Minoru Suzuki’s 2021 U.S. Tour

At AEW’s “All Out” PPV on September 5th, Jon Moxley defeated Satoshi Kojima. After the match, Minoru Suzuki made his way to the ring. After taking off his jacket, he gave Moxley a forearm shot, and Moxley returned in kind. Suzuki would end up ending a forearm exchange by putting Moxley in a sleeper hold and dropping him with his signature Gotch Style Piledriver, or GSP for short. A match between the two would quickly be signed for that week’s episode of dynamite, which just so happened to take place in Moxley’s hometown of Cincinnati.

1 - SuzukiMoxley

Minoru Suzuki vs. Jon Moxley
AEW Dynamite #101 – Cincinnati, OH – 9.8.2021

This match gained notoriety due to the fact AEW cut off Suzuki’s theme before the fans could sing alone with the “Kaze Ni Nare!” portion of the song. It was jokingly referred to as “The Suzuki Incident.” After a forearm battle that mimicked their initial encounter at “All Out”, Suzuki used the ring posts to attack Moxley’s right arm. Moxley unwisely used his hurt arm to throw chops at Suzuki back in the ring, and while that didn’t work in his favor, exploding out of the corner with a clothesline did. After headbutts and forearms, Suzuki goes for the Gotch Style Piledriver (GSP). Moxley escapes that, gives Suzuki a double underhook DDT, and then a sliding clothesline. Suzuki is now busted open as Moxley gives him a lariat. Suzuki resists a couple more lariats and drops Moxley with a single-legged dropkick. A couple jabs from Moxley leave Suzuki reeling, giving him the opening to hit the Death Rider for the pin at 8:08. It’s fortunate for Moxley and Suzuki that the major discussion point online for this match was regarding the entrance music, because the truth is, the match was a huge letdown. They moved slowly, didn’t bring the level of intensity you may expect, and it petered out by the end. Suzuki’s blood and this being Moxley’s homecoming helped the atmosphere quite a bit, but that only goes so far. **

2 - SuzukiGresham

Minoru Suzuki vs. Jonathan Gresham
GCW “Highest In The Room” – Los Angeles, CA – 9.17.2021

Suzuki managed to get Gresham in a rope-assisted armbar, and then used both a ring post and chair on Gresham’s to do further damage to Gresham’s arm. Gresham managed to catch Suzuki with a dragonscrew leg whip as Suzuki re-entered the ring and went back to a figure four submission. Suzuki is able to grab hold over Gresham in the lock, almost knocking him out with a forearm shot. Suzuki batters Gresham with repeated open hand strikes, and Gresham finally releases his leg lock as both men fall back. Gresham is able to use a moonsault press to get Suzuki back into position for an ankle lock. Suzuki reverses and then pulls Gresham into a rear-naked choke. Gresham frees himself when Suzuki goes for the Gotch Style Piledriver. Suzuki puts the rear-naked choke back on and pulls off the GSP for the pin at 19:48. Gresham refused to be gobbled by the Suzuki formula entirely and took a more methodical approach to the encounter. The limb work was good and interesting, and the fans really dug their exchanges, buying Gresham as Susuzki’s equal the entire time. I think they could do better, but for what this was, it was above satisfactory. After the match, Nick Gage came to the ring and traded shots with Suzuki. This set up a match between the two of them for GCW’s return to LA the next month. ***¼

3 - Suzuki gun vs Moxley & Kingston AEW

Lights Out Match
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer) vs. Jon Moxley & Eddie Kingston

