Zack Sabre Jr has revealed turning down signing for the WWE to join up with NJPW – and was vindicated in his decision after a huge Wrestle Kingdom victory.
He revealed in a Twitter post after the final New Japan Pro Wrestling show, which featured the final match of the Suzuki-Gun faction, about how he was offered a WWE contract before deciding to sign full time with NJPW.
The group had been one of the top factions in NJPW since their debut in 2011. At first they were known as Kojima-Gun, lead by then-IWGP Heavyweight Champion Satoshi Kojima. However, after losing the title to Hiroshi Tanahashi, he was usurped by Minoru Suzuki and the group was renamed to Suzuki-Gun. It remained that until 2022, when the group was disbanded on the final show of the year after 11 years as a group.
Zack Sabre Jr was one of the latest additions to the group and was despondent at the end of the group. He also announced the end of his tag team with Taichi, which were known as Dangerous Tekkers. In the Twitter post, he said;
“Six years ago I had the choice between WWE and New Japan. I chose New Japan because Minoru Suzuki invited me into Suzuki-gun. It’s more than a team, it’s family. Today isn’t just the end of Suzuki-gun, today’s the end of Dangerous Tekkers.”
His offer to sign for WWE came during his time wrestling in the Cruiserweight Classic. In 2016, WWE hired a number of wrestlers on short-term deal to compete in an all-cruiserweight competition featuring 32 of the top junior heavyweight wrestlers in the world.
One of these stars was Zack Sabre Jr, who was instantly made one of the favourites to win. Fellow NJPW wrestler Will Ospreay revealed he turned down the chance to appear in the tournament, making Sabre Jr the biggest British star in the entire competition.
He made it all the way to the semi finals but fell to Gran Metalik in the live final episode. This was because he turned down the aformentioned WWE deal, not wanting to be stuck in NXT and with a style that Vince McMahon would never push on the main roster.
Instead, he continued with NJPW and signed a full-time deal with the company. His commitment was clearly rewarded in 2023, when he defeated Ren Narita to become the first ever NJPW World Television Champion, with his big win at Wrestle Kingdom 17.