Burning Heart: The Best of Zack Sabre, Jr. in wXw

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30 Minute Iron Man Match
Zack Sabre, Jr. vs. Claudio Castagnoli

wXw “100” – Oberhausen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, DE – 2.7.2009

Each man ducks the others strikes in the opening minute. Sabre ends a wristlock exchange with an armdrag. Claudio catches Sabre with a bicycle kick to the stomach before bringing him down in a side headlock. For the next few minutes, Sabre would fight for a cross armbreaker, while Claudio used the ropes to escape and reapplying the side headlock. Claudio tries a Giant Swing but Sabre grabs the ropes on the first rotation attempt. Claudio aggressively uppercuts Sabre and kicks him down before putting the side headlock back on. Although Sabre escapes, Claudio catches him with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for two. Sabre is able to stomp Claudio’s arm as Claudio has it outstretched on the top rope. He victory rolls Claudio into a cross armbreaker! Claudio taps out, giving Sabre the advantage at 1-0. Sabre goes fight for a Fujiwara armbar, but Claudio grabs the ropes. Sabre settles for stomping on his bicep. Angry, Claudio catapults Sabre carelessly into the corner and rakes his eyes on the ropes. Sabre brings him down in La Mistica, but rolls Claudio up to close to the ropes. Claudio mauls Sabre with a lariat for two. He comes off the second rope with an elbow drop for two. He wears Sabre down in a Bear Hug. Sabre fights his way out and nails a running chest kick to Claudio in the corner, with the momentum carrying Sabre to the floor. Claudio baseball slide dropkicks Sabre when Sabre tries to re-enter the ring. He then pulls Sabre back in with a gutwrench throw for two. Claudio hits Swiss Death and the Ricola Bomb for the pin, tying up the match 1-1. He finally pulls off the Giant Swing, twice. Claudio pummels Sabre ringside, hoping for a count out fall. Sabre gets in right before the count finishes up. Claudio positions himself on the top rope. Sabre brings him down with a pair of kicks and hits a Sankakugeri. Claudio tries Swiss Death, but Sabre dropkicks him away. Sabre puts on the Royal Octopus. Claudio turns it into a modified Air Raid Crash! Sabre kicks Claudio’s leg out, sending him to the floor. Sabre delivers a PK from the apron. He tries a crossbody from the apron, but Claudio catches him and military presses him onto the apron. In the ring, Claudio gutwrenches Sabre into a Dominator for two. He puts Sabre in a sleeper hold. Sabre fights his way free. Claudio deadlift German suplexes him for two. Claudio strings an atomic drop and running uppercut together for two. A deadlift slam has the same result. Sabre desperately throws some shots, but Claudio easily takes him down with an uppercut. Claudio’s brainbuster only gets a two count as well. Sabre rolls Claudio into a cross armbreaker! Only two minutes remain as Claudio muscles up Sabre into a buckle bomb. Sabre slides out of a Ricola Bomb and sunset flips Sabre for a pin, taking the lead 2-1. Claudio immediately blasts Sabre with Swiss Chin Music for two. The Alpamare Waterslide only gets two as well. Claudio hits a running uppercut and Sabre kicks out of that as well. A release German suplex nearly dazes Sabre, but he has the wherewithal to roll his shoulder up. Only ten seconds remain when Claudio drills Sabre with the Steiner Screwdriver. The 30:00 time limit expires before Claudio can make a pin attempt. This did exactly what every Iron Man match needs to do: keep the match entertaining the entire time (which is not easy) and make it seem like either competitor can win. Claudio man handled Sabre for most of the match, but with Sabre’s technical wrestling acumen and ability to get pinfalls out of nowhere, the crowd never counted him out. In fact, they only got more behind him with each kick out, especially in the final 2 minutes. While it wasn’t perfect, there’s no denying Sabre came out of this match better than when he came in and it was fun to watch. ***½

2009 wXw 16 Carat Gold Tournament Quarter-Final Round Match
Zack Sabre, Jr. vs. Bryan Danielson

wXw “2009 16 Carat Gold Tournament; Night 2” – Oberhausen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, DE – 3.7.2009

