Indie Watch is our regular series that looks at amazing talents working the independent circuits around the world. Some are veterans revitalizing their careers. Some are indie prospects hitting their peaks. Others are names to be on the watch for! In this edition, we will take a look at the sensation from India that made a name for himself in Thailand and Japan – Baliyan Akki!
The pursuit of a dream is part and parcel of professional wrestling, but in the case of Baliyan Akki, this couldn’t be any truer. As a native of India, he bet on himself by endeavoring in wrestling around the world. Since his debut in 2015, he has grown into one of the most promising wrestlers, not only in India but Thailand, Japan, and abroad. In short, the story of the high-flying Akki is practically tailor-made to inspire.
Born in Uttar Pradesh, India, Baliyan Akki grew up as a wrestling fan.
On The Joshi Pod, he stated that he followed World Wrestling Entertainment, which was huge in the country. Stars such as The Rock and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin were so notable that they influenced Bollywood films. Additionally, he didn’t know that there was a name for pro wrestling; growing up, he saw WWE as its own entity and wouldn’t be exposed to other forms until he began his training.
In his youth, Akki discovered that finding training in his home country was difficult. Though training facilities would open in the years that followed, Akki started learning by working with a man that had a wrestling ring in his backyard. From there, he began to build his skill set. His career began in January of 2015 with Wrestle Square, which ran shows in not only India but Thailand as well. Akki saw success in this venture, becoming the company’s first Intercontinental Champion in August. He would hold the title through to the end of the year.
During the next couple of years, Akki’s wrestling endeavors remained largely in India and Thailand.
He would also go on to hold the Wrestle Square Intercontinental Championship two more times. However, he had expressed an interest in traveling to Japan to further hone his craft, which he accomplished in 2017. Before then, he made his Singapore debut in October of that year for Singapore Pro Wrestling. What was notable about this encounter was that Masahiro Takanashi was on the same show. Akki has credited Takanashi for helping him get his foot in the door in Japan.
By December of 2017, Baliyan Akki became a regular competitor for Gatoh Move Pro Wrestling, headed by Emi Sakura. Akki debuted for the purple-and-yellow promotion on December 2nd, teaming with Chon Shiryu in a winning effort against Takanashi and Sakura. Akki and Shiryu would go on to challenge Takanashi and Sakura for the Asia Dream Tag Team Championship, but fell short in this second encounter.
Much of Akki’s 2018 was focused on Gatoh Move, but he left his footprint in other promotions.
Case and point, in January of 2018, he debuted for Dramatic Dream Team; Takanashi and Chris Brookes, who also appeared in Gatoh Move, built their stock in DDT. The following April, Akki participated in Gatoh Move’s 6th Go-Go Green Curry Koppun Cup tag team tournament. Akki teamed with Kaori Yoneyama, making it to the finals where they lost to Takanashi and Sakura. Additionally, Akki made appearances for Pro Wrestling HEAT UP, headed by TAMURA, even competing for the promotion’s Universal Title in the summer. The following December, Akki appeared for Michinoku Pro Wrestling, where he worked with fellow Gatoh Move talents including Sakura, Riho, and Mei Suruga.
Akki started 2019 on a high note, teaming with multi-time Asia Dream Tag Team Champion SAKI to defeat Suruga and DDT regular Antonio Honda. From there, Akki continued to rack up wins over the likes of Yuna Mizumori, Mitsuru Konno and Sayaka Obihiro. Whether in tag team or singles competition, the Uttar Pradesh native was able to showcase his fast-paced offense to crowds in the quaint, familiar Ichigaya Chocolate Square and beyond. In October, Akki made his United Kingdom wrestling debut for ATTACK Pro Wrestling, working a scramble match at their Voices of Violence event.
Though 2020 started on an unassuming note, the world was soon hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among other events, this resulted in several professional wrestling organizations halting operations. While Gatoh Move had to cancel live shows, this didn’t entirely halt content. Enter ChocoPro, a new initiative to help provide wrestling from Ichigaya Chocolate Square. Essentially, shows would take place within the venue, sans crowds, and live-streamed on YouTube. Baliyan Akki became an essential component in this formula, as he not only provided commentary behind the camera but wrestled as well.
The first episode of ChocoPro, which aired on March 28th, was an interesting one to say the least. In the main event, Akki squared off against arguably his greatest challenge in the form of Minoru Suzuki. The leader of Suzuki-gun was dominant in this victory, though Akki’s performance was nothing short of gutsy. From there, Akki worked subsequent episodes of ChocoPro, including a match against former ECW World Heavyweight Champion Masato Tanaka in April. He also found himself wrapped up in the ongoing character development of Mizumori, wrestling her in a heated showdown on episode 15.
These days, Baliyan Akki has his hands full with Gatoh Move. In addition to future ChocoPro events, Akki can often be seen on live streams. During these, he watches wrestling with his peers. It’s easy to see that the young star from India has hustle, which only adds to his story. He is proof that no dream is too big to bring to fruition. The work ethic he possesses is undeniable, but with maneuvers such as an impressive 450 splash and his devastating Namaste Splash, the sensational nature of his in-ring work must be seen to be believed.
Masahiro Takanashi vs. Baliyan Akki (December 11, 2018)
As mentioned earlier in this piece, Baliyan Akki credited Masahiro Takanashi for helping him get started in Japan. This was the second singles encounter between the two. From the first quick exchange, it became clear that fans in attendance were in for a treat. Akki entered this match as the underdog, but despite working against the more experienced Takanashi, he held his own. Akki’s trademark fast-paced offense was on full display, but he wasn’t afraid to trade blows with Takanashi near the end. Given how instrumental Takanashi was in Akki’s Japanese wrestling endeavors, it was only right to include this match.
Riho and Mitsuru Konno vs. Emi Sakura and Baliyan Akki (December 22, 2018)
Shifting gears from singles to tag team competition, this match saw Baliyan Akki team with Gatoh Move’s owner to face one of the company’s featured stars and the future inaugural AEW Women’s World Champion. The initial exchange between Konno and Akki was brisk, as one would expect between the two. From there, the match transitioned to an equally athletic showcase between Sakura and Riho. Given how closely associated Akki has been with taking to the skies, it’s interesting to see him take on more of a powerhouse role in this match. The sheer talent level in this match alone makes it worthwhile, not just for Gatoh Move fans but those that enjoy wrestling as a whole.
Baliyan Akki vs. SAKI (April 6, 2019)
Though he has developed a reputation for being a high-flying wrestler, his character work can’t be overlooked. This intergender singles match against SAKI, who won the Asia Dream Tag Team Championship on multiple occasions, is rich in personality. Even the most technical maneuvers pulled off in this match were accompanied by comedic laughs, such as SAKI wrenching back on Akki’s long hair while pulling off a stretch. This isn’t to say that the match was played entirely with comedy in mind. For example, Akki didn’t seem to hold back on knee strikes or backbreakers. For intergender wrestling fans, in particular, this is a match worth checking out.
Check out our full list of previous Indie Watches, showcasing emerging talent from around the world!
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world.