Suzu Suzuki. A former singles champion of the women’s professional wrestling promotion Ice Ribbon. She lost the belt in January this year, but once she was ‘relieved of this burden’ she expressed her desire to move into the deathmatch/hardcore division (both of which allow the use of weapons). That’s how Suzu Suzuki’s Seven Match Hardcore Trial Series of Determination began.
The third match against Masashi Takeda on April 24th became a particular topic of conversation. Masashi Takeda, who is also known as the “Crazy Kid”, attacked Suzu mercilessly. He drove a construction staple gun into her head, and cut her head with an oversized pair of scissors. For the first time in her career Suzu bled profusely. Finally the referee stopped the match as Takeda had Suzu in a face lock while cutting her with the scissors. It was Suzu’s third consecutive loss in the Seven Match Trial Series.
“It’s not something an 18-year old girl should do”
When this match report was posted to news sites, a lot of criticism was left in comment sections. Things like they didn’t want to see a guy make a girl bleed, and it wasn’t something that an 18-year old girl should do. Even though it might have been better to ignore some comments Suzu said that she read them all. And the comments on Twitter.
“There were people who said that this sort of match wasn’t appropriate for Ice Ribbon. I had to deal with that myself. But I was so frustrated that it got to the point that my opponent Takeda was criticised for being a coward… it made me cry.”
The internet got so ‘worked up’ that Suzu had to tweet again that she was happy and that this is what she wanted to do. In an interview a few days after the match Suzu laughed at the bruises that showed no signs of disappearing, and got teary eyed about the fact that people didn’t understand her happiness.
Nowadays it isn’t unusual for men and women to wrestle each other. There are other joshi wrestlers who participate in deathmatches/hardcore matches. And there are other teenage wrestlers. But when all of these are combined it seems to lead to some outlandish reactions.
“I’m sure that if you watch my matches you’ll understand, and if you get to know me then your views will change. The thing I hate the most is being pitied.”
She graduated middle school and immediately joined Ice Ribbon in order to wrestle deathmatches
She hates losing. But she has nothing but happiness in daring to exchange attacks with weapons and to bruise and bleed in hardcore matches. That’s why the criticism was so hard to take. Why should she feel sorry for herself when she was doing something that she loves?
No one made her take part in hardcore matches, it was something she wanted to do. In order to fulfil her dream she graduated from middle school and immediately left her home in Miyazaki Prefecture [in Kyushu].
She was drawn to professional wrestling when she happened to see it on TV. She got into it even more by watching it online and on DVD. And deathmatches stole her heart.
“Isn’t it amazing that people survive after shedding that much blood? Even after being beaten down they still have the strength to fight back. I get a sense of the power of humans. I think deathmatch fighters are really cool.”
Whenever there was a local Big Japan Pro Wrestling or FREEDOMS show, two promotions that focus on deathmatches, her parents would take her. Not just in Kyushu, she even went to shows in Hiroshima. Before she knew it, her parents also became professional wrestling fans.
The reason why she longs for a bloody hardcore match
Seeing Risa Sera from Ice Ribbon in a hardcore match changed her life. Until then she had thought that deathmatches were only for men, but that wasn’t the case. She realised that it was something that she could do too.
“Okay I’ll do it, I can do it, I’m gonna do it! That’s how I sent my application to the company (Ice Ribbon). That was when I was in middle school. So I waited until I graduated then joined.”
Are deathmatches and hardcore matches appropriate for Ice Ribbon, which children come to watch? The answer is already out there. Risa Sera, a pioneer in the field, had been having deathmatches on other shows and decided to have an exploding bat match with Tsukasa Fujimoto. Initially Fujimoto was opposed to the idea. It was Suzu, who was just a trainee at the time, who spoke up. She said that she had joined Ice Ribbon after seeing Sera’s deathmatches, and that there were other people like her. Upon hearing this, Fujimoto decided to go for the exploding bat match. Since then Fujimoto says, “I want Ice Ribbon to be a ring where dreams come true. I don’t want the wrestlers to give up on their dreams.”
It’s not simply hitting each other with weapons
“I didn’t start talking about the Seven Match Trial Series until I dropped the belt. It wasn’t until I was confident that I could wrestle under normal rules. I believe that if you can’t wrestle well under normal rules then you can’t do deathmatches or hardcore matches. I’m not doing this because I can’t wrestle properly. We’re not simply hitting each other with weapons.”
But why are her opponents male? There are women who wrestle deathmatches as well.
“It’s because the first thing I saw and admired was men’s professional wrestling. I think all wrestlers want to compete with the people they admired as fans. In my case it was male wrestlers. I also want to make the impossible possible. 100% of people think that when a woman fights a man they won’t win, right? I want to overturn that. I’m also curious to go into unknown territory.”
The first match of the Seven Match Trial Series was against Yuko Miyamoto. The second match was against Takashi Sasaki. As a weapon she brought buckets of metal bells that are associated with her name [bell in Japanese is suzu]. Doing moves on the bells scattered around the ring creates a unique space where the sound is refreshing but the damage is severe. She was excited just thinking about what weapons to bring and what attacks to do. After the match against Takeda she looked at her head wounds in the mirror and was thrilled. She was in the world that she had once longed for.