AEW Rampage #7: Grand Slam – New York, NY – 9.24.2021

We get a very nice callback to Suzuki and Moxley’s excellent singles match from NJPW with a dueling chair battle on the entrance ramp. Kingston seems legitimately pumped to trade forearms with Suzuki, and less pumped when he gets put through a table with a running boot. With Kingston down and out, Suzuki-gun has a field day using a variety of weapons on Moxley after tying his wrists together behind his back. When Kingston does re-enter the fray, he unloads chops on Suzuki. However, Suzuki chokes him out from behind and passes him to Archer for a Boss Man Slam. Archer is ready to give Kingston the Blackout onto two chairs when Homicide enters in through the crowd and attacks Suzuki-gun with those same chairs. He frees Moxley from being tied up, but Moxley pretends to still be encumbered so he can surprise Suzuki with the Death Rider onto a chair. Kingston batters a trash can placed onto Archer’s head with a kendo stick repeatedly and then pins him at 15:10. This was an above average hardcore match that definitely was improved by the hot crowd, most of who fortunately seemed to be aware of who Homicide was. Interestingly enough, on the night this match aired, Suzuki would wrestle Homicide elsewhere in New York. ***¼

4 - SuzukiHomicide

Minoru Suzuki vs. Homicide
GCW “Get Lost Alot” – New York, NY – 9.24.2021

This did follow the Suzuki formula of strike battles and arm work. One wrinkle I did appreciate was tHomicide attempting to use his ghetto fork gave a unique reason for Suzuki to grab his arm and “break” his fingers. Chris Dickinson and Low Life Louie provided oral support for Homicide during his comeback. After another round of forearm strikes, Homicide weaved out of Suzuki’s GSP and dropped him with an Ace Crusher for two. Suzuki also kicks out of a lariat. Suzuki avoids the Cop Killa and puts on a rear-naked choke. Homicide fights out of another GSP but Suzuki remains steadfast when Homicide nails him with another lariat. He gets Homicide in another rear-naked choke. He adds a bodyscissors to the choke and the referee calls for the bell when Homicide passes out at 16:39. The audience ate up this slugfest and didn’t care that it was repetitive. Good for Homicide getting to face Suzuki in his hometown as well. ***

WrestleMax STL has been silent about if and when Minoru Suzuki vs. Calvin Tankman from their October 1st event will see the light of day. For now, we move forward without it.

6 - SuzukiHenry

Minoru Suzuki vs. Anthony Henry
PWX “All Hail The King” – Concord, NC – 10.2.2021

Henry feels good about the enzuigiri he is able to score with, but finds himself caught in an armbar in the ropes. Suzuki uses the ring post to do more damage to Henry’s arm and shoulder. Suzuki also rocks him with a forearm shot during a strike exchange in the aisle way. As Suzuki continues to wear down Henry’s arm inside the ring he also snaps his fingers. Henry starts a chop battle which ends with him taking Suzuki down with a spinwheel kick. Henry fires up from Suzuki’s initial PK. Suzuki hits a few more chest kicks. Henry takes down Suzuki with a tornado DDT and locks in a crossface. When Suzuki gets to the ropes, Henry immediately looks for a top rope double stomp. Suzuki avoids it and boots Henry in the face. Henry backdrops out of a GSP attempt and puts Suzuki in a bridging figure four leg lock. After Suzuki escapes he gets Henry into a cross armbreaker. Henry escapes and they throw kicks at one another until they both fall to the mat in exhaustion. After yet another strike exchange, Suzuki knocks Henry loopy with a sleeper hold and forearm smash, then pins him with the GSP at 22:52. I like Henry, but this was way too long and very repetitive. The moments where Henry was trying to end the match quickly were the most exciting, otherwise this was a slog. Good crowd, though. **½

7 - SuzukiRichards

Minoru Suzuki vs. Davey Richards
Glory Pro “Little Ring of Horrors” – St. Louis, MO – 10.3.2021

Suzuki worked over Richards’ arm and shoulder while Richards went after Suzuki’s ankle. Of his four indie matches so far, it was the most I was convinced the opposition just may have Suzuki’s number. Close to the fifteen minute mark, we got an exchange with Suzuki smacking Richards in the neck and Richards throwing kicks to Suzuki’s chest. This turns into an exchange of open hand shots to the face. Richards escapes a sleeper hold the first time, but Suzuki gets it the second time. He very slowly pulls Richards up into the GSP for the pin at 20:12. The two halves of this match are almost entirely disconnected, but it weirdly worked, at least for the live crowd. The emotion shown by both of them was the best part of the match, and what helped it seem like it was either man’s match for the taking. ***

