3. Minoru Suzuki vs. Hirooki Goto – Wrestle Kingdom 12
The hair vs. hair match between Minoru Suzuki and Hirooki Goto at Wrestle Kingdom 12 was the perfect title defence for the NEVER Openweight title and exhibited just how good a wrestler Minoru Suzuki is.
From the second that the bell rang; you knew that this was not just going to be any wrestling match. Rather than your traditional lock-up start, the bout started with Suzuki hitting a stiff strike to Goto leading both men to have an all too familiar Suzuki-esque fight in the centre of the ring. Crowds even saw a doctor to brought to ringside as Suzuki almost strangled Goto to unconsciousness within the first few minutes. Suzuki was willing to do anything to keep the NEVER belt.
When it seemed as if Goto couldn’t continue, Suzuki carried on the onslaught outside of the ring utilising everything around him to inflict more pain. It seemed as if nowhere was safe for Goto as he just kept getting beaten up. Even when his opponent finally had an opportunity to finally get some offence by slapping Suzuki, the King just laughed in his face. No matter what Goto gave, Suzuki had an answer for it.
Both men put all of their strength and agility into the match. However, it seemed as if Suzuki was in control for the majority of the match throwing Goto around as if he was a Young Lion. So, it was shocking to many fans when Goto eventually got enough offence to hit an avalanche Ushigoroshi and eventually hit his patented GTR.
However, despite losing, Suzuki proved that he is a man true to his word. Despite his fellow Suzuki Gun members trying to drag him away from the ring, he walked back on his own accords and shaved his hair off as promised. It was one of the best NEVER matches New Japan has seen and will be remembered for its intensity and brutality.
2. Minoru Suzuki vs. Kazuchika Okada – Royal Quest (August 2019)
Unlike Suzuki’s matches in Japan, the crowd at the Copper Box in London was firmly behind the King of Pro-Wrestling rather than reigning champion Kazuchika Okada. It was not surprising as many Brits consider Suzuki one of their own as he has spent a substantial amount of time in the UK wrestling at various promotions.
The match itself started with an exchange of holds and reversals. However, it wasn’t long before the King took centre stage and challenged Okada to a striking match. This led to both men standing in the middle of the ring trading blistering chops that echoed across the arena. From there, the bout became a battle of two wrestling geniuses.
With Okada’s high speed, energetic and athletic style which contrasted with Suzuki’s mat-wrestling, it had something for every type of wrestling fan. We saw piledrivers, the odd DDT and a huge number of penalty kicks. There was even another brutal exchange of strikes with elbows being thrown and Suzuki just finding it all hilarious.
For the majority of the match, Suzuki seemed to be firmly in control as the crowds screamed and chanted for the Suzuki Gun leader. Okada just seemed unable to answer anything that Suzuki threw at him.
However, just over the 30 minutes mark, Okada managed to hit his Rainmaker to get the win. It didn’t stop the crowds cheering and chanting for Suzuki proving why he is one the best in the world. Even the Rainmaker couldn’t hide his respect for the man telling the British crowd how happy he was to have been able to wrestle Suzuki and it was a debt repaid after being beaten by the King in a tag match during that Summer’s G1.
1. Minoru Suzuki vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi – King of Pro Wrestling (October 2012)
However, there is one match that Suzuki fans across the world will always remember and that was his IWGP Heavyweight match against Hiroshi Tanahashi at King of Pro Wrestling in 2012. After beating the champion during that Summers G1, Suzuki took advantage of a tired, battered and weak Tanahashi to challenge for the title that had alluded him his whole career.
The match started quick and fast with both men trying to gain the advantage over their opponent. Not only was it a clash of styles, but also a clash of personalities with both men being as different as possible. It also seemed that the crowd was split and many wanted to see Suzuki win. At one point, when Tanahashi started to disrespect Suzuki by using his body as an air guitar, the Ace was met with a rare sea of boos. It showed that he still has a legion of fans who admire and respect his style.
Like many of the matches on this list, Suzuki seemed to have the advantage for most of the time targeting the weakest parts of Tanahashi’s body, especially his left arm. However, it took just one inverted dragon screw from the Ace for the tides to turn. Yet, unsurprisingly, Suzuki kept fighting. Even with a damaged leg, he managed to stay on the offence trying to weaken Tanahashi anyway possible. At one point, fans were treated to an uncharacteristic dropkick from the King.
What gave Suzuki the advantage for most of this match was the fact that he made Tanahashi use his style of professional wrestling. Compared to other matches, Tanahashi was less flash and stayed upright trying to stick to a more traditional style of professional wrestling.
Despite losing the match, it was a bout that cemented just how talented Suzuki is as a wrestler with not only the ability to dictate the pace but adapt to his opponent.
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