By John Moore
Tiger Mask W – Episode 12
Aired December 24, 2016 on Crunchyroll/TV Asahi Simulcast
This week’s episode of Tiger Mask started off with Haruna Takaoka kicking a punching back and getting owned by it. Haruna told her father about Naoto working with the New Japan Dojo wrestlers in trying to perfect a unique finishing move. Takaoka had his doubts but Haruna was confident that he would perfect it. Haruna revealed that GWM gave her some good ringside complementary tickets for Tiger Mask’s tournament matches. This week’s episode was titled “Tiger vs. Tiger”…
Tiger Mask was training with some training dummies at the New Japan Dojo until the point of exhaustion. He was practicing his for hit prototype finisher. Hiroshi Tanahashi walked in and told Tiger Mask to test the move on a real opponent, himself. Tiger was apprehensive a bit due to it being the day of the match, but he agreed. The camera cut away before we could see the finisher…
Miss X was in the meeting room with the GWM wrestlers informing them that the losers in the preliminary will be wrestling in undercard tag team matches before the semifinals as exhibition. Miss X informed them that Kevin Anderson will be filling in for Mister Question who bailed on them. Miss X told the crew to put on a good show…
Outside of the arena, the card flashed on the screen which hyped the semifinals. Backstage, Miss X was worried and talking with Haruna about Tiger Mask not being at the arena yet. Haruna assured X that Tiger Mask was going to be there by match time. Miss X called that a lame prediction. Miss X’s assistant informed her that Young Dragon and It’s the Ace haven’t arrived. A nervous Miss X informed her assistant to let the audience into the arena since it’s time for the show to start.
John’s Thoughts: By the way, I know they call him “It’s The Ace” but I’m almost pretty sure it’s a mistranslation for “Go Ace!” based on what they were trying to hype at this year’s Wrestle Kingdom show at the Tokyo dome.
The Commentator hyped the main events of the show in an over exaggerated way. Fukuwara Mask joined the commentary table as play by play. Poseidon/Mikasa was backstage and worried that Young Dragon wouldn’t make it. Suddenly Tiger Mask, Tanahashi, and Ryu Wakamatsu showed up. Tanahashi was selling a shoulder injury which was implied to have been acquired from Tiger Mask’s finisher. Tiger Mask showed worry but Tanahashi said he would just fight through the injury. In the ring, the New Japan guys lost to the GWM guys in that undercard tag team match. Mikasa and Wakamatsu brawled after the match due to lack of chemistry…
Backstage, Tiger Mask informed Haruna that he did not perfect his finisher in time because it’s difficult to control his body in midair. Naoto told Haruna that Tanahashi got injured during his practice session. Haruna didn’t know that Tanahashi was “Go Ace!” and was worried about him having to face the Intercontinental Champion Yellow Devil…
1. Yellow Devil vs. Hiroshi “Go Ace!” Tanahashi. Fukuwara talked about this being a good matchup. Yellow Devil locked in a headlock to start and followed up with his Yellow Tornado Chop. The commentators pointed out how Ace wasn’t in good condition. Ace recovered and hit Devil with the Sling Blade which Fukuwara recognized. Ace went to the top rope to go for the High Fly Flow, but Ryu Wakamatsu stopped him as to hide his true identity.
Tanahashi instead hit a really good flying cross chop on Devil which aggravated his shoulder injury. This caused Devil to go on the offense without resistance. Devil had Tanahashi locked in the torture rack. Tanahashi refused to give up. Ryu threw in the towel for Tanahashi. Yellow Devil threw Tanahashi at Ryu. The ref put up the X sign to end the match.
Yellow Devil defeated Hiroshi “Go Ace!” Tanahashi via forfeit in 2:13.
Miss X announced that it was a TKO victory. Tanahashi yelled at Ryu for stopping his match. Ryu said he was worried about Tanahashi’s injured shoulder. Tanahashi told Ryu that his goal was not to win the match, but to do more damage to Yellow Devil for a possible Tiger Mask vs. Yellow Devil match…
Tiger the Dark was telling his fellow GWM wrestlers that he’s ready to face and defeat Yellow Devil which the rookies scoffed at. Kevin Anderson said he believes in Tiger the Dark! This led to Tiger the Dark making his entrance for his match against Tiger Mask…[C]
2. Tiger the Dark vs. Tiger Mask. Miss X handled the formal ring introductions and talked about Tiger Mask in a passive tone. Ryu told Tiger Mask that he’ll be his manager for the match. Tiger Mask told Ryu not to throw in the towel this time. Tiger Mask broke the first lockup with a rolling sobat kick. Tiger the Dark came back with a shoulder block. Dark and Mask traded strong style forearms in the middle of the ring to a stalemate. Mask managed to gain an advantage with a strong Irish Whip but he was unable to hit his new finisher due to not perfecting it.
Tiger the Dark locked in the “Darkness Hold” (which was a standing Rings of Saturn). Tiger the Dark told Tiger Mask to give up of his joints will break. Tiger Mask started to fade while going for the rope break. Suddenly, Daisuke Fuji yelled to encourage Tiger Mask which also distracted Daisuke’s son. This allowed Mask to get the rope break. Tiger the Dark showed signs of fatigue for putting all his effort into the submission. Tiger the Dark went straight for the Tombstone but Tiger Mask reversed it and hit a Tombstone Pile Driver himself. Tiger Mask whipped Takuma to the corner and managed to nail Tiger the Dark with his corner Shooting Star Knee Press to the face.
Tiger the Dark roared and started to no sell the finisher, only to show that he was just running on anger. Tiger the Dark started bleeding from the face. Tiger the Dark couldn’t see and stopped in place. Tiger Mask then hit the Tiger Driver on Tiger the Dark. Tiger Mask won with the knockout.
Tiger Mask defeated Tiger the Dark via KO in 5:52.
Fukuwara thought this was an exciting match due to the debuts of two new finishing moves. The play by play guy hyped Tiger Mask vs Yellow Devil. When Tiger Mask saw a happy Daisuke, he started to PTSD about the event that caused Daisuke to become paralyzed from the leg down. In the backstage area, he ran into the guy who did that to Daisuke, Yellow Devil, where he faced off with him. Epic music played signifying that Tiger was pissed. Tiger Mask declared that he would beat Yellow Devil.
John’s Thoughts: They seem to zig zag between focusing on in ring action and insider wrestling reference and this week we got the strong in-ring episode. Even though kayfabe is alive and well in the anime universe, it’s still interesting that they employ traditional pro wrestling booking techniques. Yellow Devil got to look strong while Tanahashi was protected due to injury. Tiger the Dark was also protected in his loss because he was distracted by his father rooting against him. One advantage about anime tournament story arcs is how everyone likes a good match and we got some good ones here. Still, I wonder if they let Tiger Mask steamroll through Yellow Devil this early or will he take his first pinfall/KO loss?