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Grimmas

Minoru Suzuki

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I will make room for him on my list. Like Joe said, the highs are out of this world, and he's easily a personal favorite who will do something fun or interesting in a throwaway popcorn. Whether he gets a spot at the bottom or because I love him depends on what and how much I find from before the 2000s. I know there are a few highly touted matches in the archives here that I can start with.

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There have to be some hidden gems out there, don't there? Does a guy really have matches like vs. Tanahashi and vs. Styles with so little coming in the many years before it?

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I'm nowhere near as big a fan as some/most - he has terrific charisma, pretty unique, plenty of good-strong matches (though nothing I think is great), but he has pretty obvious limitations and weaknesses too - but for those who are fans, I recall (bear in mind I'm talking 10 years ago now) when I watched the UWF 2.0 run through, he was a lot of fun as the spunky, cheeky upstart. Anything with Fujiwara, Takada, Maeda, Yamakazi, even Funaki (i.e. any guy established way above him on the pecking order) ought to be a blast.

 

On another note, could someone please point me to the Suzuki match I've - incredibly - never seen. He's against a young guy who has charisma and is getting a push, and it's preferably at Korakuen, and the young guy starts doing all of Suzuki's shit to him (his entire offence works as payback spots) before getting killed? There's no one working in Japan right now who I'd rather see 91/2 Kobashi work against than Suzuki, and that match as outlined has to have happened.

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I'm going to be watching quite a bit of Suzuki in the near future and will come back to this.

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I'll rank him. I'd consider ranking him based on his shoot style stuff alone because UWF is the greatest wrestling promotion ever but he has a very solid resume of pro-style matches as well and manages to make his matches feel special and unique.

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I watched him vs. Nakano from UWF 2 recently and for a guy who would later work an uncooperative shooter gimmick it's funny how much pro-style offense he gets in - Gotch style piledriver, dropkick, stomps and knee drops, even bouncing off the ropes at one point. It's all integrated really well. I'm not sure if he has the resume to make a top 100, I would really have to dig deep into the largely unexplored stretch between his return to worked matches and his hyped stuff of the past few years. He sure was good early on though and had that great surly charisma from day one - even as a young boy in New Japan you can see him hanging out at ringside looking pissed off.

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Suzuki isn't going to crack many lists for people who require a long list of of high level matches as a major component of their criteria. That is part of what makes him such a difficult person to deal with in a project like this. His highest end stuff is brilliant and as good as anybody ever, but there is no depth whatsoever on his resume in terms of great matches.

 

With all of that said, he's an amazing worker who blows away dozens of guys who probably have triple the amount of great matches as he does. His strength lies in the subtly of his work and the unique charisma that adds to his overall package. That kind of stuff is much harder to quantify or deal with analytically than thinking about a raw number of great matches. Things like great matches and great years are much easier to deal with and to compare than trying to wrap your head around a guy who really has no good comp in terms of style & output. The closest would be William Regal, and even then I have major problems comparing the two.

 

The bottom line for me, is when I think about Suzuki, I come away thinking that there is no fucking way that there are 100 people who were better at pro wrestling than he was. He's got to be one of the 100 best ever. The problem, is I have no earthly clue how to stack him up or rank against the rest of the list.

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I think he's kind of like a japanese Undertaker. Some good matches, but could get really annoying with antics and shtick. Didn't really become a great worker until the last couple years, and even then the booking hasn't done him much favors. Could see a chance for him once I watch all the PWFG.

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Suzuki is one of my favorites on the current Japanese scene, but he has done himself no favors with his NOAH run this year. Despite the invasion angle, his big matches have felt curiously heatless. And I actively disliked his recent GHC defense against Sugiura, which was built around endless, mindless strike exchanges.

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The strike exchanges made sense. Sugiura's gimmick is a bull headed tough guy who has more guts than brains. The match was a FIGHT between two tough guys who were refusing to back down or wilt from the other. Of course, this is where I differ from a lot of people here when it comes to NJPW style forearm battles or modern puro style strike exchanges. I love that stuff. It fires me up and almost always adds to a match for me, especially when it's two stubborn tough guys like these two in a big time grudge match, beating each other senseless because both boys would rather risk getting killed than back down from the other.

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To each his own but I thought it was straight up boring. Guys who are having a "fight" don't eat shots with no attempt to defend for 20 minutes. That's faux macho horseshit that has become a plague on modern Japanese wrestling. If it was so stirring, why was there zero heat? As I said, I often love Suzuki. But that struck me as a lowest-common-denominator performance by him.

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I agree on the criticisms of the match, and find the number of people that use the word "fight" to refer to guys taking turns allowing the other guy to hit them bizarre, but you're way off base saying there was no heat. That was easily the hottest NOAH crowd in recent memory, they were eating the shit up.

 

I think Suzuki has very consciously allowed his opponents to work their kind of match when possible in this run, which is probably the right thing for an invader champion to do. The problem for me is that Marufuji and Sugiura's respective match styles are pretty shitty. It's telling that I enjoyed his matches vs. Taniguchi and Takayama, far more limited guys where Suzuki had to do most of the heavy lifting, far more than the Marufuji and Sugiura matches.

 

That said, I think the way he worked the Marufuji and Sugiura matches could be seen as a point in his favor, even if it actually resulted in worse matches for my taste than if he'd just taken control and slotted them into a Suzuki Match. You have to consider what the goal of this run is and the audience he's playing for.

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Maybe I'm wrong about the heat. I'd have to rewatch. I also preferred the Takayama match; haven't watched the Taniguchi.

 

You make an interesting point about him playing to the audience, though really, is the taste of the NOAH crowd that different from the NJ crowd? I honestly don't know the answer at this point. Buf I'm sorry, if that involves a talent like Suzuki giving in to a meathead like Sugiura, it isn't going to help on my GOAT ballot.

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To each his own but I thought it was straight up boring. Guys who are having a "fight" don't eat shots with no attempt to defend for 20 minutes. That's faux macho horseshit that has become a plague on modern Japanese wrestling. If it was so stirring, why was there zero heat? As I said, I often love Suzuki. But that struck me as a lowest-common-denominator performance by him.

 

Yeah, we're just far apart on what we enjoy, which is cool. I like guys taking turns trying to prove who is tougher and "macho horseshit" in my wrestling. That's probably why I like Sugiura more than most, because that's his style to a tee.

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Maybe I'm wrong about the heat. I'd have to rewatch. I also preferred the Takayama match; haven't watched the Taniguchi.

 

You make an interesting point about him playing to the audience, though really, is the taste of the NOAH crowd that different from the NJ crowd? I honestly don't know the answer at this point. Buf I'm sorry, if that involves a talent like Suzuki giving in to a meathead like Sugiura, it isn't going to help on my GOAT ballot.

 

Not about differing tastes so much as allowing a guy to look good doing his style on his home turf. The whole point of this angle is to get NOAH out of its current malaise, which is a difficult proposition for a heel booked to come in and dominate the entire roster for close to a year. The least he can do is let Sugiura have a Sugiura match in front of a crowd of Sugiura fans.

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I hear you. Do you feel like the Suzuki invasion has worked? Based on the handful of shows I've seen and stuff I've heard from modern puro mavens like Alan, my impression is that it's been kind of meh. But it's not like I want that to be the case. I hoped this would be a great run that would add to Suzuki's stature.

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