Suzuki-gun

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Suzuki-gun
Suzukigun.jpeg
The logo of Suzuki-gun
Stable
Members See below
Name(s) Kojima-gun
Suzuki-gun
Debut January 28, 2011[1] (as Kojima-gun)
May 3, 2011[2] (as Suzuki-gun)
Years active 2011–present
Promotions K-Dojo[3]
NJPW[4]
Noah[5]
Tenryu Project[6]
Tokyo Gurentai[7]

Suzuki-gun (鈴木軍 Suzukigun?, literally translated to "Suzuki Army") is a villainous professional wrestling stable in the New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) promotion. The group was founded in December 2010 by IWGP Heavyweight Champion Satoshi Kojima as Kojima-gun (小島軍 Kojimagun?, "Kojima Army"), but the members of the stable turned on Kojima and appointed Minoru Suzuki as their new leader in May 2011. Suzuki-gun has since added several new members, most notably Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer, known collectively as the Killer Elite Squad (K.E.S.), who are two-time IWGP Tag Team Champions and two-time NWA World Tag Team Champions as part of the stable. Other accomplishments attained by the stable include Suzuki and Archer winning the 2011 G1 Tag League and founding members Taichi and Taka Michinoku becoming one-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. As the leader of Suzuki-gun, Suzuki became one of NJPW's top wrestlers and has challenged for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship on multiple occasions.

In January 2015, Suzuki-gun, through a partnership between NJPW and Pro Wrestling Noah, took part in a storyline, where the stable invaded Noah, making it their primary promotion. Within two months, Suzuki-gun had captured all four of Noah's championships with Suzuki becoming the GHC Heavyweight Champion, K.E.S. the GHC Tag Team Champions, Taichi the GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion and El Desperado and Michinoku the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. Suzuki-gun dominated Noah for the rest of 2015 until losing all but the GHC Tag Team Championship at the end of the year. The invasion storyline continued in 2016 with Suzuki-gun adding two new members; Noah originals Takashi Sugiura and Yoshinobu Kanemaru, who quickly brought the GHC Heavyweight and Junior Heavyweight Championships back to the stable. The invasion storyline concluded in December 2016, resulting in the stable's return to NJPW in January 2017. In March 2017, the stable added Zack Sabre Jr., who brought the British Heavyweight Championship to the group.

History[edit]

Kojima-gun (2010–2011)[edit]

Minoru Suzuki, the leader of Suzuki-gun
Taichi, founding member of both Kojima-gun and Suzuki-gun

On December 12, 2010, Taichi returned to New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) from his latest excursion to Mexican promotion Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL), accompanying IWGP Heavyweight Champion Satoshi Kojima to a match, where he successfully defended his title against Shinsuke Nakamura.[8] Kojima continued teaming with Taichi during the following week's events,[9][10] and on December 23, the two were also joined by freelancer Nosawa Rongai and Kaientai Dojo's Taka Michinoku.[11] On January 28, 2011, Kojima officially named the group "Kojima-gun".[1] On February 20 at The New Beginning, the debuting MVP became the fifth member of Kojima-gun, in storyline being brought to the group by Nosawa using his American connections.[12][13] However, prior to MVP's debut, Nosawa took a hiatus from professional wrestling altogether, after being arrested under suspicion of stealing a taxi.[14][15]

Suzuki-gun[edit]

Formation and early feuds (2011–2013)[edit]

After losing the IWGP Heavyweight Championship to Hiroshi Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom V in Tokyo Dome,[16] Kojima suffered another big loss against longtime rival Togi Makabe on May 3 at Wrestling Dontaku 2011.[2] Following the match, Michinoku and Taichi entered the ring and attacked Kojima, who, however, quickly took care of both of them. This led to the surprise return of freelancer Minoru Suzuki, who appeared behind Kojima and locked him in a sleeper hold, before leaving the ringside area with Michinoku and Taichi, who proclaimed Suzuki as their new leader and renamed the stable "Suzuki-gun".[2] On May 15, during the Invasion Tour 2011, NJPW's first tour of the United States, Lance Archer made his debut for the promotion, attacking Kojima after a match, before being chased away by former Kojima-gun member MVP.[17][18] The following day, Archer was officially named a member of Suzuki-gun.[19] During the following months, Suzuki continued his feud with Kojima, while Archer went up against Togi Makabe and Michinoku and Taichi became a tag team in NJPW's junior heavyweight tag team division.[20][21] Suzuki's feud with Kojima culminated on July 18 in a grudge match, where Suzuki was victorious,[22] after which he transitioned to feuding with Togi Makabe.[23]

