Wrestling / Takuya Sugi

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/sugi2.jpg
One of his many, many faces.
Takuya Sugi (b. 1983) is a Japanese Professional Wrestler, better known by his ring names Yoshitsune, El Blazer and SUGI, among many others. He is known for his work in countless wrestling promotions both in Japan and Mexico, as well as the long list of gimmicks he has played during his career. He was trained at the Ultimo Dragon Gym in México, wrestling for his Toryumon promotion and appearing in the short-lived Toryumon X brand along his class. They later were moved to Michinoku Pro Wrestling, where Sugi had his home for years, eventually becoming the main star under the name of Yoshitsune until his departure in 2009. He also was a part of the reborn Toryumon movement, wrestling in Dragondoor and El Dorado Wrestling before briefly working for Dragon Gate all under the character El Blazer, which became his trademark in the Japanese indy sleaze scene. He also had participations in main promotions like HUSTLE, All Japan Pro Wrestling, Pro Wrestling NOAH and Pro Wrestling ZERO1, playing colorful gimmicks and one-night characters. In 2009, he moved to México again, becaming a young cruiserweight prospect for the Asistencia Asesoría y Administración company, until he was released due to a scandal involving fellow wrestler NOSAWA Rongai, and didn't surface back until 2017, ceasing in his freelance activities and joining ZERO1 full time.

He is known as one of the best pure high-flying wrestlers in the world, being often compared to Jack Evans and PAC, and was for a time one of the most popular Japanese indy sensations, as you can note in the sheer number of tributes to him in YouTube.

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

"El Troper":

  • Aborted Arc: The La Yakuza stable in AAA was originally going to feature more Japanese wrestlers brought to the company, but working agreements with Japan weren't successful and Go Shiozaki was all the reinforcements Sugi and company ever received.
  • Ambiguous Situation:
    • After his El Dorado run ended, El Blazer started the custom of briefly Fainting during his ring entrance. This has been never explained.
    • It is said that the spectacular move he innovated in his debut as Shanao, the corkscrew imploding somersault leg drop (!), was actually a botched attempt to do the Kuramahachiryuu, or according to another theory, it was the first version of the move before it settled down as a corkscrew shooting star press. During the match, you can even hear the announcers calling it by the name but wondering what had they just seen.
  • Anti-Hero: Upon his return to ZERO1 in 2017, SUGI made clear that he is there to win titles and not to make friends, but he is not over teaming with babyfaces against the villainous Voodoo Murders.
  • Arch-Enemy: Taiji Ishimori, the Sato twins, Kagetora, Kota Ibushi and RONIN.
  • As Himself: Subverted and later played straight. Among his many characters, his Sugi San gimmick (later known as SUGI) was thought to be his "non-gimmick" persona, but the AAA commentators introduced him as the son of a yakuza boss who happened to be an acquitance to Kenzo Suzuki. This was apparently forgotten during his return, however, and nowadays his Sugi San/SUGI gimmick is pretty much the extension of Takuya's real life identity.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: His first El Blazer costume featured blue feather stoles which simulated a cool sapphire flaming trail behind him, but he lost half of the feathers in his first match, so he discarded them announcing he was "changing to his summer clothes".
  • Badass Long Robe: Wore a long purple robe as Shanao, with extra long sleeves to add effect.
  • Bash Brothers: With Rasse (they have teamed up under four different gimmicks), Milanito Collection a.t. (in El Dorado), Kota Ibushi (in El Dorado and some indies) and Ikuto Hidaka (in ZERO-ONE).
  • Big Brother Mentor: Blazer became a temporary one to perennial rookie Shota Takanishi in ZERO-ONE.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Sugi's first in-ring apparition in All Japan (as the masked character AHII) was to save Keiji Mutoh and Masanobu Fuchi from the Voodoo Murders.
  • Big Red Devil: Subverted by AHII, who was kind of small and debuted as a face. Also, he was not just a devil, but a red pepper devil spider or something.
  • Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: El Blazer was the boke to Milanito Collection a.t.'s tsukkomi. In a famous promo, Milanito superkicked him for fooling around the dojo instead of rehearsing their team entrance dance with him.
  • Book Ends: He went inactive in 2012 due to the NOSAWA scandal when he was scheduled to compete in the Fukumen World League. Four years later, he made his return as a surprise member of the 2016 Fukumen World League. Somewhat subverted, thought, because it took another year for him to make a full-fledged return.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Mini Crazy MAX was portrayed this way, especially Mini CIMA, whose place SUWA had often to remind by slapping him.
