Zack Sabre Jr.
Sabre in June 2022
Birth nameLuke James Uggles Eatwell
Born (1987-07-24) 24 July 1987 (age 36)
Isle of Sheppey, England
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Zack Sabre Jr.
Billed height6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)[1]
Billed weight211 lb (96 kg)[1]
Billed fromThe Isle of Sheppey in Kent, England
Trained byAndre Baker
Chris Hero
Naomichi Marufuji
Yoshinari Ogawa
Jon Ryan
Debut20 April 2004

Luke James Uggles Eatwell (born 24 July 1987), known by his ring name Zack Sabre Jr. (Japanese: ザック・セイバーJr., Hepburn: Zakku Seibā Junia) and its abbreviated form ZSJ, is an English professional wrestler. He is currently signed to New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW), where he is the leader of the group The Mighty Don't Kneel and the inaugural NJPW World Television Champion. He also makes sporadic appearances for All Elite Wrestling (AEW) and its sister promotion Ring of Honor (ROH).

Sabre is a former NWA United Kingdom Junior Heavyweight Championship winner and a product of the NWA UK Hammerlock training school. He started training with NWA UK Hammerlock at the age of 14, under the guidance of Jon Ryan and Andre "Sledgehammer" Baker. He later trained in the Pro Wrestling Noah (NOAH) Dojo under Yoshinari Ogawa and Naomichi Marufuji as a member of their roster from 2011[2] until November 2015.[3] From 2017, Sabre Jr. was a member of the Suzuki-gun stable until its disbandment in 2022. He joined Suzuki-gun in 2016, after defeating Katsuyori Shibata in his NJPW debut match for the RevPro British Heavyweight Championship. Outside NJPW, Sabre performs for American promotion Ring of Honor (ROH) and British promotion Revolution Pro Wrestling (RPW) as part of NJPW's partnerships with the two promotions. He has also notably wrestled for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG), Progress Wrestling, and the World Wrestling Network (WWNLive) and their brands.

Though primarily known for his solo performances, Sabre is also a tag team wrestler. In his early career, he made a name for himself as part of the Leaders of the New School with Marty Scurll, holding the IPW:UK Tag Team Championships twice. He would later win the same title (now called RPW Undisputed British Tag Team Champions) alongside Suzuki-gun stablemate Minoru Suzuki. In Pro Wrestling Noah, he was a two-time GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion with Yoshinari Ogawa and, in Westside Xtreme Wrestling, a wXw World Tag Team Champion with Walter. Sabre had also formed a tag team with other Suzuki-gun stablemate Taichi (the "Dangerous Tekkers"), who were three time IWGP Tag Team Champions; following the Suzuki-gun disbandment, the team disbanded along with it.

Sabre's offensive style includes a wide array of intricately complex technical wrestling holds and pinning combinations, harsh strikes (stemming from his love of puroresu), explosive athleticism and dazzling acrobatics. The readers of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter voted Sabre the Best Technical Wrestler of the year for seven consecutive years (2014–2020) and was voted Best Technical Wrestler of the Decade (2010s).

Early life

Luke James Uggles Eatwell[4] was born on the Isle of Sheppey on 24 July 1987.[5] He was raised in Sheerness.[6]

Professional wrestling career

Sabre wrestling Katsuhiko Nakajima at Pro Wrestling Noah's European Navigation in May 2011, before he officially joined Pro Wrestling Noah's roster later that year

NWA UK Hammerlock (2004–2008)

Sabre made his wrestling debut on April 20, 2004.[1] On 22 October 2005, Sabre won the NWA United Kingdom Junior Heavyweight Championship and held the title until 1 June 2008 when it was vacated.[7]

International Pro Wrestling: United Kingdom (2006–2012)

At International Pro Wrestling: United Kingdom (IPW:UK), Sabre most notably won the IPW:UK Tag Team Championship twice along with Marty Scurll in 2009 and 2010.

