Minoru Suzuki is a badass. That’s a fair opinion to hold, right? Even at the age of fifty-one, the man is terrifying, while a twenty-second dive into his career will only add to your fear. There is not only the stellar pro-wrestling, filled with hard-hitting matches against some of the very best but the fact he was a founding figure in Pancrase, holding MMA victories over the likes of Ken Shamrock. His credentials weren’t dreamt up in the mixed-reality of kayfabe. They come from blood, sweat and the tears’ of his enemies.
All of which should make MiSu a lightning rod for purists. His snarling visage is everything they supposedly want wrestling to be – a sport dominated by hard men who know how to fight. Jim Cornette can mock Kenny Omega and Joey Ryan for not being tough, but he damn well can’t say the same about Minoru Suzuki. At least not to his face. Suzuki is legit, and if anyone has earned the right to demand to be taken seriously, it’s him.
And yet, as far as I can tell, he has no such demands. Don’t get me wrong. Suzuki is a serious wrestler. Even as his career starts to wind down (he can’t go on forever), he is capable of stunning performances. You need only watch his title challenge Royal Quest in London to see that. Sure, my five-star rating was aided by the live bump, but that was still a stiff and gruelling war in which he and Kazuchika Okada pushed each other to go harder and faster. That was a man who takes his pro-wrestling seriously.
However, that same man is a man who understands pro-wrestling better than any of the whiners on Twitter. Because, unlike them, he has figured out that it can be used in so many ways. Minoru Suzuki is the man who has repeatedly lost to Toru Yano, bewildered and frustrated by the Master Thief’s tricksy style. Minoru Suzuki is the man who once had an Empty Arena match in the Tokyo Dome against Sanshiro Takagi, walking down onto an barren baseball field and stepping through imaginary ropes at the exact right moment in Kazi-Ni-Nare. Minoru Suzuki is the man who feuded with Mecha Mummy, eventually conquering his foe when he Gotch Piledrivered him into a river causing the Mummy to explode. MiSu gets that this shit is ridiculous, and seems to love it all the more for that.
It all reminds me of a David Bixenspan Tweet I saw when Low-Ki pulled out of the first Bloodsport event to be replaced by Suzuki, ‘Low-Ki is an unprofessional guy whose gimmick is being a professional. Minoru Suzuki is an utmost professional whose gimmick is being wildly unprofessional.‘ Now, there is a lot of professionals in there, but I think if you strip it all away, the point is that all evidence does not only tell you Suzuki is a terrifying badass, but a decent human being. You only have to follow him on Instagram to see a different side to him as he transforms from snarling wild man into someone who loves his STANCE socks. Just this week we saw him posting pictures of him with a tiny Suzuki-gun fan, while he was central to the efforts to raise money for his old friend Takayama when he suffered that horrifying injury. Suzuki is a man that gets that you can play an arsehole, without actually being one.
All of which is my long-winded way of saying that Minoru Suzuki is the perfect wrestler. He can go out there and give you main event epics, wild tag brawls or hilarious goofiness and there isn’t a wrestling company in the world that wouldn’t be improved by his presence. If the rumours are true, and his time with New Japan is coming to an end, you’ve got to believe he’ll be top of every puro company’s wishlist? From DDT to All Japan, they will be lining up to bring him in because Minoru Suzuki equals quality. And, despite my love of NJPW, I want to see it. I want to see him go out and stretch his wings, whether that’s mucking around in DDT or beating the snot out of people in NOAH. Minoru Suzuki represents everything that wrestling should be, and I love him for it.