Zack Sabre Jr vs Chris Hero
Eddie Deen’s Ranch, Dallas, Texas, United States
(reviewed 11/28/2016) At Mercury Rising 2015, Chris Hero had the best American match of the year against Timothy Thatcher, a match I love quite a lot. While I think less of ZSJ than I do Thatcher, he’s still good and does real well against Hero, so I’m expecting a lot from this match. Hero is real jazzed for this match, celebrating with his fans at ringside, flipping off the people chanting for Zack. Every time ZSJ tries to lock up with Hero, the big man powders to the outside to mess with him. Everything here is reminiscent of the Hero/Thatcher match last year, which is interesting to say the least. When they really get down to business, Hero tries to use his size and striking to bully the smaller Brit, but ZSJ’s speed and frustration allow him to stay on top. Both men trade the advantage both in and out of the ring with striking and limbwork, with Hero uncharacteristicly employing some armwork to punish his younger opponent. There’s some nice ankle cranking here, but none of it’s too spectacular. ZSJ is barely able to make it back in the ring after a big elbow on the floor puts him down for the count. Back in the ring, Hero taunts the young man, letting him get some slaps in that really do rock Hero, but time and again Hero just stuffs him with some vicious boots and sentons, really putting his weight into it. The whole time, Hero is either playing with the crowd or with his opponent, a real self-assured bully here. His grandstanding allows Zack to make a comeback and go after the Buckeye’s arm, but Hero is a freight train that will not be stopped. ZSJ’s selling is still more noodly and dead-selling-oriented than I’d like, but he does well here to show that he’s getting rocked by Hero’s offense and can barely keep it together. He gets a bit of offense going with his speed and armwork, and a PK earns him a two count. The nearfall here actually feels rather important, as every point previous to this moment saw Hero get hit with some of ZSJ’s offense, get frustrated momentarily, and shut him down almost immediately with a big strike or some kind, but here, Zack actually strings together enough moves to get not just a one count, but a two count. Subtle stuff that I’m not so sure was even intended. Out on the floor, ZSJ continues his assault on the man’s arm, shoving Hero’s arm through the folds of a steel chair before stomping on it. Frustrated, Hero stumbles up to his feet, arm still stuck in the chair, swinging wildly, but in his anger he accidentally hits the chair into the ringpost which only hurts him further. Neat little spot. Hero takes control with his usual fare and ZSJ, unwilling to back down, asks for more. His theatrics weigh it down for me, as does the fact that his comeback spot his is just a goofy counter into a European Clutch, but it’s a solid spot. As the match progresses and as ZSJ continues to get little potshots in on Hero’s arm, it’s clear that the damage is being done to Hero’s arm, though it’s not quite enough to stop him from steamrolling over the young Brit. A cross armbreaker and brief Jim Breaks armbar turns things around for him, but he pisses the big man off with a number of slaps and boots to the face and arm and is shut right down again. Some big strikes put both men down for the count, and when Hero tries to follow it up with a piledriver, he can’t lock it in right away due to his arm, and it allows ZSJ to wriggle his way into a kimura and then the Jim Breaks armbar. It isn’t enough to put Hero away and neither is the subsequent European Clutch, and Hero buries a trio of elbows in the man’s head and neck to put him away. A bit repetitive, as most Hero matches these days can be, but a compelling story of struggle with lots of great action to boot. Fun for the whole family.