From late October to early November, Suzuki and Archer represented Suzuki-gun in the 2011 G1 Tag League, where they finished second in their round-robin block with four wins and one loss, advancing to the semifinals.[24] On November 6, Suzuki and Archer first defeated Chaos representatives Shinsuke Nakamura and Toru Yano in the semifinals and then the reigning IWGP Tag Team Champions, Bad Intentions (Giant Bernard and Karl Anderson), in the finals to win the 2011 G1 Tag League.[25] As a result, Suzuki and Archer were granted a match for the IWGP Tag Team Championship, but were defeated by Bad Intentions in a rematch on November 12 at Power Struggle.[26] During the same event, fellow Suzuki-gun member Taka Michinoku failed in his attempt to take the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship from Prince Devitt.[27] Power Struggle was also the start of a relationship between Suzuki-gun and Suzuki's close friend, Pro Wrestling Noah representative Yoshihiro Takayama, who began making semi-regular NJPW appearances as a member of the stable.[28] On January 4, 2012, at Wrestle Kingdom VI in Tokyo Dome, Suzuki received his first shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in seven years, but was defeated by Hiroshi Tanahashi in the main event of the evening.[29] During Suzuki's chase for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, Takayama momentarily took over his feud with Togi Makabe, but their rivalry also ended at Wrestle Kingdom VI in Tokyo Dome in a match, where Makabe was victorious.[30]

Taka Michinoku, the other founding member of both Kojima-gun and Suzuki-gun

On February 12 at The New Beginning, the five members of Suzuki-gun took a dominant 5–1 win over Kushida, Tiger Mask, Togi Makabe, Wataru Inoue and Yuji Nagata in a ten-man elimination tag team match, after which Archer and Takayama challenged Tencozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima) to a match for the IWGP Tag Team Championship.[31] On February 19 at All Together, a charity event co-produced by NJPW, All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) and Pro Wrestling Noah, AJPW's Masayuki Kono made a one-time appearance representing Suzuki-gun.[32][33] Archer and Takayama received their title shot on March 18, but were unable to dethrone the defending champions.[34] On April 15, the recently debuted Black Tiger won the 2012 Road to the Super Jr. 2Days Tournament to earn a spot in the 2012 Best of the Super Juniors tournament. After his win, Michinoku and Taichi welcomed Black Tiger to Suzuki-gun, while also hinting that the man under the mask was a former associate of Minoru Suzuki.[35] On May 23, Kazushige Nosawa, a former member of Kojima-gun and Suzuki's prior stable Suzuki Gundan, was arrested under suspicion of smuggling marijuana from Mexico to Japan.[36] Though all charges against Nosawa were later dropped, NJPW immediately acknowledged that he had been portraying the latest Black Tiger and severed their ties with him.[37][38] Meanwhile, Michinoku and Taichi had set their sights on the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship, but were, on June 16 at Dominion 6.16, defeated by Jushin Thunder Liger and Tiger Mask in a match for the vacant title.[39] On July 22, Suzuki, Archer, Michinoku and Taichi picked up another dominant win over Prince Devitt, Ryusuke Taguchi, Togi Makabe and Yuji Nagata in an eight-man elimination tag team match,[40] after which Archer again challenged Tenzan and Kojima to a match for the IWGP Tag Team Championship, however, without specifying who his partner would be.[41]

(Left to right) Lance Archer and Davey Boy Smith Jr., who formed the Killer Elite Squad as part of Suzuki-gun, pictured as the NWA World Tag Team Champions in June 2013

On August 13, Harry Smith was revealed as Archer's partner and the newest member of Suzuki-gun.[42] Also in August, Michinoku and Taichi began blaming each other for their recent losses, which led to the two agreeing to a match, where the loser would be expelled from Suzuki-gun.[43] The match took place on August 22 at Michinoku's Kaientai Dojo promotion, but ended without a winner as Minoru Suzuki interrupted the match and got the two men to make peace with each other.[44] Harry Smith made his debut as a member of Suzuki-gun on September 7 in an eight-man tag team match, where he, Lance Archer, Minoru Suzuki and Taka Michinoku were defeated by Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Togi Makabe and Yuji Nagata via disqualification, when Michinoku's Kaientai Dojo trainee Kengo Mashimo entered the ring and attacked Makabe, revealing himself as the newest member of Suzuki-gun.[45] On September 23 at Destruction, Makabe ended his rivalry with Suzuki-gun by defeating Mashimo in a singles match.[46] The following day, Harry Smith was renamed Davey Boy Smith Jr., after his father.[47]