Danielson aggressively twists on Sabre’s wrist. He offers Sabre the opportunity to grapple him from the mat, but Danielson easily gets him in a half crab after Sabre takes the bait. He rolls Sabre into a hammerlock and goes back to manipulating his wrist. He applies all his body weight onto Sabre’s shoulders while holding onto the arm, very casual about the whole situation. Danielson then drives his knee into Sabre’s locked arm, keeping it locked while twisting the other wrist and pulling it around the back and to the mat. He ends the process with a stomp to the arm. Sabre throws kicks to Danielson’s shoulders, but gets cut off with an uppercut. He puts Sabre in the Romero Special, rolling with the surfboard before putting Sabre in a Dragon clutch. Upon releasing, Danielson taunts Sabre with brushes of his boot. He pummels Sabre with forearm strikes in the corner, which Sabre is able to reverse. He whips Danielson to the corner and follows in with a running chest kick. Sabre nails a springboard dropkick before a few more chest kicks. He locks Danielson in a cross armbreaker. Danielson gets his foot on the bottom rope to escape. Danielson pretends to have a hurt arm, only to bait Sabre into a forearm strike and multiple chest and arm kicks. He spits into Sabre’s face with anger several times, with slaps to the face thrown in. Sabre ducks a chest kick. He brings down Danielson into a Mouse Trap pin for the upset victory at 13:15! The finish was super abrupt, and a bit illogical with Danielson controlling so much of the contest. Danielson came off as too arrogant as opposed to Sabre looking smart, or that Sabre truly bested one of the best in the world. Despite that, it worked, as the fans ROARED when Sabre won. There are certain expectations when you read “Bryan Danielson vs. Zack Sabre, Jr.”, and while this checks off some of those boxes, this won’t satisfy most people’s expectations. ***

wXw World Lightweight Championship
Zack Sabre, Jr. (Champion) vs. TJP

wXw “The Vision” – Philadelphia, PA – 3.10.2010

Sabre has been champion since 1.16.2010 and this is his second defense. TJP backs Sabre to the ropes. Both men throw lightning fast kicks, but each is skilled enough to evade and not be struck. Some fast exchanges on the mat leads to a stalemate. As Sabre bars TJP’s arm and manipulates his wrist, TJP throws knees to Sabre’s head. Sabre backs TJP to the ropes. He tries an uppercut, but TJP ducks and hits two of his own. TJP grabs the ropes to escape a dropkick, but Sabre rolls up from the mat and hits the dropkick the second time. He sweeps the leg but misses a PK, and TJP rolls Sabre into an Achilles lock. TJP kicks away at the leg before sitting down on a spinning toe hold and attempting a Trailer Hitch. Out of a double knuckle lock, both men throw one another down and kick at each others legs. Sabre brings TJP down in a cross armbreaker, but TJP immediately puts his foot on the ropes. Sabre goes back to the wrist to control TJP. He puts on a modified Cycling Yahoo. He jams TJP’s arm across his shoulder. Both go for a high kick, knocking one another down simultaneously. Sabre strings together a series of shoulder kicks. TJP brings him down with a dragonscrew, but Sabre catches him coming off the ropes with a shoulder kick. TJP schoolboys him into a figure four Deathlock. Sabre grabs the ropes. TJP tries it again, but Sabre prawn holds him to counter for two. Sabre knees his way out of a suplex and nails a swift head kick for two. Sabre goes for a cross armbreaker. TJP rolls him back to the figure four deathlock. Sabre gets the ropes. After a quick pin exchange, TJP goes for a brainbuster. Sabre blocks and rolls TJP into the cross armbreaker. TJP taps at 12:39. Kind of like the Danielson match, I think people coming into this with 2017 eyes may be disappointed in this contest. Sabre going for the armbar all match was a good objective and paid off, but it lead to some repetitive action and some parts of the match just didn’t help with that story. It was a fine match to kick off wXw’s first show on American soil, but the entire time I kept thinking how much better this could’ve been. If you’re looking for a Sabre vs. TJP match, the EVOLVE 46 bout is likely more what you’re looking for. **½

wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship
Zack Sabre, Jr. (Champion) vs. Masaaki Mochizuki

wXw “Open the German Gate” – Oberhausen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, DE – 9.12.2010

