NJPW Sussudio Sessions: R.W. Andrews Reviews Yuji Nagata vs. Minoru Suzuki – The Feud Part 3

Part III: Tie Breaker

Although luck was not on Minoru Suzuki’s side in his last match with Yuji Nagata, January of 2012 sees him get a title shot against Hiroshi Tanahashi in The Dome. I am choosing to skip that match, simply because it’s a feud for a different article. I do have a feeling that misfortune met one half of our heroes considering what I’m about to cover. So pardon me while I pull over and do a little sight-seeing at G1 Climax 22 before we head back to Tokyo. It’ll tie into the feud. I promise.

Match 4 – Minoru Suzuki vs. Toru Yano
G1 Climax 22 at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium
August 5, 2012

Seeing Suzuki walk out all business is a far more sinister sight than when he’s giddy and galvanizing the populous. This is a look you do not want to see before the bell rings, especially when a title shot is being dangled in the distance. And speaking of looks, Toru Yano. Although the theme song is the same, Yano’s video package shows an almost demonic looking figure taking a swig from a water bottle and spitting the contents towards the lens capturing his profile. This…this is not the same Yano I have grown to somewhat appreciate. He looks so different – his hair buzzed close to the wood and dyed red – a style choice highlighted by a pale skin tone that looks like it’s been lacquered in Glisten. He kind of looks like a plumped up Bill Burr – if ol’ Billy Freckles had an allergic reaction to a bee sting.

A cagey smile greets Suzuki dead center in the ring. That smile is a prelude to an insane game plan that begins by dousing Suzuki in the face with water. Marty, who drew the short straw on keeping this one from getting out of hand, is already in harm’s way as he tries to keep Suzuki from smiting Yano before the bell has even rung. While Marty calculates the hazard pay coming his way, Yano dives out of the ring and giggles over the encounter, gesturing with his palms for Suzuki to calm down. He returns with an arm extended for a handshake, a peace offering quickly recoiled from a slap to the face. Suzuki is in a benevolent mood though, showing mercy by immediately going for a sleeper to put that poor ginger bastard out of his misery. Proving quite the slippery foe, Yano escapes and tries to shock the world via roll-up, but an armbar grounds his flights of fancy. Flopping and flailing to the ropes for a break, Yano’s survival has ensured a slight bump in his PSR. Not that the number means F all anyway.

The encounter leaves Yano shaken, his sly grin replaced with a look of dread. But he’s game for more, going for a takedown that gets countered with a hammerlock. Playfully let free by Suzuki, a second takedown attempt is countered with a wristlock. He’s let loose again, only to satisfy Suzuki’s mandate to inflict pain over that whole roll-up fiasco. His boot strikes quick and decisively, the reverberation of the bank shot coercing a little Truffle Shuffle out of Yano’s body before he’s locked up in a kneebar. Yano rolls for the ropes, but Suzuki demands that he suffers, riding him to the floor with the kneebar still in good standing. Yano reaches for the guardrail, gripping it for dear life until Marty can pry Suzuki away.

Freed to make a run for it, Yano decides against the count-out loss and retaliates with a rake to the eye. Well played. He runs Suzuki into the ring post before smacking him with the red chair never too far from reach – the smile flickering back on his face as momentum swings towards him. With Suzuki down, Yano power-waddles to the next corner and strips it naked, his nimble fingers unlacing the buckle pad straps in near record time. With his compulsion satiated, Yano embarks on a balls deep search through the bowels of the stash spot for a roll of athletic tape of all things. Suzuki puts an end to the lunacy, throwing Yano into the rail and using the tape to tether his arm to it. This elicits a chuckle from the old master as he slides back into the ring, leaving Yano to piece together the scraps of a game plan shredded right before his eyes.

With Marty’s count stacking up, The Pepper Jack Kid busts loose and gets on his horse, wriggling those child bearing hips under the bottom rope at nineteen. Before he can even have a chance to catch his breath, Suzuki PKs him in the chest before transitioning back to the kneebar. Yano struggles with dragging their combined weight along the canvas, finding salvation after an arduous trek to the ropes. Suzuki seems amused with the outcome, watching with sadistic pleasure as Yano takes in a single breath before dragging him right back to the center of the ring and right back into the hold. The gut check is answered, with Yano once again finding the ropes after filling the arena with the sound of his screams.

Suzuki smirks at his challenger before racing into a trip-toehold that sends his forehead into the exposed bottom buckle. Yano rolls him up, getting a two and the terrifying sight of Suzuki no worse for wear. Suzuki takes off for the ropes, but Yano rips him to the mat by the hair. Thoroughly pissed off, Suzuki pops to his feet and wrenches on Yano’s neck with a guillotine before dumping him on his ass with a snapmare. Suzuki races away, giving Yano a blissful moment of peace before a PK detonates on his chest. He covers lazily, earning the two count such effort affords.

