Zack Sabre Jr vs “Speedball” Mike Bailey
Cockpit Theatre, Marylebone, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
(reviewed 10/30/2017) Was real worried about this match since these are two guys who have real bad habits that are exacerbated by facing off with other people who have real bad habits. For the most part this match works out, though boy howdy do they dig into those bad habits by the end. The first two thirds or so of this match are based on the idea that these guys are proud, hotheaded young dudes who do not take well to aggression. Speedball, though perfectly capable on the mat, is not a technician on ZSJ’s level and struggles early on to stay competitive, eventually finding himself on the wrong end of some exploratory leg work. He responds with some angry striking, letting loose his frustration, which fires up Zack in return and he doubles down on the leg work. It’s not stellar, but it’s fairly competent and compelling and features a lot of fire from both men. Notably there’s a good amount of quality arm-based striking in this match, with neither of these men being all that well known for their arm-based stuff, at least compared to their kicks, so that’s a neat touch. The match slowly declines as the match goes on, with this 23 minute affair being a little long for the main event of what is essentially a C level RPW show. Moreover, as they lean more heavily into the leg work on Speedball, you see more of the aforementioned bad habits, with Speedball’s insistence on almost entirely using leg moves despite lengthy leg work and Zack’s leg work being slippery and vague. Peppered in with this are some delightful spots, most notably a desperate kick or two from Speedball that are “yelp at loud at 5:30 AM and wake up the roommates” good, but as they transition into throwing finishers at each other for five minutes, it’s all a little tiresome. Hardly a bad match, but one that succumbs to the usual problems you’ll see from these two.