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Suzukigun (literally translated to "Suzuki Army") is a villainous professional wrestling stable in the New Japan Pro Wrestling promotion. The group was originally founded in December 2010 by IWGP Heavyweight Champion Satoshi Kojima as "Kojima Army", but in May 2011, the members of the stable turned on Kojima and appointed Minoru Suzuki as their new leader. Members of Suzukigun have wrestled for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, IWGP Tag Team Championship, IWGP Intercontinental Championship, IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship and the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. Lance Archer and Davey Boy Smith, Jr. are former holders of the IWGP and NWA World Tag Team Championships and Taichi and Taka Michinoku the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship, while Archer and Minoru Suzuki also won the 2011 G1 Tag League.

History

Kojimagun (2010–2011)

On December 12, 2010, Taichi returned to New Japan Pro Wrestling from his latest excursion to Mexican promotion Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL), accompanying IWGP Heavyweight Champion Satoshi Kojima to a match, where he successfully defended his title against Shinsuke Nakamura. Kojima continued teaming with Taichi during the following week's events, and on December 23, the two were also joined by freelancer Nosawa Rongai and Kaientai Dojo's Taka Michinoku. On January 28, 2011, Kojima officially named the group "Kojimagun". On February 20 at The New Beginning, the debuting MVP became the fifth member of Kojimagun, in storyline being brought to the group by Nosawa using his American connections. However, prior to MVP's debut, Nosawa took a hiatus from professional wrestling altogether, after being arrested under suspicion of stealing a taxi.

Suzukigun (2011–present)

After losing the IWGP Heavyweight Championship to Hiroshi Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom V in Tokyo Dome, Kojima suffered another big loss against longtime rival Togi Makabe on May 3 at Wrestling Dontaku 2011. Following the match, Michinoku and Taichi entered the ring and attacked Kojima, who, however, quickly took care of both of them. This led to the surprise return of freelancer Minoru Suzuki, who appeared behind Kojima and locked him in a sleeper hold, before leaving the ringside area with Michinoku and Taichi, who proclaimed Suzuki as their new leader and renamed the stable "Suzukigun". On May 15, during the Invasion Tour 2011, New Japan's first tour of the United States, Lance Archer made his debut for the promotion, attacking Kojima after a match, before being chased away by former Kojimagun member MVP. The following day, Archer was officially named a member of Suzukigun. During the following months, Suzuki continued his feud with Kojima, while Archer went up against Togi Makabe and Michinoku and Taichi became a tag team in New Japan's junior heavyweight tag team division. Suzuki's feud with Kojima culminated on July 18 in a grudge match, where Suzuki was victorious, after which he transitioned to feuding with Togi Makabe.

From late October to early November, Suzuki and Archer represented Suzukigun in the 2011 G1 Tag League, where they finished second in their round-robin block with four wins and one loss, advancing to the semifinals. On November 6, Suzuki and Archer first defeated Chaos representatives Shinsuke Nakamura and Toru Yano in the semifinals and then the reigning IWGP Tag Team Champions, Bad Intentions (Giant Bernard and Karl Anderson), in the finals to win the 2011 G1 Tag League. As a result, Suzuki and Archer were granted a match for the IWGP Tag Team Championship, but were defeated by Bad Intentions in a rematch on November 12 at Power Struggle. During the same event, fellow Suzukigun member Taka Michinoku failed in his attempt to take the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship from Prince Devitt. Power Struggle was also the start of a relationship between Suzukigun and Suzuki's close friend, Pro Wrestling Noah representative Yoshihiro Takayama, who began making semi-regular New Japan appearances as a member of the stable. On January 4, 2012, at Wrestle Kingdom VI in Tokyo Dome, Suzuki received his first shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in seven years, but was defeated by Hiroshi Tanahashi in the main event of the evening. During Suzuki's chase for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, Takayama momentarily took over his feud with Togi Makabe, but their rivalry also ended at Wrestle Kingdom VI in Tokyo Dome in a match, where Makabe was victorious.

