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The Twilight Of Suzuki-Gun: “It’s Zack Sabre Time!”

Should they stick with the Sadistic Suzuki, or JUST TAP OUT?

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ZSJ has now been a member of Suzuki-Gun since March 6th, 2017. His 3rd year since joining might be the most important.

Valentin explores the changing landscape of New Japan and one particular stable that could use a leadership change.

As announced by Gedo on the day he betrayed Kazuchika Okada to ally himself with Jay White, a new era is upon New Japan Pro Wrestling. So far, CHAOS and Bullet Club have been the main factions affected by the company’s restructuring, but it might just be the beginning. Other groups will likely get their fair share of change in the future, and today, let’s take a look at Suzuki-Gun.

 What if I told you that Zack Sabre Jr could possibly lead his own faction in New Japan ? Would you believe me ? Since coming back on the day after Wrestle Kingdom 11, the group lead by Minoru Suzuki, while managing to grab some gold here and there, hasn’t fully been able to establish their dominance over the New Japan Landscape. Suzuki-Gun’s main attraction has been non other than ZSJ, and it has been the case for quite a while. From getting in the G1 Climax in his first year, to win the New Japan Cup, being a real threat to Kazuchika Okada, and being a strong contender in last year’s G1, Sabre hasn’t stopped climbing the ranks of New Japan, and is affirming himself as a future star. While he has yet to win any gold in Japan, he reclaimed the RevPro Heavyweight Championship from Tomohiro Ishii at Wrestle Kingdom 13, which was Suzuki-Gun’s only victory of the night.
 

When you take a look at Zack stablemates, it is slightly difficult to say they reached the same heights as their British brethren. Minoru Suzuki, as the leader, has been in a spot where he managed to grab both the Intercontinental and NEVER Openweight championships. He also competed for the Heavyweight championship and was the man to put Hiroshi Tanahashi on the shelf early last year. We will comeback to Suzuki later in this article as we will know look at both of the faction’s teams. First, Killer Elite Squad, had a bit of a rough time the last two years. The duo managed to enter Wrestle Kingdom 12 as IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team champions, but since then, Smith and Archer took a backseat inside their division. The junior duo of El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru have held the IWGP Jr Heavyweight Tag Team titles for 304 days, until Wrestle Kingdom 13, which honestly is quite the feat. Lastly, Taichi has been, at the age of 38, starting to make his way into the Heavyweight division, getting a decent showing against the likes of Tetsuya Naito, Hiroshi Tanahashi or Will Ospreay. he won the NEVER Openweight Championship a few months ago from Hirooki Goto, but quickly dropped it back to the former champion. Taichi will get to face Tetsuya Naito for the Intercontinental Championship in Sapporo on February 2nd.
 Let’s not forget that Takashi Iizuka will be retiring on February 21st, as he approaches his 33th year since he debuted.

 As you may guess, the issue, if you can actually say there is one, is not about necessarily about winning or competing for championships. So far, the faction still keeps itself relevant enough to be in nearly constant contention for titles, but as said before, never did Suzuki-Gun felt like New Japan’s top faction for a decent while, if not ever. The group returned while Los Ingobernables de Japon picked up steam, when Bullet Club was shining under Kenny Omega’s light, and when CHAOS was possibly at its peak since Okada became the leader. In such a filled landscape, it was definitely harder for a returning faction to establish itself at the top.

 Let’s now go back to Minoru Suzuki and Zack Sabre Jr. The master and his apprentice, in a way. As time goes by, more of the spotlight goes from Suzuki to Zack, and it may not be too bold to say that the time pass the torch is not too far away. ZSJ has been in constant growth since joining Suzuki, and is reaching for a status that Minoru himself hasn’t fully been able to acquire. Who knows how and when a hypothetical, but credible transition inside Suzuki-Gun will take place, but let me tell you this : We will see Minoru Suzuki and Zack Sabre Jr face each other.
 

Whether it happens sometime this year, let’s say during the G1 Climax, early next year, or both, is still quite uncertain. What I am convinced of, and hopefully this article will convince you as well, is that Suzuki-Gun’s leading figure will definitely change at some point. To back this idea up, don’t be surprised to see ZSJ claim his first IWGP championship. Zack did say he would take the US title from Juice Robinson on US soil, remember ?