On October 8 at King of Pro-Wrestling, Smith and Archer, now known collectively as Killer Elite Squad (K.E.S.),[48] defeated Tencozy to win the IWGP Tag Team Championship, bringing Suzuki-gun its first title.[49][50] Later, in the main event of the evening, Minoru Suzuki unsuccessfully challenged Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.[49][50] From November 20 to December 1, K.E.S. took part in the round-robin portion of the 2012 World Tag League, finishing with a record of four wins and two losses, advancing to the semifinals of the tournament in the second place in their block, while Suzuki and Mashimo failed to advance from the other block with three wins and three losses.[51][52] On December 2, K.E.S. defeated Always Hypers (Togi Makabe and Wataru Inoue) to advance to the finals of the tournament,[53] where, later that same day, they were defeated by Sword & Guns (Hirooki Goto and Karl Anderson).[53] On January 4, 2013, at Wrestle Kingdom 7 in Tokyo Dome, K.E.S. successfully defended the IWGP Tag Team Championship against Sword & Guns, while Minoru Suzuki was defeated by Yuji Nagata in another chapter of their long rivalry.[54][55]

Feud with Chaos (2013–2015)[edit]

Afterwards, Suzuki-gun began feuding with NJPW's other villainous stable, Chaos.[56][57][58] In late January, Taichi was sidelined with a knee injury following a traffic accident, which led to Suzuki-gun recruiting another Taka Michinoku trainee, Hiro Tonai, as his replacement for the February events.[59] After working exclusively against each other in multi-man tag team matches for the first part of February,[58][60][61][62][63] the rivalry between Suzuki-gun and Chaos built to two singles matches on February 10 at The New Beginning pay-per-view, where Kengo Mashimo was defeated by Shinsuke Nakamura,[64] while Minoru Suzuki defeated Kazuchika Okada with help from Taichi.[65] Meanwhile, K.E.S. retained the IWGP Tag Team Championship against Tencozy,[66] after which Archer challenged Nakamura to a match for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship.[64] Archer went on to fail in his title challenge on March 3 at NJPW's 41st anniversary event.[67] During the same event, Suzuki-gun and Chaos faced off in a four-on-four elimination tag team match, where Suzuki-gun was victorious after Suzuki scored the final elimination over Okada.[68] The rivalry between the two stables continued during the 2013 New Japan Cup, with Okada defeating Archer and Smith defeating Nakamura in their first round matches on March 11.[69][70] Meanwhile, Suzuki also advanced in the tournament with a win over old rival Yuji Nagata, avenging the loss from Wrestle Kingdom 7 in Tokyo Dome.[71][72] The second round of the tournament on March 17 saw two more matches between Suzuki-gun and Chaos, when Smith eliminated Yujiro Takahashi, while Toru Yano eliminated Minoru Suzuki to advance to the semifinals.[73] Smith, the final Suzuki-gun member left in the New Japan Cup, was eliminated from the tournament by Hirooki Goto in their semifinal match on March 23.[74][75]

Shelton X Benjamin, who joined the stable in April 2013

On April 5, K.E.S. made their fourth successful defense of the IWGP Tag Team Championship against Chaos representatives Shinsuke Nakamura and Tomohiro Ishii.[76][77] The rivalry between Suzuki-gun and Chaos continued two days later at Invasion Attack, where Suzuki first defeated Toru Yano to avenge his loss from the second round of the New Japan Cup,[78] and then Smith unsuccessfully challenged Nakamura for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship.[79] The event concluded with Suzuki confronting new IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Kazuchika Okada, seemingly as his first challenger for the title.[80][81] Following the event, Taka Michinoku announced that Suzuki-gun had recruited a new member to take on Nakamura for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship, noting that he was suitable to challenge for said title.[82] On April 20, the newest member was revealed as former multi-time WWE Intercontinental Champion Shelton X Benjamin.[83] Later that same day, Archer and Smith took part in a National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) event in Houston, Texas, where they defeated The Kingz of the Underground (Ryan Genesis and Scot Summers) to not only retain the IWGP Tag Team Championship, but to also win the NWA World Tag Team Championship.[84][85] On May 3 at Wrestling Dontaku 2013, K.E.S. lost the IWGP Tag Team Championship back to Tencozy in a four-way match, which also included the Chaos team of Takashi Iizuka and Toru Yano, and Muscle Orchestra (Manabu Nakanishi and Strong Man), ending their reign at 207 days.[86] Later in the event, Shelton X Benjamin unsuccessfully challenged Shinsuke Nakamura for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship,[87][88] while the main event saw Minoru Suzuki fail in his challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Kazuchika Okada.[89][90]

