He won the Wrestling Observer Award for best technical Wrestler in 2014, 2015 and 2016 – a look into the career of Suzuki-Gun member and British World traveller Zack Sabre Jr.
This is the promotion where the wrestler from the Isle of Sheppey, Kent made his debut in 2004 in a Tag Team match with Danny Williams, David Deville and Tank against the team of Danny Butler, Paddy Morrow Paul Fury and Phil Boyd. In 2005 he made it to the Semi finals of the Hammerlock King Of The Ring Tournament but lost to Danny Williams. The first belt that he won in this promotion was the NWA United Kingdom Junior Heavyweight Championship, that he won from Falcon. Zack never lost the title and even competed for the NWA World Heavyweight title in 2011 but lost to the champion Adam Pearce. The promotion closed its doors in 2012.
International Pro Wrestling United Kingdom (IPW:UK)
A 19-year-old Zack Sabre Jr. made his debut in a losing effort against an opponent with the name of eXodus at IPW:UK The Dome Show, in Colchester, Essex in 2006. Two years later he reached the Semi Finals of the “British National Championship Tournament“. but couldn´t overcome Terry Frazier. The newly formed team of Marty Scurll & Zack Sabre Jr. made their way to the British Tag team division under the name of The Leaders Of The New School and won the IPW:UK British Tag Team Titles in May 2009 from The Thrillers (Joel Redman & Mark Haskins). They lost the titles after 86 days to Mikey Whiplash and Robbie Dynamite, but won them back and defended them for another 630 days until the Leaders Of The New School got defeated by Project Ego (Kris Travis & Martin Kirby) in August of 2012. Sabre won his next title in IPW:UK when he defeated Sha Samuels for the All England title. He lost the belt in October of the same year. He defeated Will Ospreay in 2014 to win the UK Super 8 Tournament. The “Technical Wizard” wrestled his last match to date for the company in April 2017.
Pro Wrestling NOAH
When the Japanese promotion visited the UK, Zack Sabre Jr. was in a Dark Match alongside Mark Haskins and Dave Moralez facing the team of Bubblegum, El Ligero and Luke Phoenix. In 2011, he took part in a tour with NOAH where he stood in a ring with stars like Jack Evans, KENTA, Taiji Ishimori or Takeshi Morishima. In December 2013 the Team of Yoshinari Ogawa and Zack Sabre Jr. won the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Titles in Tokyo from the legendary Jushin Thunder Liger and Tiger Mask. They lost the titles to BRAVE (Atsushi Kotoge & Taiji Ishimori) in March 2014 but won the belts back a month later. In July of the same year, the championships changed hands again between these two teams. Interestingly, Zack faced multiple variations of Suzuki-Gun in his last year with the company in 2015, before joining them in NJPW two years later.
Another early European promotion he wrestled for was Westside Xtreme Wrestling, where he started in 2006. During that time wXw was still heavily focussed on Death Match Wrestling and the show Zack debuted in was no exception. His first match for the German company was a “Tables, Ladder, Chairs and 10.000 Thumbtacks Match” which was held during the “King of Death Matches” tournament in Colchester. His next chance to show his style was in May of 2008 when he lost to Tommy End. Zack had 11 matches for wXw in 2008. At Back To The Roots 2010, Sabre defeated Tommy End, Emil Sitoci and Mark Haskins to win his first title in wXw, the World Lightweight Championship. A few months and title defences later, Zack Sabre Jr. made history by being the first ever wXw Unified World Wrestling Champion. He defeated Steve Douglas in a unification match on 5 June at Dead End X. This match marked the end for the Heavyweight and Lightweight belts in wXw. He eventually lost the title to Big Van Walter in October. In 2013, ZSJ won the Shoot-Style tournament AMBITION, which takes place during the 16 Carat Gold weekend. He also reached the finals of the tournament itself, but eventually lost to Tommy End. In 2015, he and WALTER defeated reDragon in the finals of the World Tag League to win the vacant wXw World Tag Titles. Two months later, in December 2015, they lost the titles to Cerberus (Ilja Dragunov & Robert Dreissker) at the 15th Anniversary show. A year later he won the 16 Carat Gold tournament but lost his title match in Cologne to the Champion at that time, Jurn Simmons. The Leaders of the New School (Zack & Marty Scurll) lost to JML (David Starr & Shane Strickland) in the finals of the wXw World Tag League. He did not appear in wXw in 2017, but was booked for the 17th Anniversary show in 2018, but couldn’t compete due to an Illness.
