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Zack Sabre Jr Says Japanese Wrestling Has Become “Too Concerned w/ American B.S.”, Vows to Make Okada Submit



zack sabre jr

As previously reported, 30-year-old British submission specialist Zack Sabre Jr. has won the 2018 New Japan Cup, and has earned the right to face Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. The bout will go down on April 1st at NJPW Sakura Genesis, just one week after the upcoming Strong Style Evolved event in Long Beach, CA.

Following the New Japan Cup finals, Sabre sat down with members of the Japanese media to reflect on his first year with the company and set the stage before his battle with the record-breaking champion.

On the global reaction to ZSJ being the first British-born winner of the New Japan Cup:  

“Foreign fans were not surprised, because for the rest of the world I’ve won championships, tournaments, and pretty much anything worth winning. European, American, Icelandic, Antarctic, polar bears, everyone in the North Pole – Santa Claus was not surprised that I won the New Japan Cup. So maybe it’s only Japan that had to catch up. Hopefully now everyone understand that for four years I’ve been the best technical wrestler in the world. I don’t care about being the best wrestler in the world. I’m the best wrestler in the world because I’m the best wrestler in the technical wrestler in the world, and this year Japan’s going to understand that.”

Does ZSJ believe he has a chance to submit Okada because of the size difference between them?

“No. I should just give up and go home…  Why would I be here if I didn’t think I could beat Okada? I have no interest in pinning Okada. I will submit Okada and he will lose the IWGP Heavyweight Championship for the first time in two years, not because someone pinned him, but because he chose to give up. [He] will give up and he will give me that championship, and everyone will forget about Okada being a record-breaking champion. They will remember that I was the first British heavyweight champion, and I did it by submission.”

On ZSJ’s opinion that Japanese wrestling has lost its way: 

“This company used to be based around submissions. What happened? What happened!? An English man has to bring back your tradition. British wrestling used to be based around submissions, Japanese wrestling used to be based around submissions. Everyone now is just too concerned about American bulls—t and posing, and looking and a camera and having a t-shirt. It’s a disgrace. A man wearing skinny jeans dressed like this is the heritage of Japanese wrestling. This is the future of wrestling. I’m like Brian Eno in the 70s, making ambient music based around traditional skill. I’m using something that’s old, and I’m making it new-style, and I’m doing it at the King of Sports.”

“I lived and trained in Japan for four years. I won a couple of championships, but this [New Japan Cup] is the start of my career now. I had a crossroad in my career where I could choose what I did next. I chose New Japan because I was destined to wrestle for this company, and I will change this company and all of professional wrestling.” 

On his monstrous run in the New Japan Cup beating some of New Japan’s very top stars: 

“Okada’s time is over. Congratulations Okada. Two years – you had a great run. It feels like 1,700 years. You’ve been the champion forever, but now a dashing, young English man is going to take the reigns. Naito tapped out. Ibushi? The referee had to help him. Sanada tapped out. Tanahashi, the ace, is finished. There’s a new Ace. Is it you? No, the new Ace is me, idiots.”

“Has anyone in a run-up to a title match ever defeated four top level wrestlers in what, two weeks? Most people don’t do their laundry in two weeks probably. I’m going to fly to Los Angeles, come back, win a championship, fly to New Orleans, win some more championships, go home, do my laundry, go to Spain, win another championship, fly over to Germany, probably win another championship – that’s less than a month!” 

On what ZSJ has planned if he can win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship: 

“I’m going to take it to Britain and make the first IWGP Heavyweight title defense in Europe, and then I’m going to take it around the world. IWGP stands for ‘International’ but right now the championships really only exists in Japan. This company is the best professional wrestling company in the world, but it’s still only based in Japan. I have travelled around the world on my own, on crappy airplanes, not sleeping, wrestling everyone, most awful wrestlers, and I think that it’s time that if this company wants to truly expand, then I’m the man to do it.”

Watch the full NJPW press conference with Zack Sabre Jr. on New Japan World.

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NJPW The New Beginning 2021 Tour Preview: Ibushi’s First IWGP Double Title Defense, First Time Dream Match, More



New Japan Pro-Wrestling held a press conference today to unveil plans for their upcoming tour, kicking off on Sunday, January 17 at Korakuen Hall.

There are three major dates on the 2021 New Beginning tour: The New Beginning in Nagoya on Saturday, January 30 at Dolphin’s Arena, and The New Beginning in Hiroshima on Wednesday, February 10 and Thursday, February 11 at Sun Plaza Hall.

Kevin Kelly is in Japan for several weeks, so there will be live English commentary for every single event on the tour, including the eight house show events leading up to Nagoya, and the four additional shows leading up to Hiroshima.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic worsening in Japan, the events on this tour will start slightly earlier than originally announced, and will be limited to just five or six matches per show. While the action is spread out, there are nevertheless some major marquee matches to look forward to.

The New Beginning in Nagoya
January 30, 2021
Dolphin’s Arena, Aichi, Japan

The first leg of The New Beginning tour will see Shingo Takagi defend the NEVER Openweight Championship against Hiroshi Tanahashi. Takagi successfully retained the belt against Jeff Cobb at Wrestle Kingdom 15 in one of the best matches of the entire two-day event. While these two have met in several tag team matches, including two World Tag Leagues, this collision between the “Last Dragon” and “The Ace” is one of the most exciting first-time-ever bouts in recent memory.