Suzuki then got involved in a rivalry with Chaos member Tomohiro Ishii,[91][92] which built to a singles match between the two on July 20 at the Kizuna Road 2013 pay-per-view, where Suzuki was victorious.[93] That same event, Taichi and Michinoku unsuccessfully challenged Chaos members Forever Hooligans (Alex Koslov and Rocky Romero) for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship.[94][95] From August 1 to 11, Suzuki, Archer, Benjamin and Smith took part in the 2013 G1 Climax, with Archer and Smith wrestling in block A and Benjamin and Suzuki in block B.[96] Both Suzuki and Smith entered the final day with a chance to advance to the finals, however, Suzuki was eliminated after losing to Toru Yano, while Smith was eliminated after a loss against Archer.[97][98] On October 14 at King of Pro-Wrestling, Taichi and Michinoku won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship for the first time, when they, replacing Kushida and the injured Alex Shelley,[99] who had earlier defeated them in a number one contender's match,[100] defeated the Forever Hooligans for the title.[101] Meanwhile, after avenging his G1 Climax loss against Toru Yano that same event,[102] Suzuki made a challenge for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship with the added stipulation that should Shinsuke Nakamura lose the title to him, he would have to join Suzuki-gun.[103][104][105] After a reign of 26 days, Taichi and Michinoku lost the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship to The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson) on November 9 at Power Struggle.[106][107] Later that same event, K.E.S. took part in a two-fall three-way match against Tencozy and The IronGodz (Jax Dane and Rob Conway). In the first fall, they lost the NWA World Tag Team Championship to The IronGodz, but came back in the second to defeat Tencozy for the IWGP Tag Team Championship.[107][108][109] Also during the event, Suzuki failed in his IWGP Intercontinental Championship challenge against Nakamura.[107][110]

Takashi Iizuka, who jumped to Suzuki-gun from Chaos in May 2014

On November 24, two Suzuki-gun teams entered the 2013 World Tag League, competing in two separate blocks; K.E.S. in block A and Suzuki and Benjamin in block B.[111] K.E.S. won their block with a record of five wins and one loss,[112] while Suzuki and Benjamin were eliminated with a record of three wins and three losses, after losing to Takashi Iizuka and Toru Yano in their final round-robin match.[113] On December 8, K.E.S. was also eliminated from the tournament in the semifinals by their old rival team, Tencozy.[114][115] On January 4, 2014, at Wrestle Kingdom 8 in Tokyo Dome, K.E.S. lost the IWGP Tag Team Championship to the winners of the tournament, Bullet Club (Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson).[116][117] Also during the event, Michinoku and Taichi unsuccessfully challenged The Young Bucks for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship in a four-way match and Suzuki continued his feud with Toru Yano, with him and Benjamin losing to Yano and The Great Muta in a tag team match.[116][117] Suzuki and Yano continued their rivalry for the next few months, leading to a tag team match at Back to the Yokohama Arena on May 25, where Yano's longtime tag team partner Takashi Iizuka turned on him during a tag team match, where they faced Suzuki and Benjamin, and jumped to Suzuki-gun.[118][119] On June 9, NJPW suspended Taichi for two months with a 30% pay cut, after he had been caught cheating on his wife.[120][121][122] On July 4, El Desperado joined Suzuki-gun, announcing his intention of bringing the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship to the stable.[123][124] From July 21 to August 8, four members of Suzuki-gun took part in the 2014 G1 Climax with Benjamin and Smith wrestling in block A and Suzuki and Archer in block B.[125][126] All four failed to advance from their blocks with Benjamin finishing tied fifth and Smith eighth in their block of eleven and Suzuki finishing fourth and Archer tied sixth in their block.[127][128] Following the tournament, Suzuki transitioned from Yano, who was busy feuding with Iizuka, to a new rivalry with Kazushi Sakuraba,[129] who had come to Yano's aid in the aftermath of Iizuka's turn.[130]

