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All Aboard the S.S. Strong Style: The Five Stages of Minoru Suzuki Fandom

    • All Aboard the S.S. Strong Style: The Five Stages of Minoru Suzuki Fandom

      Shelly Deathlock cares too much about Japanese wrestling and, as Captain of the S.S. Strong Style, she’s here to welcome you on board and fill you in on what’s going on in the world of puro. Today she’ll discuss why Minoru Suzuki is going to be your new favorite wrestler.

      Maybe it wasn’t Shinsuke Nakamura walking that long Tokyo Dome ramp in a crown and cape and proceeding to have an incredible match against Kota Ibushi that got you newly invested (or re-invested!) in New Japan Pro Wrestling.

      Maybe it was the guy with the crazy hair all in white looking like some kind of actual murderer and/or video game final boss coming out to a haunting theme song you’ve only heard rivaled in epicness by Real American.


      Minoru Suzuki at Wrestle Kingdom 9, by satomi

      That man was Minoru Suzuki, and he’s probably going to be your favorite wrestler in a minute, once you overcome the mental blocks that stand in the way of your potential.

      The following stages describe what many humans have to go through to reach a place of reasonable acceptance and harmony with being a Suzuki fan, as he is a complex and difficult entity heretofore unseen in professional wrestling. You may move through these stages swiftly or you may work through one for months or years — that depends on a number of factors unique to you as an individual — but we can all reach the final stage. Trust me, my BS is in psychology.

      Stage 1 of Minoru Suzuki fandom: Fear; abject terror.

      Are you kidding me, Deathlock!? No way. Look at that guy. That guy could kill me with his mind a thousand miles away. Also what is with his hair. No sane man has hair like that. That man gives no fucks and he can stay away from me and off of my TV forever, thank you very much.


      Okay, fair point. You stay at this stage as long as you need to. Nobody’s going to force you to progress until you’re ready. Just give it some thought. Come back later. Click to read more if you’re ready to move on to stage 2.


      Stage 2 of Minoru Suzuki fandom: Simultaneous attraction and repulsion.


      You can’t seem to look away from him when he’s onscreen, can you? You tell yourself, “No, this is scary and this man needs to stop looking like he’s actually going to murder his opponent in that ring and he probably also needs to stop licking the ring ropes like that okay that is just weird and is it hot in here or something, jesus” but he’s really good in the ring, bringing a believability and flawless technique that you’ve been missing from your professional wrestling — er, sports entertainment, right?

      Subscribe to NJPWWorld and watch some matches, or find others on the internet:

      • Minoru Suzuki vs Yuji Nagata, Wrestle Kingdom
      • Minoru Suzuki vs Yuji Nagata, Wrestle Kingdom V
      • Minoru Suzuki vs Shinsuke Nakamura, G1 Climax 21
      • Minoru Suzuki vs Hiroshi Tanahashi, Wrestle Kingdom 6
      • Minoru Suzuki vs Hiroshi Tanahashi, King of Pro Wrestling 2012
      • Minoru Suzuki vs Yuji Nagata, Wrestle Kingdom 7
      • Minoru Suzuki vs Kazuchika Okada, Wrestling Dontaku 2013
      • Minoru Suzuki vs Shinsuke Nakamura, G1 Climax 23
      • Minoru Suzuki vs Shinsuke Nakamura, Power Struggle 2013
      • Minoru Suzuki vs Shinsuke Nakamura, New Japan Cup Final
      • Minoru Suzuki vs AJ Styles, G1 Climax 24 (the best match of 2014!)
      • Minoru Suzuki vs Kazuchika Okada, G1 Climax 24
      • Minoru Suzuki vs Kazushi Sakuraba, Wrestle Kingdom 9 (1 hr 38 minutes in)


      Doesn’t saka otoshi make your breath catch in your throat every time? Every time. How many times did you replay that gif? Enough times that you’re kind of okay with Suzuki throwing a man by his throat as long as he does it so beautifully with a strange, brutal grace? Okay, then you’re ready to move on!

      Stage 3 of Minoru Suzuki fandom: Research, and then cognitive dissonance ensues.

      Welcome! This is the stage where you start to learn some more about Minoru Suzuki. This stage could also lead to skipping every other stage and immediately becoming a lifelong fan, but that depends on your disposition.

