Just as I was trying to decide this week’s Best Wrestler Ever, I saw this:
I am hesitant to say I’m retiring from pro wrestling, but I am taking a much needed indefinite sabbatical to focus on my life.
— Alex Koslov (@AlexKoslovCom) January 9, 2015
And my world ended.
So, in honour of the Forever Hooligan, Alex Koslov is, and probably should have been for a while now, this week’s Best Wrestler Ever.
Alex Koslov’s tag team match with Rocky Romero against reDRagon at New Japan New year’s Dash on January 5th may be the last one he ever has. He said on twitter that he had given the company his 3 months notice, and he said his good goodbyes at the show. I had no idea he was even considering retiring, or taking a sabbatical, so the news came as quite a shock. Then again, he has had some recent injury problems which could possibly have played a part in his decision. Koslov dislocated his shoulder in his first match of the New Japan 2014 Best of Super Juniors tournament doing this:
2014 may have been a bit of a rough year in the ring, but Alex Koslov had some great success in his tenure in New Japan, mainly as part of one of the top tag teams in the world with Rocky Romero, the Forever Hooligans. Romero and Koslov first teamed together in Mexico for AAA. They were in a stable that they founded called D-Generation Mex with Sean Waltman in 2008. During his AAA run, Koslov was a 2-time AAA Cruiserweight champion and 1-time AAA World Mixed Tag Team champion with Christina Von Eerie.
Koslov had a brief stint in the WWE. He appeared as Carlos Sanchez on the August 27, 2010 edition of Smackdown in a losing effort to Alberto Del Rio.
After his single appearance on WWE TV, Koslov then went to FCW, WWE’s developmental territory, where he worked from November 2010 to February 2012.
On April 16th, 2012, Koslov was announced as a participant in New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Best of Super Juniors tournament, in which he won five out of his eight matches, but failed to reach the finals. Koslov would continue to work in New Japan until this very week (his last match was on January 5th).
Koslov’s biggest success in New Japan was with his tag team partner Rocky Romero. The pair known as the Forever Hooligans were a part of one of New Japan’s biggest stables, CHAOS, which also includes Shinsuke Nakamura, Kazuchika Okada, and Tomohiro Ishii, just to name a few. On July 22nd, 2012, The Hooligans defeated Jushin Thunder Liger and Tiger Mask to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team titles. The Hooligans held the titles for 112 days, until they were dethroned by the Time Splitters (Alex Shelley and KUSHIDA).
In 2013, the Hooligans would win the titles back from the Time Splitters at Wrestling Dontaku 2013. At one point, the Forever Hooligans were double champions, holding the IWGP Junior Tag titles and the ROH World Tag Team titles, which they won from reDRagon (Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish, current IWGP Junior and ROH World tag champs) on July 27th 2013. They would go on to lose the ROH tag titles to the American Wolves (Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards). Back in New Japan, they lost the IWGP tag titles to TAKA Michinoku and Taichi at New Japan Kong of Pro Wrestling 2013, during a CHAOS/Suzukigun feud.
That was Koslov’s last title reign during his time in New Japan. Despite a title-less 2014, Koslov and Romero were involved in some of the best junior tag team matches fans have ever seen. They competed against teams such as the Time Splitters, reDRagon, the Young Bucks, sometimes in regular tags, sometimes in 6 or 8-Man tags. Whatever the match type, the Hooligans, and more or less all of the junior tag teams did not disappoint.
One of my favourite junior tag team matches was a 6-Man tag, involving the Time Splitters, Young Bucks and Forever Hooligans from late 2014:
This is the match where Koslov, not long after inuring his shoulder doing a dive, got his leg tied up in the ropes when attempting a springboard dive to the outside. It was a very scary moment to say the least. So here it is in dramatic black and white:
The best thing about it though, and yes, there is a best thing about nearly killing yourself doing a dive on a bunch of guys, is that in another 6-Man tag later in the year, Koslov went to do the same move, but he was stopped by his partner Rocky Romero. This led to a classic Romero/Koslov fight tease into a hug. This great moment is around the five-minute mark.:
I think one of the reasons I like it so much is that I like logic in pro wrestling. I like it when there are call backs to past matches. I like it when tag team partners do nice things for each other and look out for each other. And above all else, it’s really funny.
Of course, one can’t mention the highlights of Alex Koslov’s career, without mentioning some of his famous signature moves. If you’ve ever seen a Kozlov match, you’ve seen him don his ushanka, and perform Russian dance kicks to his opponent’s head.
The Russian Dance kicks are usually followed up with a nasty double foot stomp to the head.
Finally, you’ve surely also seen him attempt to earnestly shake his opponents hand, to mixed results.
I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, Alex Koslov will be sorely missed from New Japan. I don’t know if he’s retiring or if we’ll one day see him back in the ring. Whatever his future holds, I wish Alex Koslov all the best.
One last hug from Rocky Romero, and all of us.
Sigh, maybe just one more.
Goodbyes are just so hard. Last one, I promise.
Don’t forget you can follow me on twitter @TheKoalaMask.
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