, you have seen the company go through many changes over the years. What is the locker room like now after the most recent change to GFW management?
Low Ki: I think with Global Force right now, the locker room is reminiscent of the early stages of TNA back in 2002 because it’s a new development period and it’s a building stage. You have a lot wider variety of performers from different locations and different experiences. However, on the flipside, we no longer have a heavy atmosphere of toxic performers, toxic attitudes, toxic management, so there is a reduction in the toxicity that used to exist there and it’s a much more welcoming and a much more community type atmosphere in the back. This was very similar to the beginning of TNA. To me that’s an interesting scenario to experience because I’ve seen the different eras, I’ve seen the positives and the ups, and I have seen the negatives and the downs. Right now, it seems to be in a positive swing. It doesn’t mean it’s perfect, but it seems to be more positive going around the negative moving forward so that’s at least something to take away from that
Ring Rust Radio: You’ve enjoyed so much success in wrestling over the years wrestling and winning championships all over the world. At this point in your career, what do you feel is left for you to accomplish and what motivates you to continue performing at such a high level?
Low Ki: What’s left for me at this stage is a world championship. That’s the last thing I haven’t been able to connect with. My first world championship was Ring of Honor in 2002 and I was the very first champion. That was the last major standing I had as a world champion with the exception of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. So as far as the remaining list of accomplishments, I would say a world championship, Hall of Fame induction, at this stage since I have accomplished pretty much everything I set my sights on. I think a reasonable transition is going to be moving away from the ring and then beginning the teaching phase of my career, I have been a master teacher for a long time but now this is 20 years in and I know physically at my style, at my level of performance, the timeframe is always iffy. Father time you’ll never outrun so I have to be mindful as far as my physical capabilities moving forward and how much more time I want to contribute to this and recognize what’s going to carry me moving on. Oddly enough, at the beginning of the year I already began my transition away from pro wrestling but then like the saying goes, “they kept pulling me back.” I was contacted to come back to this position.
Ring Rust Radio: You’ve been among the best wrestlers at every stop, but it seems fans overlook you when discussing the top in-ring performers. Do you feel like you’ve been overlooked by fans or perhaps even your peers during your career?
Low Ki: As far as been overlooked, to me it all depends on who you’re watching and the problem here is pro wrestling has changed the audience by changing its attitude and changing the culture, which in turn changes the attitude and culture of the audience. In the past, I was an unknown. My first introduction to nationalized television was me working on the Jakked and Metal tapings in the WWF. I’m non-contracted but the things I’m doing are getting instant replays so I must have been doing something right. Then I move on and I’m in TNA and I’m not even the champion but they’re giving me replays. We have other people including the champion speaking about me and my style and what I’m bringing to the table. Then I move on to Japan and I conquer my dreams. So everywhere that I’ve gone it’s just dependent on the viewership and who’s watching. Unfortunately, with pro wrestling, some fans just stick with what they see. So, you can have fans who are strictly WWE, or you can have fans who are strictly Global Force and they may know nothing about Ring of Honor or New Japan. So that feeling of being overlooked to me is not necessarily a concern, it’s just what do I have the ability to do when I’m out in front of people. I’ve always said my name is a play on words. My attitude is not one that comes into the room and demands attention. I’m not the loudest one in the room. I’m not the one creating the most attention initially. However, when the bell rings it’s a different story. I’ve been consistent at it because I have had really, really good teachers. Like I said, my success is not mine it’s the success of my mentors. I just applied what was taught to me and the fact that I have the ability to keep learning and keep improving, that sets me apart from everyone else. I’m the hardest person to satisfy especially in regards to what I do professionally. So, I am always working hard at it and I’m always doing things and pushing the envelope to the next level because I’m seeking to perfect what I’m doing. Now being overlooked, that is up to the individual if you consider that. I don’t think I am. I think by the time I finish in that ring, if you’re the one watching you’re going to know exactly what I bring to the table once it’s all over.