Minoru Suzuki’s US excursion has been quite the adventure. Truthfully, I have been surprised a couple of times by the amount of effort put into some of the matches. Not that I ever thought they’d be bad, but Suzuki can be known, even in Japan, for sticking to a simple formula that he knows works. The same can be said for a lot of NJPW guys like Nakamura who is probably the worst offender in that category.
Suzuki’s excursion began with his match with Moxley on Dynamite which was fine, but was pretty much as bare bones as it gets. It didn’t rub me wrong, I wasn’t even upset, I was just like okay, we’ll get to see Suzuki run his usual match with the top guys in AEW and the Indies that’ll be cool. Having him over is a W in itself, whether he’s having the high quality, over the top must see matches that he’s known for or not.
Then, I witnessed him live and in person against Homicide at GCW’s Get Lost A lot and my opinion on this excursion began to change. That match felt like one of his higher end contests. Maybe the atmosphere helped it, but the effort put forth in the ring cannot be ignored. Suzuki & Homicide went all out, no pun intended, and tore the house down.
Now, we have this. Suzuki vs. Danielson on AEW soil. This is a dream match many of us have had in our brains for years. A dream match we never thought we’d see, but a dream match both competitors wanted as well. This led me to believe this would deliver, but then again, it’s a YouTube match. Not PPV, not TV… YouTube.
Will these guys have the match they’re fully capable of or will they save something for a bigger match? Will this be able to live up to the huge hype even though it’s on a YouTube pre show? Will the big fight feel that we all anticipate be there? These are some of the questions I had in mind heading into this.
The entrances begin and the atmosphere is immediately off the charts. Despite some of the fans being marks for themselves, this match had everyone fully invested and garnered “holy shit” chants before the bell even sounded. My third question was answered. Big fight feel? Check.
The feeling out process begins and it’s a little tough for them early. I think so, at least. This crowd wasn’t your typical AEW big match audience. I think that threw myself and maybe even Suzuki & Danielson off as they navigated through the opening minutes of this match, trying to figure out what clicked. After 5-7 minutes, though, they found what clicked and dove into a rhythm that was everything we all longed for and more.
In the early going, I worried the weird atmosphere was going to hinder my enjoyment of this, those thoughts went out the window when these two found their groove and proceeded to pound the shit out of each other for 12 minutes. What a fucking battle we witnessed here.
I was gripping Mike’s couch and screeching as Danielson hit his fighting spirit power up deep down the stretch. The facial expressions these two threw at one another throughout the contest may have popped me just as much, though. Two true masters of their craft here in every single possible way.
Just seeing these two interact and react to one another was unbelievable. The chemistry and the feel was everything… I just can’t even find the words. These two went at it like it may be the only time they ever get to, but god I hope it isn’t. I need this rematch because with a tightened up opening few minutes and a few extra minutes added onto the end, this would’ve been a five star contest every day of the week.
That’s not to downplay the significance of how amazing this was, though. It is undoubtedly one of my favorite matches of the year and something I will watch over and over and over. Seeing Danielson have his first true gritty, violent match since returning to the outside-WWE pro wrestling world was a sight to behold. I can’t think of a better first opponent for him for this than Suzuki. This was just phenomenal. I also have to mention all the piledriver / choke counters and the ultimate finish with Bryan’s running knee that looked the best it’s looked in a long time .. wow.
Match rating - ****1/2