On February 12 at The New Beginning, the five members of Suzukigun took a dominant 5–1 win over Kushida, Tiger Mask, Togi Makabe, Wataru Inoue and Yuji Nagata in a ten man elimination tag team match, after which Archer and Takayama challenged Tencozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima) to a match for the IWGP Tag Team Championship. On February 19, at All Together, a charity event co-produced by New Japan, All Japan Pro Wrestling and Pro Wrestling Noah, All Japan's Masayuki Kono made a one-time appearance representing Suzukigun. Archer and Takayama received their title shot on March 18, but were unable to dethrone the defending champions. On April 15, the recently debuted Black Tiger won the 2012 Road to the Super Jr.2Days Tournament to earn a spot in the 2012 Best of the Super Juniors tournament. After his win, Michinoku and Taichi welcomed Black Tiger to Suzukigun, while also hinting that the man under the mask was a former associate of Minoru Suzuki. On May 23, Kazushige Nosawa, a former member of Kojimagun and Suzuki's prior stable Suzuki Gundan, was arrested under suspicion of smuggling marijuana from Mexico to Japan. Though all charges against Nosawa were later dropped, New Japan immediately acknowledged that he had been portraying the latest Black Tiger and severed their ties with him. Meanwhile, Michinoku and Taichi had set their sights on the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship, but were, on June 16 at Dominion 6.16, defeated by Jushin Liger and Tiger Mask in a match for the vacant title. On July 22, Suzuki, Archer, Michinoku and Taichi picked up another dominant win over Prince Devitt, Ryusuke Taguchi, Togi Makabe and Yuji Nagata in an eight man elimination tag team match, after which Archer again challenged Tenzan and Kojima to a match for the IWGP Tag Team Championship, however, without specifying who his partner would be. On August 13, Harry Smith was revealed as Archer's partner and the newest member of Suzukigun. Also in August, Michinoku and Taichi began blaming each other for their recent losses, which led to the two agreeing to a match, where the loser would be expelled from Suzukigun. The match took place on August 22 at Michinoku's Kaientai Dojo promotion, but ended without a winner as Minoru Suzuki interrupted the match and got the two men to make peace with each other. Harry Smith made his debut as a member of Suzukigun on September 7 in an eight man tag team match, where he, Lance Archer, Minoru Suzuki and Taka Michinoku were defeated by Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Togi Makabe and Yuji Nagata via disqualification, when Michinoku's Kaientai Dojo trainee Kengo Mashimo entered the ring and attacked Makabe, revealing himself as the newest member of Suzukigun. On September 23 at Destruction, Makabe ended his rivalry with Suzukigun by defeating Mashimo in a singles match. The following day, Harry Smith was renamed Davey Boy Smith, Jr.

On October 8 at King of Pro-Wrestling, Smith and Archer, now known collectively as K.E.S. (Killer Elite Squad), defeated Tencozy to win the IWGP Tag Team Championship, bringing Suzukigun its first title. Later, in the main event of the evening, Minoru Suzuki unsuccessfully challenged Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. K.E.S. made their first successful title defense on November 11 at Power Struggle, defeating Tencozy in a rematch. From November 20 to December 1, K.E.S. took part in the round-robin portion of the 2012 World Tag League, finishing with a record of four wins and two losses, advancing to the semifinals of the tournament in the second place in their block, while Suzuki and Mashimo failed to advance from the other block with three wins and three losses. On December 2, K.E.S. defeated Always Hypers (Togi Makabe and Wataru Inoue) to advance to the finals of the tournament. Later that same day, K.E.S. was defeated in the finals of the 2012 World Tag League by Sword & Guns (Hirooki Goto and Karl Anderson). On January 4, 2013, at Wrestle Kingdom 7 in Tokyo Dome, K.E.S. successfully defended the IWGP Tag Team Championship against Sword & Guns, while Minoru Suzuki was defeated by Yuji Nagata in another chapter of their long rivalry.