8 - SuzukiGarcia

Minoru Suzuki vs. Daniel Garcia
West Coast Pro Wrestling “No Leaf Clover” – San Francisco, CA – 10.8.2021

Despite knowing what this tour has been so far, I was excited for this. Garcia was one of my favorite wrestlers to watch in 2021. In this particular week, he was in the midst of wrestling a myriad of top tier opponents in Alex Shelley, CM Punk, Suzuki, and Davey Richards. Garcia didn’t get much at all for a very long time. He hung with Suzuki on the mat and during some of the strike exchanges, but a lot of the match was Suzuki just beating him up. Garcia got a nice burst of energy in the last couple of minutes, which after a long lapse in action was received very well, but of course he ultimately fell to the GSP at 18:15. This was two minutes shorter than the Richards match but the structure of the match made it feel much longer. Definitely a disappointment, and I don’t think Garcia is to blame at all. **¾

9 - SuzukiRosser

Minoru Suzuki vs. Fred Rosser
NJPW STRONG #61 – Garland, TX – 10.9.2021

This is Suzuki’s first U.S.NJPW appearance since the Showdown 2019 tour. When Rosser was announced as an opponent for Suzuki, a lot of people scoffed at New Japan for the decision. I have my doubts that any of those people actually watch STRONG, as he has proven on multiple occasions he has the capability of having the quality of match many want from a Suzuki bout. Rosser set the tone by forearming Suzuki in the face the moment Suzuki stepped through the ropes. Suzuki’s anger came out on the floor where he attacked Rosser’s arm and threw a chair at his head. One thing I liked is that when Suzuki blocked the Gut Check with a half crab attempt, Rosser kicked him away and still hit his follow up running boot to the side of the head. Rosser got too caught up in a forearm battle with Suzuki which seemed clear he wasn’t going to win. His stubbornness cost him, as his not changing course arguably gave Suzuki a pathway to get him in the sleeper hold and then pin him with the GSP at 11:34. This was exactly what I anticipated – a high level presentation of what became Suzuki’s formula. Before this match, a video with Rosser aired emphasizing how much he wants to be the STRONG Openweight Champion, and admittedly I am interested to see how Rosser recovers after the setback of losing to Suzuki and Narita. ***¼

10 - SuzukiJanela

Minoru Suzuki vs. Joey Janela
GCW “The Aftermath – Atlantic City, NJ – 10.10.2021

The order of operations changed but the puzzle pieces were all there: forearm strike exchange, crowd brawling, shoulder and arm work on Janela after he was sent shoulder first into the ring post, and leg work from Janela. There was a moment during the building tour they teased the GSP through a table, which would’ve been a defining feature to make this match stand out from all of Suzuki’s other bouts, but it was not to be. Suzuki kicking out at one after taking a Death Valley Driver was great thanks to Suzuki’s face. Suzuki eventually hit a GSP and pinned Janela at 20:25. Why this needed to go 20 minutes I have no idea, especially when the crowd was over it about five minutes in. Even the perfunctory “fight forever” chant didn’t catch on. Suzuki and Dickinson then get in a shoving match after the bell, setting up a match between them at Bloodsport in two weeks. **¼

