RPW British Heavyweight Championship: Match Zack Sabre Jr. (c) vs. KUSHIDA (RPW Epic Encounter- April 13, 2017)

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Lots of NJPW connections here as Sabre recently joined the company and then Suzuki Gun. He, with the help of Minoru Suzuki, regained the British Heavyweight title from Shibata some months ago. This starts out very technical as one might expect given these men are prone to use armbars and focus their attack on those particular extremities. Kushida is able to lock in the cross armbreaker a couple times, but he’s always too close to the ropes. Sabre counters Kushida’s buzzsaw kick with one of his own as he gains a significant advantage now. Sabre exhibits a clear heelish attitude as tries bullying the former Junior Heavyweight champion. Kushida hits a huge divorce court off the top rope. Series of penalty kicks but there’s almost no follow-up. Into the armbar and then a Rings of Saturn. Stretch muffler. Kushida still makes it to the ropes. Back and forth with forearms. Moonsault turned into a triangle choke. Kushida counters into the Hoverboard lock. Sabre gets a roll-up for three.

This felt like a really compelling contest at certain points and too long at other points. Sabre was made to look fairly dominant for the most part, which is a positive thing given the way RPW has been pantsed on this event. A match like this had some of the same issues as all longish matches do. There are some excellent moments, but some of what happens doesn’t feel particularly important. There were times when things felt deliberate for the sake of being deliberate as opposed to having a purpose. I want to see Sabre being the super dick asshole heel I know he can be and would rather see the match time get cut if it means we can see it for the whole of a match. It’s incredibly annoying to watch a 30 minute match with both guys going at it, and Sabre seemingly wins on a fluke three count.

Winner (s)/Rating: STILL RPW British Heavyweight Champion-Zack Sabre Jr./**3/4

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