Afterwards, Suzukigun began feuding with New Japan's other villainous stable, Chaos. In late January, Taichi was sidelined with a knee injury following a traffic accident, which led to Suzukigun recruiting another Taka Michinoku trainee, Hiro Tonai, as his replacement for the February events. After working exclusively against each other in multi-man tag team matches for the first part of February, the rivalry between Suzukigun and Chaos built to two singles matches on February 10 at The New Beginning pay-per-view, where Kengo Mashimo was defeated by Shinsuke Nakamura, while Minoru Suzuki defeated Kazuchika Okada with help from Taichi. Meanwhile, K.E.S. retained the IWGP Tag Team Championship against Tencozy, after which Archer challenged Nakamura to a match for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. Archer went on to fail in his title challenge on March 3 at New Japan's 41st anniversary event. During the same event, Suzukigun and Chaos faced off in a four-on-four elimination tag team match, where Suzukigun was victorious after Suzuki scored the final elimination over Okada. The rivalry between the two stables continued during the 2013 New Japan Cup, with Okada defeating Archer and Smith defeating Nakamura in their first round matches on March 11. Meanwhile, Suzuki also advanced in the tournament with a win over old rival Yuji Nagata, avenging the loss from Wrestle Kingdom 7 in Tokyo Dome. The second round of the tournament on March 17 saw two more matches between Suzukigun and Chaos, when Smith eliminated Yujiro Takahashi, while Toru Yano eliminated Minoru Suzuki to advance to the semifinals. Smith, the final Suzukigun member left in the New Japan Cup, was eliminated from the tournament by Hirooki Goto in their semifinal match on March 23.

On April 5, K.E.S. made their fourth successful defense of the IWGP Tag Team Championship against Chaos representatives Shinsuke Nakamura and Tomohiro Ishii. The rivalry between Suzukigun and Chaos continued two days later at Invasion Attack, where Suzuki first defeated Toru Yano to avenge his loss from the second round of the New Japan Cup, and then Smith unsuccessfully challenged Nakamura for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. The event concluded with Suzuki confronting new IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Kazuchika Okada, seemingly as his first challenger for the title. Following the event, Taka Michinoku announced that Suzukigun had recruited a new member to take on Nakamura for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship, noting that he was suitable to challenge for said title. On April 20, the newest member was revealed as former multi-time WWE Intercontinental Champion Shelton X Benjamin. Later that same day, Archer and Smith took part in a National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) event in Houston, Texas, where they defeated The Kingz of the Underground (Ryan Genesis and Scot Summers) to not only retain the IWGP Tag Team Championship, but to also win the NWA World Tag Team Championship. On May 3 at Wrestling Dontaku 2013, K.E.S. lost the IWGP Tag Team Championship back to Tencozy in a four-way match, which also included the Chaos team of Takashi Iizuka and Toru Yano, and Muscle Orchestra (Manabu Nakanishi and Strong Man), ending their reign at 207 days. Later in the event, Shelton X Benjamin unsuccessfully challenged Shinsuke Nakamura for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship, while the main event saw Minoru Suzuki fail in his challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Kazuchika Okada.

