Ever since Jushin Thunder Liger announced that he would be putting his career to bed after more than three decades as arguably the most important junior heavyweight wrestler of all time, he has been plagued by the masochistic evil emperor of New Japan Pro-Wrestling, Minoru Suzuki.
The two have crossed paths in tag team matches numerous times over the past few months, and even when not across from one another in the ring, Suzuki has gone out of his way to terrorize the masked icon at every available opportunity.
Their back-and-forth rivalry reached a fever pitch during the Road to Destruction tour, and at Monday’s show in Kagoshima – the last time Liger would ever wrestle in the building – Suzuki actually ripped the legend’s mask following an 8-man tag team match; an unforgivable act that has seemingly done exactly what New Japan’s final boss intended.
After being unmasked at Destruction in Kagoshima, Liger got on the mic to say goodbye to the local fans and used the opportunity to send a message directly to Suzuki: “I’m coming for your neck!”
“Listen close and make sure you tell that bastard Suzuki. You crossed a line you shouldn’t have. That punk. Why rip off my mask? To make me upset? You want to fire Liger up? Idiot. Is this the only way you can do it? You’re that crappy of a wrestler, with no power? Today was my last show in Kagoshima. I won’t be coming back here as a wrestler. You embarrassed me in front of this crowd. You have – you crossed the line. You have no idea what I’ll do to you. You press guys know what happens when Liger gets pissed? This is not an empty threat. I’m dead serious. Watch me.
Liger concluded the interview by calling Suzuki a “worthless punk”, demanding to know whether or not the two would face each other in Kobe – presumably at the September 22 NJPW Destruction in Kobe event. Currently they are scheduled to compete against each other in another 8-man tag team match, but Liger made it very clear that he wants the Suzuki-Gun leader one-on-one in a “straight up fight”.
What’s potentially very interesting here is that there may be a hidden layer heading into this inevitable collision. Liger himself has talked about what happens when he gets really, really angry, and Suzuki made it very clear in his backstage comments that he wants to bring out the real “soulless” entity that is hiding behind the mask.
“How much longer will you keep putting this [mask]on? Liger! You soul is masked with this. And that’s how you present yourself? It’s not right. You’re just using this to hide that you’re actually soulless. You’re just a little man wrapped in a nice package. You’re a phony. I’m getting rid of this for you, after 30 years of pretending. I’m doing this for you. Liger… What will you do? Sacrifice your life? My mind is already set. I’ll say it again: Get down on the ground, grovel before me, bow your head and tell me, ‘I’m sorry, I was wrong.’ Kneel down and beg for forgiveness.”
Lace up, because it’s about to get real nerdy in here.
Remember in Dragon Ball Z when Vegeta allowed the wizard Babidi to possess him, becoming Majin Vegeta in order to harness the darkness and evil within him to unleash his true power? Okay, well it happened, and it was awesome.
If Jushin Thunder Liger is a real-life anime character, than Kishin Liger is his final form. It’s only been seen three times in history, when his opponent pushes him so far beyond his limits that he completely snaps – and it always involves his sacred and iconic mask being desecrated in some way.
Kishin Liger is a nightmare. He (or it) is fiercely primal, shows no remorse, and generally bares a resemblance to the Great Muta, who first brought out the demon by removing Liger’s mask in 1996.
And, it would appear, that is exactly who is coming to face Minoru Suzuki…