In what was a phenomenal professional wrestling match at York Hall, Bethnal Green, we saw Gabriel Kidd defeat Francesco Akira in a match which in the end left the fans in attendance on their feet. The pair battered one another in and around the ring until Gabriel Kidd spiked the Fireballs’ head into the canvas to secure the victory in his first match back in the UK since September 2019. Kidd has made an incredible transformation in both his physique and style of wrestling and it’s all down to the volume of hard work and dedication in his time at the LA Dojo.
Katsuyori Shibata was in attendance at Ungovernable 2019 in Manchester to witness two of his LA Dojo boys Karl Fredericks and Clark Connors align with Brendan White to take on Gabriel Kidd, Kenneth Halfpenny and Shaun Jackson. After Kidd, Halfpenny & Jackson defeated White and the LA Dojo, Shibata joined the victorious Gabriel Kidd in the ring and said a few simple words: ‘You, come with me,’ extending an offer for Kidd to accompany him to the LA Dojo. Gabriel Kidd didn’t have to think twice as the offer was very quickly accepted by the grateful contender and the hard work began.
Gabriel Kidd wrestled his last match in the UK on Sunday, September 1st when he defeated Hikuleo before he departed for LA and began his training under Shibata. It wasn’t long before he made his official NJPW debut in January 2020 teaming with Tiger Mask in a losing effort against Bullet Clubs El Phantasmo and Taiji Ishimori. Within a month, he had picked up his first victory in NJPW and was showing marked improvements every single time he entered the ring.
Just as it looked like the future was certain for Gabriel Kidd who for his part was putting in insane diligence into his dieting and training both in the ring and the gym, the world shut down due to the global pandemic. Kidd was left with the option to return home or to stay & fight for his dream amidst a future of uncertainty, 5000 miles away from home, isolated and alone.
Kidd chose the later and his dedication to his craft paid off. In taking part in New Japan Pro Wrestling’s very first match back from the pandemic against Yota Tsuji, Kidds name will forever be engrained in history.
Kidd didn’t have to wait long for his next huge opportunity as he was granted a spot in the New Japan Cup 2020. Unfortunately, it wasn’t his time as he was eliminated in the first round in his contest with Taiji Ishimori yet in defeat Gabriel Kidd showed us all glimpses of the wrestler he was destined to become & he no doubt used this experience as a lesson to aid his further development as a professional wrestler.
Spring 2021 saw Gabriel Kidd take some time away from wrestling to focus on himself and tackle some personal demons and when he felt the time was right, he exploded onto New Japan Strong in October 2021 and proudly declared to those in attendance that he had officially graduated from the young lions system. Kidd couldn’t afford to waste any time following his graduation and threw himself in the deep end taking on Jonathan Gresham and Eddie Kingston in his first two matches. The hard work that he had put in & the improvements he had made were clear for the entire world to see.
It was only a matter of time before Gabriel Kidd would get to demonstrate his mindset in front of his home crowd in England and what better venue to play host to the homecoming than the iconic York Hall, Bethnal Green. His return to the UK was set for Saturday January 29th and he was lined up for a contest with the Fireball, Francesco Akira
When you analyse the careers of Gabriel Kidd and Francesco Akira individually, both men have followed very mirroring paths over the difficult period for many in the last two years. Both had spent their time away in Japan, temporarily relocating their lives to a foreign country to pursue wrestling and sharpening up on their craft no matter the circumstances.
The two stood face to face as the bell rang at High Stakes and Gabriel Kidd wasted zero time and darted across the ring, striking Akira with open palm strikes before throwing him over his head and it was go time. Akira had clearly not factored this aggressive gameplan from Kidd into his strategy for the contest as he was visibly rocked but once he had time to sync up with the former young lion, Akira gave as good as he got as the two pummelled each other with clubbing chops and absorbing devastating amounts of impact on their head and necks but ultimately, after a brutal and intense 14 minutes, it was Gabriel Kidd who stood triumphant after he tombstoned the Fireball into the canvas leaving the fans at the UK’s most iconic combat sports venue on their feet. It cannot be argued that both men left it all in the ring and the patrons had a newfound appreciation for the man who stood before them in black trunks all those months prior and had just put on a breathtaking performance in front of those who had been there from the beginning.
The manner in which he approached his contest against Akira showed that Gabriel Kidd is nothing short of hungry in his pursuit to become the best professional wrestler in the world today and it was this mindset that lead him to an improbable victory against the man many people call the uncrowned heavyweight champion, Ricky Knight Jr. The contest was an all out war and truth be told could have gone either way. But it was Gabriel Kidd’s night as he weathered the storm, came out victorious and put himself in contention for Will Ospreay’s Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship.
Where Kidd goes from here remains to be seen. But the improvements that this young man has made in such a short amount of time lend to the fact that insiders and fans alike are joining together to call him the next can’t miss star of the future. But what Gabriel Kidd is determined to prove is that the future is now.
Remember Gabriel Kidd will be in action this Sunday in Southampton when we return to the 1865 and tickets are on sale HERE !