11 - SuzukiDanielson

Minoru Suzuki vs. Bryan Danielson
AEW Rampage #10 – Miami, FL – 10.15.2021

This match was all the evidence you need that Suzuki was sleepwalking through most of this tour. He was visibly more engaged, likely both given the quality of his opponent and the fact that it would probably be his most viewed match in America. You still had DNA of Suzuki’s other Indie matches, but it had much more substance and coherence than most of his other matches.When Suzuki absorbed Danielson’s chest kicks after taking a running knee strike off the apron, Danielson stomped his head into the mat repeatedly and attempted a crucifix pin out a Cattle Mutilation. Danielson’s intensity grew when he saw Suzuki take the corner dropkick and remain standing. Danielson showed that intensity by firing up after two of Suzuki’s PK’s, but a third left him laying long enough for a two count, and for Suzuki to give back Danielson’s head stomps. Suzuki was certain enough he had Danielson in his grasp that he took time to move Bryce Remsburg out of his way, only to come back and be brought down into a double chickenwing pin, but Suzuki’s legs were close enough to the ropes for Danielson to not even yield a one count. Both men were poised to be the more tenacious individual by this point that their forearm exchange had meaning, and wasn’t just there for an easy reaction. They actually both were knocked down, then had another exchange where they were screaming at each other, and it yielded an even bigger reaction. Suzuki got the sleeper on momentarily, but when tried the GSP, Danielson backdropped him, kicked him in the chest, then hit the Busaiku Knee for the pin at 18:19. Yeah, that ruled, and made this tour one hundred percent worth it. Leave it to the best wrestler of this generation, if not ever, to have the best match of Suzuki’s U.S. excursion. ****

12 - SuzukiGarrini

Minoru Suzuki vs. Dominic Garrini
Timebomb Pro Wrestling “Violence Is Forever” – Dilworth, MN – 10.21.2021

The backstory of this match is quite interesting. At this time, Garrini had not wrestled for five months, with a back injury putting into question his future as a pro wrestler. When Timebomb Pro had the chance to book Suzuki, they reached out to Garrini to see if it was something he wanted to do, and even more importantly could do. Fortunately, the answer to both was yes. Even cooler, fans of Garrini from all around the U.S. from Cleveland to Athens, GA to travel to Minnesota, almost North Dakota, to see him wrestle someone Garrini considered a hero. Along with Garrini’s background in BJJ, these factors helped make this match a significantly more interesting version of the Suzuki formula. Garrini’s mat work with Suzuki was crisp, he looked like the most equal challenger Suzuki has had next to Gresham and Danielson, and an entire room captivated and involved from beginning to end. Garrini actually used Suzuki’s own sleeper against him, making Suzuki get the ropes to escape. Garrini kept reapplying the hold and releasing before the refere’s five count. Suzuki broke the process by Judo throwing Garrini overhead, locking on his own sleeper, and pinning Garrini with the GSP at 13:04. Kudos to Garrini for willing this into something beyond Suzuki’s blueprint. ***½

13 - Bloodsport7

Minoru Suzuki vs. Chris Dickinson
GCW “Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport 7” – Los Angeles, CA – 10.22.2021

Bloodsport matches have no ropes and can only be won by submission, knockout, or referee decision. This had the same battle of toughness Dickinson and Suzuki had, but it was much more overt. The grappling on the mat led to them challenging each other to strike battles, and asking for more as the quickness of the strikes increased. Suzuki went to Dickinson’s eyes at one point to get control which helped turn the crowd into Dickinson’s favor. Suzuki rolled to the floor to escape a cross armbreaker. When he came back in, he fought for a single leg crab. When he couldn’t get it on the right leg, he switched to the left, and Dickinson tapped out at 15:14. Once again, just a slight rule and formula change made this a much more interesting watch. ***¼

14 - SuzukiGage

Minoru Suzuki vs. Nick Gage
GCW “War Ready” – Los Angeles, CA – 10.23.2021

This was a mess. They traded forearms, brawled in the crowd, then threw chairs at each other, and the timing of it was uneven. Gage was moving slowly, seemingly due to either increased mass, injury, or both. There was a super strange moment where Suzuki just sat in the corner for minutes at a time as Gage wandered around, remembered to hit Gage, eventually set up a table onto some chairs, then ambled around some more. Suzuki caught a chair being thrown at him and threw it at Gage’s face. He put Gage out with a sleeper hold, and then put him through the chair set up on the chairs with the GSP for the pin at 14:56. This was so weird and not good! All good will was earned in the final 90 seconds. ½*

strong64

Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer) vs. Team Filthy (Tom Lawlor & Royce Isaacs)
NJPW STRONG #64 – Garland, TX – 10.30.2021

