Bryan Danielson vs. Kamala (9/30/06)

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Where else but a high school gym would one expect Bryan Danielson, future WWE Superstar, to defend the highly respected ROH World Title against the man, the myth, Kamala? This is the secret hidden potential of independent wrestling: That some promoter will get the bright idea to toss together a legend and an indy darling for the viewing pleasure of the fifty or so people who paid to be there. This is the secret hidden potential of the internet: That a match like this somehow makes it onto YouTube, where an audience forty times that size can see it, too. As an added bonus, Liberty City Wrestling has no announcers, so not only does one get to hear Danielson yelling at Prince Nana for screwing with the pinfalls, but you get to hear the awkward fellow who has the distinction of being the only guy in the building who thinks that the American Dragon is overrated air his opinions in a public forum.

This is by no means a great match, and I don’t really know if you can call it good, in the strictest sense of the word. Danielson, as anybody who knows his work might guess, is what makes this match go. Not only does he sell Kamala’s gimmick better than anybody has in the past twenty or so years, but he keeps the match moving where other people in his shoes would have left a lot of dead air for Kamala’s grunting and stomach slapping routine. There’s also the issue of Prince Nana, who has one of the better gimmicks on the independent scene. He’s (legitimately) a Ghanian prince, so he uses the tax money he collects to hire wrestlers to be in his stable (The Embassy) and do his dirty work. I can’t tell if he’s hired Kamala to win the ROH Title for him or not, but he certainly doesn’t want Danielson pulling one over on the Ugandan Giant.

Speaking of Kamala, it’s almost heartwarming to see him still headhunting for his first World Title. 28 years after his debut. Kamala, obviously, is way past his prime, though he can do a lot more than you’d guess from the string of bookings he’s taken with WWE over the past few years. There’s a little bit of his old self in here, when Danielson is selling his gimmick and when the two are brawling around the spacious ringside area, but there’s little doubt that the ROH strap won’t be going with him to Uganda. That’s what I like most about this match–Kamala’s been hunting for a World Title so long, often in big territories, that it almost makes sense that he’d go after Danielson. Imagining Kamala winning and going against some of the best ROH had to offer at the time is also a wonderful thought. Picture him at their shows before belltime, trying to sell fans copies of his self-recorded album, The Best of Kamala: Volume 1 and tell me his being champion wouldn’t have ruled. Alas, the match ends in a schmozz, so the closest Kamala will ever get to the recognition he and Kim Chee so clearly deserved is this tremendous magazine cover, from 1987:

Oh well. If the World Title hunt doesn’t pan out, at least Kamala can fall back on his second love: Bowling.

Kamala vs. Doink the Clown