Pro Wrestling Noah (2008–2015)

At Pro Wrestling Noah (Noah), Sabre most notably won the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship twice with Yoshinari Ogawa in 2013[8] and 2014.[9]

Westside Xtreme Wrestling (2006–2018)

At Westside Xtreme Wrestling (wXw), Sabre won both the wXw World Lightweight Championship[10] and the wXw World Heavyweight Championship in 2010[11] unifying the titles to become the inaugural wXw Unified World Wrestling Champion.[12] He lost the championship in the same year to Big van Walter.[13] Sabre also won the 2015 World Tag Team Tournament for the vacant wXw World Tag Team Championship together with Walter.[14]

Insane Championship Wrestling (2011, 2016)

Sabre made two appearances for Glasgow's Insane Championship Wrestling promotion.[15] At their premiere annual event ICW: Fear & Loathing 4 on 23 October 2011, Sabre entered an elimination triple threat match with Liam Thomson and his former trainee[16][17] Andy Wild, which was won by Wild.[18][19][20]

Progress Wrestling (2012–2018)

Sabre facing Marty Scurll, his former tag team partner, in January 2017 at Revolution Pro Wrestling's High Stakes event[21]

In 2015, Sabre took part in the first ever Progress Wrestling Super Strong Style 16 tournament, competing in four matches over the weekend – defeating Zack Gibson,[22] Tommaso Ciampa and Scurll before losing to Will Ospreay in the final.[23] Sabre had a rematch with Ciampa in November at the first ever Manchester Progress show, which Ciampa won.[24] In March 2016, Sabre and Ciampa teamed up to face The Origin (El Ligero and Nathan Cruz) for the Progress Tag Team Championships but failed to capture the titles.[25] Following the loss, Ciampa beat down Sabre. The two faced each other at Progress' biggest show to date, held at the Brixton Academy in London, in a Two Out of Three falls match which Sabre Jr won.[26] At Chapter 40, Sabre unsuccessfully challenged Pete Dunne for the Progress World Championship.[27] He then entered the Super Strong Style 16 defeating David Starr in the first round and Jack Sexsmith in the second before losing to Travis Banks in the semi-final. Sabre entered the Super Strong Style 16 2018, defeating Chuck Mambo in the first round, David Starr in the second round, Keith Lee in the semi-final and Kassius Ohno in the final, thus winning the tournament for the first time in his career.[28] At Chapter 77, Sabre was defeated by Walter, his former wXw tag team partner, for the Progress World Championship.[29]

Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (2014–2018)

Sabre made his debut for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG) at the 2014 Battle of Los Angeles on night 1 teaming with Chuck Taylor and Kenny Omega and defeating Adam Cole and The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson).

In April 2015, he returned to the promotion, answering the challenge from PWG World Champion Roderick Strong in a title match at Don't Sweat the Technique in a losing effort.[30] He then entered the 2015 Battle of Los Angeles which he eventually won.[31]

On Night 2 of All Star Weekend 12, Sabre defeated Strong to win the PWG title for the first time.[32] He entered his third Battle of Los Angeles tournament in September 2016, losing to Will Ospreay in the quarterfinals.[33] On 7 July 2017, Sabre lost the PWG World Championship to Chuck Taylor.[34] In September, Sabre entered the 2017 Battle of Los Angeles tournament, where he was eliminated by Rey Fenix in the quarter-finals.[35]

WWE (2016)

Sabre in 2016

On 31 March 2016, Sabre was announced as a participant in WWE's upcoming Global Cruiserweight Series tournament,[36] which was later renamed the "Cruiserweight Classic".[37] His name was taken down shortly after as he would have a qualifying match at Progress Wrestling's Chapter 29 event in London to earn his spot, where he defeated Flash Morgan Webster. On 23 June, Sabre defeated Tyson Dux in his first round match.[38] On 14 July, Sabre defeated Drew Gulak in his second round match.[39] On 26 August, Sabre defeated Noam Dar to advance to the semifinals of the tournament,[40] where he was defeated on 14 September by Gran Metalik.[41] Afterwards, it was reported that Sabre's loss was due to him not agreeing to a contract with WWE unlike the two tournament finalists.[42] He later revealed he turned down the WWE contract to sign for New Japan Pro Wrestling instead.[43]

New Japan Pro-Wrestling (2017–present)

Suzuki-gun (2017–2022)

Main article: Suzuki-gun

On 21 February 2017, it was announced that Sabre would be making his debut for New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) at the promotion's 45th anniversary show on 6 March, where he would challenge Katsuyori Shibata for the RPW British Heavyweight Championship.[44] Sabre won the match with help from Minoru Suzuki and Davey Boy Smith Jr., joining the Suzuki-gun stable in the process.[45] The following day, Sabre pinned NEVER Openweight Champion Hirooki Goto in an eight-man tag team match.[46] This led to Sabre unsuccessfully challenging Goto for the title on 9 April at Sakura Genesis.[47] Sabre was left out of the 2017 Best of the Super Juniors as NJPW had decided to categorise him as a heavyweight wrestler going forward.[48] Instead, he was announced for NJPW's premier singles tournament, the 2017 G1 Climax.[49] Prior to the G1 Climax, Sabre took part in a tournament to crown the inaugural IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship at G1 Special in USA, where he made it to the semifinals, before losing to Tomohiro Ishii.[50] On 17 July, Sabre scored a major win in his first G1 Climax match by submitting the reigning IWGP Intercontinental Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi.[51] Sabre went on to finish the tournament with a record of five wins and four losses, failing to advance to the finals.[52] On 16 September at Destruction in Hiroshima, Sabre failed in his attempt to capture the Intercontinental Championship from Tanahashi.[53]

