While Bullet Club provides the coolness in the ongoing gang wars in NJPW, CHAOS the order (ironically), and Los Ingobernables de Japon add the unpredictability, the group that feeds more on fear and brutality are the members of Suzuki-Gun, lead by one of New Japan’s toughest men, Minoru Suzuki.
Suzuki-Gun: The Formation
Suzuki-Gun (which translates to Suzuki Army) actually has its roots in a prior faction, Kojima-Gun, formed by IWGP Heavyweight Champion Satoshi Kojima in December 2010. Taichi Ishikari, returning from a stint in CMLL, began to accompany Kojima to the ring in his battles. The duo were soon joined by Nosawa Rongai and former WWE Superstar and Kaientai Dojo’s Taka Michinoku, with the four becoming known as Kojima-Gun. Nosawa only last a short stint, but was soon replaced by former WWE Superstar MVP. But when Kojima lost his IWGP Heavyweight Championship to Hiroshi Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom 5 a few months later, it spelled the end of Kojima’s influence. At Wrestling Dontaku 2011, Taichi and Michinoku turned on Kojima, and Minoru Suzuki appeared to help take down the former Champion. Suzuki declared himself the new leader, and thus Suzuki-Gun was formed. MVP was ousted quickly and Suzuki began to build a new army, that has seen such members as Yoshihiro Takayama, Kengo Mashimo, current WWE Superstar Shelton Benjamin, and Takashi Sugiura go through it’s ranks.
Following Wrestle Kingdom 9, when Pro Wrestling NOAH‘s Noamichi Marufuji and The Mighty Don’t Kneel (now TM61 in NXT) came to aid CHAOS’ Yano during Suzuki-Gun’s two year feud with CHAOS, an enraged Suzuki declared war on Marufuji and NOAH, spending a whole year invading the promotion and winning their championships. Suzuki-Gun made their return to NJPW a year later, when they appeared at this year’s New Year’s Dash on January 5th, attacking the roster without mercy. Suzuki-Gun is back and heading into 2018 with hungry eyes. Here’s a look at the current roll call for Suzuki-Gun heading into Wrestle Kingdom 12.
Suzuki-Gun: The Army
The undisputed leader of Suzuki-Gun is the man the faction is named after. A trainee from NJPW Dojo, he debuted in 1988. He was one of the founders of Pancrase in 1993, one of the world’s first MMA companies, where he had 29 wins (21 by submission), before returning to pro wrestling. A 2x All-Japan Triple Crown Champion, GHC Heavyweight Champion (while invading NOAH) and the current NEVER Openweight Champion in NJPW, Suzuki is merciless in every action.
Suzuki-Gun’s Junior Heavyweight specialist, Taichi is a former 2x IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion with Suzuki-Gun, as well as one of the successful invaders of NOAH, capturing the GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion. It’s only a matter of time before he challenges for the IWGP version, and maybe 2018 will be his year.
Despite a somewhat weak run in the WWE during the Attitude Era (despite winning the WWF Light Heavyweight title), Taka’s best work has always been in Japan. An All-Japan World Junior Heavyweight champion, 2x FMW World Junior Heavyweight Champion, 2x IWGP Junior Heavyweight champion and countless titles in Kaientai Dojo, Michinoku remains one of Suzuki’s loyal lieutenants and trusted veterans.
THE KILLER ELITE SQUAD
Suzuki-Gun’s gaijin tag team, featuring Lance Archer and Davey Boy Smith Jr., have been arguably the most dominant heavyweight tag team of the past few years in Japan. They’re the current reigning IWGP Tag Team Champions going into Wrestle Kingdom 12 (they’re 3rd reign all together) and are 2x GHC Tag Team Champions from their invasion of Pro Wrestling NOAH. They’ve also taken their brutality to North America, winning the NWA World Tag Team titles twice and competed for Hart Legacy Wrestling in Calgary and Tommy Dreamer‘s House of Hardcore.
51-year old Iizuka has been wrestling since 1986, where he trained at the NJPW Dojo as well in Russia on sambo martial arts. A 3x IWGP Tag Team champion, he’s more in the role of the group’s bodyguard or enforcer now than anything.
A 2010 graduate of the NJPW Dojo (along with Bullet Club’s Bad Luck Fale and LIJ’s Hiromu Takahashi), he debuted as Kyosuke Mikami. He spent his traditional Young Lions excursion in Mexico with CMLL, returning in 2014 as the masked wrestler El Desperado. A former CMLL Arena Colisea Tag Team Champion, he won GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team gold during Suzuki-Gun’s invasion of NOAH.
A 21-year veteran of All-Japan and Pro Wrestling NOAH, Kanemaru is a 7x GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion, All-Japan World Junior Heavyweight Champion and former tag team partner of Ultimo Dragon. During Suzuki-Gun’s year long invasion of NOAH, the longtime NOAH star joined the faction, following them to NJPW when they returned early this year.
ZACK SABRE JR.
The newest addition to Suzuki-Gun, UK sensation Zack Sabre Jr. joined Suzuki-Gun upon his immediate arrival in NJPW, when he defeated Rev Pro British Heavyweight Champion Katsuyori Shibata at the NJPW 45th Anniversary Show, with the help of Suzuki and Davey Boy. Sabre brought an international angle to Suzuki-Gun, holding the PWG and EVOLVE Heavyweight Championships during his time with the faction. Declared as a heavyweight in NJPW, Sabre may set his sights on the IWGP Intercontinental Championship in 2018, after he made Hiroshi Tanahashi submit during the past year’s G1 Climax.