Wrestling / Minoru Suzuki

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The lonely warrior.
"He choked me out, he heel hooked me, he beat the crap out of me for 30 minutes."
Ken Shamrock, about his first time training with Suzuki

"His technical ability and knowledge and coordination were beyond anything I could come up with."
Frank Shamrock

Minoru Suzuki (b. 1968) is a Japanese Professional Wrestler and Mixed Martial Arts fighter, co-founder of the proto-MMA company Pancrase along Masakatsu Funaki. He debuted in 1988 for New Japan Pro Wrestling, being a Yoshiaki Fujiwara trainee along with Funaki. When Fujiwara left for the shoot-style promotion UWF Newborn, Funaki and Suzuki got a permission to follow him, and they became part of the UWF roster. The promotion fell afterwards and his faction, led by Fujiwara, formed Pro Wrestling Fujiwara Gumi, but it was short-lived as well. Funaki and Suzuki realized that Japanese crowds really would pay for see "real" matches with non-worked outcomes and launched Pancrase, the second MMA promotion in history. Using the catch wrestling roots they had learned from Fujiwara, which they called "hybrid wrestling", the two became the aces of Pancrase and had legendary fights with names like Ken Shamrock, Bas Rutten and Guy Mezger, with Minoru gaining the King of Pancrase title against Shamrock. While not as famous or succesful as his partner Funaki, Minoru made himself known for his brutality and aloofness in and out of the ring, an aura he would keep the rest of his career. Nonetheless considered a great wrestler, Suzuki retired due to injuries making him lose fights and returned to pro wrestling, becoming a main eventer for All Japan Pro Wrestling and later New Japan Pro Wrestling. In 2015, he'd win the GHC Heavyweight title in Pro Wrestling NOAH.

As usual, you can find the basics at The Other Wiki.

"The Tropes with the Worst Personality in the World":

  • Adam Westing: His post-Pancrase professional wrestling career is basically this trope turned into a full-fledged character. The staged Minoru Suzuki behaves exactly like the real Minoru Suzuki was reputed to behave (yes, that bad) when he was a fighter.
  • Achilles' Heel: In MMA, striking. He was notoriously fragile, and his skills on the kickboxing field were very low, as he was never really interested in learning to hit and trade properly like some of his colleagues. He often would crumble down to some well placed strikes after having been dominating the match with his grappling.
  • Aloof Ally: In the Pancrase gyms, Suzuki was known to be better at punting people in the head than trying to help them. His pro wrestling persona isn't much better.
  • Always Someone Better
    • Every time somebody talks about Funaki and Suzuki, it's a matter of time that they mention Funaki as the best fighter of the two, which is not too illogic considering that Funaki was bigger, less injury prone and more open minded about cross-training.
    • Also Manabu Yamada, a Satoru Sayama trainee who cleanly defeated both Funaki and Suzuki in their primes. He is pretty much the only pancraseist who managed to outgrapple Suzuki through pure skill and not by size or strength.
  • Anime Hair: After his return to pro wrestling, he likes to shave most in the front and leave spiky the back.
  • Appeal to Force: NOSAWA won a game of jangen to determine who would be leader of GURENTAI, but it defaulted to Suzuki when he objected.
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • Maurice Smith, who defeated Suzuki in a different style fight in UWF Newborn and later again in a kickboxing bout in Pancrase. It took a third match under mixed rules fot Minoru to get the revenge. The thing was so personal that Suzuki admitted that their first fight left him traumatized. He seems to have gotten over it as they were recently seen hanging out together.
    • In pro wrestling, Yuji Nagata.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: For what the words literally mean, his high-impact harite slaps make his opponents fall like they were hit by a shovel. Just ask Kensuke Sasaki, for example. For what the trope page describes, there was a time he tagged with and invited the "wrath" of the 57 kg AKINO...
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Well, Shoot Wrestling, but yeah.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: He's the leader of and it's called Suzuki-gun for a reason; because he's the toughest and most dangerous of the entire group. In fact the group had originally formed on its own as Kojima-gun until he came back from a hiatus and outright took the stable from underneath Satoshi after deciding he wanted it for himself. No one in the group's history after that, from Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer to the All American standout Shelton Benjamin to the Ax-Crazy Takashi Iizuka has attempted to usurp leadership or try to betray him. In fact, he commands so much respect that his influence rubs off on them.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: As the second guy of Pancrase, he was one of the best in the promotion, and is notably the only guy with a (pretty much) legit win over Ken Shamrock, a feat who not even Funaki could do.