New Year Dash saw The Empire recoup some of their momentum after a trio of Wrestle Kingdom losses. Will Ospreay led his monster the Great O-Khan to a six-man tag team victory, before setting him loose on Hiroyoshi Tenzan and his longtime tag partner Satoshi Kojima. Tenzan had to be taken out on a stretcher, setting up two singles matches pitting New Japan’s third generation against its future.

* * *

Toru Yano & Kazuchika Okada vs. EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi

8-Man Tag Team Match
Kota Ibushi & Master Wato & SHO & Tomoaki Honma vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi & SANADA & Tetsuya Naito)

Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Great O-Khan

Satoshi Kojima vs. Will Ospreay

NEVER Openweight Championship Match
Shingo Takagi (c) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi


The New Beginning in Hiroshima
February 10, 2021
Sun Plaza Hall, Hiroshima, Japan

The ticking time bomb of Los Ingobernables de Japon defeated Taiji Ishimori to recapture the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 15. SHO defeated Hiromu in the 2020 Best of the Super Jr. tournament. So… here we are! We also have a rematch between the new IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions and the former champions they beat at the Tokyo Dome.

6-Man Tag Team Match
Gabriel Kidd & Yota Tsuji & Yuya Uemura vs. Suzuki-Gun (El Desperado & Minoru Suzuki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)

Master Wato vs. BUSHI

10-Man Tag Team Match
CHAOS (Hirooki Goto & Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI) vs. Bullet Club (Dick Togo & EVIL & El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori & Yujiro Takahashi)

Kota Ibushi & Tomoaki Honma vs. SANADA & Tetsuya Naito

IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Title Match
Guerrillas of Destiny (c) vs. Dangerous Tekkers (Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr.)

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title Match
Hiromu Takahashi (c) vs. SHO


The New Beginning in Hiroshima
February 11, 2021
Sun Plaza Hall, Hiroshima, Japan

The final night of the 2021 New Beginning tour will see Kota Ibushi make his first defense of the IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental Championships. He takes on the perpetual up-and-comer SANADA, who has been on the losing end of more “must-win” situations than almost anyone save Hirooki Goto. SANADA defeated turncoat EVIL at Wrestle Kingdom 15 and made his intentions for the titles clear.

6-Man Tag Team Match
CHAOS (Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI) vs. Gabriel Kidd & Yota Tsuji & Yuya Uemura

6-Man Tag Team Match
Suzuki-Gun (El Desperado & Minoru Suzuki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs. Bullet Club (El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori & Yujiro Takahashi)

6-Man Tag Team Match
Master Wato & SHO & Tomoaki Honma vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi & Tetsuya Naito)

Toru Yano & Kazuchika Okada vs. Dick Togo & EVIL

6-Man Tag Team Match
Suzuki-Gun (DOUKI & Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr.) vs. Bullet Club (Jado & Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)

IWGP Double Title Match
Kota Ibushi (c) vs. SANADA

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STF Underground Ep. 88 – Who Should Get Called Up From NXT In 2021? Which Wednesday Show Had The Better Main Event?



STF Underground

Welcome once again to another episode of STF Underground!

In this episode Dan Ryno returns to discuss:

  • New Japan Pro Wrestling Wrestling Kingdom 15
  • Where does the Dark Order go from here?
  • Which Wednesday Night Show Had The Better Main Event?
  • Who Should Get Called Up To The Main Roster in 2021?
  • Is Kyle O’Reilly Championship Material?



Facebook: STF Underground Podcast
Twitter/IG: @STFUnderground

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NJPW New Year Dash Results (1/6): Wrestle Kingdom Fallout, Bullet Club vs CHAOS, LIJ Battles Team Ibushi



NJPW New Year Dash
January 6, 2021
Tokyo Dome City Hall

1. Yuji Nagata def. Gabriel Kidd.

2. DOUKI & Minoru Suzuki def. Tiger Mask & Yuya Uemura

3. Great O-Khan & Jeff Cobb & Will Ospreay def. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima & Yota Tsuji

— The Empire brutally attacked the babyfaces after the match. O-Khan gave Tenzan a Tombstone Piledriver and Ospreay hit Kojima with the Hidden Blade. They did an injury angle taking a motionless Tenzan out on a stretcher.

4. Bullet Club (El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori & Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) def. Suzuki-Gun (El Desperado & Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Zack Sabre Jr.)

— ELP and Ishimori attacked Despy and Kanemaru and posed with the IWGP Jr. Tag Team Championships after the match, so that looks to be an upcoming title match. Still clearly some unfinished business between new IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions G.o.D. and the Dangerous Tekkers as well.

5. CHAOS (Hirooki Goto & Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI) def. Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens & EVIL & Jay White & Yujiro Takahashi)

6. Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi & SANADA & Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito) def. Kota Ibushi & Hiroshi Tanahashi & Master Wato & Rocky Romero & SHO)

— The show ended with a stare down between a whole bunch of people. SANADA and Ibushi, which was the clear direction after night two, SHO and Hiromu for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight title was also teased, as was an incredibly intriguing Shingo vs. Tanahashi match for the NEVER title.

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