      You start googling around. It’s pretty clear to you by now that your beloved Cesaro pays homage to Suzuki with his towel and his finisher, and indie superstar Biff Busick uses saka otoshi. You find out that Karl Gotch trained Suzuki and that’s pretty amazing — an active wrestler with a training lineage directly from the first catch-as-catch-can practitioners that created the basis of modern professional wrestling. What a treasure! No wonder so many up and comers are inspired by him.

      You learn how incredibly ridiculously amazingly handsome he was in his youth when he founded the first MMA organization, Pancrase, and tapped everyone out in competition. That’s okay, that’s pretty easy to deal with, even though you feel kind of weird having a crush on a dude who now looks absolutely batshit insane instead of just sort of batshit insane:



      And then you come across some things you can’t unsee:

      Wait, what?

      Wait, what?


      Wait. Wait, okay, no.

      Why is this even happening!?

      Why is this even happening!?

      Yes, it’s okay. That badass you saw nearly murdering people in a ring is, well, a lot of fun, too! Also, he loves One Piece!


      He plays video games all the time on the road, just like a real human!


      He has fun with his friends:


      He goes fishing a lot:


      His favorite ABBA song is Dancing Queen (and he answers my stupid questions!)

      He has a great cat!


      He wrestles women like they’re men which, for my Okada bucks, makes him the best feminist in professional wrestling.



      There’s a lot more to discover, if you keep looking. Persevere and be rewarded. There are tasteful artistic nudes from his Pancrase days, too, which I won’t link you to. I’m sorry and/or you’re welcome! Stay at this stage for as long as you need to. I didn’t even tell you about his theme song.

      Stage 4 of Minoru Suzuki fandom: Anger and jealousy.

      If you’ve somehow reconciled that there are many public (and probably dozens more private that I do NOT care to guess at lest he block me on twitter, thanks) facets to Minoru Suzuki’s character both in the ring and outside of it, you’re probably kind of upset about a lot of things.

      Here are some common questions and concerns, but by no means can I address everything that you’re feeling. I have a psych degree, yes, but I am not a practicing therapist.


      Suzuki invading NOAH by taninjpw

      Q. Why does he look so much better than I have ever looked when he’s 46?

      A. I don’t know, he does like five hundred crunches every day or something. Maybe try that? Mortals can only guess at what it’s like to be an angel demon beast god such as he.

      Q. I was looking up some of his recent stuff but it’s just a bunch of dumb tag matches against Toru Yano?

      A. Please, we don’t speak of this.

      Q. How come he doesn’t care about his fans? I badly google-translated his tweets and he was all “If you don’t know, you don’t NEED to know” re: why he came out in white at Wrestle Kingdom 9.

      A. I told you he was difficult. He also thinks his highly-regarded MOTY of 2014 with AJ Styles was really nothing special because every match he has is the best match of the year. His nickname is “The Man With The Worst Personality In the World.” I warned you!

      Q. Why hasn’t he ever been IWGP heavyweight champion!? How can he be legitimately good if he hasn’t been IWGP champion! What is going on! Everything I knew is wrong!

      A. I know, a lot of people are mad about this. There are other championships in Japan, though, and he’s had some of those. And maybe he’ll destroy NOAH’s Marufuji to win the GHC heavyweight championship (Hideo Itami’s belt) soon! Let’s stay tuned.



      Q. Why hasn’t he accepted my marriage proposal?

      A. Take a fucking number, kid.

      Stage 5 of Minoru Suzuki fandom: Harmony.

      Once some of the anger subsides, you kind of become okay with Suzuki existing in the world as he does rather than as you would like him to. Maybe endless feuds with Toru Yano are okay as long as he gets to invade NOAH and tear up the G1 25 this year.

      He’s certainly not going to thank you for enjoying his work, but he’s happy to get paid, so by all means, let’s continue to support the work he does give us and maybe we can get some more of it before he starts thinking about that horrible r-word he must be thinking about.

      Need more? Let me know if you need to be added to my Twitter list/support group. You can also follow @DailySuzukigun. I do not run this account, so instead of saying that it’s great, I can straight up confirm that it is the best account on Twitter.

      kaze ni nare

      And remember, friends: Suzukigun ichiban! Kaze ni nare!


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