Wrestling is on the verge of a big change. Too many big shows like All In or Joey Janela’s Spring Break are getting so big that it will be hard for wrestling fans to ignore them anymore. Amazon and Ring of Honor have looked to cash in on this exciting time in wrestling by putting together 13 of the best non-Ring Of Honor wrestlers around to compete in Dojo Pro.
Dojo Pro doesn’t look a lot like other wrestling, besides a little like Chikara’s Wrestle Factory, in terms of lighting and set up. Dojo Pro is set up as a tournament but it is unlike any tournament in wrestling. Wrestlers are placed on a ranking system based on their potential 1-12. Think of it as part reality tv where competitors are interviewed backstage and give a brief history, part video games where every level has a boss.
In the first episode. two men have to battle it out for the 12th spot and the right to hold the Dojo Pro White Belt. They must then wrestle their way up the ranking of wrestlers with the loser eliminated and the winner moves on with the White Belt taking on the person directly above them in the ranking. The last person left wins the Dojo Pro Black Belt and can cash it in for a shot at the Ring of Honor Television Title.
The first show kicked up with vignettes about the two competitors Kevin Ku and Kerry Awful who were competing for the final and twelfth spot along with the first ever Dojo Pro White Belt. Kevin looks like a CM Punk esq babyface while Kerry Awful does pretty much Mankind. Ku’s promo is good and fans were quick to get behind him, chanting his name from the start of the match.
One of the best parts of the show was the production. The vignettes were all interesting, besides some odd music choices, and quickly created characters the audience most likely wasn’t familiar with. It also sold the audience on a easy good guy vs bad guy storyline for the first match of the show. Dojo Pro’s lighting and ring set up have a colorful and interesting look to it that makes it easy to set apart from any other wrestling show. Each episodes only consist of a few promos and one match so they are short and easy to watch.
Both competitors started off by bouncing off the ropes testing out the strength of the other. Kerry Awful got the better of it. Kevin Ku changes momentum by hitting Awful hard in the face. Awful retreats to the outside where he is met by two then almost three tope suicidas the third, however, is met with a right hand from Kerry Awful.
The wrestlers head back inside where Kerry Awful starts to work the arm by stomping on it followed by a senton only to the arm. Awful picks up Kevin and works the arm with a variety of submission holds, slowing the match down. Fans cheer for Ku who they are firmly behind the entire match. Kevin Ku stands up but Kerry Awful keeps control by holding onto his wrist. Both of them exchange hard strikes with Kevin getting the better of the exchange. Kevin Ku hits a dragon suplex and gets a two count.
The two trade some heavy hands and Kerry Awful hits a lariat for a two count. Kevin Ku gets up and puts Kerry Awful on the top roping calling for a “brainbuster”. The two strike on the ropes and Kerry Awful gets Kevin Ku into a tree of woe and hits a Dragon Lee stomp. Awful then takes off Kevin Ku’s elbow pads and taunts the crowd. Kevin Ku gets quick revenge with a hard kick. Ku then sets Awful up on the ropes and hits a gutwrench suplex and pins but a Kerry grabs the bottom ropes with his hand for a two count. Both men work their way to their knees.
“HIT ME” Ku screams in the face of Kerry Awful who follows the direction.
Ku hits him back, hard, and Kerry responds. Ku hits back with three uppercuts stands up and hits the ropes. Ku is met with a lariat. The two exchange strikes and Awful ends up on the ground where Ku put him in Splash Mountain, a Boston crab where he kicks the guys face in. Awful is in the middle of the ring and is forced to tap.
Kevin Ku is the first ever Dojo Pro White Belt. The fans chant “KU! KU! KU” and he turns to walk out. But wait the lights go out. Jeff Cobb comes out and talks smack to Kevin Ku bumping into him they head in opposite directions. Jeff Cobb, who is ranked number one in the rankings, cuts a promo as the fans boo. Once Cobb is finished with what he has to say he heads for the back except a fan has a few things to say to him. Cobb then attacks the fan, tosses him into the ring and hits him with a Tour of the Islands as the show ends.
Next episode will be defending Dojo Pro White Belt #12 Kevin Ku vs #11 Gunner Miller.
Dojo Pro seems like it has potential to be a lot of fun and introduce wrestling fans to some new wrestlers who don’t wrestle for The Fed. The show is on Amazon Prime so it will have an bingable platform. It’ll be interesting to see how much interest it gets because it could lead to other streaming services starting wrestling shows with lesser known wrestlers.
While this first match wasn’t the greatest in terms of quality Dojo Pro has plenty of impressive wrestlers; Joey Janela, James Storm, Wheeler Yuta, Shane Strickland and MJF all are in the rankings and will have matches for the White Belt on the way to the Black Belt.
Wrestling has always thrived on stakes. Without stakes to drive along the story, wrestling is just sweaty people bumping into each. Every match should mean something to both the people in it and the viewer.
Dojo Pro capitalizes on this idea and makes every match a make or break moment. Underdog babyface Kevin Ku will have to work his way through 13 of the best Indy wrestlers in the business if he wants to try and get a shot at the Dojo Pro Black Belt. This means every single match will mean everything for him. No 50/50 booking, no DQ finish because he is upset, just straightforward one on one matches.