Suzuki then got involved in a rivalry with Chaos member Tomohiro Ishii, which built to a singles match between the two on July 20 at the Kizuna Road 2013 pay-per-view, where Suzuki was victorious. That same event, Taichi and Michinoku unsuccessfully challenged Chaos members Forever Hooligans (Alex Koslov and Rocky Romero) for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. From August 1 to 11, Suzuki, Archer, Benjamin and Smith took part in the 2013 G1 Climax, with Archer and Smith wrestling in block A and Benjamin and Suzuki in block B. Both Suzuki and Smith entered the final day with a chance to advance to the finals, however, Suzuki was eliminated after losing to Toru Yano, while Smith was eliminated after a loss against Archer. On October 14 at King of Pro-Wrestling, Taichi and Michinoku won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship for the first time, when they, replacing Kushida and the injured Alex Shelley, who had earlier defeated them in a number one contender's match, defeated the Forever Hooligans for the title. Meanwhile, after avenging his G1 Climax loss against Toru Yano that same event, Suzuki made a challenge for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship with the added stipulation that should Shinsuke Nakamura lose the title to him, he would have to join Suzukigun. After a reign of only 26 days, Taichi and Michinoku lost the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship to The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson) on November 9 at Power Struggle. Later that same event, K.E.S. took part in a two-fall three-way match against Tencozy and the team of Jax Dane and Rob Conway. In the first fall, they lost the NWA World Tag Team Championship to Dane and Conway, but came back in the second to defeat Tencozy for the IWGP Tag Team Championship. Also during the event, Suzuki failed in his IWGP Intercontinental Championship challenge against Nakamura. On November 24, two Suzukigun teams entered the 2013 World Tag League, competing in two separate blocks; K.E.S. in block A and Suzuki and Benjamin in block B. K.E.S. won their block with a record of five wins and one loss, while Suzuki and Benjamin were eliminated with a record of three wins and three losses, after losing to Takashi Iizuka and Toru Yano in their final round-robin match. On December 8, K.E.S. was also eliminated from the tournament in the semifinals by their old rival team, Tencozy. On January 4, 2014, at Wrestle Kingdom 8 in Tokyo Dome, K.E.S. lost the IWGP Tag Team Championship to the winners of the tournament, Bullet Club (Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson). Also during the event, Michinoku and Taichi unsuccessfully challenged The Young Bucks for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship in a four-way match and Suzuki continued his feud with Toru Yano, with him and Benjamin losing to Yano and The Great Muta in a tag team match. K.E.S. received a rematch for the IWGP Tag Team Championship on February 9 at The New Beginning in Hiroshima, but were again defeated by Bullet Club. Suzuki and Yano continued their rivalry for the next few months, leading to a tag team match at Back to the Yokohama Arena on May 25, where Yano's longtime tag team partner Takashi Iizuka turned on him during a tag team match, where they faced Suzuki and Benjamin, and jumped to Suzukigun. During the same event, K.E.S. failed in their attempt to regain the NWA World Tag Team Championship from Tencozy in a three-way match, which also included Rob Conway and Wes Brisco. On June 9, New Japan suspended Taichi for two months with a 30% pay cut for "behavioral problems", after he had been caught cheating on his wife. On June 21 at Dominion 6.21, K.E.S. received another shot at the NWA World Tag Team Championship, this time in a regular tag team match, but were again defeated by Tencozy. On July 4, El Desperado joined Suzukigun, announcing his intention of bringing the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship to the stable. From July 21 to August 8, four members of Suzukigun took part in the 2014 G1 Climax with Benjamin and Smith wrestling in block A and Suzuki and Archer in block B. All four failed to advance from their blocks with Benjamin finishing tied fifth and Smith eighth in their block of eleven and Suzuki finishing fourth and Archer tied sixth in their block. Following the tournament, Suzuki transitioned from Yano, who was busy feuding with Iizuka, to a new rivalry with Kazushi Sakuraba, who had come to Yano's aid in the aftermath of Iizuka's turn. During September's Destruction tour, Suzukigun's three junior heavyweight members set their sights on both of NJPW's junior heavyweight titles. On September 23 at Destruction in Okayama, El Desperado and Taichi failed in their attempt to capture the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship from the Time Splitters (Alex Shelley and Kushida).

Members

Suzukigun

Member Time
Minoru Suzuki (leader) May 3, 2011 – present
Black Tiger April 15, 2012 – May 25, 2012
Davey Boy Smith, Jr. September 7, 2012 – present
El Desperado July 4, 2014 – present
Lance Archer May 15, 2011 – present
Masayuki Kono February 19, 2012
Shelton X Benjamin April 20, 2013 – present
Taichi May 3, 2011 – present
Taka Michinoku May 3, 2011 – present
Takashi Iizuka May 25, 2014 – present
Killer Elite Squad
Member Time
Davey Boy Smith, Jr. September 9, 2012 – present
Lance Archer September 9, 2012 – present
Irregular participation
Member First appearance
[[Hiro Tonai[[ February 2, 2013
Kengo Mashimo September 7, 2012
Yoshihiro Takayama October 10, 2011

Kojimagun

Member Time
Satoshi Kojima (leader) January 28, 2011 – May 3, 2011
MVP February 20, 2011 – May 3, 2011
Nosawa Rongai January 28, 2011 – February 20, 2011
Taichi January 28, 2011 – May 3, 2011
Taka Michinoku January 28, 2011 – May 3, 2011

In wrestling

Championships and accomplishments

See also

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