Kota Ibushi vs Zack Sabre Jr., G1 Climax, 21 July 2017, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo (New Japan Pro Wrestling)
Two favorites of mine, Kota Ibushi and Zack Sabre Jr., fought each other in Friday's G1 Climax match. I've been following both wrestlers for about seven years, Sabre more closely than Ibushi because more videos of Zack's matches appear online. Both made their professional ring debuts 13 years ago. As recently as March I extolled Sabre's ring style. The truth is I like everything I know about ZSJ: his look (lean and hungry, but exuding arrogance too); his politics (Left/Socialist); his tastes in music (Max Richter, Sigur Rós), in writers (Noam Chomsky, J.D. Salinger), in film (David Lynch, Gaspar Noé), and in wrestling heroes (Dean Malenko, WALTER); and, naturally, his strong-style wrestling, which first caught my attention.
The NJPW match displays both men's strengths, with plenty of kickboxing-inspired assaults and (my thing) fine detail work on each other's body. The GIFs above illustrate the pinpoint precision of Zack's assaults and punishments. This year sees Zack's first G1 Climax. He had a strong debut match four days earlier against Hiroshi Tanahashi. Here he shows his stuff all right but fares less well against the somewhat older Ibushi, a G1 participant since 2013. So far I haven't seen the entire match, only the highlights video linked above.