  • Badass Teacher: In the Pancrase Yokohama dojo.
  • Bash Brothers: With his recurrent partner Yoshihiro Takayama.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Done in a tag team grappling bout (as it sounds) with Tsuyoshi Kohsaka against Caol Uno and Osami Shibuya for The Contenders event. Although Kohsaka had won the first fall for their team by submitting Uno, he had got in a bad position during the next scramble and was being attacked by Caol, but Suzuki saved the day by tagging in himself behind Uno's back and choking him for the second and final fall.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: Being a rather small wrestler for a heavyweight, Suzuki is noticeable shorter and lighter than Takayama, who usually towers over most of his tag team partners anyways.
  • Big Guy Rodeo: Recurrent during his MMA career due to a combination of his small frame and his insistence to capture his opponents's back fue to his wrestling credentials.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: Pulling down a NOAH sign and holding it up for all the fans to see before throwing it to the ground and trampling it.
  • Boring, but Practical: Suzuki believes that using finishing moves as signature moves make the matches boring to the crowd, and thus he usually wrestles in a low pace with few heavy techniques. It's probably not a Take That! to Dragon Gate, as he has wrestled for them.
  • Breakup Breakout: Surprisingly, despite being always the second to Funaki, Suzuki has got a return to pro wrestling far more succesful than him. While Masakatsu has slowly faded during his AJPW and W-1 tenures, Minoru remains as a big draw for every promotion he works and is considered one of the most populars wrestlers in Japan.
  • Broken Ace: Very much like Funaki, Suzuki was the kind of fighter who looked to be the best and never gave up no matter what, and also like him, it ultimately played against him. His stubbornness to keep with the grueling Pancrase schedule through injuries that weren't healed up (including a herniated disk) and against bigger opponents granted him a much worse MMA record than he would have probably had if he had taken his career with care.
  • Bullying a Dragon:
    • In 1991, at the same event in which Koji Kitao famously shot on John Tenta, Minoru had a brawl against Apollo Sugawara when the latter got infuriated by a stiff slap and started hitting him for real. Suzuki being Suzuki, it's not surprising that Sugawara ended running away from the ring to save his life. To be honest, Suzuki was actually very worried after the incident, as he feared it could get him blacklisted by the pro wrestling community like Kitao was.
    • The same year, the muay thai fighter Lawi Nabataya was invited to PWFG to face Yusuke Fuke in a mixed rules shootfight, which he won after oiling up his legs between the rounds to avoid Fuke's takedowns. The thing was technically legal at the time, but was still considered a very dirty tactic, so the company threw Suzuki at him in the next fight. The result, as expected, was Minoru curbstomping the Thai for the revenge.
  • By the Hair: Did this to Aja Kong at the Oz Academy, though her latching onto his eyes got him to cut it out.
  • Captain Ersatz: Wrestled as Bruiser Minodie]] on NOSAWA Genome - The Final as part of the "AJPW 35th Anniversary Commemoration - Super Beast Revival" match, of which Takan Hansen, Jumbo Kikutaro and Terry Sanshiro were also a part of.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: After defeating his then enemy Funaki in AJPW's Champion Carnival, the normally grumpy Suzuki shook his hand and put the end to their feud.
  • Dented Iron: His body is really broken down after years of fighting and training nonstop, and you can sadly note it on his MMA record. In fact, this is one of the reasons he takes his wrestling matches so easy.
  • Determinator: He didn't give up easily. His master Karl Gotch said that while Fujiwara and Sayama were his best students, Suzuki was the toughest one, and that he had "real guts and killer instinct".
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Minoru was enraged when several NJPW no-showed for a press conference before the G1 tournament in 2005, and demanded seriously that they forfeited their matches as an expiation for such a sign of disrespect. Naturally, he was also trying to get some free passes in the tournament.
