Evolve Championship: Zack Sabre Jr. (Champion) vs. Jaka (Evolve 87- June 25, 2017)

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The fact that this is a midcard title match and Jaka lost the previous night leaves little doubt about who the champion is going to be at the end of this match. Even a prematch promo from Jaka does little to help this situation. At least Queens will respond to this better than Melrose.

Huge chop from Jaka and things quickly devolve into a huge strike exchange. If Jaka has…I was literally going to say chip on his shoulder but Lenny Leonard said it first…but anyway…Jaka should absolutely feel the pressure of having a better singles match than Yehi. After a lot of striking, Sabre brings the match to the mat by focusing on the arm. Sabre transitions into working the leg before again applying some arm submissions as Jaka is fighting from behind. It’s almost as is Jaka is the babyface the way this match is constructed. German suplex by Jaka. Sabre applies a kneebar. Jaka gets to the bottom rope. Crowd is split now. Jaka hits a rolling leg lariat to the corner. Exploder. Huge running knee for two. Series of chops. Sabre leaves himself open, but Jaka headbutts him instead. Sabre locks the arm. Jaka resists the cross armbreaker. Triangle choke. Sabre grabs his Rings of Saturn and really twists down. Jaka still gets to the ropes. Sabre applies a figure four. Jaka fights back with strikes. Jaka ends an exchange with a huge rolling kick. Sabre bridge pins Jaka and gets the three count.

Jaka was clearly positioned as an underdog babyface and created an interesting dynamic with the crowd being more split. I almost appreciate this being much different than any Sabre title defense prior to this because there was a way to do this where Jaka just loses and moves back into the tag team division. Instead, Jaka came off as credible and like a guy with a lot of heart. Sabre came off heelish but never resorted to being a true “rulebreaker.” Jaka literally went from a hugely disappointing performance to what might be a star making performance. Excellent work by both men.

Winner (s)/Rating: STILL Evolve Champion- Zack Sabre Jr./****



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