By John Moore
Just a little background info, I was told that I should look into this anime from a wrestling standpoint due to it being popular in Japan right now due to its history and huge association with New Japan. I’m told this anime is mostly going to be about New Japan somehow. I was told this was going to be one of those “next generation” series of the new generation Tiger Mask. This is similar to how Ultimate Muscle was the next generation to Kinnikuman (The two series where Samoa Joe got his finisher). If you want to get a good feel as to who the original Tiger Mask character was, play the Tekken series of games where “King” is essentially the non-copyright Tiger Mask. To be more current, Kota Ibushi is playing Tiger Mask W in New Japan. I’ll be reviewing this show in our usual Prowrestling.net style…
Tiger Mask W – Episode 1
Aired October 1, 2016 on Crunchyroll/TV Asahi Simulcast
The opening music video was actually pretty cool. The song sounds like what may be a dance remix of the original Tiger Mask theme. The theme does still sounds 80s Japan. The intro featured Tiger Mask facing Tiger the Dark (a.k.a. Kota Ibushi vs. ACH at Wrestle Kingdom 11). Also featured in the intro were Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe, and other New Japan wrestlers that I couldn’t make out. Okada was out in front. We also got our usual clips of the heels that our hero is going to be facing as well including the guy CJ Parker played when he faced Tiger Mask/Kota Ibushi…
1. The Yellow Devil vs. Daisuke Fuji. The show started in the middle of a match between a guy called Yellow Devil vs. Daisuke Fuji. Daisuke started to bleed from a knife edge chop. Daisuke’s two young boys were cheering him on but he was carried by the head from the Devil guy. The young boy got punched by the heel from the other corner. We found out the young boy’s name was Naoto. Yellow Devil put Daisuke on the top rope. Yellow Devil hit Daisuke with a top rope Spanish Fly.
Yellow Devil defeated Daisuke Fuji via KO
The commentators called the Spanish Fly, “The Devil’s crush”. Daisuke was struggling to get up and he told the Devil that he would show him the spirit of a true man. Naoto and the other young boy tried to tell Daisuke to recover but Yellow Devil kicked them away. Yellow Devil put the boots to the bloody Daisuke and said he would end him. The dark haired young boy tried to hit Devil but took a knife edge chop to the face to receive a scar. Devil gave Daisuke a double footstomp as Naoto was forced to watch. Naoto and the black haired guy said that they will end Yellow Devil. The intro card popped in and this week’s episode was titled “The Two Tigers”…
Naoto was training in a forest hanging from his feet. A bear ran at him and he said that he was sick of eating bears. Naoto gave the bear a body slam while hung from the rope. Naoto’s trainer guy drove up to Naoto and assumed that they were having bear stew again since that’s what Naoto got for dinner. The trainer said the Tiger’s Den was coming!
At some remote mountain we saw the black haired young boy climbing a mountain. Some jobber tried to pull him off but the black haired guy tossed him off the mountain. We found out the young boy’s name is Takuma. Takuma beat the other jabrones to the top and even did the monkeybars on the subsequent rope bridge. Takuma opened the doors to a temple to find a blonde lady who was stacked. The boob lady said she was now Takuma’s agent and her name was Miss X. X said Takuma has now earned the name “Tiger” which is given to the number one wrestler in their organization. She said he was now “Tiger the Dark”. Takmua powered up and put on the dark tiger mask. The jabrones ran in and Miss X said they work for her now. She said they will now all wrestle in Japan.
Naoto was at the dinner table with what I assume is going to be his waifu love interest. They were eating hot pot. The girl’s name was Haruna. The trainer turned on the TV. The reporter said that the Global Wrestling Monopoly was starting a new TV show in Japan for their rookies called Wrestle Max. The first show will feature the debut of Tiger the Dark. Also a wrestler named Odin will be facing a top wrestler named Mikasa Kaioh. Odin was the heel that knocked out Naoto during the Yellow Devil match. Naoto revealed he was a classmate of the Mikasa guy, but Mikasa was a jobber and GWM was exaggerating.
The trainer pointed out that GWM became criticized for shady main events and were forced to promote wrestling in other countries outside of Japan. Haruna wondered if Tiger’s Den was the same as GWM. The trainer said that Tiger’s Den develops GWM wrestlers so they can monopolize wrestling in the world.
John’s Thoughts: World = Global; Wrestling = Wrestling; and The E might as well be monopoly. I’m not sure but I think the heel GWM might be WWE (as was pointed out by people who watch the show). Also, Tiger’s Den being their hot developmental territory. Are they trying to say that NXT is trying to monopolize the wrestling industry? Maybe, or the references are just a coincidence.
We cut to the New Japan locker room where Okada was Kazuchika Okada was chatting with another wrestler. Okada said New Japan was not going to join the Wrestle Max show! Okada was talking to a guy named Ryu and said New Japan shouldn’t help GWM’s business. Okada told Ryu not to consider leaving New Japan. The ring announcer announced Okada as he went out for his match…
In a private jet, Miss X was talking to her new Wrestle Max wrestlers. Miss X said that in wrestling there is more profit in the large scale so small wrestling companies (independents?) are useless. X said that Japan hasn’t grasped what GWM was all about and they will finally get into the Japanese market with their Wrestle Max show. Odin agreed in a heelish way.
John’s Thoughts: Yup… They are setting up New Japan as the babyface promotion while WWE is the heel promotion. I wonder if boobies lady is supposed to be Stephanie McMahon? If so, how soon until we get Triple H?