  • Distaff Counterpart: "The World Famous Kana" booking herself to fight Suzuki on her own show took on a new light after she formed a "Kana gun" and attempted hostile takeovers of JWP and REINA. It was basically a more extreme example of fans asking to be hit with the moves of their favorite wrestlers.
  • Evil Is Petty:
    • One of the things he does on a regular basis is kicking a rookie in the face as they hold open the ring ropes for him out of respect. He also comes through the ramp pushing away the hands of the fans who want to touch him.
    • He ripped up a Yuji Nagata T-shirt at the NJPW World Tag League finals of 2012, specially after he saw it worn by the announcer he loves to bully.
  • Evil Laugh: After no selling, such as Daisuke Harada's elbows.
  • Eye-Obscuring Hat: Doesn't wear a hat, but usually wears a black towel over his head while he walks to the ring, hiding his face and giving a menacing feel. This became his trademark in Pancrase and extended to his pro wrestling career.
  • Expy:
    • His violence-loving shooter gimmick echoes his master Yoshiaki Fujiwara's old NJPW persona, even featuring the same signature attack shenanigans only replacing headbutts with slaps. The similarities are probably unintentional, as Suzuki's character mostly comes from his own fame of being an aloof guy, which is not little.
    • Both his gimmicks and his violent antics strongly reminisce SUWA from Toryumon Japan, who was another famous Ax-Crazy prone to thrash his opponents around and use illegal tactics. In fact, Suzuki and SUWA teamed up in an indy event, with sounding results.
  • Eviler Than Thou: He and Taichi pulled this on Chaos by singling out and beating up its champion and co-leader, "Rain Maker" Kazuchika Okada.
  • Evil Versus Evil: With in the CHAOS Suzuki-gun rivalry is Minoru Suzuki vs Toru Yano. The contrast between them being Minoru cares most about trashing his opponents, often in ways not allowed by the rule book while Yano mostly cares about finding the easiest ways out of matches, such as when he once beat Suzuki by count out after handcuffing him to a guardrail. It came to a head when both lead their groups from New Japan intent on conquering NOAH at the same time.
  • Eye Scream: By accident in his title fight against Bas Rutten in Pancrase.
  • Finishing Move: Gotch-Style Piledriver, heel hook and sleeper hold. Before his MMA career, he also used the classic cross armbar.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Did it for NOSAWA Rongai, who at the time was Mexican Amigos's "El NOSAWA Mendoza". Suzuki's way to do it consisted in infiltrating Mexican Amigos, capture NOSAWA and drag him away from competition to beat him until he came to his senses.
  • Glass Cannon: In mixed martial. Though endowed with awesome shoot wrestling skills and a tough heart, Minoru was low in defense and durability, especially before an opponent with good striking and/or counterattack abilities. He was also very prone to injuries, and the company's schedule didn't help it.
  • Hate Sink:
    • He got booed against AJ Styles in New Japan. If that doesn't sound strange to you, AJ was the centerpiece of Bullet Club at the time.
    • The NOAH crowds cheered when Daisuke Harada jumped him from behind and beat Suzuki on the floor.
  • Heroes Gone Fishing: Loves fishing, and once was featured in a fishing TV show along with apprentice Hikaru Sato.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Had one after being beaten down by Maurice Smith in his first shootfight. According to Minoru, he left the ring terrified by Smith's punch power.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners:
    • With Masakatsu Funaki. According to Suzuki, however, their friendship is somewhat distant nowadays.
    • Also with Yoshihiro Takayama and NOSAWA Rongai.
  • Homage: His post-return wrestling attire is composed of the classic strong-style black tights and wrestling shoes, a la Antonio Inoki and friends. Also, his piledriver finisher is a nod to his master Karl Gotch.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Knocked himself out while trying a flying armbar on Guy Mezger out of desperation. He recovered afterwards, but the damage was already done, as he was still too groggy to save the match.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • He chose to fight his bout with Guy Mezger, a striking specialist, entirely standing - which would have been a bad idea even if Suzuki was a good striker. Consequently, he was picked apart through the entire affair, and ended up losing by knock out after the accident mentioned above.
    • Similarly, as soon as Suzuki saw his opponent Yoshiki Takahashi not wearing his shin pads, meaning he was going to fight only with the hands, he wasted no time in taking off his own pads and goading Yoshiki to a slap-boxing duel in the ring. As everybody who knew their respective fighting styles would expect, Suzuki ate overhands and uppercuts left and right and was knocked out.
