Zack Sabre Jr vs Gabriel Kidd
taped 01/07/2017, aired 01/16/2017
Northumbria University Students’ Union, Newcastle Upon Tyne, England, United Kingdom
(reviewed 10/28/2017) Gave this a watch on the recommendation of my good friend Quentin, who knows that I usually love these sorts of matches. I don’t love this one, but I recognize that it’s the first match in a series and one of these two men has a real weak résumé, and even then I still like this quite a bit. It features a capable veteran on the international level taking on a 20 year old kid with little to no high level experience and no real answer to world class technical skills but more than enough fundamentals to get by, and I really dig that archetype. It appeals to my sensibilities in loving hierarchy and surly vets and upstart punks and punishment and retribution and etc etc. Fair amount of all of that here. It’s not perfect by any means, as Kidd is only 20 years old with less than 100 matches under his belt by this point, but he puts in a lot of effort and keeps things simple so he works out for the most part. What’s more, he’s just got a lot of clean babyface heart and is over with this crowd, so his struggles against someone who can be as cruel as Zack are rather compelling. For most of the match I was idly watching, waiting for something to really catch my eye, ready to chock this up as unimpressive if enjoyable. Nothing of that sort came until the finish, really, which sees Kidd attempt a wonky moonsault that he’s not quite got the hang of yet. But the weirdness of the moonsault actually works really well here, as he comes down awkwardly right into Zack’s waiting legs as the veteran baits him in for a triangle armbar for the quick submission finish. Far and away the best execution of that “highflying move into a triangle” spot that I loathe. Whereas it’s always been phony and out-of-place before, here it’s much more realistic and plays into the story of Kidd being out of his element despite lots of fire and momentum on his side. Fun little match. Won’t blow anyone away since it’s a TV match with a young kid, but it’s a worthy introduction to what I imagine is a nice little feud.