The trainer’s name was Takaoka and he set Naoto on his way to go to wrestle. Naoto thanked Takaoka for the training. Haruna jumped on Naoto’s bike to join him on his trip. Haruna called Takaoka uncle. Naoto and Haruna went to a hospital area where Daisuke Fuji was in a wheelchair contemplating life. Daisuke said he hasn’t heard from Takuma. Naoto told Daisuke that he was going to take care of the returning GWM. The thought of GWM returning made Daisuke shiver a bit. Daisuke yelled to not mess with them. Daisuke’s nurse came to take him to watch TV. Natoto said he will show GWM the spirit of the real man. The nurse’s name was Ruiko. Haruna dragged Naoto to the bike… [C]
John’s Thoughts: Also FYI, if we’re continuing with the analogs, Tiger Mask is Kota Ibushi while Tiger the Dark is going to be played by ACH.
Daisuke was watching the first episode of Wrestle Max on his TV. Miss X stood in the middle of the ring to introduce her new promotion. Miss X talked to her roster and told them that Japan will get addicted to the NXT, I mean, Tiger’s den style of wrestling. They showed clips of the undercard. Takuma was chatting with Odin and wanted to know where the Yellow Devil was. Odin overreacted and said he would bury a rookie like Takuma. Takuma walked out of the room like a badass.
The jobber Mikasa guy was nervous in his locker room as he was having flashbacks as to when he made the deal to be in this main event match and that was to make the main eventer look good for a paycheck. Takaoka walked in and talked to Mikasa and offered him a deal to relieve him of his guilty conscience…
Miss X handled the ring introductions for Tiger the Dark’s debut.
2. Tiger the Dark vs. random enhancement wrestler. Tiger locked in a headlock early on and dodged a punch with a kip up. They cut to the outside where Naoto and Haruna were entering the arena. Tiger the Dark won via knockout.
Tiger the Dark defeated enhancement wrestler via knockout in less than 1:00.
Mikasa made his way to the ring for his main event match with Odin. By the way, GWN announces their wrestlers in pounds, which means they are the “big wrestling monopoly in the United States”. Mikasa got no reaction while Odin got a huge reaction. Mikasa pointed away to show that he gave up the main event match to someone else. It was Tiger Mask!
Tiger Mask ran to the ring and pointed in the air like a hero. Haruna took the microphone and handled Tiger Mask’s ring introduction. She even announced the weight in Kilograms since she is not from WWE. Haruna said that Mikasa won’t be wrestling due to doctors’ orders. Haruna said she was also Tiger Mask’s agent. Miss X gave Odin a death stare and said he has to beat this duplicate Tiger Mask.
3. Tiger Mask (w/ Haruna) vs. Odin (w/ Miss X). Odin locked in a headlock early on. He backdroped Tiger Mask next and locked in the sleeper hold. Miss X joined the generic announcer on commentary. Tiger Mask no sold the sleeper and hulked up. He reversed the sleeper into a headlock chickenwing. Tiger Mask asked Odin about Yellow Devil and Odin was confused as to why everyone is asking about him. Odin said he honestly didn’t know about the devil whereabouts.
Tiger Mask hit Odin with a Chickenwing German Suplex into the bridge. Odin sold a dislocated shoulder on the ground. Miss X said that if Odin Loses he will get the “Tiger Execution”. This freaked Odin out and he recovered. Odin rushed at Tiger Mask only to eat a rolling back kick from the babyface. Tiger Mask told the referee to call the match however he must. Tiger Mask then bolted to the outside as the ref started the count. The ref wanted to count for knockout but Miss X said to count for the countout. The ref counted to ten and Odin won. Also, since this is WWE TV, he’s counting in English.
Odin defeated Tiger Mask via count-out in 2:57.
Daisuke was watching on television and told the nurse that Odin won the match but Tiger Mask won the battle. The nurse said Tiger mask was amazing. Daisuke said Tiger Mask had the spirit of the true man. Naoto was on his motorcycle with Haruna as he drove up the highway. Cut to the credits with a more modern theme. The ending theme also featured Okada and the other New Japan guys. The heels were also featured, this seemed like it could have been the opening if they weren’t going to pay homage with their opening theme…
The next episode teaser teased that Tiger Match will be competing in a tag team match next week and had to find a tag team partner. The episode was called “Tiger and Lion” and it showed Tiger Mask facing off against Tiger the Dark…
John’s Thoughts: This is an interesting show. They are also taking a different approach than the original Tiger Mask. The original Tiger Mask was the cliché Fray Tormenta lucha libre storyline where Tiger Mask wrestled for the orphans. Now Tiger Mask is the Rocky of New Japan and he’s in the middle of a New Japan Pro Wrestling vs. WWE war where WWE is trying to use NXT, their developmental territory, to put small independent promotions out of business. Of course New Japan are the babyfaces. Also, WWE’s big boobed lady promotor running NXT might as well be Stephanie McMahon. I’m intrigued now as this show seems to be marketed towards the hardcore wrestling fans and it also made to pander to New Japan. It’s also different than Kinnikuman in that it is more grounded in traditional pro wrestling without any supernatural powers or things.
I’m actually intrigued to see how they do this anime commentary on the pro wrestling business. Of course, it will be from the bias of New Japan, but that can still be fun an interesting since they are putting it in an animated setting. Knowing New Japan’s past issues with TNA, I think it would be fun to see an anime Dixie Carter and anime TNA promotion pop up just so Okada can destroy it for what they did to him early in his career. Check back for my review of the second edition on Saturday.