Suzuki-gun attacked before the bell and beat up Team Filthy around ringside. When the bell rings, Suzuki immediately goes to work on Isaac’s left arm. Lawlor kneed Suzuki from the apron to stop a PK, and Isaacs jacked Archer’s neck across the top rope. Lawlor ends up winning a strike battle with Suzuki on the floor and stomps on the back of his head. Team Filthy then beat down Suzuki in their corner, intentionally angering Archer by knocking him off the apron during the process. Suzuki gets an opening when he catches Lawlor coming off the ropes with a knee to the stomach and tags in the Murderhawk Monster. Lawlor halts his momentum with a guillotine, which Archer impressively suplexes his way out of. Lawlor fights his way out of the Black Out, and with Isaacs takes down Archer with a clothesline/side Russian leg sweep combo. Archer is able to take down Isaacs with a Black Hole Slam shortly after, and Suzuki lands the PK he wanted earlier. When Lawlor tries to break Suzuki’s sleeper hold on Isaacs, Archer intercepts and takes him out with the Black Out. Isaacs gets in some impressive offense on Suzuki, but Suzuki dazes him with a flurry of open handed shots. A forearm shot sends Isaacs’ mouthguard flying. Suzuki momentarily applies the sleeper hold before laying out Isaacs with the GSP for the pin at 11:07. It was my hope this win would bank Suzuki a STRONG Openweight Championship match against Lawlor the following month, but it was not to be – maybe one day. On its own this match was a load of fun. Team Filthy got to be jerks, Suzuki-gun got to be ass kickers, and it all blended together very well. ***¼

16 -Suzuki6Man

Minoru Suzuki, Moose & W. Morrissey vs. Josh Alexander, Eddie Edwards & Matt Cardona
Impact Wrestling #900 – Las Vegas, NV – 11.4.2021

I would have never anticipated Matt Cardona and Minoru Suzuki to be in the same match together. Alexander and Suzuki had some interaction to start. Alexander and Edwards avoided being trapped in Suzuki’s team’s corner. Cardona avoided a sneak attack from Moose after Morrissey kneed him in the back, but Suzuki held onto Cardona in an armbar in the corner until Moose was able to knock down Cardona with a shoulder tackle. Cardona was beaten down by Suzuki’s team for a while, with Morrissey purposefully distracting the referee so that he missed witnessing a tag from Cardona to Edwards. Cardona eventually did escape with a Code Breaker to Morrissey. Alexander took down Moose and Morrissey upon tagging in. Alexander German suplexed Morrissey and Edwards got a two count after a Blue Thunder Bomb thanks to Suzuki breaking up the pin, Suzuki and Alexander traded forearm shots and their partners joined in as well upon recovering. Suzuki saved Moose from Alexander’s Divine Intervention and dropped Alexander with the GSP. Morrissey gave Edwards a big boot when he had Suzuki underhooked. Morrissey then powerbombed Edwards for the pin at 11:23. We got a nice taste of what’s to come with Alexander and Suzuki, along with Alexander taking out some aggression on Moose after he stole the World Title from him at Bound For Glory. Otherwise it was your typical trios match; good, but nothing special. **¾

17 - SuzukiKonley

Minoru Suzuki vs. Kaleb With A K
Impact Wrestling #901 – Las Vegas, NV – 11.11.2021

Josh Alexander was shown watching the match backstage, as they will meet next week on Impact. Kaleb scrambled to the ropes to break both an armbar and a heel hook, but after a very quick sleeper hold, the GSP put him down at a brisk 1:37. Nice squash for the King. *

strong66

Minoru Suzuki vs. Chris Dickinson
NJPW STRONG #66 – Philadelphia, PA – 11.13.2021

