I Believe in Low Ki. No matter how much he will frustrate and disappoint me, I know that he is still The One. He still represents what United States independent wrestling can and should be.
In a great bit of foreshadowing (LITERARY TERM!!), Ki seemed a little overwhelmed by the size and strength disparities he was facing in this match and had to do something about it. When he was literally pushed into a corner (another little literary term called IMAGERY!!), Ki applied a deadly submission that erased Thatcher’s advantage. This would all be important to remember later on.
Thatcher learned from his mistake though and did not expose himself too much to a submission. He had the size advantage. He had the strength advantage. He used it. Ki was forced to struggle to find openings, and Thatcher blocked him time and time again.
The way they executed that story was just so good. There was a total meanness to everything they did. They really just brutalized each other, and everything they did was in the service of trying to win.
There was a sequence late in the contest that perfectly captured the work in the match. Things were looking DIRE for Ki. He was playing a patient game. He was not allowing himself to do anything risky. The problem though was that Thatcher was just too much for him. If Ki kept doing that, he was almost guaranteed to lose. Ki now HAD to take a chance. He had the opening for the Tidal Crash. He left his feet for something big…and Thatcher caught him with a brutal uppercut.
Ki then instinctively rolled out of the ring, and Thatcher crawled after him in desperation knowing that could have been his best shot to end Ki. Thatcher then realized though that Ki was so beat up by that point he had a shot at a countout victory. He did not let pride or ego get in the way, and he instead waited to see if Ki could make it back in time. It genuinely looked like Ki would not but he just got in.
And that recovery time proved to be the difference maker.
Thatcher abandoned his gameplan and went for something bigger than usual. That opened him up, and Ki immediately exploited it by connecting on a devastating double stomp. Thatcher then panicked and was no longer content to just let his natural advantages play out. He hit a massive belly-to-belly, and it seemed like he may have erased Ki’s comeback.
Ki now metaphorically backed into the corner remembered his ace in the hole. He went for the Dragon Sleeper, and despite Thatcher’s best efforts to block it, struggled and struggled until he applied the submission…and end Thatcher.
Brilliant storytelling. Physically nasty work. Compelling from bell to bell. No wasted movements. What more* could anyone want from professional wrestling. (*****)
*MLW aired a promo for some stable in the middle of the match. I really wanted to punish them by not giving this the five, but I’m too nice of a person.