Wrestle with your heart on your sleeve, and do deathmatches with dignity
Her fourth match was in Yokohama on May 5th. It was against “Deathmatch Charisma” Jun Kasai. The previous match had been criticised for a minor bleeding a lot, and coincidentally this match was on Children’s Day. Suzu was enthusiastic about the fact that a child would be the star of the show.
In fact, her matches have gotten better with every hardcore match that she’s had. When she drove the construction stapler into Kasai’s ass it made him yell, “she’s f*cking crazy!”
Of course, Kasai’s attacks were more intense than that. He thrust a bunch of bamboo skewers into her head and stabbed her in the mouth too. Suzu attacked back with bamboo skewers too, but was powerbombed on to a ladder propped up against the rope. The finish came from a ‘Pearl Harbour Splash’ from a ladder. After the match, Suzu said that Jun Kasai isn’t human but a monster. But it’s clear that this match was a turning point. After the match, Kasai said, “I heard there were lots of negative comments online, but don’t worry about it.”
“There are lots of people who spend their whole lives doing jobs they hate, but you’re doing what you love. That alone makes you a winner kid. Go and wrestle with your heart on your sleeve and wrestle deathmatches with pride.”
He said that the only thing that you should be concerned about is losing, i.e. your ability. Just because you’re young that’s not a negative, and neither is growing old.
“Suzu Suzuki said that I’m older than her father, but for Jun Kasai age is just a “level”. I’ll be level 47 on September 9th. I’m sure she’ll increase her level every year, but I’ll never let her catch up with me. (Haha) Suzu Suzuki’s potential? If I knew where it is right now I’d have no problems. But her potential is infinite.”
She was so strong that I had to win by hook or by crook
Four days later, at the Kawaguchi show on May 9th, she fought Isami Kodaka in the fifth match of her Seven Match Trial Series. He got a surprise three count with a modified Samson Clutch (rollup) and after the match he said the following.
“I really wanted to win with a move off a ladder, but I had to win by hook or by crook. That’s how strong Suzu is. Her wrestling (under normal rules) is so strong. I think she has so much potential.”
Isami didn’t want to lose, not just in terms of the win column but in terms of ideas and spirit. He drew the eyes of the fans by grabbing a bicycle that Suzu brought with her and rushing at her, crashing when she dodged out of the way. In his own way, Isami was never going to be content to be an ordinary opponent. Appearing in Ice Ribbon was a chance to appeal to fans who don’t normally see him.
So far in her Seven Match Trial Series, her opponents have been impressively ‘first-class’. They didn’t look down on the fact that their opponent is a woman, they are broadminded and each of them left a mark in their own way on a promotion that is not their own. They probably don’t think in terms of ‘men vs. women’. They just think in terms of ‘deathmatch elite vs. rookie’.
For that reason, Suzu’s struggles standout. In the match against Isami she ran him over with a bicycle and hit him with a high-angle brainbuster from a ladder. However, she was still a step away from pulling off a big upset.
In order to come of age “she has to bleed a lot”
When you think about it, it’s not that surprising. The reason that they’re all top fighters is that they can’t be beaten easily. Takeda pointed out that in the match, “when she was bleeding she was gasping for air and her eyes were swimming.” In order to overcome this, “the only option is to bleed a lot.” Now, is the time for her to gain the experience to come of age as a deathmatch fighter, before worrying about winning or losing.
However, Suzu herself has not given up on winning. If she says, “there’s no way I can win but it’s worth it,” then her fans won’t follow her. The theme of the Seven Match Trial Series is to keep thinking about how to beat men.
Masashi Takeda on April 24th, Jun Kasai on May 5th, Isami Kodaka on the 9th. Even male wrestlers don’t usually have the chance to wrestle such high level deathmatch fighters at such a high pace. It’s like being in the Ikki Tousen league in Big Japan’s deathmatch division. After the match against Isami, which was on Mother’s Day, Suzu said that she wants to win because her parents and her promotion had let her do what she wants. After the Takeda match, her mum sent her a message on LINE saying, “that was a great bloodbath. You’re the best daughter ever!”
Someday I’ll wear a wedding dress over a back full of scars
“I think the reason that people criticise me is that there’s no precedent. People say I’m crazy for wanting to do something like this. It’s true that I am crazy. (Haha) But in this world, crazy is a compliment.
There shouldn’t be a rule that young girls shouldn’t have scars on their skin or that they have to be cute. I want to have scars all over my forehead and back. Because I think that’s cool. Someday, I dream of wearing a wedding dress over a scarred back.”
The next match in her Seven Match Trial Series will be held on May 30th in Nagoya. Her opponent will be Abdullah Kobayashi of Big Japan Pro Wrestling. Suzu is 52kg against the 165kg Kobayashi. Even so, Suzu is still determined to hit her signature German Suplex.
“If I win I’m entering the next Ikki Tousen.”
As she is fulfilling her dreams, she dreams of more. She has nothing but love for professional wrestling, and now is the time that she has the most confidence as a wrestler. Even the three hardcore matches in a short amount of time felt like a long time because, “I couldn’t wait for the next match.” She laughed and cried, and although she was sad to lose she was happy to spill blood. Suzu Suzuki is living her 18-year old life to the fullest in her own unique way.