Gabriel Kidd (c) vs Zack Sabre Jr
WCPW Internet Championship
taped 08/25/2017, aired 09/21/2017
Bowlers Exhibition Centre, Manchester, England, United Kingdom
(reviewed 11/09/2017) The thing about rivalries and feuds in wrestling is escalation. You can’t have a long-running story between two opposing forces without a rise in the stakes or intensity between matches. That’s just fundamental storytelling. This match does have some small amount of escalation or at the very least progression. It’s once again been four months since the last Kidd/ZSJ match, where Kidd was able to upset the veteran with a flash pin, and Zack’s been stewing about it because if there’s one thing he holds better than three title belts at the same time it’s a grudge. He comes into this match looking for a fight, looking to hurt Kidd. He doesn’t have to look hard for an opening to do this, as Kidd is sporting taped-up ribs on top of the scruff of facial hair he walks in here with. Following the same outline of the previous encounters, this match unfolds with the usual grappling and exploratory striking. Despite his anger and the obvious weak point, Zack doesn’t go after the ribs for quite a while, preferring to grind away with a variety of holds: headlock, cravate, top wristlock. Even before he tries exploiting his opponent’s injury, Zack makes it clear that he’s here to punish Kidd. He does it here, but not with the sort of intensity I’ve seen him punish people in wXw or RevPro or EVOLVE or just about anywhere in the world. It’s a vague sort of punishment, not focused or altogether too malicious. Kidd’s sleepwalking his way through this match as well, giving his least fiery, least endearing babyface performance yet, electing to just wobble around or lay on the mat instead of fighting back or selling the many assaults. It’s not exactly a bad outing from either man but it’s far from an exciting or fulfilling blowoff like this seems like it’s meant to be. What’s more, this lack of emotional escalation is joined by a lack of technical or functional escalation. We see yet another moonsault reversed into a triangle. We see the same spots and reversals of spots that we get in the majority of ZSJ matches. Maybe I shouldn’t expect this much from someone as young and new as Kidd, but I’m terribly disappointed by the absence of any real advancement in the craft or story between these two past the level of “Kidd’s getting better as a wrestler and Zack is mad”. In the end, Zack’s able to slap on his third or so abdominal stretch and weakly elbow his opponent in the ribs a dozen times for the referee stoppage. Zack looks confused afterward before slumping back against the mat and I certainly feel the same way.