Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Thinking Man's Wrestler

Thank you to Gary, a friend to this blog, for recommending this YouTube video of one of my favorite wrestlers, Zack Sabre Jr, battling Japanese powerhouse Dick Togo in Westside Xtreme Wrestling's 11th Anniversary (2011) show in Oberhausen, Germany. Togo, 5'7", 210#, in the midst of his retirement tour (completed in the summer of 2012), had thirteen years of ring experience over Zack, 6', 185#. It's a hard-fought give-and-take squeaker, a testament to the excitement of traditional catch wrestling, in which the two fighters literally exhaust themselves against each other. Zack shows incredible resilience and resourcefulness. Dick, a time-tested master, demonstrates his toughness and strength."WOW!" wrote Gary this past weekend. "This just took my breath away." Mine, too. 

The match escapes the expected cliches of youth-versus-age, heel-versus-babyface, and East-versus-West. The crowd is mostly in Togo's corner, whose Anglicized name "Dick" is meant to be descriptive: he was sometimes dubbed "The Biggest Dick in Japan." Zack, too, taps into his heelish tendencies, unsentimentally attempting to break the legend on the eve of his farewell to professional wrestling. In the fourth screen cap above, we see Zack meticulously bending back Togo's fingers, finger by finger, patiently incapacitating his opponent. One commentator refers to Zack as the "Thinking Man's Wrestler," honoring the young man's critical ring skills, and having followed Sabre's online musings and tweets for years, I would say his intelligence, good taste in music and literature, and eloquence have always impressed me. Both wrestlers are astute in their strategy and 360-degree ring awareness (I wish there had been more cameras to catch it all). Given differences in age, height, weight, and build, they are satisfyingly matched to each other.

Dick Togo, who first stepped into the squared circle when Zack was three years old, could not have had a more splendid monument to his 21-year career than this brutal nailbiter. And it's a star-making turn for Zack Sabre Jr, who, while lacking the conventional "look" and "manner" of a professional wrestler, is gradually carving out a niche for his uniquely strategy-based and heatedly aggressive wrestling style.

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