Suzuki tries to whip Yano into the exposed corner, but Yano grabs Marty by the collar while screaming “No, no, no!” Suzuki boots Marty away and smacks Yano across the face. Yano fires back, finding a moving target that ducks under his wayward swipe. He swings again, coming up with nothing but air until Suzuki settles into his sightline to deliver a round of slaps. Suzuki gets the sleeper, but is unsatisfied with a tapout. He spins Yano into Gotch Piledriver position, but gets backdropped off. Suzuki hits the ropes, leaving Yano dazed by a crossover and helpless to fight off another sleeper. Yano’s arms flail for anything to grab ahold of, his fingertips catching Marty’s shirt which causes the ref to stagger out of view of a mule-kick ringing Suzuki in the marbles. He cradles him up for a not-so-close two.

Suzuki lets out a huff before lunging after his prey. Yano ducks, hoisting Suzuki into the air for a powerbomb. Suzuki slides down his slouchy shoulders and tries for a sleeper, only to get flipped to the mat. Suzuki tries again, this time holding on to coax Yano into a state of listlessness. Yano’s arm drops three times, which causes Marty to wave his hand, but there’s no bell. What? Suzuki spins Yano around for the Gotch Piledriver, but in that rotation bears witness to a miracle. Yano ducks down, clumsily packaging Suzuki up as Marty dives to the mat. 1, 2…oh boy.

Winner: Toru Yano

After the match, Suzuki slams his hands to the mat before staring at the ramp with a shellshocked expression. He can only watch as his easy prey backpedals safely away, thumbs waving in wide arcs as the crowd chants his initials. Yano shoots Suzuki a look of pity before shrugging his shoulders and disappearing behind the curtain. Just another manic verse in the ballad of Toru Yano.

*No young lions were harmed in the making of this upset.”

Impressions: Ok, truth time. I have an entire article written about Yano and Suzuki feuding in 2013. I chose to do Nagata vs Suzuki instead of submitting that one because I found that each Yano/Suzuki match kind of followed the same pattern. After seeing this one, I think I was viewing those matches through the wrong lens. This was kind of like watching two drunks have a match – one angry drunk trying to corral a silly drunk and deal with the chaos steeped within the encounter. Maybe I should rethink keeping that article in the vault. This was a hell of a lot of fun. Yano is such a pesky son of a bitch, somehow avoiding being squashed even though Suzuki constantly had him dead to rights. The insanity of it all is worth giving this match a watch.

Although Yano put a wrench in Suzuki’s plans, the melee messiah heads into the final match of his group with the faintest of hope intact that a title shot could still be within reach. All he has to do is get a win to keep that hope kicking. A win against Yuji Nagata. See that? It tied together. It’s not Double-Windsor tight, but I got us there.

Match 5 – Yuji Nagata vs. Minoru Suzuki
G1 Climax 22 at Ryogoku Kokugikan
August 12, 2012

The entrance at Ryogoku is a gorgeous crossbeam underground, one that the camera has to worm through in order to pick up Suzuki strolling out with a rediscovered confidence bolstered by the presence of Taichi. The showman is back, clapping right in front of an elderly man’s face to make sure he follows the congregation cheering him on. Suzuki takes the apron, a Redshirt receiving a boot to the chest when caught napping while holding the ropes open for him. With the young lion’s carcass flying out of camera view, Suzuki slides into the ring as the crowd – including the old man from earlier – belts out “Kaze Ni Nare!”

Nagata, as what has become the norm, gets shafted by The World on his entrance. We do however get a quick-cut to a shot of Red Shoes pointing to God knows where in the stands as Nagata growls over his shoulder. Fair enough intro. He’s motioning for Taichi to head up there. To Taichi’s credit, he simply steps outside and sets up shop on the outskirts of the apron as opposed to trekking all the way up to row 813.

Nagata and Suzuki start slowly, cautiously circling the ring until their steps finally converge. Suzuki shoves away Nagata’s tie-up attempt before smacking his own face to perk up the bloodlust for a Batsu Game. Nagata goes for it, striking Suzuki flush but eating a strike in return. Another tie-up attempt devolves into a brawl, with Nagata kicking Suzuki in the chest before his second attempt is countered into a toss outside. Nagata takes the trip to the rail, then booted up an over to land in Level 2. Suzuki rips the gate open to chase after him, whipping a forearm across Nagata’s face before Red Shoes comes to break it up. Suzuki drags Red Shoes away by the collar, passing the baton to Taichi.

Suzuki returns to send Nagata into another section of railing, followed closely by Red Shoes, who gets suckered right back in to chasing him away. Taichi reappears with backup – a chair used to smack Nagata across the back. A young lion tries to intervene, but an even louder smack rings in his penance. The camera switches to Red Shoes, who has his face curiously nestled in Suzuki’s chest while Taichi chokes Nagata with the chair. He finally realizes what’s been going on, marching back to tap Taichi on the shoulder. Taichi lets the chair go and raises his hands defensively while Red Shoes motions for the ring announcer to pass him the mic. Holy shit, Red Shoes’ voice is like fingernails on a chalkboard! He squeals at Taichi and throws him the hell out of there. In classic Red Shoes fashion, as he shoves Taichi out of his jurisdiction, Suzuki grabs the chair and begins choking Nagata behind his back. Suzuki has a good chuckle about the whole ordeal as Red Shoes finally returns to count from the apron. This entire sequence of events was top-notch.