 One last thing to mention, this evolution of Suzuki-Gun to, let’s say it, an eventual “Sabre-Gun”, will likely not just concern a change in who’s leading the pack. Don’t be surprised if the group welcomes new members in the future, as most of the actual members are at least 35 years old, with the exception of Zack Sabre Jr and Davey Boy Smith Jr.

With a part of the group reaching the last few years of their careers, Suzuki-Gun is subject to change. What do you think the future holds for this faction ? Which wrestlers could you see end up joining them in the future ?


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Andrew’s G1 Climax 29 Ratings & Analysis: Night 4 B Block

Second night for the B Block! Jay White and Tetsuya Naito need to get on the scoreboard. Did it happen?

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Second night for the B Block! Jay White and Tetsuya Naito need to get on the scoreboard. Did it happen?

Sapporo is a fun city for the main event, with a lot of general history.

Will Ospreay having a neck injury means he’s not working the undercard tonight.

Those are probably the two points that matter the most. So I guess let’s get to the show!

Ratings:

  • Jyushin Thunder Liger & Kota Ibushi vs Yota Tsuji & Shota Umino: Ibushi wins via Half Boston Crab @8:20 – **
  • Toa Henare, Ren Narita & Tomoaki Honma vs EVIL, BUSHI & SANADA: BUSHI wins via MX @7:20 – ** 1/2
  • Minoru Suzuki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Zack Sabre Jr & Lance Archer vs KENTA, Clark Connors, Karl Fredricks & Hiroshi Tanahashi: Kanemaru wins via Deep Impact @11:30 – ***
  • Chase Owens & Bad Luck Fale vs Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI: Okada wins via Rainmaker @8:45 – ** 1/4
  • Block B: Shingo Takagi vs Toru Yano: Shingo wins via Pumping Bomber @6:15 – ** 3/4
  • Block B: Juice Robinson vs Hirooki Goto: Juice wins via Pulp Friction @12:20 – *** 1/2
  • Block B: Jon Moxley vs Jeff Cobb: Moxley wins via Draping Deathrider @8:55 – *** 1/4
  • Block B: Tomohiro Ishii vs Jay White: Ishii wins via Vertical Drop Brainbuster @19:15 – **** 1/2
  • Block B: Taichi vs Tetsuya Naito: Taichi wins via Last Ride @21:00 – *** 3/4

 

Analysis:

Liger and Ibushi take on Young Lions because Will Ospreay is nursing an injury. So this was unexpected, but who’s gonna argue with some Liger? Bare bones basic Young Lion match, but Liger and Ibushi kept the interest high.

EVIL and SANADA are facing one another on Thursday, but they were on the same team tonight. Part of this story was BUSHI remaining to look strong since the end of the BOSJ, while EVIL and SANADA had the tension building up. Instead of the LIJ fist bump after the win, EVIL tries to cheap shot SANADA, SANADA counters and then they have a stand off.

This Suzuki-Gun match was beautiful. It was just a gang fight, with each member of Suzuki-Gun taking someone off and Lance Archer even joined commentary at some point. House show quality match was a good way to describe this, but it was still fun and got across the point for future matches and just great character work.

It might be a little mean to say, but YOSHI-HASHI is in this match, so who cares? Chase Owens does prove why he’s the glue that holds Bullet Club together. He’s a great tag team player and this year he’s looked a lot better than he has in the past. So we’ve got an alright match, Okada wasn’t gonna eat a pin, but I guess they wanted to protect YOSHI a little, so Chase ate the Rainmaker.

Shingo proved he watched the Naito match by trying to get Yano to take off his shirt. Anyone who saw Shingo in Dragon Gate knows he’s got some comedy chops being a former…wait…the current, Open the Owarai Gate champion (Owarai means comedy). Shirt, wrist tape and turnbuckle shenanigans ensue, but the right person won. Shingo gets on the board and doesn’t suffer the shame of getting bamboozled.

This tends to be an issue with Goto and Juice a lot of the time. By this, I mean boredom. Goto and Juice have bumped heads a few times and they both try very hard, but they aren’t exciting together. Juice being a quirky but not overly animated just means you get a snarky line and one move that may be entertaining (usually Left Hand of God) and then the action stalls. So both did good work, it was a tough match, but it wasn’t really anything crazy. Solid enough match though.