El Desperado, part of the "Suzuki-gun Junior" trio

During September's Destruction tour, Suzuki-gun's three junior heavyweight members, referred to collectively as "Suzuki-gun Junior",[131] set their sights on both of NJPW's junior heavyweight titles.[132] On September 23 at Destruction in Okayama, El Desperado and Taichi failed in their attempt to capture the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship from the Time Splitters (Alex Shelley and Kushida).[133] On October 13 at King of Pro-Wrestling, K.E.S. defeated Tencozy to regain the NWA World Tag Team Championship.[134][135] Later that same event, El Desperado unsuccessfully challenged Ryusuke Taguchi for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, despite outside interference from Taichi and Michinoku.[134][135] The Suzuki-gun Junior trio continued chasing the junior heavyweight titles during the 2014 Super Jr. Tag Tournament. Though El Desperado and Taichi were eliminated from the tournament in the semifinals by The Young Bucks,[136] Taichi managed to pin Ryusuke Taguchi in the opening round of the tournament, with help from both Desperado and Taka Michinoku, putting himself in line for the next shot at the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.[137] Taichi received his title shot on November 8 at Power Struggle, but was defeated by Taguchi.[138][139] Later in the month, two Suzuki-gun teams took part in the same block in the 2014 World Tag League; K.E.S. and Suzuki and Iizuka.[140] Both teams narrowly missed the finals of the tournament due to losses on the final day; K.E.S. with a record of four wins and three losses and Suzuki and Iizuka with a record of three wins, one draw and three losses.[141] K.E.S. was victorious in the head-to-head match between the two Suzuki-gun teams.[142] The rivalry between Suzuki and Sakuraba culminated in a "knockouts and submissions only" match on January 4, 2015, at Wrestle Kingdom 9 in Tokyo Dome, where Suzuki was victorious.[143][144] Also during the event, the Suzuki-gun quartet of Iizuka, Archer, Benjamin and Smith were defeated in an eight-man tag team match by Yano and Pro Wrestling Noah's Naomichi Marufuji and TMDK (Mikey Nicholls and Shane Haste).[143][144] The following day, El Desperado unsuccessfully challenged Jushin Thunder Liger for the NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship.[145][146]

Pro Wrestling Noah invasion (2015–2016)[edit]

The day after Wrestle Kingdom 9 in Tokyo Dome, Suzuki-gun declared war on Naomichi Marufuji and TMDK for them coming to Yano's aid at the event.[147] On January 10, the entire Suzuki-gun made a surprise appearance for Pro Wrestling Noah, occupying the ring after the main event where Marufuji had successfully defended his GHC Heavyweight Championship. While Suzuki hit Marufuji with his finishing move, the Gotch-Style Piledriver, his stablemates attacked everyone who tried to enter the ring to stop him, including new GHC Tag Team Champions TMDK and GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion Atsushi Kotoge.[5][148] The members of Suzuki-gun made their Noah in-ring debuts at the January 12 event, where El Desperado defeated Hitoshi Kumano in a singles match, Archer, Iizuka and Smith defeated TMDK (Nicholls, Haste and Jonah Rock) in a six-man tag team match and Suzuki, Benjamin, Michinoku and Taichi defeated Brave (Marufuji, Kotoge, Muhammad Yone and Taiji Ishimori) in an eight-man tag team main event.[149] Over the next four weeks, all eight members of Suzuki-gun also worked all subsequent Noah events.[150] The first big event of the storyline was on February 11 with a card full of matches between members of Suzuki-gun and Noah and a main event, where K.E.S. defeated Haste and Nicholls with help from El Desperado to win the GHC Tag Team Championship.[151][152][153] Noah's March 15 event saw Suzuki-gun featured in matches for all four of the promotion's titles. In the first two, Suzuki-gun captured both of Noah's junior heavyweight titles with El Desperado and Taka Michinoku defeating Choukibou-gun's Hajime Ohara and Kenoh and No Mercy's Daisuke Harada and Genba Hirayanagi for the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship and Taichi defeating Atsushi Kotoge, with help from El Desperado and Michinoku, for the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship.[154][155][156] The third saw K.E.S. defeat TMDK in a rematch to make their first successful defense of the GHC Tag Team Championship.[157][158] Finally, in the main event, Suzuki completed Suzuki-gun's clean sweep by defeating Naomichi Marufuji to become the new GHC Heavyweight Champion.[157][159]