  • Breakup Break Out: Despite his international fame, Sugi has a nasty tendency to be the Jannetty to almost every tag team partner he has had. We list:
    • When Shanao and Kagetora broke up, the latter skyrocketed and received both ace status and his own stable in M-Pro and El Dorado, while the former remained trapped in the low/mid-card and it took years for him to reach his position. Even now, Kagetora is a respected member of Dragon Gate while Sugi has just started to recover his lost status.
    • Somewhat zig-zagged with Rasse. Although Sugi was always in a higher level in terms of skill and charisma, his irregular freelance ventures after his departure from Michinoku Pro have granted him less activity than Rasse, who still wrestles in MPW and enjoys small pushes now and then.
    • The biggest example is Kota Ibushi. As the top indy high-flyers, Ibushi and Sugi used to fight and/or team up in every promotion they shared, struggling for years to be the main HSQ wrestler in Japan. Over time, on one hand, Ibushi became the main star of Dramatic Dream Team (a promotion already prone to giving disproportionate pushes and absurd numbers of title reigns) and got drafted by New Japan Pro-Wrestling, becoming one of the most decorated and famous junior wrestlers in the world ever. Sugi, on the other hand, became more and more inconsistently booked over the years and never achieved anything special aside from his underwhelming tenure in Mexico.
    • Takuya's luck didn't change after his return to NOAH as Dual Force. Ironically, despite referring to his partner Pesadilla as his "leverage" to dominate the junior heavyweight division, Force got injured and disappeared from the company, while Pesadilla remains an active member.
    • The only example in favor of Sugi is his old partner in the Toryumon system, Milanito Collection a.t. (now known as Hercules Senga). Milanito was considered the main face of the team, but he ended up being relegated to the low-card tag team field in every promotion he stepped in while Blazer became much more known for his indy treks.
  • Brought to You by the Letter "S": "RB" on Rabbit Boy's mask.
  • Canon Immigrant: Was one of the few Toryumon X wrestlers who made his way to Dragon Gate, although (perhaps unsurprisingly) he wasn't any different in his success there.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Arrived to Dragon Gate in 2008 and quietly disappeared the same year.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: El Blazer is portraited as one, when not as a downright catatonic pothead. His El Dorado run was the only usage of the character that didn't feature any kind of in-ring comedy.
  • Cool Mask: Several ones, in fact.
  • Cool Sword/Katanas Are Just Better: Carries one to the ring as Shanao/Yoshitsune/SUGI, and used to unsheath it on the ramp and point to the opponent with it to signal that things were gonna suck for him.
  • Costume Copycat: El Blazer was victim of this in VKF Wrestle Naniwa, taking part in a tag team match where everybody was impersonating him by sporting Blazer-like attires and (unsuccessfully) trying to do his patented Blazing Arrow. Interestingly, his partner Kiku Blazer (Kikutaro, naturally) was the closest to pull it.
  • Costume Porn: Some of his gimmicks, like NOIZ and The★ZEST, had very outrageos outfits.
  • David vs. Goliath: He is the second smallest wrestler ever trained in Toryumon (only beaten by Shinjitsu Nohashi), so most of his matches feature a natural size disadvantage, especially against huge juniors like Shuji Kondo or GAINA.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: With Masaaki Mochizuki after losing to him in a title match in Pro Wrestling ZERO1.
  • Demoted to Extra: Blazer had a strong start in Dragon Gate by getting a clean win over a veteran like Genki Horiguchi in the Open The Brave Gate Title Tournament, but shortly after he was relegated to Mochizuki Buyuden and NEX shows, and then he left and never came back.
  • Determinator/Made of Iron: Is able to endure a lot of punishment from his opponents during his matches despite his petite build. He even kicked out GAINA's elevated powerbomb, which was quite of a feat at the time.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Sugi and joshi wrestler Command Bolshoi were compared for years due to their similar small sizes, baggy costumes, ponytailed masks and wrestling styles. They ever teamed up during an Último Dragón event, with Sugi in his Yoshitsune persona and Bolshoi cosplaying Shanao in their entrance.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: Sugi and Masaki Okimoto had originally very similar wrestling styles, which can be noted in their matches as the HUSTLE Kamen Rangers, but over time Sugi's became more high-flying and crazy while Okimoto was made more grounded and rounded.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Due to his many characters, he has had several.
