Zack Sabre Jr. on success, competing for WWE and his Cruiserweight Classic competition
The WWE Universe was buzzing when Zack Sabre Jr. qualified for the Cruiserweight Classic at PROGRESS Wrestling in May. The thought of the man known as a “technical wizard” stepping into a WWE ring seemed a faraway dream, as Sabre barnstormed around the world, wrenching away at the arms of rivals across Europe, Japan and the United States independent scene.
However, those dreams became a reality after Sabre forced Flash Morgan Webster to submit to cement his spot in the CWC. As the beginning of the 32-man tournament nears, WWE.com caught up with the British mat maven to get his thoughts on potential opponents, competing in WWE and much more in this revealing interview.
WWE.COM: What about the Cruiserweight Classic made it something that you had to be a part of?
ZACK SABRE JR.: The entire concept of it. For WWE, the standard bearers of the industry, to host a tournament mainly with outsiders is an incredibly progressive move by them. Also, for me, personally, my biggest inspirations have been cruiserweights. For some people, it might have been when they first saw Ultimate Warrior, but I vividly remember smaller wrestlers like 1-2-3 Kid, Kaientai and the WCW cruiserweights. T
hat era was my introduction to American wrestling. So, when you hear the biggest company in the world is hosting a cruiserweight tournament, you think to yourself, “I’ve got to be a part of this.”
WWE.COM: For those who might not be familiar with you, how would you describe your style in the ring?
SABRE JR.: I base almost everything I do on trying to get a submission or trying to pin someone. Also, there’s an ideology called escapology. The easiest way to get out of a hold is to fight your way out or grab the ropes, but there’s a poetic creativity to outdoing your opponent [to get out of a hold]. Johnny Saint pioneered that style.
The goal of wrestling should be to win, but I try to do it in the most creative and interesting way. I want the fans to be absorbed in every aspect of what I do.
WWE.COM: You’ve also spent a lot of time in Japan. How did that influence you?
SABRE JR.: I started training when I was 14. All of the trainees had tapes [from Japan], which was my introduction. Once I delved into that, I really loved the presentation of it there, from the press conferences to the back-to-back matches. There isn’t a lot of room for shenanigans. That appealed to me.
The more I learned about the dojo system and the way of life there, it instantly appealed to me. Once I started wrestling all over the U.K., that was what I wanted to do: Not only wrestle in Japan, but be accepted by a company and welcomed into their dojo.
WWE.COM: What is life like as a full-time wrestler in Japan?
SABRE JR.: I was based in Tokyo. It might sound clichéd, but Tokyo is the most incredible city. You’re absorbed by wrestling. You live in the dojo and train every day. You’re with the other wrestlers. There are the more senior ones who take you under their wing, but in exchange, they expect you to work your a** off. In return, you’re looked after so well.
The Japanese mindset looks after the young wrestlers, but you’ve got to prove yourself and work really hard.
WWE.COM: In other interviews, you’ve said you don’t necessarily define success as getting to WWE or main-eventing WrestleMania. How do you define it?
SABRE JR.: There’s a quote along the lines of, “In between waking up and going to sleep, if you’re happy, that’s success.” As long as I’m challenged and fulfilled, that’s my quest. It’s also the personal and social experience of traveling the world that I want to continue achieving.
I’m from Kent, a small part of the southeast coast in England, and for the last couple of years, I rented my own apartment in Tokyo. If I didn’t make it to WWE, I wouldn’t feel like I was a failure. But I’m completely open-minded. I’ve got nothing set, aside from wanting to push myself to the absolute limit.
WWE.COM: Now that you’re coming to WWE for the Cruiserweight Classic, what are you hoping to accomplish?
SABRE JR.: Obviously, with the scope that WWE reaches, this is the biggest platform, the biggest audience I’ll have the opportunity to perform in front of so far. Being in the environment of a very professional company with incredible production, along with a lot of people I can learn from, it’s going to be a great learning experience.
Also, because I’m passionate about the way that I wrestle, I see it as my duty to showcase it in a positive light. I hope that I can show that there’s still something unique about British wrestling.
WWE.COM: Is there anyone you want to compete against?
SABRE JR.: Everyone. For me, the last four years, I’ve been predominantly in Japan. While I’ve dipped my toe in and out [of the indies], I’ve mostly been over there. It’s incredibly appealing that I’m going to wrestle lots of other international guys.
I want to wrestle absolutely everyone I can.
WWE.COM: What should the WWE Universe be ready to see from Zack Sabre Jr.?
SABRE JR.: A big chin and lots of Union Jacks emblazoned across my attire, in case you can’t guess that I’m from England. They can expect a little bit of influence from everywhere, just a young, modern British wrestler. I hope my love and passion for wrestling shines through, because there’s nothing that I love more.