On 28 February 2018, Sabre was announced as one of the competitors in the 2018 New Japan Cup.[54] Sabre defeated Tetsuya Naito in the first round, Kota Ibushi in the second round and Sanada in the semi-finals, on his way to the final.[55][56][57] On 21 March, Sabre defeated Tanahashi in the final, becoming the second gaijin to win the tournament after Giant Bernard in 2006. After the match, he challenged IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada for a title shot at Sakura Genesis.[58] On 1 April at Sakura Genesis, Okada defeated Sabre to retain the title.[59] Zack Sabre Jr. competed in the 2018 G1 Climax where he finished with 12 points, failing to advance due to his losses against Kenny Omega & Kota Ibushi.

At Wrestle Kingdom 13 he defeated Tomohiro Ishii to regain the British Heavyweight Championship. In March 2019, Sabre entered to the 2019 New Japan Cup, defeating Evil in the first round, Kota Ibushi in the second round but losing to Hiroshi Tanahashi in the quarter-final. At G1 Supercard, Sabre defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi to retain the RPW British Heavyweight Championship.[60] Sabre was announced as a participant of the 2019 G1 Climax.[61] He walked away with 8 points after winning four matches, beating Bad Luck Fale, Will Ospreay, fellow Suzuki Gun stablemate Lance Archer, and Kenta, whilst suffering losses to Kazuchika Okada, Sanada, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi, and Evil. At Royal Quest, Sabre lost the British Heavyweight Championship to Hiroshi Tanahashi. At Destruction in Beppu, Sabre pinned Tanahashi to regain the RPW British Heavyweight Championship for the fourth time.

After retaining against Sanada, at Wrestle Kingdom 14, and Will Ospreay, at The New Beginning in Sapporo, Sabre lost the title to Ospreay on 14 February at an RPW event. Since then, he has started teaming up with fellow Suzuki Gun stablemate Taichi in pursuit of the Golden Aces' (Kota Ibushi and Hiroshi Tanahashi) IWGP Tag Team Championships. In the 2020 New Japan Cup, Sabre was eliminated in the first round by Ibushi. His partner Taichi, however, eliminated both Tanahashi and Ibushi from the tournament before being eliminated himself by Sanada. On 12 July, at Dominion, Sabre and Taichi defeated Tanahashi and Ibushi to win their IWGP Tag Team Championships, marking Sabre's first title win in NJPW. They retained the championship in a match against the former champions at Summer Struggle in Jingu. After one more successful defense, they lost the titles to G.O.D. at Wrestle Kingdom 15. However, on June 1, he and Taichi regained the IWGP Tag Team Championship. They would lose them to World Tag League winners Hirooki Goto and YOSHI-HASHI at Wrestle Kingdom 16 Night 1.[62] On Night 2, Suzuki-gun lost to Los Ingobernables de Japon, in an 8-man tag team match.[63] On Night 3, Sabre Jr and fellow Suzuki-gun stablemate Yoshinobu Kanemaru lost to Pro Wrestling NOAH's Naomichi Marufuji and Yoshinari Ogawa.[64]

In March, Sabre Jr participated in the New Japan Cup, he defeated Ryohei Oiwa in the first round and fellow Suzuki-Gun stablemate Douki in the second round. He defeated, Great-O-Khan in round 3 and Will Ospreay in the quarter-finals, in a critically acclaimed match.[65] Sabre Jr then defeated, Shingo Takagi in the semi-finals to advance to the finals, where he defeated Tetsuya Naito, in the tournament finals, to win his second New Japan Cup.[66] Due to winning the tournament, Sabre Jr earned an IWGP World Heavyweight Championship match. At Hyper Battle, Sabre Jr lost to World Champion Kazuchika Okada.[67]

At Dominion 6.12 in Osaka-jo Hall, Sabre Jr teamed with Kanemaru and El Desperado to challenge for the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship in a losing effort to House of Torture.[68] Also at the event, Sabre Jr was announced to be competing in the G1 Climax 32 tournament in June, as a part of the C Block.[69] In the tournament, Sabre Jr finished with 8 points, with only a loss to Tetsuya Naito on the final day, costing him a spot in the semi-finals.[70]