  • Hot-Blooded: Which unfortunately has a history of getting him in trouble.
  • I Know Karate: An Olympian amateur wrestler, who finished second nationwide and figured as an Olympic alternate. He also trained in kendo.
  • Jerkass: His gimmick is that of an intransigent, Ax-Crazy wrestler who attacks everybody. This character is arguably a Self-Parody, as he was mainly famous during his MMA days for being very short-tempered and prone to violence.
  • Jerkass with a Heart of Gold: He organized charity events for the victims of the 2011 earthquake and other natural disasters in Japan.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • From abusing the Young Lions and New Japan staff, to mercilessly beating his opponents to a pulp. He also takes the trope to a very literal field with the Young Lions who hold the ropes for him to enter the ring.
    • According to Ken Shamrock, they took an agreement before his first fight with Suzuki in which Ken would try not to injury him, as the Japanese was already too prone per se and the troupe had to fight in more events. But once came the match, Suzuki deliberately cranked a leglock as soon as he got it and effectively injured Shamrock, paying him with the opposite honor.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: At NOAH Great Voyage 2015, he beat Daisuke Harada with a sleeper hold, then gave him a Gotch-Style Piledriver anyways. Then he threw out medical aide coming to check on Harada.
  • Lame Comeback: He taunted Sanae Kikuta over his famously boring fighting style by doing the sleep sign and laughing, only seconds after Kikuta had tapped Minoru with an arm triangle choke in their match in Pancrase.
  • La Résistance: As its name implies, Partisan Forces, a small stable of very capable wrestlers opposed to the enormous and evil Voodoo Murders faction.
  • Loony Friends Improve Your Personality: Both in real life and kayfabe, Suzuki had always been a jerkass and a somewhat antisocial person, but his partnership with NOSAWA Rongai and Tokyo Gurentai seemed to give him a more positive light. For a guy who was mainly known for hitting people backstage and getting frustrated for not being a better fighter, it's pretty heartwarming to see him having fun with those crazy guys.
  • Man in White: In contrast with his recent black wrestling attire, he used to wear white tights and boots in UWF and Pancrase.
  • My Kung-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours: Aside his known dislike towards foreigners, Suzuki notoriously hates Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and once forbade his students to learn it. He also openly critized Funaki and Shamrock when they went to the Machado school to spar, especially after they gave a poor performance against the brothers due to their unfamiliarity with gi grappling. He probably gets this from his master Karl Gotch.
  • Murderous Thighs: He once submitted Vernon White with a crook headscissors, a catch wrestling move in which the user presses the head or neck of his opponent with the legs while armlocking him. Not counting similar but different techniques, it appears to be the only time the move has been succesfully used in MMA.
  • Never Be Hurt Again: During his childhood, he was a scrawny boy due to a neurological condition, so he was often bullied by other kids. However, his love for pro wrestling and its heroic figures like Antonio Inoki helped him to endure it, and he decided he wanted to become a fighter like them order to never be a victim again.
  • Odd Friendship: His team with Naomichi Marufuji, an energetic high-flyer wrestler. Also his alliance with Tokyo Gurentai, which is mainly composed by luchadores, garbage wrestlers and the like.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: He was one of the smallest wrestlers in Pancrase, if not the smallest, but also one of the slickest and most capable on the ground. He's also strong enough to piledrive Ryota Hama, a sumo wrestler.
  • Power Stable: Minoru Gundan, Mexican Amigos (as Ray Suzuki), GURENTAI, Partisan Forces and Suzuki-gun.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: He is a fan of singer Ayumi Nakahara, and uses an incredibly light and soft song of hers called "Kaze ni Nare" as entrance theme.
  • Red Baron: Many. "Sekaiichi Seikaku no Warui Otoko" ("The Man with the Worst Personality in the World"), "Hama no Keikaya" ("The Brawler from Hama"), "Kamisori Fighter" ("Razor Fighter"), "Seiaki Oja" ("The Ill-Natured Leader") and "Kaze" ("Wind").