Yoshihiro Takayama, who turned on Suzuki-gun during the stable's invasion of Pro Wrestling Noah

Suzuki-gun's dominance led to a storyline, where all of Noah's stables, villainous ones included, came together in order to reclaim the titles.[160] As part of the storyline, Yoshihiro Takayama officially broke off his affiliation with Suzuki-gun by announcing his loyalty to Noah on March 28.[161][162] In April, Suzuki-gun entered the 2015 Global Tag League with two teams; Suzuki and Iizuka and K.E.S.[163] Benjamin also took part in the tournament, teaming with Brian Breaker.[164] K.E.S. eventually made it to the finals of the tournament, where, on May 4, they were defeated by Dangan Yankies (Masato Tanaka and Takashi Sugiura).[164][165] All four of Suzuki-gun's titles were put on the line on May 10 and all were defended successfully.[166] First El Desperado and Michinoku successfully defended the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship against Yoshinari Ogawa and Zack Sabre Jr. and then helped Taichi defeat Atsushi Kotoge to retain the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship.[167][168][169] In the semi-main event, K.E.S. avenged their Global Tag League loss against Dangan Yankies by defeating them to retain the GHC Tag Team Championship, albeit following outside interference from Benjamin.[167][170] The main event featured Kenta Kobashi making sure that the rest of Suzuki-gun did not interfere in the match, but nonetheless Suzuki defeated Marufuji in a rematch to make his first successful defense of the GHC Heavyweight Championship.[167][171]

On June 9, Suzuki-gun produced their own show in Korakuen Hall, entitled We Are Suzuki-gun, where K.E.S. made their third successful defense of the NWA World Tag Team Championship against Tencozy.[172][173][174] On June 15, Suzuki made his second successful defense of the GHC Heavyweight Championship against Maybach Taniguchi, after which he was attacked by former stablemate Takayama, who issued a challenge for a title match.[175][176] On July 18 at Noah's 15th anniversary event, Suzuki defeated Takayama, following outside interference from El Desperado, K.E.S. and Iizuka, to make his third successful defense of the GHC Heavyweight Championship. Afterwards, Takashi Sugiura, who earlier in the event had defeated Shelton X Benjamin in their personal grudge match, stepped up as Suzuki's next challenger.[177][178]

Through late July and early August, both El Desperado and Michinoku took part in the 2015 Global Junior Heavyweight League, wrestling in separate blocks. Although both managed to secure early wins, losses on the final day of the tournament prevented them from making it to the finals. The winner, Daisuke Harada, issued a challenge to Taichi afterwards.[179][180] On September 19, after Suzuki had made his fourth successful defense of the GHC Heavyweight Championship against Takashi Sugiura,[181] he was again challenged for the GHC Heavyweight Championship by Naomichi Marufuji, prompting Suzuki to present an added stipulation for their match; should Marufuji lose, Noah would be dissolved.[182] Uniting the entire Noah roster together, Marufuji stated he was prepared to dissolve Noah if any member of Suzuki-gun was able to win the upcoming Global League Tournament.[183][184] Meanwhile, El Desperado and Taka Michinoku made it to the finals of the 2015 NTV G+ Cup Junior Heavyweight Tag League, but were defeated there on September 22 by Atsushi Kotoge and Daisuke Harada.[185] This led to a match on October 4, where Suzuki-gun's title monopoly was broken, when El Desperado and Michinoku lost the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship to Kotoge and Harada in their fifth defense.[186][187]

Takashi Sugiura, who held the GHC Heavyweight Championship twice as a member of Suzuki-gun

From October 16 to November 6, five members of Suzuki-gun took part in the 2015 Global League Tournament. In block A, Archer and Smith both finished their tournament with a record of three wins and four losses with Smith winning the head-to-head match between the K.E.S. members. In block B, Iizuka finished with a record six losses and one draw, wrestled against Suzuki on the final day, which eliminated Suzuki from advancing to the finals with a record of five wins and two draws. Instead, Benjamin won the block and advanced to the finals with a record of six wins and one draw, wrestled against Suzuki.[188][189] On November 8, Benjamin was defeated in the finals of the tournament by Naomichi Marufuji.[190][191] Noah ended their 2015 on December 23 with the promotion's 15h anniversary event, Destiny 2015, where all members of Suzuki-gun were involved in big matches. The stable's members were defeated in both junior heavyweight title matches with El Desperado and Michinoku failing to regain the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship from Kotoge and Harada,[192] while Taichi lost the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship to Taiji Ishimori, ending his nine-month reign in his fifth defense. Out of the six matches they were involved in, Suzuki-gun won only one, which saw K.E.S. make their fifth successful defense of the GHC Tag Team Championship against Big in USA. In the main event, with Noah's future supposedly on the line, Suzuki lost the GHC Heavyweight Championship back to Global League Tournament winner Naomichi Marufuji in his fifth official title defense. During Marufuji's victory celebration, Takashi Sugiura turned on him and Noah and joined Suzuki-gun.[193][194]