    • As Yoshitsune, pinning Rasse with the spectacular Shura during his redebut.
    • As El Blazer, pinning Shuji Kondo with the spectacular Cielo Perfecto Uno during El Dorado's first big event.
    • As AHII, performing a spectacular shooting star press (notice the pattern?) onto brother YASSHI during his first apparition in AJPW.
  • Dynamic Entry: During his Fukumen League match against Jushin Liger, Yoshitsune got in the ring by dropkicking him over the ropes from the entrance ramp.
  • El Spanish "-o": El Blazer (fortunately, it was not "El Blazero" or "El Blazo" or something more bizarre) and El Forte.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: When Kenzo Suzuki told his ally El Oriental about another Japanese wrestler coming to AAA, Oriental expected a large, Giant Baba-esque wrestler, as Kenzo himself is very tall. Naturally, he was astonished upon meeting the diminutive Sugi. Kenzo's remark, however, was "just wait to see him wrestle".
  • Expy:
    • Inside the Toryumon system, Sugi is one to Dragon Kid, only a bit lighter and even more agile. They share a lot of signature moves, like the satellite headscissors and hurricanrana variations, and Sugi's Little Dragon character was outright patterned after Kid.
    • Outside the system, he could pass as a small version of Hayabusa, given his baggy attire, mask and athleticism. He was even managed by Hayabusa himself in a special occasion while teaming with a Hayabusa incarnation played by Rasse.
  • Face: Has wrestled as face during his entire career. Exceptions are his initial run in Mexico, his 2013 tenure as Dual Force (possibly; it was too short to see whom he would feud with and why) and his current ZERO1 run (where he seems to be more interested in titles than allegiances).
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: His Dual Force mask had an asimmetric design in black and white, while his NOIZ costume was even more asimmetrically fancy.
  • Finishing Move: Has too many to list and too specific to every gimmick of his, but the most common of them, currently used as SUGI, are the shooting star press, the Dan no Ura (springboard somersault hurricanrana, named Cielo Perfecto Uno back in his Blazer times) and many 450º splash variants. He was also famous for the Shura (shooting star senton), Kuramahachiryuu (corkscrew shooting star press) and other similar stunts.
  • Fish People: Namazu Man, which translated as "Catfish Man", was Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Flanderization: El Blazer started as an eccentric if highly competent wrestler, but after his El Dorado run, the former trait increased with every year while the latter decreased, eventually turning into a goofball who barely won matches at all.
  • Foreign Wrestling Heel: In AAA. Subverted a bit, because Japanese wrestlers are highly respected in Mexico since the times of Satoru Sayama and Gran Hamada, and Sugi himself was compared to these despite playing a rudo.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: He injuried gravely his leg in NOAH while landing from a particularly crazy highspot and was forced to step out of competition.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere:
    • Sugi tends to be those with alarming frequency, both by playing special gimmicks linked to some promotional stuff and by debuting in random indy promotions without any warning. Even when he dropped his multi-gimmick ventures in favor of the guise of SUGI, he still did this: tis return to ZERO1 in 2017 was particularly unexpected not only because he introduced himself by intruding on a match, but because nobody expected him to return to pro wrestling after the NOSAWA scandal.
    • On the receiving end, RONIN appeared as SUGI's archnemesis with little context before it. He simply attacked him after a match in NOAH and initiated the feud. Promotional materials in Mexico explained that RONIN was an evil samurai ghost who was chasing SUGI from Japan, but that's all they revealed. In AAA, the commentators only knew that RONIN was an old enemy to Sugi and a very bizarre guy overall.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: His finisher "Cielo Perfecto Uno" is Spanish for "Perfect Sky One".
  • Heroes "R" Us: As Little Dragon, he was part of Taiji Ishimori's high-flying entourage in Dragondoor.
  • Hope Spot: During the Fukumen World League, after enduring some hard punishment from Mexican brawler Atlantis, Yoshitsune had him effectively pinned for three after a springboard 450º splash, but the referee was busy fending off Atlantis's cornerman Olímpico and didn't see it. This cost Yoshi the match.
  • Horned Humanoid: AHII's mask had two horn-like thingies on top.
  • I Have Many Names/Man of a Thousand Faces: Has played eighteen distinct characters during his career. In fact, his tendency to not stick to a specific gimmick became a recurrent gag in internet, specially after he adopted what many thought to be his definitive persona, SUGI.