Sabre has been champion since 6.5.2010 and this is his third defense. Sabre never lost the Lightweight title, but it was unified with this championship when Sabre won it. This was a joint show with Dragon Gate. Mochizuki corners Sabre against the ropes and nails him with a sole butt kick. Sabre dropkicks Mochizuki after a leapfrog. Mochizuki snapmares Sabre into a back kick. Sabre catapults Mochizuki into a cross armbreaker attempt. Mochizuki gets to the ropes. He comes up from the mat with a chest kick. He sends Sabre knee first into the turnbuckles and kicks his legs out. Mochizuki keeps pressure on the knee after giving Sabre a kneeDT, and Sabre rolls to the ropes forcing Mochizuki to let go. Mochizuki drives Sabre’s knee into the canvas. Sabre tries an enzuigiri, but Mochizuki ducks and applies an ankle lock. Again Sabre gets the ropes. In the corner, Sabre is able to kick Mochizuki away. He comes down with a senton to Mochizuki’s back as Mochizuki is standing, and lands a running chest kick for two. Sabre sweeps the legs for two. Mochizuki catches Sabre with a high kick in one corner, and a yakuza kick in the other. A running chest kick scores Mochizuki a nearfall. Sabre counters Twister with a small package into a cross armbreaker. Mochizuki rolls up and reapplies the ankle lock, adding a grapevine. Sabre grabs the ropes to escape. Mochizuki and Sabre kick one another until Sabre captures Mochizuki in a Mouse Trip pin for two. He bodyscissors Mochizuki into a roll-up for another two count, then gets two again with a schoolboy. Mochizuki sole butt kicks Sabre. Sabre ducks the Sankakugeri and drops Mochizuki with a Michinoku Driver for two. He tries bringing Mochizuki down to the mat. Mochizuki knees him in the head, kicks him in the chest, and roundhouse kicks him in the head. He hits the Ikkakugeri for two. Mochizuki attempts Twister. Sabre slips out, dropkicks Mochizuki in the shoulder and O’Connor rolls him for two. After multiple chest kicks from Sabre, Mochizuki finds a spot to sweep his legs. Although Mochizuki catches his kick, Sabre rolls him into a cross armbreaker. Mochizuki taps out at 12:23. Mochizuki was an excellent match for Sabre in the kicking and striking department. Because of this, Sabre was able to do better than most with the veteran competitor, and his victory came off as hard earned and believable. ***½

AMBITION II Opening Round Match
Zack Sabre, Jr. vs. Jon Ryan

wXw “AMBITION II” – Oberhausen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, DE – 1.16.2011

Ryan balls up on the mat while Sabre goes for an armbar. When they roll near the ropes, they get back to their feet. Sabre goes for the leg. Ryan tries kicking him off, but settles for the bottom rope when Sabre kicks back. Ryan pins Sabre in a lateral press Sabre bridges out but gets over hand chopped on the chest. Sabre grabs the ropes as Ryan his him tied up in a front facelock. Sabre gets the ropes again when Ryan goes after his arm. Sabre almost has a cross armbreaker on when Ryan gets a top wrist lock. As Ryan tries a mount, he smacks Sabre. Sabre rolls him over and goes to strike, but Ryan is under the ropes so he can’t. Ryan elbows Sabre while he has him in a side mount. He splits Sabre’s legs, causing Sabre to frantically get the ropes. Sabre kicks Ryan in the side of the head and goes for the armbar. Ryan muscles up Sabre and powerbombs his way free. As Sabre comes up dazed, he kicks Ryan in the head again. Ryan brings him down and tries the leg split again. This time, Sabre counters it and puts on a cross armbreaker. When Ryan begins to knee him, Sabre grabs the knee while keeping the armbar applied. Ryan taps out at 13:54. While the story here was sound, the execution was simply dull. The few strikes felt forced and inorganic, and the level of action or intensity never got raised. More or less, it was two wrestlers rolling around while occasionally trying a hold. With so much of this style of wrestling being prevalent today, we know how good it can be, and by comparison this looks tame and lifeless. *½