Yoshinobu Kanemaru, who joined Suzuki-gun during its time in Pro Wrestling Noah

On January 31, 2016, Sugiura defeated Marufuji with help from Archer and Suzuki to bring the GHC Heavyweight Championship back to Suzuki-gun.[195][196] Prior to the event, Suzuki teased the possibility of there being another traitor within Noah.[197] During his match with Go Shiozaki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru revealed himself as the traitor by turning on Shiozaki, helping Suzuki win the match and joining Suzuki-gun.[195][198] On February 24, Kanemaru defeated Taiji Ishimori with help from his new stablemates to become the new GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion.[199][200][201] On March 27, Suzuki-gun produced the second We Are Suzuki-gun event.[202][203] The following month, K.E.S. set a new record for most successful defenses of the GHC Tag Team Championship by making three defenses on the American independent circuit.[204][205][206] From April 21 to May 3, three teams representing Suzuki-gun took part in the 2016 Global Tag League; K.E.S., Benjamin and Sugiura, and Suzuki and Iizuka.[207] Suzuki and Iizuka finished the tournament with six points and Benjamin and Sugiura with eight points, while K.E.S. won the single round-robin block with ten points, advancing to the finals.[208] On May 4, Archer and Smith were defeated in the finals of the tournament by Naomichi Marufuji and Toru Yano.[209][210] On May 28, Archer and Smith lost the GHC Tag Team Championship to Marufuji and Yano, ending their 15-month title reign in their 11th defense.[211][212] Later that same day, Sugiura lost the GHC Heavyweight Championship to Go Shiozaki in his second title defense.[211][213] On July 26, it was announced that Shelton Benjamin was returning to WWE, signaling the end of his run as a member of Suzuki-gun.[214] On July 30, Sugiura regained the GHC Heavyweight Championship from Go Shiozaki in the first lumberjack match in Noah history.[215][216] Also in July, Suzuki-gun returned to NJPW, when Taichi and Yoshinobu Kanemaru represented the stable in the 2016 Super J-Cup.[217] The two had earned the spots in the tournament by winning a round-robin tournament, contested between the four Suzuki-gun junior heavyweight wrestlers.[218] Both made it to the final day on August 21, where both were defeated by reigning IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Kushida with Taichi losing to him in the semifinals and Kanemaru in the finals.[219][220] Back in Noah, Kanemaru lost the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship to Atsushi Kotoge in his fifth defense on September 23.[221][222] On October 23, Sugiura lost the GHC Heavyweight Championship to Katsuhiko Nakajima in his third defense.[223][224]

The following month, five members of Suzuki-gun took part in the 2016 Global League Tournament with Suzuki, Archer and Iizuka in block A and Smith and Sugiura in block B. Suzuki advanced to the finals of the tournament by winning his block with a record of six wins and one loss, while Archer finished with a record of four wins and three losses and Iizuka with one win and six losses. Meanwhile, both Smith and Sugiura finished their block with a record of four wins and three losses.[225] On November 23, K.E.S. regained the GHC Tag Team Championship from Naomichi Marufuji and Toru Yano.[226][227] That same day, Suzuki defeated Masa Kitamiya in the finals to win the 2016 Global League Tournament. Following his win, Suzuki challenged GHC Heavyweight Champion Katsuhiko Nakajima to a Loser Leaves Noah match on December 2.[226][228] On December 2, Suzuki was defeated by Nakajima in the match for the GHC Heavyweight Championship. Following the match, Suzuki-gun entered the ring to show support for Suzuki, but this led to Sugiura turning on Suzuki-gun, attacking each of his stablemates and quitting the stable.[229][230] The following day, K.E.S. lost the GHC Tag Team Championship to Go Shiozaki and Maybach Taniguchi in their first defense, while in the main event, Suzuki was defeated by Sugiura.[231] With Suzuki-gun having been defeated in all ten of their matches during the two events, Noah announced on December 5 that the stable was gone from the promotion, concluding the two-year-long storyline.[232][233] Shortly afterwards, it was reported that Suzuki-gun had originally been sent to Noah to help sustain the promotion, but the relationship between Noah and NJPW had turned "extremely sour", leading to NJPW pulling its wrestlers from the promotion.[234]

