I have a very small window where I can actually do this before he goes to another big company but I'm taking this chance while I can! Today we're looking at Alex Zayne.
Alex Zayne is an absolutely fantastic wrestler and one I never thought I'd get to cover. But for the time being, Zayne is back on the indie scene and I can't think of a better person to spotlight in this column. We're going to talk about the surprisingly long career of Alex Zayne, his rise over the last few years, his return to the indies, and some of his best matches.
Zayne made his wrestling debut all the way back in 2007. For all those years he was doing small backyard shows, and never caught fire until much later. For example, only two of his matches are on cagematch before 2016, but there were plenty of them. It's important to discuss this, because along with Blake Christian, now Trey Baxter in WWE, Zayne is looked at as an overnight success. He put in years and years of work, and the fact that he's so beloved now is not an accident, but the result of years of dedication. From 2016 to 2018 we at least have some sense of what he was doing: wrestling in places like 3-2-1 Battle, Freelance Wrestling, and IWA Mid-South. Of those matches a couple honorable mentions go to Zayne vs JJ Garret in Freelance and both of Zayne's matches with Aaron Williams in IWA Mid-South.
There were two matches that got people to sit up and take notice nationwide in indie wrestling: Robbie Eagles in Pizza Party Wrestling and Tony Deppen in GCW. We'll cover both those matches in detail, but it's important to note that while this would be the only time that Zayne would face Eagles, it's just the beginning of a great series with Deppen. GCW would become a home for Zayne, and he put on several fantastic matches for the company.
By the time that Zayne came to my attention he was doing shows for Ring Of Honor and NJPW. In fact, I happened to see him live teaming with the Rock and Roll Express. Soon after, Zayne was signed to WWE where he was given the name Ari Sterling. Sterling would go on to have a total of 10 matches for the company, and they were pretty good. They're not here because they aren't indie matches, but his match with Jake Atlas and his match with Kushida were wonderful. The sad part about the Kushida match is that it aired about an hour after it was announced that WWE had released him. Sterling quickly said that it was back to Alex Zayne, who was better than Sterling. The moment that happened I knew I had to cover Zayne for this column, as he felt like the one that was missing. I know he will be back on a big stage soon enough, but in the meantime, let's enjoy his indie appearances such as at GCW's Highest in the Room on September 17th, and look back on some of his best matches.
#10: Alex Zayne and CIMA vs Gaia Hox and Junji Tanaka
I wanted to include an unexpected match on this list, and when I came across this I knew I had to pick it. Seeing Zayne team with CIMA was a great change of pace, and reminds me of when we looked at Masha Slamovich teaming with Meiko Satomura. It's so wonderful to see Zayne teaming with an absolute legend, and the match itself is a good time. Zayne does take a bit of a back seat to CIMA, but when he's in the crowd is really behind him.
As I mentioned, I saw Zayne team with Rock and Roll Express, and he understands what his job is in teams like this. He gets that he is there as the younger hitter to step in take control, but that he is not the star of the team. More than anything though, this match put the idea of Zayne vs CIMA in my head, and I hope one day we get to see that. It's a fairly normal tag match, but the situation of it makes it so special.
#9: Alex Zayne and Blake Christian vs The Rascalz
I had to include a tag team match with Blake Christian, and seeing as we talked about their match with Violence is Forever already, I wanted to look at this fight with the Rascalz. Trey Miguel and Blake Christian start the match with an impressive sequence that gets a huge cheer from the crowd. Desmond Xavier works just as well with Christian, and if we never get Trey Baxter vs MSK in NXT it'll be a damn shame. When Zayne gets in the match he has all the cockiness that you expect from him and hits the innovative offense he's known for having.
Zayne trades big strikes with Miguel in a wonderful sequence that shows the strength of Zayne. Some people call him just a flippy guy, but he has power in his moves. These two teams are fantastic together, and it's the kind of match you want to see over and over again. Zayne and Christian were such a fun team that was cut short, and I highly suggest watching all of their matches together. This match is a great example of how well they flow together, and you can actually see them fighting all three members of the Rascalz at Warrior Wrestling.