2011 wXw 16 Carat Gold Tournament Quarter-Final Round Match
Zack Sabre, Jr. vs. Davey Richards

wXw “2011 16 Carat Gold Tournament; Night 2” – Oberhausen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, DE – 3.12.2011

Each man blocks each others kick when Richards backs Sabre to the ropes. Richards grabs the ropes when Sabre puts on a guillotine choke. Richards catches Sabre off guard with a kick to the head. Sabre trips Richards after escaping a wristlock. Richards shoulder blocks him down. Sabre counters the alarm clock with a rolling cross armbreaker. Richards quickly gets his foot on the ropes and bails to the floor. Back inside, Richards goes for his own cross armbreaker and Sabre gets the ropes. Sabre is able to escape a sharpshooter, but Richards elbows him back down and applies a chinlock. Sabre kicks Richards away, only for Richards to respond with a forceful dropkick. Sabre and Richards trade forearm strikes. Richards nails a sole butt kick. He goes for the Damage Reflex and Sabre cuts him off with a sliding dropkick. Sabre ends a kick exchange with a springboard knee to the neck and a PK for two. Richards escapes a Dragon suplex, but gets caught in a Mouse Trap pin for two. Richards evades a corner attack, sending Sabre crashing into the buckles. Richards comes off the top with a dropkick for two. He also gets two with a Saito suplex. Sabre fires up from a boot. He and Richards trade slaps to the face rapid fire. They knock each other down with kicks to the head. Back on their feet they exchange kicks. Richards sends Sabre to the corner with the Alarm Clock. He follows in with a high knee before placing Sabre up top. He brings Sabre down with belly-to-back superplex for two. Richards takes down his knee pad before nailing a running knee strike to the chest. Sabre takes a German suplex but rolls out of the bridge. He counters Richards’ powerbomb with a Yoshi Tonic. Richards is able to get Sabre positioned for a shooting star press. Sabre gets his knees up to counter! He Dragon suplexes Richards twice before putting on the cross armbreaker. Richards counters into a jackknife pin for two. Richards avoids a corner kick. He gets sent shoulder first into post and Sabre comes off the top with a knee to the arm. He rolls Richards into a cross armbreaker. Richards rolls him back into an ankle lock. Sabre brings Richards forward into a cradle for two. Sabre goes for an enzuigiri. Richards catches the leg and puts the ankle lock back on! Sabre rolls free, but Richards meets him coming up with a running chest kick. He powerbombs Sabre, kicks him in the head, and puts Sabre in the Trailer Hitch. Sabre taps out at 19:19. This was a very exciting match, with both men getting crazier as Sabre endured all of Richards’ offense and submissions until he couldn’t no more. It’s a shame Sabre couldn’t advance further in the tournament, but he had a great showing against a competitor who at the time was considered by many to be “the best in the world.” ***½

Zack Sabre, Jr. vs. Chris Hero
wXw “Kreuzzug ZXI, Night 2” – Union City, NJ – 4.10.2011

