From the file marked “should have watched it live”, comes a match from SUP that really jumped off the page for us.

This aired on January 5th, but issues with the live stream meant that the show took the best part of two weeks to appear on the IWTV VOD archives. Live reports rated this one highly so… was it worth the wait? This is coming from The Basement East in Nashville, TN…

Kevin Ku vs. Daniel Makabe
Ku’s not on his own, as he’s with his (IWTV tag team of the year) award winning partner in Dominic Garrini, who’d made light work out of Logan Stunt earlier in the show.

Makabe’s back in SUP after having to pull out of his prior appearance after injuring his ear the prior day at the SCI. That Chelsea shirt’s getting a LOT of use these days…

Ku tries to feint some kicks early, before Makabe pulled him in for a side headlock as they looked to grapple early on. Makabe goes from armbar, to headlock to takedown, but Ku’s quickly out as Makabe looked for a cravat instead. Makabe keeps the hold on despite Ku’s attempt to break free as they roll to the mat for a chinlock, only for Ku to get free and trip Makabe ahead of a tied-up curb stomp that Ku really had to work for, as Makabe struggled in EVERY step.

That curb stomp’s good for a near-fall as Makabe went into the corner for refuge, but he’s just met with a barrage of body blows and elbow as as Ku stayed right on him. Makabe does get free and lights up Ku with chops as they had a battle in the corner, leading to Makabe choking Ku across the middle turnbuckle a la WALTER, ending when Ku looked to use some headscissors to knock Makabe away as the Canadian took a nasty spill to the floor. Makabe rolls in to beat the count, but there’s hardly anything left in the tank as Ku took an easy cover for a near-fall, then went to work on that back. A modified abdominal stretch on the mat a la Razor Ramon adds to the pressure as Makabe then had to block a half crab, kicking Ku away before he came back with a chop.

The Big Unit baseball punch misses at the first two times of asking as Ku again goes for a half crab, but small joint manipulation from Makabe stops that. More strikes break out before Makabe was shoved into the ropes for a rebound German suplex, before he returned to go for a powerbomb… that Ku floated out of as the Big Unit punch landed… at the same time as a Ku forearm!

Fighting back from their knees, Ku and Makabe swing for the fences as Makabe took Ku down for a STF… a leg grapevine’s next as they end in the ropes. So Makabe’s back to chops in the corner, which Ku eventually ducks as he issues a receipt on the way to some European uppercuts in the same corner. Ku tries for a springboard out of the corner, but Makabe just dropkicks him out as a German suplex almost led to a win. A Makabe Lock’s next, but Ku rolls free of the Cattle Mutilation and replied with a Backdrop Hold that almost won him the match. We’re back to THUNDEROUS, GODDAMN CHOPS before a snap brainbuster and a gutwrench into a back cracker had Makabe rolling into and clinging the ropes. SMART.

Ku’s done his knees with that back cracker, and that’s a big bull’s eye for Makabe who faked out going for the knee and went for a Fujiwara armbar, then went back for a knee bar by the ropes. The only way out was for Ku to kick his way free, sending Makabe into the buckles before catching him with a small package for the win – before any more damage could be done to the knee…

Given how frequently we’re picking out Makabe’s matched for ad hoc reviews, it should be no surprise we’re huge fans of him here. He’s in a rich vein of form right now, and I’d dare say that among the best technical wrestlers on the scene today – especially those who are getting regular singles matches to display their stuff. Makabe sticks to that maxim that you “should make everything mean something” – be it struggling to defend a hold that others would simply let happen to them… or adjusting offence depending on what’s already happened in the match.

I’d be remiss to leave out Kevin Ku here – he’s improved massively since we first saw him in Dojo Pro (remember that?). While working singles here, his team with Dominic Garrini looks to have improved his confidence by leaps and bounds, and is another name from the US indies who you ought to keep an eye out on. Given how low profile his 2019 trip to Europe was (the highlight of which was being a late addition to wXw’s World Tag Team Festival), you’ve got to think a second tour, with a higher profile, is on the cards. Get on these hype trains – it’ll be picking up steam throughout 2020… ***¾