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FIRST RING OF HONOR CHAMPION ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT

By Mike Johnson on 2013-10-14 17:46:05
Low Ki, who was the first Ring of Honor champion and had runs in TNA (as Senshi) and WWE (as Kaval) announced he was retiring from professional wrestling today with the following comments on Twitter:

Low Ki debuted in 1998 after being trained by Homicide for the now-defunct Long Island Wrestling Federation. From his debut on 10/10/98 during a four way match, it was obvious there was something great about his work. I would place him alongside Sabu as one of the few talents that I immediately thought, "This guy will be a star" the second I was done watching him for the first time.

With a great meshing of pro wrestling and MMA that pre-dated the MMA craze that would eventually take over pop culture, an incredibly hard hitting in-ring styles, a hard work ethic and highspots, especially when he was younger, that were out of this world held together with an attitude reminiscent of the Wesley Sniples' "Blade" character, Low Ki quickly became one of the top attractions in the Northeast independent scene.

Ki was close to debuting for the original ECW when it closed down in 2001, but a year later, became the centerpiece of Ring of Honor when it was launched, becoming their first champion after winning a legitimate 60 minute bout in a venue that close to 100 degrees in June of that year. His matches with Bryan Danielson, Xavier, Chris Daniels and other top ROH talents of that era remain classics. Ki had several runs with the company, which almost always ended when he and management clashed.

When TNA launched later in 2002, Ki became one of the top stars of the early days of the X-Division alongside AJ Styles and Jerry Lynn. He would have several runs with that company as well, later going under the name Senshi.

Although he would later end up in WWE, Ki's primary goal going back to when he debuted was to work in Japan and he had runs in ZERO-ONE, Pro Wrestling NOAH, New Japan Pro Wrestling and of late, the current incarnation of All Japan Pro Wrestling, including appearances in the Tokyo Dome.

WWE did eventually come calling, with Ki, now named Kaval, legitimately winning the second season of WWE NXT. The season saw Ki, who always epitomized the athletic, no-nonsense pro wrestling attitude paired with Lay Cool as a way to bring out a different aspect of him. When Ki won, he was immediately attacked by all the other finalists, with the story being that Vince McMahon, legitimately unhappy with the winner, ordering the attack as an angle.

Kaval slide over to the Smackdown brand, but despite his work ethic and hard work, was never a performer WWE Creative really got behind. He made one lone PPV appearance against Dolph Ziggler, which resulted in Ziggler getting a concussion, something WWE management wasn't happy with. Ki was gone within a few months.

Since leaving WWE, Ki made very few independent appearances, choosing instead to only work for groups that would meet his price and demands while also focusing on pursuing acting and voiceover work, the latter of which was greatly assisted by the deep baritone of his voice.

Ki suffered a flak injury on his debut All Japan tour and there had been conflicting stories about how bad the injury was.