Question: how do you solve a problem like Zack Sabre Jr?

There can be no denying the talent of Zack Sabre Jr. His record is impressive, and all achieved at such a young age. I’d seen him on DVDs and YouTube clips before, and was incredibly excited to see him at New Scene Wrestling on Sunday evening, facing off against his tag-team partner Marty Scurll in the main event.

And let’s face it, this was a tiny show, with its main event not making a great deal of sense – why were Sabre and Scurll opponents, other than that it was going to be a terrific match? There was no title on the line, no feud to spark. So it left even more for the wrestlers to do to get the crowd engaged when their only storyline was “tag-team partners taking each other on in a singles match”.

Now, Marty I HAD seen in person before, tagging with friend of TOWIS Mark Haskins at the Dragongate UK show in Nottingham a few weeks ago. He’s brash, ebullient, vest-wearing and fist-pumping – he’s seen a niche for a British Colt Cabana and gone for it, and good luck to him.

So Marty came to the ring first on Sunday, working the crowd (such as it was, but he treated the 80 or so attendees as if they were a baying arena full of marks), slapping hands, posing for pictures.

And then Zack came out. Head down, skulking to the ring as quickly as he could, and perching on the turnbuckle, while Marty continued to pose and posture in the middle of the ring.

Odd, I thought. The match began, and while Scurll tried to get a dialogue going, Sabre was silent. Scurll’s good at the comedy (a well-timed “bloody Nora!” had even the hecklers at the back giggling) but he also knows that there needs to be some form of interaction between opponents other than moves, and in a show this small it needs to be verbal, it cannot just be mimed.

But Sabre didn’t even mime. Even Scurll’s fervent “FUCK YOU, ZACK!” failed to get a reaction from him. Perhaps he’s just a generally shy kind of lad who doesn’t like the talking part of his job (which would explain why he tags with Scurll, who revels in it).

If that’s the case, he’s going to have to deal with it, because to make it at the highest level of pro wrestling with any kind of consistency, he’s going to have to do some talking – and he’s going to have to get a hell of a lot of fans on his side. However good you are as a wrestler, you also need to have a character and some charisma – we all know that those qualities can get you very, very far, even if your technical ability isn’t that good.

Perhaps Sabre should take a tip from Haskins. Neither of them is the biggest; both seem to be relatively and comparatively reserved outside of the ring; but Haskins can take on a character and work the crowd, which is why he’s been signed to TNA. Whatever you think of TNA as a promotion, it’s got an audience and a profile – and it pays.

Sabre’s in-ring ability speaks for itself. And now Sabre has to speak for himself as well.

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2 Responses to Question: how do you solve a problem like Zack Sabre Jr?

  1. […] Scurll v Zack Sabre Jr I’ve already written about – good on technique, low on engagement and interactivity would be my […]

  2. Mike says:

    I’ve seen Zack Sabre Jr a fair few times live now, and there’s no denying the guy has a lot of talent. All the matches I’ve seen him in have been top drawer, but – and it’s a big but – he needs to start showing more of his personality.

    Zack and Marty had the main event on Sunday, and it was a good, solid match, but Marty was the one working and carrying the crowd for the most part.

    In my opinion, guys like Mark Andrews, Eddie Dennis & Wild Boar and the young Noam Dar engaged and entertained the crowd more than Zack managed on Sunday.

    Zack’s been very successful and gained a lot of fans so far with his in ring work. But if he’s going to make the kind of progress the likes of Mark Haskins (and now Lionheart) have, he’s going to need to seriously come out of his shell.

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