Zack Sabre Jr vs Chris Hero
MCW Arena, Joppa, Maryland, United States
(reviewed 11/28/2016) I feel like I first watched this match shortly after it happened, but I can’t recall [EDIT AFTER FINISHING MATCH: I totally didn’t]. On some level, with all these EVOLVE guys wrestling each other so many times, all their matches just sort of bleed together, which is a real issue. Speaking of issues, Hero, as he usually does, takes issue with the fans chanting for ZSJ at ringside, berating them before the bell. The match opens with some chaining as either man gets a momentary advantage and tries to toy with their rival, looking to exploit any weakness. Hero, perhaps even more so than usual, is angry at the crowd and it really gets to him. When he’s got ZSJ’s foot in his hand, looking to manipulate his ankle or find leverage for a hold, a fan in the audience yells out “WRRRRRRESTLING!” and it disgusts Hero, who tosses his opponent’s foot aside out of frustration. Hey, I’m with ya there, big guy. More so than just being upset with the fans, Hero is upset that he can’t immediately steamroll over ZSJ like he’d like to. Still, with his size, strikes, and some choice legwork, he’s able to keep the younger man down and humiliate him. Try as he might, ZSJ just can’t get much of anything going on the Ohio native, who batters him around ringside with some boots and elbows. Back in the ring, Hero turns to some armwork, targeting his opponent’s wrist and elbow, and Zack sells it remarkably well, probably some of the best selling I’ve seen him do in his career. Hero takes too long going for a senton, though, and ZSJ catches him in a cross armbreaker on the way down in a great little hope spot before Hero slingshots him on the bottom rope. Still, some damage has been done to the veteran’s arm, and Chris Hero matches are all about little victories and doing what you can to survive. ZSJ finds an opening and goes after Hero’s ankle, which gives him room to run for what I’m sure is his best penalty kick ever, a move that dropped my jaw and got the crowd roaring. With some more speedy kicks, ZSJ wears the big man down before going after his arm again, stomping away on his elbow and triceps and twisting his wrist around. He cranks at the man’s wrist at one point VERY WELL, making me groan and cover my mouth. More of that, please, Zack. Instead of doing so, he goes for an octopus stretch and bends Hero’s fingers back, but Hero frees himself and tosses the smaller man out onto the apron. Hero puts a few boots in the kid’s face with ZSJ asking for more every time, and it’s less forcefully dramatic than the same spot back at Mercury Rising, though perhaps it’s due to the different camera angle. In any case, Hero obliges with more punishment, topping it off with a stiff elbow that sends ZSJ flying out to the ringside barricade. Despite the fact that his opponent can barely stand, Hero is hurting and exasperated, and you can see it on his face, and it leads him to do something drastic. He dives out of the ring at ZSJ, who avoids it, but Hero sees it coming and nips up off the apron to the floor, where he’s met with another PK from his opponent. The kick sends him reeling, and a diving European uppercut off the apron puts him down. Feeling it now, Zack goes for a German suplex back in the ring, but Hero’s size simply won’t let it happen, so he goes back to the armwork instead. Hero, in a nice human moment, screams Zack’s name as the Brit stomps down on his elbow. Out of desperation, Hero connects with a rolling elbow that hurts him, and a Cyclone Kill is reversed into a European Clutch attempt. The veteran sees it coming and slaps on a dragon sleeper that seemingly has ZSJ out, so he lifts him up for a Tombstone. ZSJ wriggles his way into a bodyscissors kimura, but Hero sort of just muscles his way out of it back into a dragon sleeper and Hero’s Welcome for a nearfall. Some fan chants “fight forever” and Hero flips him off, getting a big laugh from me and the crowd. Fired up by this entitled audience member, Hero puts a few boots and elbows into Zack’s head. A few more fans chant “Hero’s gonna kill you”, and he screams back at them “What am I doing? I’m killing the best technical wrestler in the world!” and it gets some serious boos along with the usual cheers. Slapping ZSJ, Hero screams at him, calling him a youngboy, booting him in the face when he makes a comeback. ZSJ avoids a piledriver attempt and scrambles his way into a jackknife pin for two, but a hurricanrana attempt is reversed into a mean piledriver. Taking his time, Hero hoists him up for a Tombstone, but ZSJ frees himself and slaps on a European Clutch for a two count. Hero responds immediately with a short piledriver, but likewise only finds two. Another piledriver finds ZSJ worming his way into a Jim Breaks armbar that actually turns into a pin attempt, but again it’s only a nearfall. ZSJ strings together a pair of dragon suplexes and a PK, but it’s still not enough. Looking for the kill, ZSJ goes after his opponent’s arm again, but Hero fights his way free of a wristlock to hit a rolling elbow, Cyclone Kill, and a GROSS snap Tombstone Piledriver for the win. Bit overwrought by the end, but hot damn, what a match. Wonderful character stuff and crowd work from Hero, better armwork and striking from ZSJ than usual, and plenty of brutal action. Lovely stuff all around, even if it suffers from the usual sort of problems big Hero matches do.