Sabre escapes a leg hold from Hero and heads outside. Despite Hero placing all his body weight on him, Sabre is able to bridge up his arms when pinned down in a double knuckle lock. Hero resists his monkey flip attempt, so Sabre tries a cross armbreaker. He unfortunately rolls Hero right into the ropes. Hero and Sabre trade some pin attempts before reaching a stalemate. Sabre goes over Hero’s shoulders to bring him down in an armdrag, keeping the arm barred. He brings down Sabre with a chancery. Sabre goes for a cross armbreaker again. Hero counters into his own attempt, converting into a seated top wristlock. Sabre rolls Hero into a crucifix pin. Hero transitions out and snapmares Sabre, bringing us back to a stalemate. Hero positions Sabre into a senton splash. He nails a side boot to the head, then traps Sabre’s arms behind his back and under his legs. Hero places all his bodyweight on Sabre’s back and pulls him back while tying up Sabre’s legs. Hero turns him over in a Gedo clutch for two. Sabre gets in a series of strikes. Hero boots him against the ropes. Sabre dropkicks Hero to the floor. He PK’s Hero from the apron and delivers multiple chest kicks on the floor. Hero avoids being whipped into the guardrails by hopping onto it, then comes down with an elbow strike. Hero misses a rolling elbow and collides with the ring post! In the ring, Sabre does more damage to Hero’s arm before attempting a Mouse Trap pin. After taking more damage, Hero tries to chop Sabre away. Hero tries countering a suplex from Sabre, but it leads to Sabre cradling Hero into the cross armbreaker. Hero gets the ropes. Hero manages to get to his feet and land a desperation shot. Sabre however extends his arm in a triangle choke. Hero powerbombs his way free. Hero dumps Sabre on his head with a Regalplex, then lands a running elbow in the corner before coming off the middle turnbuckle with a Blockbuster for two. Hero tries the KTFO. Sabre escapes, but gets his leg caught and tagged with a rolling elbow. The impact hurts Hero’s worn down arm. Sabre goes for the armbar again, but the ropes play to Hero’s favor. Sabre whips Hero to the corner and follows in with a shin kick to the face. After a knee off the top, he and Hero again trade pins. Hero knees Sabre before hitting the Cyclone Kick for the pin at 18:01. This was technically sound and had a story, but something was missing, and I think a big missing element was the will to win. By and large this was holds being traded and Hero doing an admirable job displaying the amount of pain he was in, but then out of nowhere won with a kick. For his character of knocking out people out of nowhere and him being obnoxious in his grandiose displays of technical wrestling, it worked, but it’s weird how much Sabre felt like an afterthought. Luckily, they’d figure out how best to wrestle with one another years later, and it’s fun to see how far they came. ***

Zack Sabre, Jr. vs. Dick Togo
wXw “11th Anniversary Show” – Oberhausen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, DE – 11.26.2011

They trade control on the mat to start. Sabre puts on a standing Octopus Stretch, which Togo hip tosses out of and follows up with a knee drop. Sabre puts Togo in a bow and arrow, which Togo flips out of into a lateral press. Togo messes with Sabre on the mat, so Sabre kicks away at his arm. He lifts Togo up by the wrist and manipulates his fingers before dropping a knee on his upturned elbow. Togo kicks his way out of a Dragon Clutch and chokes Sabre with his boot. Sabre kicks Togo’s arm again and jams his arm across the shoulder. Togo rolls out of an armbar, grabbing Sabre’s chin and pulling back while applying pressure to both of Sabre’s arms. Togo digs his boot into Sabre’s mid-section. Sabre forearms Togo to the opposite corner, kicking him in the chest before twisting on Togo’s wrist and bringing him down to the canvas. Togo snapmares Sabre into a superkick to the back of the head for two. Togo drills him with a DDT for two. He gives Sabre a neck snap and chops him in the chest and back in the corner. Togo turns Sabre inside out with a lariat for two. Sabre escapes a reverse headscissors, but Togo stays on Sabre with multiple knee drops to the back of the head. Sabre elbows out of a nerve hold. Togo goes to the second rope but Sabre kicks his legs out. Sabre comes off the top with a diving knee drop to the back of Togo’s head. Sabre goes for a cross armbreaker, but Togo gets his foot on the rope before it’s fully applied. Togo cuts off Sabre in the corner and hits a basement Diamond Dust for two. Togo rolls him into a Crossface. Sabre gets his foot on the rope. Togo powerslams Sabre for two. Sabre escapes Togo’s Pedigree attempts, using a Dragon suplex style Chaos Theory to take him down. He follows up with a PK for two. The two men trade blows as they get to their feet. After Togo tries a sunset flip, they trade several different pinning combinations to no avail. Sabre comes off the ropes, but Togo catches him mid-air and brings down into a crossface. Sabre escapes, but Togo brings him back down in a Torbellino and reapplies it. Sabre gets the ropes to break the hold again. Sabre unleashes some shots. Togo cuts him off and brings him out of the corner with a tornado Pedigree for two. Togo lands a Pedigree. He comes off the top with a Senton splash but Sabre gets his knees up. He cracks Togo with a running shin kick in the corner. He comes off the top with double knees to Togo’s arm. He kicks and headbutts Togo in the arm before bringing him down into a cross armbreaker. Togo taps out at 23:21. I hate to say it, but this was also a bit of a let down. There was no reason for this to go twenty three minutes, especially because it felt like they were mostly killing time until the final 8 or so. We got to see all the Togo highlights and a Sabre win, which is the best outcome for the fans and wXw, but it was far from must see or a classic. Hopefully their 2017 PWG rematch was a much more satisfying successor. ***

