Minoru Suzuki to have 30th anniversary match in Yokohama! Kazuchika Okada his opponent in the free Great Pirate Festival June 23!



Minoru Suzuki to have 30th anniversary match in Yokohama! Kazuchika Okada his opponent in the free Great Pirate Festival June 23!

On May 8, Minoru Suzuki staged a press conference from his Piledriver store in Harajuku. The conference provided details on the Great Pirate Festival, a two day free event on June 23rd and 24th at Yokohama’s Red Brick Warehouse. Wrestling cards will make up part of the program on both days, with June 23rd headlined by Suzuki’s 30th career anniversary match: a singles bout with IWGP Champion Kazuchika Okada.

Statement from Minoru Suzuki

When we were putting this card together, this match was part of the conversation from the very start. The reason I wanted Okada was that he was born at the same time my career started, and right now he’s at the very top of the wrestling world. It’s really a dream match to show to so many people, all gathered for free under the blue Yokohama sky. He’s the best opponent I could think of to show everyone just what incredible things can happen in life. That’s what I kept in mind as we negotiated the match.’

Questions from media

— Is it safe to say that from the outset you were set on facing the best in the world, and that had to be Okada?

Suzuki: Tanahashi is up there, Naito is up there of course. But I started wrestling in 1987 and debuted in 1988. You look at active wrestlers born around that time and Okada is absolutely the best. If he was a little older or younger, it would become something different, but the point is that I have 30 years of history in this business, and that’s his entire life; it just clicked. Now you might notice that every match on my 30th anniversary card has a 30 minute time limit. There’s no meaning behind that, it just looks cool.

By the way, Kyohei Wada (legendary veteran AJPW referee) will be in charge of all the matches on the 23rd. I plan on him earning his keep. I’m working him hard. 24th isn’t decided yet.

—This is a very unusual event; conducted for free and outdoors, not in a traditional pro wrestling setting. What do you want to show people?

Suzuki: As soon as you have people pay, you’re putting in a barrier to entry. When plans started to come together for this 30th anniversary, the first thing, the very first thing we discussed and I was firm on, was to make it free, and outside, under a blue sky. And for my opponent, I wanted it to be something that would get worldwide attention, something that wouldn’t be out of place in the Tokyo Dome. If you do that… there are going to be a lot of people watching pro wrestling for the very first time here, and whatever pro wrestling you show someone for their first time, they will feel something, take an impression home with them. So let’s make it the very best thing to show them, for them to feel the very best. Of course, if I’m there it’s going to be the best anyway.

—What time will the wrestling start on each day?

Suzuki: There’s still some details being decided. There’s musical performances and talk shows either side, but the 23rd will start around 3PM. When the time gets properly decided, we’ll announce it online. The matches on the 24th should start at 4:30. That’s not set in stone, but it’s the plan.

— You mentioned Kyohei Wada, why did you choose him to referee?

Suzuki: Well, he asked me, actually. ‘I want to do it!’ he says. In that case, I’m gonna put you to work. And I think he has some.. familiarity with me. It’s a special day all round.

— …You and Wada have had your issues in the past..

Suzuki: Well, he might well cause me some grief.

—The first day is all about your anniversary. What was the thinking behind the second day’s matches?

Suzuki: They’re with the people I’m closest to. Starting my 31st year, these are the people, the friends I’ve spent most time with over the last 30 years. Hikaru Sato, NOSAWA Rongai and MASADA. Of course, he’s not on this card, and can’t come, but Yoshihiro Takayama was always on my mind as an opponent when putting this together.

—You’re sending him support with this match, but also some motivation..?

Suzuki: Motivation…yeah, maybe. For now, there’s a little over a month left. I hope he has this as his goal, to stand up, get to Yokohama and see this for himself.

— Okada is the IWGP Heavyweight Champion right now, do you have any thoughts about that?

Suzuki: Honestly, no. To be frank, it’s a bit of an inconsiderate question considering I just lost my own title. It was always going to be Okada, title or not. We started planning this event last January or February, over a year ago, and his name came up from the very start. It’s ok. I’m chasing a dream. Maybe the rain will fall, or maybe the wind will blow. Heck, we’re outside in the open air, we don’t know the weather. Maybe it’s neither one, and it’ll be sunny.

Maybe some grannies just passing by will be watching, maybe little kids who don’t know what this wrestling thing is. Lately more kids are coming to shows and yelling in the crowd, not all that different to when I was a kid. That atmosphere is starting to come back. I want that to happen! When I got the materials for this event, the Yokohama Board of Education really came on board too. Isn’t that great? This is a 30 year celebration, but it isn’t a celebration of me, it’s not something to put me over. I’ve spent 30 years walking out on a stage that other people have busted their asses to build, and now I’m inviting people to come on a stage I’ve built myself. And there’s the added attraction of the special 30th Anniversary version of Kaze ni Nare playing me to the ring for the first time, too.



Minoru Suzuki 30th Anniversary “Great Pirate Festival”

Saturday June 23rd)

Main Event: Minoru Suzuki 30th Anniversary Match. 1 Fall, 30 minute time limit

Minoru Suzuki vs Kazuchika Okada


2nd Match: Special Great Pirate Tag Team Match. 1 Fall, 30 minute time limit

Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Junior vs Rocky Kawamura & Hikaru Sato


1st Match: Great Pirate Festival Opening Match.

1 Fall, 30 minute time limit

Mitsuhisa Sunabe vs Marines Mask


Sunday June 24)

Main Event: Pirate Friends Special Tag Match

1 Fall, 30 minute time limit

Minoru Suzuki & Hikaru Sato vs NOSAWA Rongai & MASADA


2nd Match: Great Pirate Battle

1 Fall, 30 minute time limit

Aja Kong vs Hiroyo Matsumoto


1st Match: Great Pirate Treasure Chest Match

1 Fall, 30 minute time limit

Sanshiro Takagi & Super Sasadango Machine vs Jun Kasai & Rocky Kawamura


Official Great Pirate Festival site: