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Best British Match of 2008


Best British Match of 2008?  

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I too was at 3 of the 4 short-listed matches.


Pac vs. Lionheart was good fun, but nowhere near MOTY status.


Haskins, Moralez & Sabre Jr vs. Ligero, Bubblegum and Dragon Phoenix was a high energy, exciting opener and I actually really enjoyed it. Again, however, it was nowhere near MOTY status, and could point out probably 10 or more British matches (many of which featured the guys in this 6-man) which were better.


Bryan Danielson vs. Zack Sabre Jr gets by vote, and would do no matter what other bouts were on the list. It wasn't just the technical masterpiece they assembled, the whole thing was just beautiful pro wrestling the way it is supposed to be. In Zack, you had a guy who had been an almost unknown on the UK circuit outside of Hammerlock until his performances on TXW shows and in front of the TXW fans. Those same fans were the ones that started being gobby about him all over the internet, causing more and more other promoters to take a look and give him a try, leading to him impressing everyone else just about anywhere he went. Those same fans watched Zack develop from opening match TXW guy in slick technical matches with Ashton Smith, Stiro and Chris Stone to TXW's main event lead guy. In short, Zack Sabre Jr was THEIR guy - they felt a strong connection to him since they'd been there for his entire journey.


So, with all of this in mind, there could be nothing more perfect than Zack coming back after his impressive rise to that same promotion, that same building and in front of those same fans that had been there from the beginning, to take on a genuine international star. There was so much intrigue to it: after impressing on the small-time UK scene, was Zack really in the same league as Danielson? Did our small-time hero have what it takes to compete on the wider stage? Would the biggest opportunity of his life cause him to crumble or show him up as a fake? It boiled down to the hardcore fans' cult favourite coming so far that he was now ready to test his skills against the so-called "Best in the World".


As I said above, the emotional investment these fans had in Zack could never be understated - and that's what made the match. There never had to be a question of suspension of disbelief. For those 25 mins or so (or whatever it was), we were totally lost in pro wrestling. It was our guy's time to shine, his time to step up and prove what we'd been saying to everyone and believing ourselves for the past year was true. Real passionate support. You just knew it was going to be awesome at the ring entrances, when there was absolutely no respect for Danielson, standing there cockily taking in the abuse with a smug grin on his face, knowing he could have some fun with this. Zack got an insane hero's welcome. Then the match started, and it was magical.


Fighting for every single hold, both of them making every slight movement mean something important in the minds of the the completely captivated audience. Every slightest and most subtle change in momentum or advantage earning either a desperate gasp of worry or an air-punching supportive celebration. Danielson's increasing agressiveness and subtle dickness as he found he was going to have to push this kid further and further and see what he really had was just excellent. On the other side, we could almost see Zack growing up and developing before our very eyes as the match was in progress and the small-time boy went toe-to-toe with the benchmark in his chosen field.


I've never watched the bout back on DVD yet. Well, one reason being I recently discovered that the DVD of it I bought at the last show doesn't actually work at all (I really need to get that sorted). Even if it wasn't just a blank disk, however, I'll still be reluctant to, since to simply watch the bout on TV will never be any match to how we experienced it live back in March...


While in some ways I'm desperate for someone to book a rematch between the two so that they can go again, and that a wider audience can see what they can do (and both men deserve that at the very least), I have to admit there is part of me that would be a bit sad to see it, since a large part of the magic that made this work originally on the level it did was that this was OUR match with OUR guy in OUR little building. As the match went on, there was a moment when you sensed an unspoken realisation that we knew we were being treated to something special, almost exclusive.


THIS is why Zack Sabre Jr vs. Bryan Danielson is my 2008 British Match of the Year.

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