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Q&A: Japanese Legend Minoru Suzuki on Working in the U.S.

One of wrestling’s truly unique performers faces Bryan Danielson on Friday night in a highly anticipated match.

Wrestling fans are in for an eventful night this October evening. Standing out amid a slate of captivating matches is Minoru Suzuki against Bryan Danielson, and the two are certain to put on a display that is both authentic and memorable.

The New Japan cornerstone wrestles Bryan on AEW’s “The Buy-In” special, airing on the company’s YouTube channel at 9 p.m. ET. Suzuki is also coming to Philadelphia this weekend, headlining New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s Showdown card Saturday at the old ECW Arena in a match against rising star Chris Dickinson.

A 33-year wrestling pro, Suzuki, 53, is a legend of the craft. He has starred across the globe, including a recent stint in AEW. Over the past couple of months, he has performed a tour of indie promotions throughout the United States, which has featured matches against the likes of Jonathan Gresham, Daniel Garcia and Anthony Henry. Suzuki has crafted—and perfected—a realistic, shoot-style of the art in Pancrase wrestling, and there is no one quite like him in the entire industry.

Suzuki spoke with Sports Illustrated through a translator and discussed Bryan Danielson, his wrestling roots and the upcoming New Japan match against Dickinson.

Sports Illustrated: Earlier this week, Bryan Danielson tweeted that you “beat the s---” out of him in your 2004 match, showing him what “violence and sadism” looks like in a wrestling ring. Danielson also shared he is excited to show you what he has learned since your last encounter. Do you share the same excitement for the match?

Minoru Suzuki: I’m looking forward to a fight. Bryan Danielson is the guy I have wanted for a long time. Now I get him. He is getting what he wishes, too: me. I am going to take him down and take him out.

SI: The fighting spirit of pro wrestling is on full display every single time you step into the ring. What excites you most about sharing your vision of wrestling across America?

MS: I wrestle my style. Any time, any place, against anyone, and it is for everyone in the world.

SI: Learning from wrestling legends like Karl Gotch and Yoshiaki Fujiwara, do you feel an even greater responsibility to wrestle at the highest of standards every time you have a match? Do their lessons still resonate with you?

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MS: Fujiwara and Gotch trained me, and I am still faithful to their lessons. Gotch and Fujiwara made a lasting impact on me. I learned that conditioning is the No. 1 hold. They also taught me to never lie, never cheat and always work hard—and that is what I do.

SI: You have had the opportunity to wrestle Jon Moxley both in New Japan and AEW. What do you respect most about Moxley? And were you honored to make a surprise appearance at last month’s AEW All Out pay-per-view?

MS: I’m not done with Moxley. I have unfinished business with him. There are many more times I need to beat him up. And it doesn’t matter if I’m in a big match or a small match; whenever I go out there, I want to fight.

SI: You step into the ring at New Japan’s show this weekend against rising star Chris Dickinson. He is a well-respected and hardworking professional. What will Dickinson need to do in order to prove himself to you this weekend in Philadelphia?

MS: He cannot prove himself. Chris Dickinson cannot handle my punishment.

SI: What can wrestling fans expect from your match against him?

MS: Watch New Japan on Saturday and you will see. I am going to give the people what they want. If you want violence, you are going to get a lot of it.

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Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.