Return to NJPW (2017–present)[edit]

Zack Sabre Jr., the first British member of Suzuki-gun

On January 5, 2017, Suzuki-gun made its return to NJPW after two years away with all eight members attacking the ring following a ten-man tag team match between the Chaos stable and NJPW's main army. The attack saw K.E.S. target IWGP Tag Team Champions Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano and concluded with Suzuki laying out IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada with the Gotch-Style Piledriver. Suzuki then declared war on all of NJPW, including top stables Chaos, Bullet Club, and Los Ingobernables de Japon, stating that Suzuki-gun was going to take over all of the promotion's championships.[235][236] The angle led to multiple title matches the following month. On February 5 at The New Beginning in Sapporo, Michinoku and Taichi unsuccessfully challenged Roppongi Vice (Beretta and Rocky Romero) for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship.[237][238] Later that same event, K.E.S. unsuccessfully challenged Ishii and Yano for the IWGP Tag Team Championship in a three-way match, also involving Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma.[237][239] In the main event of the show, Suzuki unsuccessfully challenged Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.[237][240] Six days later at The New Beginning in Osaka, Smith and Iizuka, replacing an injured Archer, unsuccessfully challenged Ishii and Yano for the IWGP Tag Team Championship in another three-way match involving Makabe and Honma.[241]

On March 6 at NJPW's 45th anniversary show, Kanemaru and Taichi defeated Roppongi Vice to become the new IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions.[242] Later that same event, Suzuki and Smith helped Zack Sabre Jr. defeat Katsuyori Shibata for Revolution Pro Wrestling's British Heavyweight Championship with Sabre becoming the newest member of Suzuki-gun in the process.[242] The incident led to a full-blown feud between Suzuki-gun and Shibata.[243]

Members[edit]

Suzuki-gun in February 2012: (left to right) Lance Archer, Taichi, Minoru Suzuki, Yoshihiro Takayama, and Taka Michinoku

Suzuki-gun[edit]

Current
Member Time
Suzuki, MinoruMinoru Suzuki (leader) May 3, 2011–present
Smith Jr., Davey BoyDavey Boy Smith Jr. September 7, 2012–present
Desperado, ElEl Desperado July 4, 2014–present
Archer, LanceLance Archer May 15, 2011–present
Taichi, Taichi May 3, 2011–present
Michinoku, TakaTaka Michinoku May 3, 2011–present
Iizuka, TakashiTakashi Iizuka May 25, 2014–present
Kanemaru, YoshinobuYoshinobu Kanemaru January 31, 2016–present
Sabre Jr., ZackZack Sabre Jr. March 6, 2017–present
Former
Member Time
Black Tiger, Black Tiger April 15, 2012May 25, 2012
Tonai, HiroHiro Tonai February 2, 2013February 12, 2013
Mashimo, KengoKengo Mashimo September 7, 2012March 3, 2013
Kono, MasayukiMasayuki Kono February 19, 2012
Benjamin, Shelton XShelton X Benjamin April 20, 2013July 26, 2016
Sugiura, TakashiTakashi Sugiura December 23, 2015December 2, 2016
Takayama, YoshihiroYoshihiro Takayama October 10, 2011April 5, 2013

Kojima-gun[edit]

Member Time
Kojima, SatoshiSatoshi Kojima (leader) January 28, 2011May 3, 2011
MVP, MVP February 20, 2011May 3, 2011
Nosawa Rongai, Nosawa Rongai January 28, 2011February 20, 2011
Taichi, Taichi January 28, 2011May 3, 2011
Michinoku, TakaTaka Michinoku January 28, 2011May 3, 2011

In wrestling[edit]

Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer performing the Killer Bomb on Hiroyoshi Tenzan

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  151. ^ a b "アーチャー&スミスがTMDKを下し、GHCタッグを初戴冠! 3.15有明コロシアムでリマッチ実現!!【2.11ノア名古屋大会】". New Japan Pro Wrestling (in Japanese). February 12, 2015. Retrieved February 12, 2015. 
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