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Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Negro Navarro: Perhaps The Most Significant Lucha Match of 2017

Photo: @BLACKTERRY on Twitter

On Friday, April 28th, the popular independent Lucha Libre promotion Lucha Memes ran one of their Chairo shows in Arena Naucalpan. This one was more special as it was co-promoted by Monterrey Independent promotion MDA. They ran a lot of great and fun matches but no match was as special as the match being discussed, as it saw the debut of Zack Sabre Jr. in Mexico going up against Lucha Libre Legend and one of the best technical maestros in Lucha History — Negro Navarro. It told a great story of what many considered the best technical wrestler in the world against someone who has really been that for going over four decades. While Sabre’s skill was top notch, he couldn’t outmatch the experience level that Navarro has as Navarro gained the victory. The match was such a great technical, compelling match, people threw money in the ring and a mob of fans went up, trying to getting a picture with ZSJ. The match was really good and at this point of the year it is in my top 5 matches of the year. Seeing the majority of the Mexican crowd see ZSJ for the first time was really fun to see as majority of fans in Mexico only really see Lucha Libre and WWE and as someone who has been watching ZSJ for years at this point, it was just refreshing. Here is a handheld version of the match via MDA’s Facebook. A pro shot official version will be released Tuesday via MasLucha on YouTube.

While this was a treat of a match that just told an excellent in-ring story, I think an underlying story lives beneath the surface of this match. As noted earlier Lucha Libre fans only really pay attention to Lucha and WWE, this is due to Lucha Libre is in its own world of Pro Wrestling where they don’t need to watch anything else other than its own wrestling and WWE (as WWE is the global giant we all know) as Mexico is its own little world and culture of Pro Wrestling where the fans don’t really need to watch any other wrestling than their own. Lucha Libre has its own stars and it doesn’t rely on bringing in foreigners like in Puroresu. In Japan “the Gaijin” historically is very crucial to the success and why wrestling got so big. Many people like the Funks, Andre, Hogan, Stan Hansen, Ric Flair, Dr. Death Steve Williams, to current day guys like the Bullet Club are instrumental in the success of many promotions in Japan, and Gaijin’s are apart of a lot of the greatest matches in the history of the country.  Many of them were big names before going over to Japan on a national level or in this day an independent level where the pedigree makes them a big deal before going over. When you think of dream matches between an American or a Brit vs. a Japanese native there is a chance of that happening in Japan or if a promotion has the money to bring a Japanese guy over (Like Joe vs Kobashi in ROH, NJPW’s relationships with ROH and RPW that allows NJPW talent to work their shows, or the Matt Tremont vs. Onita match that is scheduled for later this year in CZW).

In Mexico, there is very little of bringing over top name foreigners or promotions bringing over guys from Mexico to the states or the U.K until recently. When Lucha Libre promotions do bring over foreigners it is usually guys or girls trying to make a name for themselves. Chris Jericho, Norman Smiley as Black Magic, Vampiro, a plethora of guys and girls from Puerto Rico, to a current crop like Jack Evans, Australian Suicide, Marco Corleone plus more are foreigners who have made a name for themselves while in Mexico but not before. It is hard for a U.S. or U.K. promotion to invest bringing over a guy because unless they are big names like Penta el 0M (FKA Pentagon Jr), or Rey Fenix (FKA Fenix), as the reaction won’t be there. This makes the dream matches between a Lucha star vs. a big name independent wrestling star very unlikely to happen. While CMLL has a relationship with NJPW and have brought over Nakamura, Tanahashi, Michael Elgin, etc, through the relationship or the relationships AAA had with TNA, ZSJ is one of the first cases of a promotion in Mexico bringing over a big named wrestler without any prior relationship to my knowledge and pitting them against someone of the same style. This was literately a dream match no one thought would happen, and it is gaining a lot of buzz on the internet because of the names involved. Let’s hope this trend continues and this gets not only more top guys down to Mexico but also helps guys in Mexico get a better chance of working in the States and the U.K. With all of this in mind, this dream match makes it quite possibly the most significant match in Lucha this year.

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