In October, Sabre Jr competed in a tournament to crown the inaugural NJPW World Television Champion. He defeated Alex Zayne in round one and David Finlay in round 2.[71][72] The following month, Sabre Jr defeated Evil to advance to the tournament finals, where he faces Ren Narita at Wrestle Kingdom 17.[73]

In December 2022, at the World Tag League and Best of the Super Juniors finals, Minoru Suzuki announced the disbandment of Suzuki-gun by the end of the year.[74] The final match between the faction took place on 23 December, where the team of Taichi, Sabre Jr, Kanemaru and Douki defeated Suzuki, Archer, Desperado and Michinoku. After the match, each of the Suzuki-gun members spoke about their memories as a part of the group and thanked leader Suzuki. The night ended with all members posing with the Suzuki-gun flag, only to be interrupted by former member Takashi Iizuka, causing all 9 men to pose in the ring, behind the Suzuki-gun flag, which was raised by Michinoku.[75]

The Mighty Don't Kneel (2023–present)

Main article: The Mighty Don't Kneel

At Wrestle Kingdom 17, Sabre Jr. defeated Ren Narita to become the inaugural NJPW World Television Champion.[76] After the match, Sabre Jr was approached by Mikey Nicholls and Shane Haste, who offered him a TMDK t-shirt. Sabre Jr accepted the shirt and embraced the two men, joining the stable.[77] Through Sabre Jr being friendly towards young lion Kosei Fujita, he too joined the stable the next day by the request of Sabre Jr. Sabre Jr made his first title defence, successfully defeating Tomohiro Ishii in February.[78] On 18 February, at Battle in the Valley, Sabre Jr made his first title defence in the US, defeating Clark Connors to retain the title once again.[79] In March, Sabre took part in the New Japan Cup, where he was eliminated in the second round to Shota Umino. This led to a rematch on 8 April at Sakura Genesis, where Sabre defeated Umino to make his fourth successful title defense.[80] Seven days later, at Capital Collision, Sabre made his fifth title defense against Tom Lawlor.[81] On 3 May at Wrestling Dontaku, Sabre faced Jeff Cobb in a time limit draw, successfully defending his title for the sixth time.[82][83] Due to his match against Cobb finishing in a draw, on 4 June at Dominion 6.4 in Osaka-jo Hall, Sabre defeated Cobb in a rematch to make his tenth title defense.[84]

In July, Sabre Jr entered the G1 Climax tournament, where he would compete in the D Block.[85] Sabre Jr finished joint top of his block with 10 pints, allowing him to advance to the quarterfinal round.[86] In the quarterfinal round, Sabre Jr lost to Kazuchika Okada, eliminating him from the tournament.[87]

On October 14 at Royal Quest III, Sabre Jr challenged Will Ospreay for the IWGP United Kingdom Heavyweight Championship, which Ospreay had rebranded from the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship. At the event, Sabre Jr was defeated by Ospreay, failing to win the title.[88] The following month at Power Struggle, Sabre Jr teamed with TMDK stablemates, Mikey Nicholls and Shane Haste, challenging Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Tomohiro Ishii for the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship, but they were defeated.[89] A few days later at Lonestar Shootout, Sabre Jr defeated Mike Bailey to retain his World Television title. After the match, Sabre Jr challenged Hiroshi Tanahashi to a NJPW World Television Championship match at Wrestle Kingdom 18, which was later accepted by Tanahashi and made official for the event.[90] Two days before the event, Sabre Jr returned to Pro Wrestling Noah, at their Noah The New Year 2024 event, teaming with Yoshinari Ogawa to defeat Hayata and Tanahashi.[91] On January 4 at Wrestle Kingdom, Sabre Jr lost the NJPW World Television Championship to Tanahashi, ending his reign at 365 days.[92]

The following day at New Year Dash!!, TMDK faced Bryan Danielson, Jon Moxley, Kazuchika Okada and Tomohiro Ishii in a winning effort. Afterwards, Sabre challenged Danielson to a rematch, after Danielson had previously defeated him at AEW's WrestleDream on October 1, 2023, by knockout blow, leading Sabre to maintain that Danielson was unable to tap him out and he was the best technical wrestler in the world.[93] Sabre defeated Danielson, on February 11 at The New Beginning in Osaka.[94][95]

Ring of Honor (2018–2019, 2023)

On 5 November 2018, it was announced that Sabre would make his Ring of Honor (ROH) debut at Final Battle 2018.[96] He defeated Jonathan Gresham.[97]