Moxley focused on Cobb’s left shoulder, so the story was to take out Cobb’s power and try to figure out how to end the match. We saw another solid match, and Moxley gets across more of his character. He does borderline heel tactics and then apologizes to the referee. So this brawling, unstable babyface is an old school gimmick in Japan, but not often seen in New Japan. It’s nice to watch, and Moxley taking advantage of Cobb’s positioning to hit the Draping Dirty Deathriding Paradigm DDT.

Jay White starts off against two of the heavier hitters from Chaos, his former stable. After taking Goto lightly, Ishii comes into this match after a big win over Jeff Cobb. White came into the match less relaxed, but still playing up his smarmy character. Ishii laid into Jay the whole match, where Jay tried to outsmart the Stone Pitbull, but Jay isn’t as clever as he thinks he is. A great match with well placed false finishes and a lot of tension. Fantastic back and forth, plus Ishii picking up the win is something special.

There were so many story threads going on here. Sapporo is the place of their Intercontinental Championship match earlier in the year where Taichi had Takashi Iizuka interfere. Iizuka left the Iron Fingers for Taichi, but he hasn’t used them in the 6 months he’s had them. This was a great struggle of wrestlers who were once rivals, but Naito has since eclipsed Taichi. Hell, Taichi even hit a Ganso Bomb, shades of his mentor Toshiaki Kawada. References, call backs and a solid match from a story telling perspective.  Work rate might not have been fantastic, but that’s the beauty of professional wrestling being more than the moves in the ring. Plus part of the fun of Taichi matches is watch Miho Abe react, since she’s such a lovely devoted valet.

Overall Score: 6.75/10

A lot of this show was driven by the stories and the historical threads between participants, opposed to the in-ring action. I appreciate the mixture of angles that New Japan shows attack with. Many newer fans just know NJPW for great hard hitting work rate, but the beauty of puroresu in general is how deep the stories go.

Sometimes the wrestlers reference things from their mentors/trainers, sometimes it’s just a story line from the isolationist politics that each puro company has dabbled with or sometimes it goes all the way back to when someone was a Young Boy in a dojo. The layers are there for those who wish to know, so part of the fun in nights like this, are what personally floats your boat.

The show was the weakest so far, but there were plenty of satisfying moments outside of ring work.

B Block Standings:

  • Tomohiro Ishii – 2-0 (4 Points)
  • Jon Moxley – 2-0 (4 Points)
  • Juice Robinson – 2-0 (4 Points)
  • Toru Yano – 1-1 (2 Points)
  • Hirooki Goto – 1-1 (2 Points)
  • Shingo Takagi – 1-1 (2 Points)
  • Taichi – 1-1 (2 Points)
  • Jay White – 0-2 (0 Points)
  • Jeff Cobb – 0-2 (0 Points)
  • Tetsuya Naito – 0-2 (0 Points)


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Andrew’s Top 5 Matches: Week Ending 7/14/2019

HOLY WRESTLING WEEKEND BATMAN! With everything that went on, what did I see and what made the Top 5?

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HOLY WRESTLING WEEKEND BATMAN! With everything that went on, what did I see and what made the Top 5?

Well let’s not mess around too much since we’ve got a lot to break down. Our June match of the month was a two horse race, but one did end up winning without any controversy.

Updated Match of the Year Pool:

  • January – NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13 IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kenny Omega (c) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
  • February – NXT Halftime Heat: Ricochet, Aleister Black & Velveteen Dream vs Adam Cole, Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa
  • March – Stardom: Wonder of Stardom Title Match: Jungle Kyona vs Momo Watanabe (c)
  • April – WrestleMania 35: WWE Championship: Kofi Kingston vs Daniel Bryan (c)
  • May – AEW Double or Nothing: Cody Rhodes vs Dustin Rhodes
  • June – NJPW BOSJ 26 Finals Day: BOSJ 26 Finals: Shingo Takagi vs Will Ospreay

So there we go. The BOSJ Finals that blew away many that saw it, still resonated well with voters. So we have our first iteration of the same company getting a second match, but still none of the wrestlers yet.

Now what won last week, as the first match of July? Impact Wrestling Slammiversary: Impact World Championship: Brian Cage (c) vs Michael Elgin, took the first match slot of July.

Since we had so many shows this weekend, there was a draw, so we’ve got 6 matches this week in the interest of fairness.

