New Japan World Gems #1: The Great Muta and Toru Yano vs. Minoru Suzuki and Shelton Benjamin X
Looking to get more out of your monthly yen payment to New Japan World? Wondering what to watch, but don’t know where to start? No problem! This series will help you find some interesting, must-see, or slightly bizarre matches that you may or may not have seen before. I’ll tell you why I chose to watch the match and why you should too! For our first gem, we travel back to 2014’s Wrestle Kingdom 8 Tokyo Dome show!
Now, to give you some background for this one, Suzuki-Gun is and was a very dominant faction in Japan. Minoru Suzuki and Shelton Benjamin X were, at that time, Suzuki-Gun’s best members with Minoru as it’s feared leader. Toru Yano decided on a mystery partner for the big January fourth show, that being The Great Muta, who would be making his return since his last New Japan appearance in 2008. So, basically what you have here is a nice mix of styles. A powerful faction with a badass leader and a legit athlete against one of Puroresu’s greatest legends and a one of the company’s most popular comedic relief characters.
With that said, that was reason one I picked this match to watch first. To see how all these parts would work together intrigued me. Plus, I was interested to see Suzuki interact with Muta, has Suzuki has a very rough, rugged fighting style compared to Muta’s calculated, deliberate approach. Shelton Benjamin’s reputation for being one of WWE’s greatest athletes and entertainers interested me as well, as I haven’t see too much of his stuff in Japan (as I don’t consider myself to be too much of a current-day Pro Wrestling NOAH fan). Not to mention, Wrestle Kingdom is New Japan Pro Wrestling’s largest show of the year, so this one had to be good right?
So, naturally, Muta’s return warrants a big entrance with man-operated dragons and a live, extended version of his theme song. Very cool and classic. To watch Yano and Muta walk out together was kind of funny to me, though. Muta couldn’t even get his own entrance?! Regardless, Muta’s gear is awesome as always, this time with a futuristic theme. Styles are clashing already, as Suzuki-Gun’s entrance was much more business than this one! After the pleasantries, Muta sprays his mist into the air, and even backs up Suzuki! I still think the mist in wrestling is one of the most fabled and cool “gimmick things” to still exist. People still respect it as a serious threat for opponents (for the most part) and that is cool to me.
Anyway, the match started out with some good technical work from Muta and Suzuki. I was relieved to see that my hunch was right as far as how the two would work together. Then, Benjamin X came in and worked Muta technically for a bit with Muta selling around the mat and eventually rolling out to the floor following a rope break. At this point, Muta began pulling at the ring skirt, and I was ready for him to go underneath and pop out from a different side, as he had infamously done in the past. Instead, he pulled out some sort of rigging before being stopped by the official. Damn!
Toru Yano would eventually tag in against Shelton Benjamin X and the pace of the match would be jumpstarted. It quickly broke down, however, as both men end up outside the ring fighting with the other partners of each opposing team. Yano and Suzuki’s stuff on the outside wasn’t very good, but some interference from the outside members of Suzuki-Gun saw a chair being introduced to the fold. I was kind of bummed to get a brawl so early, but I kind of thought they wouldn’t leave much up to in-ring work. Benjamin and Muta worked their way beyond the first set of guardrails and after some light brawling Bejamin could be heard on camera yelling at the official to, “Get the hell out of the goddamn way!” I shudder to think what his ‘Mama’ would think of such language…
Back to the ring saw a ton of double-teaming on Yano which I loved (because truth be told, I really dislike Toru Yano and don’t find him to be very funny at all). The first pin attempt was unsuccessful as the official wasn’t even in the ring due to him dealing with Suzuki-Gun. Benjamin would come off the pin and tell the ref to “Get your little ass in here!” Hearing Shelton swear at the ref pops me, because it’s Shelton Benjamin.
Minoru and Shelton continued to work Yano over pretty well, getting the match back to tag team format. Both men frequently taunted Muta on the apron. Heavy interference on the outside caused Muta to charge in with a chair but was stopped by the official. He would eventually get the tag, though, and used the chair on both Benjamin X and Suzuki after hitting some of his signature moves on X. It’s always good to see some of Muta’s classic offense. Muta would quickly tag out though, and I began to realize we’d see a lot more of Yano than I thought originally. I suppose I should’ve expected such.
A much anticipated comedy spot would see Yano being unable to finish his taunt before either Suzuki kicked him in the back, or Benjamin X clotheslining him. Muta would come in following an attempted piledriver on Yano and hit a Shining Wizard on Suzuki! The mist would be averted, and Suzuki almost choked Muta out. Again, I’m glad these two are getting a decent piece of each other. Finally, Muta would properly mist Minoru Suzuki and Yano would pick up a roll-up victory. Suzuki-Gun would flee, The Great Muta walked out alone (scaring sections of the crowd along the way), and Toru Yano would be left in the ring to get the last laugh!
All things considered, it was a fun match. It provided some classic Great Muta offense, some of Yano’s world-famous comedy, the rough offense of Minoru Suzuki, and the colorful language of Shelton Benjamin X! I really wish Suzuki and Muta could’ve been booked in a singles match for this show, but the tag match gave all four men a break. There was some decent brawling and the mist finish to allow the underdog Yano to sneak in the victory over the big, bad leader of Suzuki-Gun was a perfect fit! The sprinkled action made the twenty minute match go by very quickly, so it didn’t feel dragged on at all, which can sometimes be the case with special attraction matches that feature legends like this.
On the whole, I loved Wrestle Kingdom 8, and remembered this match for being something worth re-watching. If you have yet to watch it on New Japan World, be sure to seek it out if you have the spare time. It is just the first of my many gems I’ll be suggesting to you!