Zack Sabre, Jr. vs. Big Van Walter
wXw “Live In Hamburg” – Hamburg, DE – 8.12.2012

Sabre dropkicks Walter right at the bell. He gets in a series of kicks before Walter knocks him down with a shoulder block. He Beele’s Sabre across the ring. Walter misses an Earthquake splash and Sabre kicks him in the back. Walter snapmares Sabre into his own back kick. Despite the size difference, Sabre is able to bring Walter to the mat in a double knuckle lock. Walter reverses and places his bodyweight on Sabre, but Sabre is able to bridge up to avoid being pinned. The two trade shots until Walter grounds Sabre with a chop. Walter press slams Sabre to the floor. They fight amidst the crowd. Sabre hits a PK from the apron after Walter shoulder blocks the ring post by accident. Sabre capitalizes with three suicide dives. After fighting in the crowd some more, Walter breaks a bench by side slamming Sabre through it! He gets Sabre to the apron where he knocks Sabre back into the ring with an overhead forearm strike, Sabre escapes a half crab. He gets in some desperation strikes but is cut off with a knee to the stomach. Walter gets a nearfall with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Sabre comes back with a springboard dropkick and PK for two. Walter mauls Sabre with a lariat for two. Sabre escapes a throw by going for a backslide. Walter escapes that, put Sabre locks him in a Royal Octopus. He tries converting into a sunset flip, but Walter picks him up by the neck and places him on the top turnbuckle. Sabre is able to strike him away and come off the top with a double stomp to the arm. Walter clasps his hands to avoid a cross armbreaker. Walter muscles Sabre up and deposits him in the corner. Walter climbs the ropes. Sabre kicks out his leg so Walter is seated. Sabre brings him down with a Frankensteiner and goes for the cross armbreaker. He gets it on but Walter is too close to the ropes. He German suplexes Sabre and nails a Jon Woo dropkick. He powerbombs Sabre into a folding press for two. Walter slams Sabre before ascending the ropes again. He comes off the top with a big splash for the pin at 15:37. The crowd helped this match come to life, with them getting behind every move Sabre did and going nuts when he kicked out of Walter’s bigger offense, and Walter being an incredibly effective big bully. It felt strange that Walter won, just because they had set up a comeback for Sabre so well. That’s not a complaint though, because I found this match to be very compelling and a mess of fun. ***¾

2013 wXw 16 Carat Gold Tournament First Round Match
Zack Sabre, Jr. vs. Jonny Moss

wXw “2013 16 Carat Gold Tournament; Night 2” – Oberhausen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, DE – 3.1.2013

