There is a lengthy history of pro wrestlers crossing over into MMA. From the nascent days of this sport, professional wrestlers have indulged their desire to go from work to a shoot. In this episodic series, I will review fights where pro wrestlers foray into the combat world. It’s like a weird, violent version of IMDB and I am DB (Dylan Bowker). This is Pro Wrestlers in MMA #4: Minoru Suzuki vs Jushin “Thunder” Liger.
Pro Wrestlers In MMA
Jushin Liger is in the eyes of many the greatest cruiserweight/ junior heavyweight in the history of pro wrestling. Amid a laundry list of accolades, Liger has the distinction of being part of the first match in the history of WCW’s flagship program, Nitro. Suzuki has a legendary presence in the world of shoots, works, and worked shoots. The UWF legend who became an icon in Pancrase, is still relevant, and is still finding himself in top of the marquee collisions.
The two clashed in the early part of the 2000’s in another permutation of inoki-ism at play. Liger was chomping at the bit to get going in this Suzuki fight. His pacing leads him to take the center of the ring before the fight even began. Suzuki gets fired up at this and punches his own thighs to indicate his vigor. The bell rings and Liger assumes a wide, crouching stance.
Liger is donning a very different mask in this outing than pro wrestling fans have become used to with “Thunder”. Liger initiates some feints and paws-out some strikes before attempting a rolling thunder. The kick ultimately did not connect and Suzuki ended up in Liger’s half guard as the sequence unfolded. Suzuki was looking for a can opener as he was looking to posture up.
Activate Kishin Liger?
The Pancrase veteran would pass to mount and tease an armbar on Liger. However, he would rain down punches until Liger rallied out. The subsequent scramble resulted in Suzuki getting into side control. Minoru Suzuki would again pass to mount and began swinging some hard leather at his downed opponent. The leader of Suzuki-Gun would take the back and secure the rear-naked choke victory of Jushin “Thunder” Liger.
Suzuki is hoisted up by his cornermen and is making menacing expressions while on the shoulders of his seconds. Suzuki would address the crowd and Liger by cutting a post-match promo with the two showing mutual respect. Overall, Liger put up a relatively valiant, if not listless, effort in a debut effort against a pioneer of MMA/ one of the Pancrase progenitors.
Jushin Liger (vs Minoru Suzuki): 2.3/10