Minoru Suzuki and Jon Moxley have a match for New Japan Pro Wrestling‘s IWGP United States Championship coming up this weekend, and they’ve been attacking and cutting promos on each other on the way there. Suzuki also did an interview about his upcoming match with Mox for NJPW’s website, and though it’s absolutely in-character, it includes some great quotes and pieces of ornery wrestling old man wisdom.
Early in the piece, he gives Moxley an insightful backhanded compliment, saying “Can he grapple? No. Is he strong? No. Tough? No. He can’t do sh*t… but that’s created a spot for him.” Suzuki then calls out fans, wrestlers, and trainers for trying to create “perfect” and “complete” wrestlers.
An absolute all-around perfectionist, the perfect complete player, tens in every category? Not even Tanahashi is that. Naito isn’t that. They don’t exist…
You fans have this idea of ratings, of skill points. You put all those points in a hexagon graph and calculate an average; “Oh, he’s a good wrestler, over 80 overall.” BS. Who the hell will pay money to buy a ticket, and see a guy who’s a perfect hexagon, 8 out of 10 or above in all areas? The guy with zero overall, the guy who can’t do anything at all, he’s a better draw.
He gives some real-life examples of people in NJPW who are over while being un-complete wrestlers, and criticizes wrestling trainers today:
Why is Lance Archer popular? Why does Zack Sabre Junior have the support he does? Because there’s stuff they can’t do. Nobody in this goddamn business understands that. Wrestlers don’t understand that. Trainers, people teaching these kids don’t understand that…
So the kids go in, and they train, and their trainers find what the gaps are in their games, and they try to fill those gaps right up. So you have this perfectly smooth, grey lump of boring trash. Fill in those holes on a wrestler and there’s no way in hell he’s filling seats with asses. It’s up to us to make people talk, to make them disagree. Make them argue. So Moxley? It’s because he can’t do sh*t that he’s a good wrestler.
He’s obviously cutting a promo, but Suzuki makes some strong points, and later does the same about WWE’s attempt at a global monopoly of the wrestling industry. After acknowledging that he and Moxley’s match will be viewed around the world, he says:
One thing I have, one strength that I have over anybody? History. Look at guys that are wrestling all over the world. Everyone wears kickpads, and they don’t even kick, right? That started in Japan. We started that. We shaped culture that way… UWF is part of it. Japanese wrestling. Particularly Japanese. Proprietary Japanese. I get this is for NJPW’s site, so maybe you don’t know or don’t want me saying, but WWE are the biggest promotion in the world, right? And they want to blend all of the world’s wrestling together, fold it all in.
They’re going into all these countries, buying up promotions, snatching away talent, and sapping the business there. But the one place they haven’t been able to do that yet? Japan. Japan and Mexico are the only places that have carried a strong sense of wrestling culture that was uniquely theirs. Business is down in Mexico. WWE are getting their claws in there, too. But they haven’t come here yet, because Japanese wrestling has too much presence. Uniquely Japanese wrestling does.
This might be the most explicitly a Japanese wrestler has spoken about WWE’s attempt at an NXT Japan project, but other parties in the country have already responded with their actions. Both women’s wrestling promotion Stardom and Pro Wrestling NOAH were bought by large Japanese companies soon after WWE reportedly attempted to buy them to use as foundations for the third branch of NXT. WWE’s moves in Japan have also been the subject of parody: at DDT Ultimate Party last year, Super Sasadango Machine, whose gimmick includes PowerPoint presentations, called out Drew Gulak to fight him for gimmick infringement “anticipating a potential invasion into the country.”
More seriously, Suzuki says the key to Japanese wrestling not going the way of British wrestling is maintaining its uniqueness, which to the former MMA fighter means its roots in combat.
That unique Japanese wrestling is something that Rikidozan made, 50, 60 years ago. It used to be about two massive giants throwing hands, made into a show. But the basis of everything, absolutely everything is combat. Fight. Martial arts. That’s Japanese pro wrestling. That’s something only Japan has been able to maintain and protect.
Now, you look at NJPW today. There’s guys that fly. Tag teams with elaborate combinations. Guys with female managers. Guys who are fair, guys who cheat, but they all, all represent Japanese professional wrestling. You can try and deny that, but I think it will always be true. The moment it stops being true, WWE will swallow everything up here.