In 2012, PROGRESS was founded. On their first show (Chapter One), they had a critically acclaimed match on their card when Marty Scurll and Sabre Jr. squared off. In 2014, he lost a PROGRESS Title match against the defending Champion Jimmy Havoc. One year later he competed in the Super Strong Style 16 tournament, which is the equivalent to wXw’s 16 Carat Gold Tournament. He reached the finals but lost to Will Ospreay. In 2016, ZSJ defeated Tommaso Ciampa in a two-out-of-three-falls match at the biggest show to date at Brixton Academy. At Chapter 40, he had another shot at the World Title but lost again in a 31-minute match to Pete Dunne. In the semi-finals of the 2017 SSS16 edition, he lost to Travis Banks. 2018 seems to be off to a good start for the former PWG Champion, as he won both of his matches in PROGRESS this year. One against Tyler Bate and the other, a three-way, against Chris Brookes and Trent Seven.
“EVOLVE 7 – Aries vs Moxley” was the name of the show which was held in 2011, where Zack made his debut and issued an unsuccessful challenge to Sami Callihan. His next matches were in 2014 against Biff Busick and Timothy Thatcher. In the first encounter with Thatcher, Sabre Jr. was victorious. One year later, however, Thatcher defeated Zack at EVOLVE 47 to retain his EVOLVE Title. Over the course of the next year, Zack had 19 matches for the company against the likes of Matt Riddle, Will Ospreay, Chris Hero, Johnny Gargano, Marty Scurll, Cody Rhodes and others. He even exceeded that number in 2017 when he had 24 matches and in his second match of 2017, he said goodbye to Chris Hero, who had his last match with EVOLVE. In February, he defeated Timothy Thatcher to become the companies champion, which he still is to this day.
His first appearance for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla was made at the Battle Of Los Angeles 2014, where he competed on all three Nights. He made it to the second round by defeating Adam Cole in the first round and losing to Kyle O´Reilly in round two. On the first Night, he competed in a Dream Match: Zack Sabre Jr. & Chuck Taylor & Kenny Omega vs Adam Cole & The Young Bucks. The team with the debuting Englishman got the win in just over 21 minutes. Just one year later, Zack Sabre Jr. won the 2015 BOLA tournament. If you combine just the time of the three matches he had on night three, you get 77:35 minutes that he spent in that ring. Speaking of long matches, he won the PWG World Title from Roderick Strong in March 2016 in 33 minutes and defended it against Marty Scurll in December of the same year in a 37 minutes match. He lost the title in the Summer of 2017 to a veteran of PWG, Chuck Taylor, who is the current champion. This year he lost to Keith Lee but defeated Flip Gordon at “PWG Neon Nights”.
When WWE decided to put on the Cruiserweight Classic, they needed the best of them from around the world and one of them was Zack Sabre Jr. who made his way to the Semi-Finals but eventually lost to Gran Metalik.
Since the founding of the Sittingbourne based company in 2012, Sabre Jr. has been a part the promotion. In 2014 he had an International Dream Match with Shinsuke Nakamura at Summer Sizzler. In another Dream Match, he defeated AJ Styles to win the Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship at High Stakes 2016. He kept the title until November, when he got defeated by Katsuyori Shibata at Global Wars 2016. Before he lost the title, he had a match with Kurt Angle in the historic York Hall, London. In 2017, he started teaming with Minoru Suzuki for RevPro and defended his title against Will Ospreay, Matt Riddle, Penta El Zero M, KUSHIDA and Chris Brookes. In January of this year, the newly formed Suzuki-Gun team won the RevPro British Tag Team Championships, which makes ZSJ a double champion for the company. The team is booked to defend their titles against CCK (Chris Brookes & Travis Banks) at Epic Encounter in May.
In his first match for the company at the 45th Anniversary Show in 2017, he defeated Shibata to win back his Undisputed British Heavyweight title. He won with the help of Suzuki-Gun, joining them in the process. At Sakura Genesis 2017, he unsuccessfully challenged Hirooki Goto for the NEVER Openweight Championship. He participated in the G1 Climax 2017 and reached a respectable amount of 10 points during the tournament and submitted Hiroshi Tanahashi in the first match of his block. This submission victory led to an IWGP Intercontinental Title Match at the Destruction in Hiroshima show. Tanahashi won after 30 minutes to retain the title. At Wrestle Kingdom 12, Suzuki-Gun challenged for the NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Titles but to no avail. He is set to take part in the New Japan Cup 2018 and has to face Tetsuya Naito in the first round.
Zack Sabre Jr. will continue to show his technical expertise all around the world and will strive to evolve the style he introduced into the wrestling world. He will be remembered as one of the most innovative men in the business, but he still has many years left to bring the best of the Technical Wizard to wXw, PROGRESS, EVOLVE, RevPro, NJPW and many more.