#8: Alex Zayne vs Eli Everfly vs Facade
This one comes from VxS Wrestling and features three absolutely fantastic high flyers. If you haven't had the pleasure of seeing Facade and Eli Everyfly before this match will be a real treat. The first thing you'll notice is either that the ceiling is missing tiles, or that the ring is missing ropes. They've mostly transitioned away now, but VxS used to be known for no rope matches. Getting to see Facade and Zayne together is a bit of a cross generation treat, as Facade has been doing this for decades now.
That being said, I don't want to take away from Everfly, who always impresses me. He and Facade have a great exchange in particular that showcases Everfly. Just like some other matches on this list we see a Front Flip Facebuster from Zayne and folks I think we've finally found the move that always makes me wince. Zayne pulls out the win to finish this super fun triple threat.
#7: Alex Zayne vs Robbie Eagles
it's time for Pizza Party Wrestling! Easily the most fun promotion that we'll look at today, I often associate Pizza Party with names like Kidd Magic and Big Game Leroy, but back in 2019 Zayne made multiple appearances starting with the debut show. That brings us this match with New Japan star Robbie Eagles. This was one of the first matches to gain Zayne some national notoriety, and it's clear why. These two just fly around the ring with such speed you can barely keep up.
Eagles dominates the opening minutes but when Zayne gets an opening he takes it with gusto. He runs up and flips off of Robbie's chest before weaving between the ropes to deliver some vicious corner offense. It takes a while before they finally go to the top rope, but when they do it's amazing stuff. Top rop Hurricaranas, Pele kicks to someone on the top, and other stuff I just never see. These two make such a good match in the ring creating memorable sequences leading to the shocking upset win for Zayne. It's surprising that this is the only time these two have fought, despite being in NJPW at the same time. Now that Zayne is back on the indies this is the match I want to see most.
#6: Alex Zayne vs Robert Anthony
This match almost got knocked off the list purely because of Frank the Clown, but Robert Anthony is just so good. He and Zayne are able to go back and forth perfectly and seem in sync. Zayne hit a standing shooting star press from Anthony's back, and that move alone earns this match a place on the list, but it's far from the only good moment in the match. For example, another shooting star press, this time off the apron while Anthony is draped from the ring to the barricade.
The whole match is full of these big moments and all of them seem just right. Zayne shines bright in this match, but it's easily one of my favorite Robert Anthony matches as well. Anthony ultimately loses thanks to cockniess, and I always love that. Anthony goes to hit the Mandalorian Driver a third time, and Zayne is able to counter it into a crucifix pin. That's the kind of storytelling that I love!
#5: Alex Zayne vs Chris Bey
This was a case where I had to pick which of their matches I should use, and this one really stuck out. The match opens at a mile per minute and maintains that pace throughout. Bey is just flipping all around the ring and is one of the few people that can make Zayne have to keep up. I was genuinely shocked to see Zayne win here, but he absolutely deserved it. Bey counters moves that you would normally think couldn't be countered, and both men have better balance than I do while just standing still. Zayne lays on his back across the top rope and Bey hits a double stomp from the turnbuckle. The fact that neither man slipped and broke his neck is reason enough for this match to make the list, but the entire match keeps that energy.
One thing that has impressed me while making this list is the way that Zayne can do anything from any position compared to the ropes. What I mean by that is moves that I expect to be done from the apron he can do from inside, and moves I expect to be done inside the ropes he can do from the apron. Zayne gets the big win here, and it's one that he absolutely earned. Truly one of Zayne's best, and a reminder that Bay is one of the best out there today.
