NJPW News: Zack Sabre, Jr. voted the Wrestling Observer Newsletter's Best Technical Wrestler of 2017
What’s the story?
Zack Sabre Jr., one of the 32 participants in the critically-acclaimed Cruiserweight Classic back in 2016, won the Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Best Technical Wrestler award for 2017.
This marks the fourth consecutive year that ZSJ has won this award, effectively making him the best scientific wrestler on the planet.
In case you didn’t know…
This award also called the Bryan Danielson award (because Bryan won it a whopping nine times in a row between 2005 and 2013), is awarded to that wrestler that shows the most skill as a pure grappler.
This isn’t about flashy moves, aerial moves, or demonstrating senseless violence; it’s about that wrestler that shows intelligence in the ring through careful and logical movements and telling a story by using the simplest and most ‘natural’ of moves inside the ring.
Other great wrestlers to have won this award include Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle, Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger, Dean Malenko and the original Tiger Mask.
The heart of the matter
Zack Sabre, Jr. won this award by a wide margin, winning more than three times as many votes as KUSHIDA, the runner-up. Apart from those two, the remaining contenders for the award each received a handful of votes.
Those voted for included: Marty Scurll, Pete Dunne, Matt Riddle, Katsuyori Shibata, Johnny Gargano, and Kazuchika Okada. Although all of these names wrestlers are fantastic grapplers, in many fans’ eyes they cannot hold a candle to ZSJ in terms of pure grappling skill.
Zack Sabre, Jr. is a member of Minoru Suzuki’s Suzuki-gun stable, which means that he will continue feuding with the other main NJPW stables for the foreseeable future. What’s interesting about ZSJ is that despite being a cruiserweight, he isn’t ‘limited’ to the junior heavyweight division.
He’s been wrestling the likes of Naito and Tanahashi, both of whom are established top stars of the heavyweight division. Given his abilities, there is a chance – however slim – that he could someday become a challenger for the prestigious IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
Zack Sabre Jr. is an awesome wrestler that would be a perfect replacement for Daniel Bryan if booked properly (the two of them do wrestle in a similar style, after all). He is an excellent worker in NJPW, and if his work in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic was any indication, he actually could’ve done well in Vince’s promotion (relatively-speaking, of course), if he actually signed a contract.
At 30 years old, there’s always a possibility that this could happen, especially since other signees from Japan and the independent scene have done quite well for themselves in WWE.
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