Last week WWE confirmed that it was releasing Kaval from his contract.  Why?  Speculations vary, but the truth is probably a combination of elements that can boiled down to whether Kaval was ever a "good fit" for WWE.

Nobody who's ever seen Kaval in the ring doubts his abilities as a wrestler.  As "Low Ki" on the indy circuit, he was a phenomenon.  His matches at WWE and its affiliate Florida Championship Wrestling were impressive.  If WWE were in fact all about ring wrestling and wrestling skill, Kaval's star would have risen high in the organization.

But what Kaval lacked (lacks) is "personality."  Kaval works best in long strenuous ring battles, where the drama in the ring exceeds the drama on the microphone.  WWE, however, specializes in promoting wrestlers mainly as personalities and products.  The better and simpler the gimmick, the more charisma the wrestler has, the greater his ability to sell himself in promos--all these factor into success at WWE.   Ring ability counts for comparatively little at WWE, much less than the ability to make a fast and flashy impression.  The irony is that WWE specializes in "flashes in the pan."  Image outweighs substance.  It has even developed a formula for making failure to deliver on the outsized hype the very basis for long-term success:  Keep the fans wanting more and never deliver.

Kaval's problem was that he could deliver the goods.  His problem was that, by WWE standards, he was boring.  All he was was a fantastic athlete who could sell wrestling action and endure (and mete out) a hell of a lot of punishment between the ropes.  Sure, if you're a fan of catch wrestling, Kaval is a god.  But when was the last time that WWE was about catch wrestling?  The era when pro wrestling was all about two men in black tights selling a battle for everything it's worth in the squared circle ended sometime in the 1980s--the same time when, for the first time since the 1950s, pro wrestling caught fire again with the American public at large.  

I don't mean to rag on WWE:  it has its thing and it has found a way to make money off it.  Fistfuls of money.  What it has accomplished is to make "wrestling entertainment" appeal to larger and larger audiences by targeting potential customers who do not care much for wrestling.  It has broadened the appeal of pro wrestling by making it palatable to viewers who have no feeling for elbow drops and dragon clutches.  It's one of the secrets of capitalism--you sell more fish once you get rid of the "fishy" taste and smell.

So, ironically, Kaval's problem was largely that he was not, as a wrestler, a flash in the pan.  His problem was that he was a real fish in a fake aquarium.  Think a Cordon Bleu-trained chef de cuisine could be a good fit at Subway?  

Low Ki was too low key for a business founded on shimmer and noise.  He lacked the grandiosity of body mass and showmanship that WWE built its reputation on.  So it looks like it's goodbye to "Kaval."  The question now is whether, at age 31, Low Ki can come home to the indies, where the die-hard fans are, the people who get it.


  1. That Low Ki is a very talented technician, I wholeheartedly concur. But for my tastes, Low Ki is not only low key but one note. Throughout his career I've seen very little variety in his persona and demeanor. As someone who has a great affinity for creative holds and smart submissions, Low Ki has always left me cold. There's something almost asexual about his performances - and it's not just his selection of uninteresting and either loose or barely form-fitting gear - it's his demeanor as well. I'm not surprised that his WWE career has been truncated. What he presented there was predictable and uninteresting, to the broad, general audience and for this more discerning critic.


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