#4: Alex Zayne vs Blake Christian
It took a long time for me to decide which Blake vs Alex match would make the list, but ultimately I think this is their best. These two have gone hand in hand over the last couple of years, and following their careers has been amazing. They're hitting big moves on the apron within two minutes, and that's when you know the match is not going to slow down. Christian is just as happy to go to the top rope and beyond as Zayne, and that gives this match a feeling that anything can happen. Christian literally uses a ladder to climb up on a small ledge that is most certainly not meant for walking, and of course he leaps off of it. That's the kind of insanity you can expect from this match.
Blake and Alex really feel like perfect rivals, and as I said, they ran this feud for quite some time and tagged together as well. Seriously the way they both exploded into the public consciousness at the same time was magnificent and matches like this truly feel like an evolution in wrestling. Like many of the best Zayne matches, he hits that gorgeous front flip facebuster, and I'm starting to feel like it's the best example of his grappling ability without the top rope. OF course, I can't talk about this match without mentioning the top rope breaking. The two handle it like professionals, and Zayne manages to hit the 630 Senton off the second rope, and the fact he was able to get his body high enough is just freaking remarkable.
#3: Alex Zayne vs Anthony Greene
Now we come to the "Screw You WWE Exhibition Showcase" as we look at two fantastic talents that were carrying 205 Live that WWE let go. Taking that out of the equation, this is still a delightful face off for two incredible wrestlers. Despite the match with Robbie Eagles being better known, I think this is Zayne's best Pizza Party match. Greene is able to keep up with Zayne, and actually manages to keep him grounded. It's a great clash of styles and I love seeing Greene as the Heavyweight brawler trying to keep Zayne on the mat.
That being said, both men still fly quite a bit and the match is paced well. Greene throws everything he can at Zayne, but because Zayne is able to get to corners he's able to get to the top rope, and that means he wins. He hits the Crunch wrap for a shocking one count, but manages to follow it up with the Taco Driver for the win. It's a great match that tells its story subtly but well, and the fact that WWE could have been running this feud but didn't says a lot about their creative and booking.
#2: Alex Zayne vs Tony Deppen
Once again, we have Zayne making a big splash at an unexpected show. The only place less assuming than a pizza party is a backyard, and going back to his roots Zayne absolutely steals the show in the backyard. GCW has begun holding Backyard Wrestling every 4th of July, where everyone wrestles as their old backyard gimmick. This was Zayne's first GCW match, and all of a sudden people couldn't get enough of him. Deppen is a truly great talent that is thankfully starting to get recognized for his work in ROH, but my rule of thumb has always been if you need to make someone popular, let them fight Deppen. Zayne really pulls out all the stops here, just bouncing all over the place. Having Zayne debut here was also smart as Zayne has that history with backyard style wrestling making him used to incorportating odd things into his offense.
Tony Deppen gets pretty creative himself though, as he hits a Hurricanrana out of a tree. Again I say, a tree. These two go all around the backyard, and really show why the event became an annual event. My personal favorite spot is when Deppen smacks Zayne out of midair sending him crashing down. This match hits the perfect balance between funny and impressive, and every time I think Zayne has done the coolest move he can, he somehow tops it. It's no wonder this match helped Zayne gain fame, as it's truly something unique and special.
#1: Alex Zayne vs Lee Moriarty
This match took place at Black Label Pro's secret show Through Being Cool, which they filmed with no crowd the same day as two ticketed events. No one knew it happened until after, and we were all very excited to see the show, but especially this match. You can tell that both wrestlers are happy to be here, and are having a great time. The first memorable sequences is both men playing "anything you can do I can do better" as they see who can escape a head scissors better and then try to show off what they can do. Zayne hits some fascinating moves such as a front flip facebuster to end a sequence of impressive moves by both men.
The story of the match is so fun to watch as they start from being playful to that playfulness getting a little more aggressive until the smiles are completely gone as they do anything they can to win. By the end of the match these two are just trying to hit any move at all as Zayne hits a top rope front flip dragon suplex that Lee rolls through and gets Zayne into a triangle hold that Zayne manages to reverse into the Taco Driver. It's a slow build and the payoff is worth it.