 

5t. NJPW G1 Climax 29 Night 3: Block A: SANADA vs Will Ospreay

From My Analysis:
Well now, this went back and forth quite a bit. SANADA proved his athleticism, Ospreay proved that he can hang with heavyweights and it was close the whole time. The only really awful spot was Ospreay slipping out of the Paradise Lock. There’s a gimmick there, and we don’t need the allure of it to be cheapened for a dumb flip spot. Aside from that worthless moment, the match was really wrestled well and SANADA had a few attempts at victory. SANADA’s constant desire to use the Moonsault still proves to be his downfall. He really needs a new move.

Winner: Ospreay via Stormbreaker

Rating: ****

 

5t. AEW Fight for the Fallen: The Brotherhood (Cody & Dustin Rhodes) vs The Young Bucks

Snippet from Mitchell’s Coverage:
The Bucks have Dustin alone and they know it. Fans rally up behind Dustin as he throws hands on both Bucks! He gives jab after jab, and pumps it up like daddy did! Dirty birds for Matt, bionic backhands for Nick! But then a SUPERKICK in return! Shining Wizard to Macho Elbow! Cover, TWO!! Fans duel again as Matt grits his teeth. Matt runs at Dustin in the corner but gets a kick. Dustin hops on for a DESTROYER! Cover, TWO!! Fans rally and Dustin still feels it. Dustin tags Cody in and he sends Nick’s kick into Matt. Then Cody SUPERKICKS Nick, grabs Matt, but Nick SUPERKICKS Cody back! The Bucks think, and as Cody stands again, they give him DOUBLE SUPERKICKS to the back! Cover, but Dustin breaks it!

The Rhodes regroup, as do the Bucks. Fans hope they “Fight Forever!” as the Rhodes both stand together. The Bucks rush them, to steal the uppercuts! But then they get SUPERKICKS from the Rhodes! To give them back! Stolen Cross Rhodes! Cover, TWO!! Cody survives his own move, but the Bucks are not done. Nick FLIES onto Dustin, then coordinates with Matt. Matt gut wrenches, Nick springboards, MELTZER DRIVER! Cover, the Young Bucks win!

Winner: Bucks via Meltzer Driver

Rating: ****

 

4. NJPW G1 Climax 29 Night 2: Block B: Tomohiro Ishii vs Jeff Cobb

From My Analysis:
HOSS FIGHT! Big boys do big boy things and it was great. Chop exchanges, suplexes and both men putting the other through hell. Each favored their backs at different points, which made sense with all the punishment and suplexes both we dolling out. This definitely felt like it could go either way and that’s always a great vibe. Cobb never hit Tour of the Islands, so it was well protected.

Winner: Ishii via Vertical Spike Brainbuster

Rating: ****

 

3. WWE Extreme Rules: United States Championship: AJ Styles vs Ricochet (c)

Snippet From Mitchell’s Coverage:

Styles goes to suplex but Ricochet counters with a swinging neckbreaker! But Styles still lifts Ricochet for a brain buster! Cover, TWO!! Both men are down again but fans know “This is Awesome!” Styles slowly gets up and drags Ricochet over to a corner. Styles hauls Ricochet up top but Ricochet fights back. They brawl and Styles rocks Ricochet. Styles climbs up to join Ricochet but Ricochet fights back again. Ricochet slaps Styles off the top and adjusts position. But Styles is right back up, only to get a hotshot from Ricochet! Ricochet climbs back up, springboard shooting star! Cover, but Styles has a foot under the rope! Anderson points it out and the count is off!

Ricochet can’t believe how close he was, but he vows to wrap it up. He drags Styles to a drop zone, climbs up top, but Anderson runs over. Ricochet leaps over him and BOOTS Anderson down! But this distraction allows Gallows to trip Ricochet! Ricochet is stuck on the corner and Styles takes advantage, with an IMPLODING STYLES CLASH! Cover, Styles wins!

Winner: Styles via Avalanche Styles Clash

Rating: **** 1/4

 

Honorable Mentions:

NJPW G1 Climax 29 Night 3: Block A: KENTA vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
Winner: KENTA via Go 2 Sleep
Rating: *** 3/4
WWE Extreme Rules: SmackDown Tag Team Titles: The New Day vs Heavy Machinery vs Rowan & Daniel Bryan (c)
Winner: New Day via Midnight Hour
Rating: *** 3/4
NJPW G1 Climax 29 Night 2: Block B: Juice Robinson vs Shingo Takagi
Winner: Juice via Pulp Friction
Rating: *** 3/4
AEW Fight for the Fallen: CIMA vs Kenny Omega
Winner: Omega via One Winged Angel
Rating: *** 3/4
WWE Extreme Rules: Raw Tag Team Titles: The Revival (c) vs The Usos
Winner: Revival via Shatter Machine
Rating: *** 1/2
AEW Fight for the Fallen: SCU vs Lucha Brothers
Winner: Lucha Bros via Spike Fear Factor
Rating: *** 1/2
NJPW G1 Climax 29 Night 3: Block A: EVIL vs Kota Ibushi
Winner: EVIL via Everything is Evil
Rating: *** 1/2
WWE Extreme Rules: Undertaker & Roman Reigns vs Shane McMahon & Drew McIntyre
Winner: Undertaker via Tombstone
Rating: *** 1/2
WWE Extreme Rules: Intercontinental Championship Match: Shinsuke Nakamura vs Finn Balor:
Winner: Nakamura via Kinshasa
Rating: *** 1/4
WWE Extreme Rules: Aleister Black vs Cesaro
Winner: Black via Black Mass
Rating: *** 1/4
AEW Fight for the Fallen: Jimmy Havoc, Darby Allin & Joey Janela vs MJF, Shawn Spears & Sammy Guevara
Winner: Spears via Death Valley Driver
Rating: *** 1/4
WWE Extreme Rules: WWE Championship: Kofi Kingston (c) vs Samoa Joe
Winner: Kofi via Trouble in Paradise
Rating: *** 1/4
NJPW G1 Climax 29 Night 3: Block A: Bad Luck Fale vs Lance Archer
Winner: Archer via EBD Claw Hold
Rating: ***
WWE Raw: 2 out of 3 Falls: The Miz & The Usos vs The Revival & Elias
Winner: Miz & Usos 2-1
Rating: ***
AEW Fight for the Fallen: Kip Sabian vs Hangman Page
Winner: Page via Deadeye
Rating: ***
NJPW G1 Climax 29 Night 2: Block B: Jon Moxley vs Taichi
Winner: Moxley via Deathrider
Rating: ***
IMPACT!: Kiera Hogan vs Jordynne Grace vs Madison Rayne
Winner: Grace via Grace Driver
Rating: ***
NJPW G1 Climax 29 Night 3: Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Minoru Suzuki & Taichi vs Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI
Winner: Suzuki via Gotch Style Piledriver
Rating: ***
WWE SmackDown: Shinsuke Nakamura vs Finn Balor
Winner: Shinsuke via Kinshasa
Rating: ***
NJPW G1 Climax 29 Night 2: Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr vs Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI
Winner: Sabre via Cross Arm Breaker
Rating: ***
WWE Extreme Rules: Extreme Rules Winners Take All Raw Women’s & Universal Championships Match: Becky Lynch (c) & Seth Rollins (c) vs Baron Corbin & Lacey Evans
Winner: Rollins via Stomp
Rating: ***

 

2. NJPW G1 Climax 29 Night 3: Block A: Kazuchika Okada vs Zack Sabre Jr

From My Analysis:
Okada has the amazing ability to wrestler his opponent’s style of match. Sabre stretched him and tried to break him, but Okada fended off every attempt. We saw numerous counters, submissions and great wrestling. Okada’s Rolling Rainmaker to set up the traditional Rainmaker is always a fun transition. Awesome match.

Winner: Okada via Rainmaker

Rating: **** 1/4

 

1. NJPW G1 Climax 29 Night 2: Block B: Jay White vs Hirooki Goto

From My Analysis:
Jay White hasn’t taken Goto seriously, like the better portion of New Japan fans. White put on some great heel work, from his interactions with Gedo, to being a step ahead with a beaming shit eating grin the whole time. Goto showed the heart and resolve that he used to be well known for. Most people who became fans over the last 4 years or so, know Goto as a good hand but to never accomplish anything really. This could finally be a return to the form he had a while ago when he was considered on equal footing with Nakamura and Tanahashi. Damn great effort from both wrestlers.

Winner: Goto via GTR

Rating: **** 1/4

 

Thoughts:

Well even though I missed the Evolve show because of having plans on Saturday, I think I caught enough of the quality shows. The Rhodes’ story is something I’ve been finding entertaining, but watching Jay White’s character evolve is great too. So my vote will go to Jay White vs Hirooki Goto.

Goto showing a possible resurgence and White continuing to grow are all great things so early in this G1 Climax tournament.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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