Both men go for fast strikes and submissions, but end up reaching a stalemate. Sabre controls Moss by his wrist, refusing to let go no matter how hard Moss tried to escape. Eventually he places Sabre on the top turnbuckle and patronizes him with some light smacks to the face. Moss puts Sabre in a Japanese stranglehold. Sabre can’t reverse it, so he whips Moss overhead. Moss digs his feet into Sabre’s lower back while outstretching his arms, then dumps him into a bodyscissors. They each try pinning one another from that position. Sabre grabs the ankle, causing Moss to cartwheel his way up to his feet to avoid a potential submission. Moss puts Sabre in a courting hold. Sabre steps through the ropes, then back in, then slaps Moss in the face to escape. Sabre keeps a tight grip on a side headlock. Moss throws him to the mat. Sabre kicks Moss from the mat, but Moss knocks him down with a clothesline once Sabre gets to his feet. He ripchords Sabre into a shoulder block. Moss tries another but is nailed with an uppercut, Despite this, Moss is able to hit another shoulder block right after and give Sabre two bodyslams. He yanks Sabre by the arm into a shoulder block. Sabre maneuvers to the apron and springboard in with a knee strike. He hits Moss with a chest kick and two PK’s. He slaps Moss several times before hitting him with a high kick. Moss tries a gorilla press. Sabre counters with a Frankensteiner and goes for a cross armbreaker. Moss muscles Sabre up and powerbombs him into the corner. Sabre evades a corner attack and rolls Moss back into the armbreaker attempt. Moss has his hands clasped to avoid it being applied. Moss muscles Sabre up, but Sabre brings Moss outside with a modified Frankensteiner. Sabre follows up with two suicide dives. On the third, Moss catches Sabre and slams him on the floor. In the ring, Moss hits a top rope dropkick and pulls Sabre into a short-arm lariat for two. Moss brings Sabre to the top turnbuckle. Sabre brings him down into an armbar, but Moss gets his foot on the ropes. Moss counters Sabre’s Chaos Theory with his own German suplex. Moss unloads several German suplexes in the hopes for Sabre to be knocked out, but Sabre will not stay down. Sabre tries a victory roll. Moss sits down on it. Sabre turns that into a European Clutch, pinning Moss at 23:03. This started off very interesting, with both competitors hell bent on keeping their respective holds locked on, mostly for a mental advantage. It set the tone for the remainder of the match, and while it was tacitly hanging in the background, it wasn’t the focal point and wasn’t as significant a point as I would have liked. Twenty three minutes was also far too long what they were going for. **¾

2013 wXw 16 Carat Gold Tournament Final Round Match
Zack Sabre, Jr. vs. Tommy End

wXw “2013 16 Carat Gold Tournament; Night 2” – Oberhausen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, DE – 3.3.2013

Sabre defeated Johnny Moss, Robert Dreissker, and Karsten Beck on the way to the finals, while Tommy End defeated Ricochet, Jonathan Gresham, and Shinobu. Michael Dante is in End’s corner. End was also a finalist last year, losing to El Generico. After a forearm exchange, End knocks down Sabre with a chest. Sabre responds with several chest kicks, angering End. Another strike exchanges sees Sabre rock End with elbows. End deposits Sabre on his neck with a snap German suplex. Sabre traps him in a front facelock with his arms captured. End drives him back first to the corner but Sabre keeps it on. End however is able to suplex his way free. Sabre uppercuts End to the floor and follows up with three suicide dives. In the ring, Sabre brings End down with La Mistica. End rolls out of the armbar, but Sabre keeps him hooked. End gets under the ropes forcing Sabre to release. End comes off the second turnbuckle with a double stomp. He rocks Sabre with three roundhouse kicks for a two count. Like the Moss match, Sabre turns End kneeling down on a pin into a European Clutch, but only gets two. Sabre meets End at the ropes with a shoulder kick. Sabre hits a springboard dropkick. He catches End coming off the ropes with two Dragon suplexes. He puts End in a cross armbreaker. Sabre rols End up into a Fujiwara but End gets his feet on the ropes. Sabre delivers a running punt to End’s arm. End back elbows Sabre and jumps to the second rope. Sabre kicks his legs out. End boots Sabre to the stage to block his springboard attempt. End then lands a double stomp to Sabre on the stage! In the ring, End hits a top turnbuckle double stomp for two. End looks for a second rope Ace Crusher. Instead, Sabre catches End in a cross armbreaker on the way down. End gets the ropes. They trade strikes as they lay on the mat. Sabre peppers End with shots back on their feet. They avoid one another’s kicks until catching each other at the same time with kicks to the head. Sabre schoolboys End for two. End punt kicks Sabre. Sabre goes for a European Clutch. End counters with the Dragon Slayer! Sabre taps out at 13:02, making End the victor and tournament winner. End winning the tournament after having to make it to the finals in back to back to years was a compelling story. As a fan, I’d be heartbroken if he couldn’t get it done a second time, which made it all the more rewarding to see him fight out of all the tactics Sabre used to win his previous bouts and prevail. I think the “fighting spirit” got a tad out of hand, but that’s a small complaint in an otherwise excellent tournament final. ***½

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