Not only does ZSJ have the best taste in music in all of professional wrestling, he enters the Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium to The Cribs' "Hey Scenesters!" looking like a mashup of Ricky Nelson, James Bond, The Fonz, Prince Eric, AND Don Draper in a glimmering metallic Union Jack jacket. He is one ridiculously handsome dude. He's also one of the most proficient and savvy unsigned pro wrestlers in the world.

This three-way show-opener from October mainly exists to show Sabre off. His less accomplished adversaries are Hitoshi Kumano (in red) and Mitsuhiro Kitamiya (in black). As usual in a three-way contest, the match starts with some coordinated teaming up against the biggest threat, interspersed with every-man-for-himself chaos. In this case the foreigner is singled out as the man to beat, and ultimately the showdown is between Sabre and Kumano. Unlike most American three-ways, where the winner is the last man standing, this three-way ends with the first fall by pin or submission.

It makes sense that Sabre would hit it big in Japan, where the focus is on "strong" (i.e. truly painful) tactics and showy submissions. Handsome as he is, he doesn't have the ripped physique that draws WWE, Impact! or ROH contracts. His style is too phlegmatic for U.S. pro wrestling, with its constant blockbuster noise and flash, though he has had successful tours in America, including this past year. He specializes in taking and delivering up chops that make spectators involuntarily flinch. He's also one of the most fluid ring technicians in the business--only Prince Devitt, KENTA, and Ricochet strike me as comparable on this point.

Kitamiya is the biggest and toughest-looking man in the ring. Kumano is the most opportunistic, ready to pounce on Sabre after Kitamiya slows the Brit down or to push Sabre aside to attempt to complete Zack's near pin of Kitamiya. Kitamiya is put off by Kumano's wily double-dealing, and at one point has Kumano cowering against the corner ropes. But the win goes to Sabre. With Kitamiya out of the ring, Zack deftly submits Kumano one on one, sitting on the back of his head and nearly ripping the conniver's arms off at the sockets.

Personally, I prefer Sabre in long one-on-one matches. As I have noted before, his slow, meticulous, and coolly sadistic punishments are best appreciated close up. I like the way Sabre takes his time in wearing down and working over an opponent, but this short opening match does not give us Zack at his best--still, it does go far in showing his appeal.

Thanks for the gif!


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