When Impact Wrestling broke onto the scene some 15 years ago, it put down a marker as a showcase for some of the most dynamic and inspiring performers in the business. One man who became synonymous with what is known as Impact's X-Division was the inimitable Low-Ki, a trendsetter who has wrestled for every major promotion and all over the world. Whether it be Kaval, Senshi, Brandon Silvestry or Low-Ki, across his many personas he has proven a thinker, motivator and teacher. We had the privilege of speaking to Low-Ki ahead of his Ultimate-X match against Andrew Everett and Trevor Lee. You can watch the match on My5 (details below) following the broadcast or live on Impact on 20 May at 10pm (before returning to its usual Friday slot at 9pm). Read on for part one of our two-party exclusive with Low-Ki's views on the X-Division and more..
What is your mindset going into an Ultimate X match?
Well, you have to understand that Ultimate X is one of the hardest physical challenges in Impact wrestling. It's hard enough wrestling in the division against one competitor at that level of performance, now you turn it into a three way and it compounds that even more. Now, you make it worse because instead of fighting in the ring we have to fight up and above it to get that belt. Its such a challenging match. You have to be mentally prepared to deal with that because you're performing at a different level already and now you have this element of danger and increased risk involved which exponentially increases the demand and mental strength that is necessary.
Do you think the X Division can and should evolve further?
I think so. I have ideas in mind for doing that. It should go back to a ranking system. I think that's a fair assessment for any championship - to have a system which shows how competitors are earning their positioning into gaining championships. Because of television time, Impact have previously held scramble matches but its not an excenuation of the skill sets of these individuals because you're cramming them into a short time frame - you can't do that to them. So I would go back to a ranking system which allows them to develop into their positioning so that they can advance and the public can see their advancement to gaining the championship challenges. The original style was that there was no weight limit to it which is an interesting dynamic for a ranking system. Bobby Lashley is a former champion, Kurt Angle, Samoa Joe. All these guys are heavyweights, so matching them up against someone like me - I don't care, I'll take anybody on - but some other guys with lesser experience won't fare so well. The risk involved in facing a larger competitor is something that people might not be prepared for.
Ring of Honor and New Japan talents are transcending, there is the 205 Live show and obviously, Impact is thriving. How do you see things in the industry?
It's improving because it's becoming more inclusive. There is a generation that seems to be currently in pursuit of removing the old guard - and not in a negative sense but in an evolution, everything has to make changes. So you've got AJ, Shinsuke Nakamura, the Young Bucks and that New Japan relationship with Ring of Honor. Everyone has their own quality and excitement that caters to a certain customer and fan. They're not doing so bad, they're doing quite well for themselves. However the industry itself is still organised by older generation mindsets and that's a big problem because that's an inhibitor in business and if youre not willing to adapt and evolve in business you're going to start becoming counter-productive. That's where you run into issues where you have performers who are being force-fed down the throats of the audience and they are giving feedback and its not to the liking of what the original design for what the performer was - you just cant do that. But that's the arrogance of being on top position where you have no oversight and you can do whatever you want. So the nature is changing and that's good and its going to take some time but its moving with some momentum in the right direction. When you've got guys like Joe who are being protected in WWE as he should. He's a world class heavyweight and his level of performance is something that hadn't been seen by heavyweights in that company for quite some time. So what theyre doing with him is good and with Finn - or Devitt is good. (I hate that name to begin with - he's always going to be Devitt to me..) but they have a better quality of performers there now which in turn should create an increased fanbase because of better quality performances. So it seems to be moving in the right direction but its this generation which is currently being featured which is going to be the catalyst for what comes - whichever direction.
You responded to the Randy Orton tweet which has been doing the rounds and has been a focus of much discussion. Is there anything more you'd like to say than Twitter allowed you to?
You're not going to get more context on Twitter. That's the funny thing. If you don't have full context you have an uninformed position. So most of the people voicing an opinion whether for or against, its coming from an uninformed position. Then if you say something which they don't like there is an emotional response which is unnecessary because they don't have full context. So it's unnecessary to even get involved in all of that.
I just happened to see the message, I cited my piece and I moved on. Wasn't anything bad about it. Seems to have created an uproar but it seems like nowadays people get into an uproar about anything. So you cant really be bothered about it. That's just the nature of how he said what he said. It was quite disrespectful to a large group of people who he works with. A large group of people who I've travelled with up and down those roads where we've had times of shorted pays, emergency stays, broken bones, sacrificing time with your family and yet he's going to gloat about making all this money and how you guys can stay down there? That's fine but understand when you're coming from that type of position, you're in a protection position. Not many people get to reach that level of exposure and experience you have available to you. And then you're going to just c**p on everyone below you? Where I come from if you boast about your money you get robbed, so that's foolish. To millions you don't boast in that sense. if you're drunk and you have a bad day, that's fine. Hes human just like everybody else. It doesn't mean he's a horrible person. The manner in which he said it, from the position in which he said it from is not proper, not appropriate and it's irresponsible because hes in an environment full of people who have done exactly what he said. And whether its an angle or not, for me it doesn't seem to be a necessary thing to use. So like it or hate it I said my piece and I stand by it.
Passionate and driven, fierce and determined, Low-Ki is a fool for no-one. Make sure to catch the second part of our exclsusive interview in which we talk to Low-Ki about his future and more. Catch him on Impact on Spike UK through My5 on Sky TV (160), Freeview (21) and Virgin (154). You can meet Jeff Jarrett, Grado, Borash and Rockstar Spud and the Spike UK/Impact viewing party at Shooters Bar in Manchester on 26 May with details available here.