Suzuki blocks a chop and applies an armbar in the ropes. On the floor, he puts Dickinson in a hammerlock and sends his shoulder into the ring post. In the ring, Suzuki manipulates Dickinson’s wrist and shoulder further. Dickinson German suplexes Suzuki and attacks his knee. Suzuki is able to halt a dragonscrew leg whip and put Dickinson in a cross armbreaker. Dickinson mimics Suzuki’s laugh when Suzuki gives him some chest kicks. Dickinson stops a PK and ensues a chop war with Suzuki. Suzuki blocks Dickinson’s STF attempt, but Dickinson is able to pull off a brainbuster for two. Suzuki ducks a high kick and applies the rear-naked choke. Dickinson fails to escape, but Suzuki decides to release and nail Dickinson with a forearm. This wakes up Dickinson who is able to land some strikes of his own. Suzuki gets the rear-naked choke reapplied and then hits the GSP for the pin at 18:57. This had a slight “forced epic” feel to it, and while the Philadelphia crowd dug it, it didn’t work as well on tape. It was totally solid, but about what we see either man produce on average. ***

19 - SuzukiAlexander

Minoru Suzuki vs. Josh Alexander
Impact Wrestling #902 – Las Vegas, NV – 11.18.2021

Alexander exhausts Suzuki with constant offense, utilizing his crossbody to the back as Suzuki sits on the apron. Suzuki catches Alexander with the armbar in the ropes as he gets back onto the ring apron and stretches it in the steel guardrail. Suzuki then boots Alexander down the entrance ramp. Alexander is able to stop Suzuki inside the ring with a boot of his own, yet Suzuki hits a corner boot and a PK for two. Suzuki wins a strike exchange and gets the sleeper hold applied. Alexander back drops out of the GSP and Finlay rolls Suzuki into a diving knee to the back of his head. Suzuki rolls out of an ankle lock and pulls Alexander down into a rear-naked choke with a bodyscissors. Alexander quickly turns that back into an ankle lock. Suzuki escapes and goes back to the sleeper. Alexander forearm smashes Suzuki twice when he tries swiveling him into the GSP. Divine Intervention gets Alexander the win at 10:19. They added just enough flavor to make this unique, and had far less dead space than most of Suzuki’s other matches. Hopefully this is the start of Alexander getting back to the Impact Championship. ***

strong68

Philadelphia Street Fight
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer) vs. Jon Moxley & Eddie Kingston

NJPW STRONG #68 – Philadelphia, PA – 11.27.2021

This is of course a rematch from AEW Rampage #7, where Moxley and Kingston defeated Suzuki-gun. It is also Kingston’s NJPW debut. Suzuki-gun demanded a rematch in an NJPW ring. Tiger Hattori is on commentary for the bout. Archer strikes Moxley with a kendo stick until Kingston stops Archer and chokes him with the stick. Kingston and Suzuki trade chopes. Suzuki lays out Kingston with a forearm strike and clobbers him with a kendo stick across the top of his head. Moxley bites Suzuki’s forehead. All four men fight through backstage and to the parking lot of the former ECW Arena. Archer lawn darts Moxley into a truck. Kingston throws a cinder block at Archer but it crumbles against a wall as Archer ducks. Suzuki-gun batter Kingston with kendo sticks back in the ring. Moxley shows up from backstage with a door. He sucidie dives onto Archer and hits him with a STOP sign given to him by a fan. In the ring, the chair is propped up in the corner and Moxley Jon woo dropkicks Archer through it! Suzuki pulls Moxley to the floor. Archer half-nelson slams Kingston. Kingston fires back with a pair of backfists and a DDT. Moxley saves Kingston from the GSP. Archer big boots Moxley to the floor. Suzuki sets up a trash can for Archer. Archer gives Kingston the Black Out onto the trash can for the pin at 14:28. This was your typical walk and talk brawl. It had some good moments, and I guess the “Forbidden Door” joke was cute? I dunno, this felt like a way less exciting version of their Rampage match, but it wasn’t bad. Suzuki-gun got their win back which I guess is important to somebody. **¾

With minor variations, Suzuki more or less produced the ame match over and over again during this tour. I’m sure if you attended one of these Indie shows it was great to see Suzuki live, meet him, and sing along to his theme. For the home viewer, you really only need to see one of his indie matches and you’ve seen them all. For that, I recommend the Garrini match. As far as his best match of the tour, it’s the Danielson AEW match by a mile. At 53 years old, it’s possible this was it for Suzuki in the United States.

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