With both men back in the ring, Suzuki repays Nagata for all the chest trauma over the years with a few line drive kicks of his own. Nagata calls for more, whipping his body around to catch an errant strike. He scores with a whip and boot off the rebound, but gets greedy with an exploder that Suzuki counters with a guillotine. Nagata busts through the submission, hitting said exploder previously left on the table. He hits a running boot to Suzuki’s face, a connection met by a growl. Nagata sprints into a boot to the face, gets snapmared, then gets drilled in the chest with a PK. But he sits right back up! Suzuki screams over the audible “oooohs” of the crowd and returns with another PK. And again Nagata sits up, his eyes wild as he grimaces in pain! Suzuki orders the crowd to clap for Nagata’s effort – which you bet your ass they accommodate the request – and PKs the f— out of him a third time! Red Shoes dives to the canvas as Suzuki covers, his hand connecting twice before Nagata kicks out.

Suzuki goes for a sleeper, his arm once again the victim of a hyperextended slam across Nagata’s shoulder. At least he had a year to repair the ligaments. Nagata kicks Suzuki for good measure before corralling him into a seated armbar. The crowd explodes as his eyes began to roll to the back of his head, the announcer screaming at the top of his lungs to match their roar. Red Shoes waves his hand towards the ropes each time Suzuki scooches an inch closer to them, but is left hanging high as Nagata pulls Suzuki right back to the center of the ring. Nagata’s attention gets diverted by a disturbance in his blind spot. It’s Taichi, back on the apron as if nothing ever happened. Nagata sets Suzuki free and chases Taichi back to the floor, his Spidey sense tingling to toss Suzuki over his shoulder when a sleeper hold is imminently close to suctioning around his head.

Suzuki is quick to his feet, snapping on a sleeper but ending up sandwiched in the corner. Nagata slaps him in the face as Red Shoes pantomimes slapping himself while giving Suzuki a nod. Holy shit, Red Shoes just initiated a Batsu Game! Slap by Suzuki, slap by Nagata, slap by Suzuki, slap by Nagata, slap by Suzuki, slap by Nagata, slap by Suzuki, another slap by Suzuki, slap by Nagata, Suzuki paintbrushes Nagata with a left/right slap combo to win the game in dominant fashion! He reaps the rewards, quickly sinking in a sleeper that puts Nagata on the fast fade. He cackles while Red Shoes administers the arm-drop test, with Nagata fighting back AFTER his arm has dropped thrice. Suzuki squeezes harder, leaving Nagata near lifeless on the mat as he transitions for the pin. 1, 2, Nagata kicks out! Where the hell was the submission!? F-ing Red Shoes!

Suzuki hits a sliding kick to Nagata’s face, covering again for two. He tries to finish the match with a Gotch Piledriver but gets backdropped off. What a maneuver. Nagata attempts a backdrop suplex but the point of Suzuki’s elbow begs to differ. Nagata stays in tight coverage, wrapping up Suzuki’s waist to hit a release German suplex! He catches Taichi trying to infiltrate the apron and boots him off, screaming out of frustration at the constant interference. He sets his feet, but whiffs on a high kick that Suzuki counters with a sleeper, which is countered with a backdrop suplex! Nagata covers. 1, 2, no sir! They swap slaps again, with Nagata yelling with each strike that ultimately sends Suzuki wobbling back. He hoists Suzuki into the air for a backdrop suplex, driving him to the mat and floating over for the pin. 1, 2, 3. Nagata is up 2-1!

Winner: Yuji Nagata

Impressions: That was such a kick ass match. It was so different from their previous two encounters, totally freshening up the feud. I absolutely loved the sequence where Suzuki kept nailing Nagata with PKs, condescendingly applauding while watching him sit back up. Through three matches I would have to give Suzuki early MVP consideration in this feud. Yes, Nagata took an ass whipping. Yes, he refused to give up and looked damn heroic in victory. But it was Suzuki who set this match apart from the others. I’m not stating that Nagata was bad here. Far from it. I just think that Suzuki deserves a ton of credit for injecting so much personality into the match. Here’s hoping that they can close out the feud in grand style when they return to Tokyo for the final installment.

Next Week – Suzuki/Nagata IV: The Quest For Peace

Wait, that can’t be right

Next Week – Suzuki/Nagata IV: The Final Installment

F it. Good enough.

I don’t tweet, but feel free to sling those bottles via @RWAndrews0. I’m sure all feedback will be positive and constructive.


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