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Given their wrestling styles, Suzuki might look like the red to Masakatsu Funaki's blue, but in real life he was actually the most collected and levelheaded of the two. He is also the blue to NOSAWA's red.
  • Reformed, but Rejected: After winning the Triple Crown Championship in AJPW, Suzuki declared to go unambiguously face and founded Partisan Forces with his closest pals to defend the company from TARU and his Voodoo Murders. However, Kohei Suwama and other wrestlers naturally distrusted Suzuki taking such a crusade and founded his own stable, New Generation Force, to oppose him.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: One of the reasons he became a pro wrestler and a shooter was to take revenge on Hulk Hogan, who had knocked out his idol Inoki at their famous match on June 2, 1983 by attacking him out of the ring. The incident was staged, but people in Japan didn't know it, and many, like Suzuki himself, took offence for it. Unfortunately (or rather fortunately), Suzuki and Hogan never shared a ring.
  • Sadist Teacher: There are stories about Suzuki brutalizing Pancrase students just because, and while this is not an uncommon thing in Japan, he is said to have done it thoroughly.
  • Sensei for Scoundrels: Played a (anti)heroic example to Taiyo Kea, who he convinced to join GURENTAI after seeing him stuck in a bad losing streak.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Ayumi Nakamura's "Kaze ni Nare" is hardly the tune you would expect to hear announce the arrival of a black-clad, ill-tempered, ruthless fighting shogun. At the very least you would expect the guy to be a Bishōnen. Sure, it's J-rock, but it also has piano, a female singer, occasional melodic reference to "Eye of the Tiger", and lyrics about being a lonely warrior and (per its title) becoming like the wind. But Minoru Suzuki, being a fan, makes it work so it just adds to how frightening he is.
  • Sour Outside, Sad Inside: This is at least Ken Shamrock's interpretation on Suzuki, as after his experience in Pancrase he came to believe that Minoru was resented with everybody for not being at Funaki's level or as good as he would like to be.
  • Straight Man and Wise Guy: The straight man to NOSAWA's wise guy. Our friend Minoru has quite of a patience.
  • Strong as They Need to Be: Never a power wrestler, Suzuki was however able to perform a piledriver on freaking Ryota Hama.
  • Theatrics of Pain: Is regarded as one of the best sellers of his time.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Suzuki-gun won all of NOAH's title belts in 2015.
  • The Slacker: Upon witnessing how slow Mecha Mummy moved, he took it as an opportunity not to gain any advantages through his superior maneuverability but as an excuse to lounge.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: He caught Ken Shamrock in a heel hook and twisted his leg to a sick degree, but believing that the damage wouldn't impede Shamrock to resume fighting, Suzuki then transitioned into a kneebar and further worked the leg. And then again, realizing that Shamrock would still stand up after he got a rope escape, Suzuki opted for releasing it late despite the referee's protests in order to produce the maximum effect. As a result of the accumulated measures, Shamrock was rendered injured and had to give up.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Shelton Benjamin slowly became more and more like Suzuki as he hung around him in NJPW and NOAH.
  • Training from Hell: After declining to join "Los Mexico Amigos" in All Japan, he finally became "Ray Suzuki" when they retooled themselves into "Mexico Amigos Black", but then unmasked and kidnapped Kazushige Nosawa, who had invited him, for the purpose of re-training him into the good ways and to get the group to disband.
  • Villain Team-Up: With the Killer Elite Squad when the National Wrestling Alliance returned to Japan under new owner Bruce Tharpe's ownership to invade former member NJPW.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: On special occasions and big matches he'd dye his hair white for the event, he'd be just as nasty and brutal with it as he is with his usual hair color.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: His Minoru Nagayo getup for the "Crush Girls 25th Anniversary Memorial Match" at NOSAWA Bom-Ba-Ye #5 Rongai One Night Stand
  • Worked Shoot: His loss against Funaki and his second win against Ken Shamrock are known to be works, as well as rumoredly one of his losses to Frank Shamrock. However, being Pancrase, we will probably never know for sure.
  • Would Hit a Girl: If a woman wants to legitimately step into the ring with him, he'll steamroll them without a second thought.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: He acts like he is beat up, can barely stand and staggers back toward the ropes... then puts his opponent in an illegal arm bar when they approach.
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