Zack Gibson vs Jack Sexsmith
Super Strong Style 16 Tournament 2017 First Round Match
Electric Ballroom, Camden, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
(reviewed 09/28/2017) The last match these two had earlier this year was something I described as “far and away the best match of the year so far in PROGRESS”. This one would be even better but they’ve gone and wiped all the licensed music from PROGRESS and Sexsmith isn’t coming out to “I Touch Myself” so I think this match sucks a big one.
No, no, this match is great. Really great. It expands on all the themes from previous interactions between these two and even sort of rights the wrongs of the Sexsmith/Robinson match that got Sexsmith into SSS16 in the first place. Here, Gibson’s cutting the same sort of “this guy is dumb and you people are dumb for liking him” promo, but it manages to almost entirely circumnavigate the homophobia of Robinson’s earlier work. He calls the numerous Pride flags in the audience “bullshit flags”, but that’s about the extent of it, and more than anything that’s framed within the context of Sexsmith’s fans supporting him (he brings up their “bullshit chants” in the same breath). Instead, he says things like “the last time we wrestled, I beat you on the outside of the ring because you don’t belong in one” and “he’s still got his fucking stupid boots, he’s still got his fucking stupid personality, he’s still got his fucking stupid fans”. Touching the same themes as Robinson’s promo, sure, arguably even more effectively, but almost totally avoiding actual homophobia. And hey, I’m fine with that.
Sexsmith don’t take it lying down, though, no sir. On that last line, Gibson tries to say “and he’s still got no fucking chance” but Sexsmith cuts him off with a great dropkick in the corner and the crowd EXPLODES. He beats down on Gibson until the referee pulls him away and Sexsmith is begging for him to ring the bell, but the ref refuses until he checks on Gibson and makes sure he’s ok to start the match. It’s only a minute or so, but the wait is agonizing and scintillating, as there’s a very genuine feeling of “come the fuck on, Jack’s got a chance here!” Once the referee starts the match, Gibson’s recovered enough to catch Sexsmith with one of his signature moves, the Codebreaker, and immediately Sexsmith’s on the defensive and Gibson’s on top.
Gibson’s selling is marvelous here. Throughout the entire match, he feels in control, feels like the better man in this contest. Occasionally Sexsmith will get the drop on him and really put a hurting to him, which Gibson wears well, selling his neck after eating Sexsmith’s big DDT and regaining control. But through it all, the Scouse bastard comes across as unstoppable if weakened, even in the face of London’s favorite son.
Gibson, a proud Liverpudlian, primarily utilizes his strength here but also goes after Sexsmith’s arm, looking to weaken it for his Shankly Gates submission hold, that nod to Anfield. In addition, he tosses Sexsmith around on the floor early on, reminding his young opponent of their previous encounter that ended with a painful countout. Sexsmith’s able to turn the tide with plenty of heart and determination whenever Gibson gets a little too cocky, but time and again Gibson’s able to turn things right back around by going after Sexsmith’s arm or playing to his strength and size advantage.
Yet Sexsmith survives. He slips free of the Helter Skelter. He reverses other moves. He delivers a Codebreaker to Gibson himself. Gibson manages to avoid a Crippler Cockface but finds himself on the wrong end of a dive on the floor and an AWESOME double stomp back in the ring. Following this double stomp, Gibson powders again and Sexsmith, in a moment of self-reflection, decides to strip off the Mr. Cocko condom and fling it into the crowd, as if to say that he’s going to win this match “seriously”. He goes for a tope suicida DDT but his change in strategy, his moment of self-reflection costs him: Gibson catches him out of the air and delivers a Helter Skelter on the floor.
It looks like this is lights out for Sexsmith. He’s already lost to this move before. He’s taken his best shots at Gibson and it wasn’t enough. He’s going to get counted out again. But the people are behind him. His hand reaches out and finds the hand of a woman sitting in the front row and soon a score of people are lifting him up off the floor and rolling him into the ring in time to break the referee’s count. It’s the sort of thing you see fairly often in wrestling and usually it’s sort of sweet but feels more hokey and clichéd than anything. But here, with these people who were singing “I Touch Myself” for this man just a few minutes earlier? These people who were literally singing for joy? With these people it’s magic.
Gibson’s right on him when Sexsmith rolls back in the ring. He’s going for the arm again, smashing his hand into the fleshy part of the bicep over and over and over as he’s got the Shankly Gates locked in. Sexsmith, grasping at straws now, manages to roll his opponent up and very nearly wins the damn match, but Gibson frantically kicks out. After this, Sexsmith is almost despondent. He’s leaning on the middle rope, gazing out into the crowd of people cheering for him, face twisted in a sad image of acceptance. Gibson towers behind him, gearing up for the Helter Skelter, and Sexsmith knows it’s the end. But not his end. Gibson lifts him into the air and Sexsmith is able to shift his body weight and bring Gibson down, trapping him in a small package for the win.
Sexsmith spills into the crowd and the arms of those who lifted him into the ring. Gibson looks on in shock, eyes wide, mouth agape. Against the odds, this young man barely two years into the business, this young man who sat and cried in the ring before this match, this young man has won his first match in this tournament that he fought so hard to enter.
Oh if all of wrestling felt like this. What a world it would be.