Sabre Jr returned to ROH on February 25, 2023, on the first episode of Ring of Honor, since Tony Khan's purchase of the company. At the event, he successfully defended the NJPW World Television Championship against Blake Christian.[98] Sabre Jr returned on 18 May, defending his title once more against AR Fox. After the match Sabre Jr claimed to be the best television champion in all of professional wrestling, causing the ROH World Television Champion, Samoa Joe to confront Sabre Jr. As Joe questioned Sabre Jr's earlier statement, Christopher Daniels and Matt Sydal interrupted the duo, as Sydal sought a title shot at either television championship. Sabre Jr proposed a tag-team match between himself and Joe and Sydal and Daniels, where if the latter won, Sydal would earn a title future television title shot.[99] The following week, Sabre Jr and Samoa Joe defeated Sydal and Daniels.[100] On 1 June, Sabre Jr defeated Rocky Romero to retain his NJPW World Television Championship.[101]

All Elite Wrestling (2022, 2023)

Since the announcement of AEW x NJPW: Forbidden Door, Sabre Jr had consistently called out "The American Dragon", hinting to challenging Bryan Danielson to a match at Forbidden Door.[102] This led to, on the June 22 edition of Dynamite, Danielson acknowledging Sabre Jr's challenge, however he also announced that he was injured and not medically cleared to compete at Forbidden Door, due to his loss at Double or Nothing in the Anarchy in the Arena match.[103] However, Danielson announced a mystery opponent for Sabre Jr, who he claimed was the "one person" he trusted to take his place at the PPV and at the subsequent special episode of Dynamite, AEW Blood and Guts. This led to Sabre Jr, making his AEW debut by staring down Danielson.[104] On June 26 at the event, the mystery opponent was revealed to be Claudio Castagnoli, who defeated Sabre Jr.[105]

Sabre Jr made his televised AEW return on the 2 June 2023 edition of Rampage, defeating Action Andretti to retain his NJPW World Television Championship.[106] Due to being called out by Orange Cassidy, Sabre Jr attempted to get a match for Cassidy's AEW International Championship. On the June 21 episode of Dynamite, Sabre Jr teamed with Daniel Garcia to defeat Cassidy and Katsuyori Shibata, after which a four-way match was set up for the upcoming Forbidden Door PPV. At the event, Cassidy retained his championship.[107]

On the September 9, 2023, episode of Collision, Bryan Danielson said that with his career winding down, the next person he wanted to face was Sabre Jr. Later, a match between the two was officially announced for AEW WrestleDream.[108] At the event, Sabre Jr. was defeated by Danielson.[109]

Personal life

Eatwell became a vegan in 2015.[110] He is an avid hiker.[111]

In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan, Eatwell revealed that he had permanent residence in the country.[111]

Eatwell is outspoken about his political views; he is a socialist, a supporter of the Labour Party, and a staunch opponent of the Conservative Party.[112] In 2019, following the news that child poverty in the UK had reached record highs under the Conservatives, he began selling a custom anti-Conservative T-shirt with a percentage of the profits going to the Trussell Trust.[113] After he was eliminated from that year's G1 Climax tournament, he performed an in-character rant blaming his loss on being distracted by the news that the next UK Prime Minister would be Boris Johnson, whom he called "Boris toffing Eaton [sic] wanker Johnson".[112] During his entrance at Wrestle Kingdom 17 in 2023, he addressed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the healthcare worker strikes that began in 2022 by shouting into the camera, "Rishi Sunak – pay nurses, dickhead! Pay nurses a living wage!"[114]

Professional wrestling style and persona

Sabre's technical style is based on World of Sport wrestling, with plentiful chain wrestling and submissions. He has cited Bret Hart, Koji Kanemoto, Johnny Kidd, Shinjiro Otani, Jushin Liger and Johnny Saint as inspirations for his wrestling style.[115][116][117] He has won the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Bryan Danielson Award (Best Technical Wrestler) for seven consecutive years.[118] Sabre has been a member of the TMDK faction since 4 January 2023.

Championships and accomplishments

In NJPW, Sabre Jr. is the inaugural and former World Television Champion.

Notes

  1. ^ Both titles were unified to make the wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship.
  2. ^ Renamed from "Best Technical Wrestler" to "Bryan Danielson Award (Best Technical Wrestler)" in the 15 February 2016 issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, between his third and fourth wins.

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Preceded byKatsuyori ShibataWill Ospreay New Japan Cup winner 20182022 Succeeded byKazuchika OkadaSanada