From GCW promoter Brett Lauderdale:
In February of this year, I contacted Low Ki (with the help of Homicide) to begin discussions and negotiations regarding his participation in our event, “GCW presents Matt Riddle’s Bloodsport”. I was discouraged from doing so by several wrestlers, friends, and most importantly my business partners who assured me any arrangement would not end well. I went against their wishes, citing my respect for Ki as a performer as a reason to move forward.
Low Ki claims that comments I made online were “falsified”. First off, I would like to apologize because I was wrong about the amount of the deposit. It was not $800… it was $750. I have attached a screenshot of my paypal payment to this email as proof.
Any claims Ki has made regarding the “governance” of this deposit are a matter of HIS interpretation, as there was no written contract and neither party signed any documents whatsoever. In wrestling however, it is commonly understood that if for any reason the performer can not complete the full terms of the agreement for any reason other than the fault of the promoter, the deposit is to be returned in full.
“The Training Camp”
Low Ki claims that he “disclosed” a training camp to prepare for his match with Matt Riddle. I am not sure what he meant by “disclosed” but I can only assume he means he underwent some special training regimen to prepare for this event. While I can respect the seriousness of his preparation, no professional wrestling promoter that I know of enters into any agreement in which he assumes liability for injuries sustained by a performer in training.
Low Ki stated in text messages to my partner (after the fact, and included as a screenshot in this email) that GCW was in some way responsible for covering the costs of an MRI he required to diagnose his injury. If “Wrestler A” tears his bicep at the gym prior to the next GCW event, I do not believe that I, or GCW are obligated in any way to cover the costs of his treatment.
“The Call and The Compromise”
I am still not sure when the injury occured, but I was never personally informed of any injury by Low Ki. He did however contact Homicide, and then later Matt Riddle to disclose his “concerns” and pitch his ideas for a compromise. For context, Homicide is not only Low Ki’s trainer and close personal friend, but also the Head Trainer at the GCW school and was a key intermediary in my communication with Low Ki from day one. Several messages were passed back and forth through Homicide during the process of discussing and securing this booking.
I did receive a call from Low Ki on the evening of Saturday, 3/31. I also received about 30 other calls and hundreds of other messages and emails that day, and in each other day in the final days before our events in New Orleans. At the time of his call, I was at The Compound (our school) folding more than 700 shirts, many of which had his name on it.
I did not see his missed call in my log, and it was also not accompanied by any additional follow up calls, messages or emails from him indicating any urgency on his part. I proceeded with business as usual. I did not hear from him again over the next 4 days.
On Monday, April 2nd, Homicide told me (in person) that Low Ki wanted to talk to Matt Riddle about the match. I was told to text Low Ki with Riddle’s number, and I did. There was no response from Low Ki.
The following day (Tuesday, April 3rd), I spoke to Matt Riddle and he informed me that he had spoken to Ki. Matt told me in no uncertain terms as he understood them, that Low Ki was injured, and there would be no match. In addition, he revealed to me the idea that Low Ki had pitched to replace him in his match on Bloodsport. Ki’s idea was that he would appear at the event, and cut a promo in which he would remove himself from the match, and appoint MVP to take his place.
This idea, which was unsatisfactory to Matt, my partners and I was declined. MVP was not booked for this event, and would have to be added on short notice at a considerable expense. In addition, any idea that Low Ki had which would impact the budget, payroll, or “storyline” of the event would need to be pitched to the promoter himself for approval. This was not done, and this constitutes what is known as “going into business for yourself.”
At this time, there appeared to be a clear understanding that there would be no match, the alternative “pitch” had been declined, and based upon my communication with Matt and Homicide, Low Ki was not coming.
“The Bait and Switch”
In the wrestling world, a “bait and switch” commonly means that a high profile performer is booked and advertised for an event in an attempt to sell tickets. Then, before the event, the performer is secretly (without notification to the fans) cancelled and replaced with a lesser name in attempt to defraud the customer once they have already purchased tickets.
Low Ki claims in his video that this entire situation appears to be part of an elaborate “bait and switch” on GCW’s behalf. If that is the case, this was a very expensive scheme resulting in what he seems to view as a less than adequate replacement.
If this were the case, GCW invested $750 in a deposit (screenshot provided), $341 on a round trip flight (non refundable) and $165 on a (non-refundable) hotel reservation. In addition, we printed over 200 shirts, and 200 posters with either his name or face on them at a cost of close to $2000. In all, the Low Ki portion of our elaborate ruse cost us nearly $3,256 in up front investment.
In addition, his replacement whom under “bait and switch” terms and according to Low Ki is a lesser attraction was New Japan Legend Minoru Suzuki. The deal to secure Minoru Suzuki was considerably more expensive, and also received much better by the fans planning to attend the event.
Also, the deal to get Suzuki on this event was made in a hotel lobby in Downtown, New Orleans on Wednesday night (4/5), further discrediting his claim that part of the plan all along.
Arrival in NOLA
Much to my surprise, Low Ki did apparently show up in New Orleans on Wednesday night (4/5), about 30 minutes after I left my meeting with New Japan management. Ki called me and asked why there was no longer a hotel room in his name.
I explained to him that I had been informed he was injured and was not going to be participating in the match. He seemed confused, and denied many of the statements he made to Matt Riddle and others regarding both his injury and his intentions to fulfill his commitment. Our conversation ended with him telling me that he would “call me right back.” He never did, and I never heard from him again.
Low Ki scammed GCW
It is my belief that he got on the plane for the sole purpose that he could make the claim he “showed up” and therefore was not only able to keep his deposit, but also receive the other half of his payment for what he had hoped would essentially be “cutting a promo”.
In addition to his misleading claims, questionable timing, and seeming refusal to contact me about the urgency of the situation and the desire to seek a remedy, it is my belief that this may have been his plan all along, or one he conspired upon realizing he might not like the way the booking or plans for the match would play out.
In addition, I asked Low Ki on March 21st to fill out and return his application for the Louisiana Athletic Commission, which we were told (and I communicated to Ki) was a requirement for all performers in advance of arriving in New Orleans. He never completed and returned the document which leads me to believe he never intended to do the match or fulfill his obligations.
In the days following the event, I continued to attempt to correspond with Low Ki in a polite and professional manner. He never once replied to any of my messages. He did however continue to communicate with Homicide, whom he refers to as nothing more than a “3rd partry” about his intention of keeping the deposit. He also messaged my partner (Danny Demanto) with similar messages.
In addition, it has been reported to many of my friends who have spoken to Low Ki personally since this event that he intends to “knock me out” if he ever sees me. He doesn’t like the way I do business, and didn’t like the way I talked to him.
If this was the first time Low Ki had been involved in a situation like this, I would consider giving him the benefit of the doubt. However, this follows a lengthy track record and history of unprofessional conduct from a performer who believes he is above the rules and “better than” every other professional wrestler who has ever laced up a pair of boots.
Neither I, nor my partners are desperate for a refund on our deposit. My child will still go to summer camp, and she will still get gymnastic lessons. However, the $1,256 in deposit, travel and hotel costs along with the nearly $2000 in merchandise money is not insignificant and are unfortunately lost forever.
For a person who considers himself to be an honorable man and a proud warrior, this is a striking display in cowardice and one which will only add to his already tarnished legacy.