Saturday, 8 October 2016

Trent Seven vs Zack Sabre Jr: "One Stubborn Bastard"

I don’t usually love matches who’s story can be purely and simply boiled down to “two people who’ll do anything to win,” because I feel you can imply and take that kind of story from any random match you find. Personally, more enjoyment arises out of more character focused layers that explore why these characters will go so far to win this particular match, and test the boundries of how far they’ll go. Trent Seven vs Zack Sabre Jr from a recent Revolution Pro Wrestling show I saw on their pivot share service, despite some definite layers focusing on the resilience of Trent Seven’s character, can essentially be boiled down to the simple premise I outlined above. Despite this, it’s one of my favourite matches of the year to have taken place on British soil. Let me try to explain why.
Throughout the match, the commentary team, who I have a ton of experience listening to despite a rather rude lack of knowledge of their identity, put over a mixture of storytelling layers. First of all they mention the very clear clash of styles a match of this nature would provide, with Zack Sabre Jr favourite the flashy, technical style he himself had a huge part in popularising and Trent Seven representing what he calls “British strong-style.” Trent’s style, going back to its Japanese inspiration focuses on the mantra of taking damage to deal damage, and often manifests itself with hard hitting strikes and dangerous head drops. It also has a rather unique way of presenting its defensive wrestling, focusing very highly on the concept of “fighting spirit” and taking a ton of punishment throughout a match and trying to use your adrenaline to fight through it until your body can take no more and it wears you down.
Fair play to Trent Seven he would fit in wrestling any of the Japanese-proponents of the style and his fighting spirit-selling was excellent in this match. But we’ll get back to that, I’d like to continue my train of thought on the style battle mentioned earlier. It’s clear at the outset that this could take the framework of one of those classic striker/grappler encounters that the industry in many countries has been based around for decades. It does fit into that structure somewhat and it definitely benefits from that because it keeps the build organised and means there was absolutely no filler to my reckoning in this clash, which some British matches (and matches in many other countries to be fair) have the tendency to indulge in. It also helps to layer the match in a genuine culture that takes less-built matches from good to great. What I mean by this is it feels these two are representing and battling for their culture in professional wrestling, a true battle of styles.
Another theme the comms put over during this match is Trent Seven getting his big opportunity, they specifically said that “Trent Seven has spent his entire Revolution Pro Wrestling career preparing for Zack Sabre Jr.” I should mention that this was a match for the highest title in the company, and Zack Sabre Jr is for all intents and purposes the Ace. So you’ve got a variant of the ace story in here (the Trent Seven is Japanese plot thickens) too, which is played to perfection during the heat sequences. Like I said earlier, Trent’s fighting spirit is particular pleasing, taking Zack’s brutally destructive offense all match long and genuinely looking like it’s tearing his body apart as he rips himself to his feet and asks for some more.
As the match plays out you start to realise just how much this match means to the character of Trent Seven. The comms were right, he has spent his entire time in Rev Pro getting here, preparing for this specific encounter, and it is that work, that preparation and that drive that means he simply cannot lose. Every time he gets knocked down, or his neck gets further targeted by the technical wizard, his body tells him it’s time, it’s over, he’s lost. The referee is constantly asking if Trent can continue, Zack’s offense gets more and more brutal as he closes in for a stoppage win. But Trent will not die. Because this is it, this is his time, and he’s worked too hard for it to end via stoppage, he is going to force Zack Sabre Jr to fight to a real finish and he is going to force Zack Sabre Jr to respect him, because that’s the least he can achieve after working this hard.
The work is crisp and tight, all the sequences come off without a hitch, and both guys know their style so well. Sabre’s offence is, as usual, a treat to watch as he finds ways to viciously contort the body of Trent Seven, and as all good heel-leaning grapplefuck, it looks overly aggressive, highly painful at all times, and evokes sympathy for Seven. Seven’s strikes are also great, he lays in his chops during the striking session in the middle of the match and they look brutal. Sabre does his part here, too, I should mention, selling the “I’ve seen way worse” motif while responding with the type of strikes you’d expect from a well-travelled vet such as he. The sequences towards the end where they almost devolve into a bomb-trading session are also executed just fine, and like I’ve mentioned before with the Wilkins-Lee 100+minute match from earlier this year, I excuse these kinds of finishing sequences where the emotional groundwork was laid and the sequence escalates in a sensible manner, as this one does.
Overall, a legit great match from somewhere I wasn’t exactly expecting to find one, which kinda speaks to the problem with RevPro in general. They have the big guns pushed to high positions on the card on their big shows and otherwise run touring matches done better elsewhere, and then they’re got something like this (which is only really surpassed by Sabre/Styles in recent RPW history in my opinion) on a show only a handful of even the regular RevPro fans are actually going to see. But away from the negative, this match was genuinely blow away stuff that I would put against any of the best matches from the British scene this year in a heartbeat, and inspired me enough to come on here and write about it! Would love to see more high profile opportunities like this from Trent Seven because he impressed big time.

Rating: ****1/4

Trent Seven vs Zack Sabre Jr
Revolution Pro Wrestling
Live at the Cockpit 11