  • I Have the High Ground: One of his signature moves is a moonsault from a balcony a la Super Crazy.
  • Improv: Is known for his amazing ability to improvise new spots whenever he has a botch. Sometimes it's difficult to tell if those changes were actually accidents or not.
    • During his debut in Toryumon X, he slipped out of the ropes while doing the triangle jump Mad Splash, so he springboarded at the drop of a hat to end the move. He had to repeat the feat after he botched again in one of the last shows.
    • When he took part in the first El Dorado match, he went for a tiger feint kick against one of the Sato twins, but they realized Sato was set too far to reach him with the legs. Sugi's solution was springboarding horizontally between the ropes into an elbow smash to the face.
  • Killer Robot: UWAI #23, a short-lived gimmick played by Sugi in UWAI Station, was a robot made to fight other robot wrestlers. He and another UWAI robot defeated the popular indy robot Mecha Mummy and his partner Mecha Mummy Lite.
  • Kryptonite Factor: Due to his small frame and frequently convoluted moves, Sugi is especially vulnerable to pragmatic, brawling styles, which made easier for shoot-stylist Hayato Fujita to defeat him.
  • Left Hanging: We never learned neither how the feud between SUGI and RONIN started nor how it was supposed to end due to Sugi's retirement due to the NOSAWA scandal.
  • Legacy Character:
    • The "Mini CIMA" persona was a knock-off of (then) Toryumon Japan ace CIMA. It was helped by the fact that Sugi looks an awful lot like him.
    • "HUSTLE Kamen Red" was played by Masaki Okimoto aka Rasse in his first match against Super Crazy. Later Okimoto changed to blue while Sugi adopted the red suit.
    • His "Little Dragon" character was a 3rd generation character from his master Ultimo Dragon and 2nd from wrestlers like Dragon Kid (Ultimo's successor) and Darkness Dragon (the successor's Evil Counterpart). The name Little Dragon was in fact used by Dragon Kid during his very brief WCW run.
    • "The★ZEST" has been played by three people: an unknown wrestler (possibly Okimoto or Takeshi Minamino), Sugi and KAMIKAZE. Another ZEST who seemed to be none of those surfaced years later.
    • Kensuke Office's comedic character "Namazu Man" was played by many people (Kota Ibushi, Cho-un Shiryu, Bear Fukuda, Shinobu and a long etc.), to the extent it is almost impossible to tell who was under the mask in every match. It's known, however, that Sugi played him for a time.
  • Manly Tears: Upon his return in 2016 (see World of Cardboard Speech below).
  • Masked Luchador: He debuted as an incarnation of an unmasked lucharesura like CIMA, but he then started playing masked characters and never stopped.
  • Mirror Match: He first wrestled against The★ZEST as El Blazer, later became ZEST himself, and finally relinquished the ZEST mask and wrestled as NOIZ against the next guy under it.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Was promoted as such, as expected from Toryumon, and the mask did nothing the discourage them. Even if he barely showed any skin under his heavy clothes, he was really popular with M-Pro female fans.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: Sugi teamed with the Mexican high-flying stable Real Fuerza Aérea in AAA, but was never made an official member.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: His Yoshitsune gimmick was based in (guess who?) Minamoto Yoshitsune.
  • The Phoenix: His Blazer gimmick is based on the Phoenix. Well, a sort of.
  • Power Stable: Crazy MAX, HUSTLE Army, Dragondoor Seikigun, La Yakuza and Sword Army.
  • Power Trio: La Yakuza with El Oriental and Kenzo Suzuki.
  • The Quiet One: Shanao didn't talk very much. Only after becoming Yoshitsune he dropped some of his quietness.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: His NOIZ outfit was silver and pink.
  • Real Song Theme Tune:
    • As Yoshitsune, he used "Kazabayashi Volcano (Fuhrinkazan)" by Gackt.
    • As El Blazer in Dragon Gate, he used "Aquí y Ahora" by David Bisbal.
    • As NOIZ he used a theme song played by Imitation Pops Uchuu Sentai NOIZ.
    • As Sugi in AAA, he used the theme of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.
  • Red Baron: "Hiraizumi no Densetsu" (Japanese for "The Legend of Hiraizumi", as Yoshitsune), "El Amo del Aire" (Spanish for "The Lord of the Air", as Sugi San or SUGI) and "The Mardi Gras Ninja" (as El Blazer).
  • Red Eyes! Take Warning: Rabbit Boy's.
  • Ricky Morton: He typically plays the punching bag in tag team matches, as his size makes him easy to throw around and to sell very spectacularly.
  • The Rival:
    • Taiji Ishimori. They both were considered top workers in Toryumon X and have clashed in several occasions in high-flying brawls.
    • Also Kota Ibushi, pretty much the only Japanese wrestler who can match him in aerial abilities. They started teaming up in Dragondoor and El Dorado and became frequent opponents in others.
  • Roundhouse Kick: He uses them a lot.
  • Shout-Out:
    • El Blazer's name is similar to the character "El Blaze" from Virtua Fighter 5, but this is an unique case: as the gimmick and the videogame debuted within months of difference, it's unknown who copied who in the first place.
    • AHII closely resembles Venom, with orange replacing white in his color scheme.
  • Signature Move: A tope feint in which he flips forward, no hands, into the ropes and flips back to his feet. Also his Gojoe Ooashi evasion and the Blazing Arrow or Senbonzakura (a rope running dropkick).
  • Spot Monkey: There is considerable debate about whether he qualifies as this or not, as he is known to have given some really good matches under some of his wrestling personas while openly indulged in spot-tastic wrestling under some others. His champion run as Yoshitsune is considered his best year in terms of psychology, while many of his tag team matches in HUSTLE are seen as very keen from the lucha libre viewpoint; however, his beginnings as Shanao and most of his El Blazer indy runs in any time are thought to lack both psychology and fluidity aside from his crazy moves.
  • The Stoner: El Blazer was portrayed this way in Dramatic Dream Team. He entered the ring wearing a marijuana shirt (and high as a kite) and proceeded to apathetically wrestle a losing effort against MIKAMI.
  • Straight Man and Wise Guy: Yoshitsune was the straight man to The Great Sasuke's wise guy, who adequately was the older of the two.
  • "Super Sentai" Stance: In HUSTLE as the HUSTLE Kamen Rangers, and later in Michinoku Pro as the Michinoku Rangers.
  • Tight Rope Walking: One of his most known signature moves is the Blazing Arrow or Senbonzakura, an attack in which Sugi runs across the ring rope and performs a dropkick in a cornered opponent.
  • Tournament Arc:
    • Mini CIMA (him) and SUWAcito won Toryumon México's La Copa Yamaha Internacional 2004
    • Kagetora and Shanao (him) won the Michinoku Pro Tag League 2005
    • Yoshitsune won block D of the Michinoku's Fukumen World League Qualifiers in 2007, though Tiger Mask IV won the whole thing.
  • Tweener: Dual Force is the quintessential example, as evidenced for his duality gimmick.
  • Warrior Monk: As Shanao.
  • We Used to Be Friends
    • With Kagetora, until he betrayed Shanao and went to form STONED.
    • Interestingly, El Blazer remains friends with Kagetora despite having opposed him as well in El Dorado. They travelled together to Pro Wrestling Guerilla and had some matches teaming up.
  • "World of Cardboard" Speech: Cut an epic one after his return to MPW in 2016.
    "What this match means for me is the joy to see that all the people whom I forced to wait such a long time are still here. I don't know if I have done enough for this day to come, but for me it is enough to receive this brief time of chance. I'm very happy that you all can hear me announce my return here. In four days, I will show you my best by defeating Carístico.
    But I know that this is not so simple. I know Michinoku Pro Wrestling is my home, but I don't know yet what will my place be in this world of organizations that rise and fall. Therefore I will look to gather together again the pieces of myself - I will look to the future if I cannot erase the past.
    To all the fans, I don't want this to be just a thank you. Whatever my past was, whatever my future will be, I will fight not only to thank you all for this chance, but also for all the expectatives you crammed about me in those four years of blank space not to be in vain".
  • Would Hit a Girl: El Blazer had zero qualms about fighting joshi wrestlers. But again, most mixed gender matches in puroresu see intergender action no problem.
  • Wrestling Psychology: Tended to be somewhat Spot Monkey-ish at his beginnings, but he greatly improved over time. Then again, he was often put to play spot-oriented one night gimmicks.
  • Yakuza: He was a part of the La Yakuza stable in AAA along Kenzo Suzuki, El Oriental and Go Shiozaki. However, the group's gimmick was that it was backed by the yakuza, not that they were yakuzas themselves (except Sugi, who was the son of an important yakuza boss).

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