I was recently going through my site statistics for 2021 and discovered that My top articles of the year are randomly my two rundowns of real life wrestling cameos in Tiger Mask W. Ever the opportunist, I have decided to capitalize on that fact by slowly putting together a series of reviews for some Tiger Mask shows. This is one of those anime productions that has somewhat gone under the radar here in The United States due to not being on a BIG streaming site like Netflix, but it is watchable on both Tubi.TV, The Tubi App (I watch it on Roku, it’s free) and Crunchyroll which is a subscription-based service.
“After 40 years from Tiger mask disappearing the evil Tiger’s Den has been resurrected secretly, posing as the huge organization called GWM its aim is to monopolize the professional world of wrestling. Naoto begins his special training to become the new Tiger Mask, as Takuma trains at Tiger’s Den to become the new Tiger the Dark. Tiger Mask bursts into a match with Odin to announce his return and passes Tiger the Dark on his way to the ring. Although Naoto and Takuma pass each other they don’t know each other’s identity.”
Tiger Mask, for those unaware, is an anime series that spawned a real life series of wrestlers throughout the years that in some ways eclipsed the popularity of the shows they are based on. Another example of this is Jushin Thunder Liger, which many do not realize is a anime character brought to life. Tiger Mask W, from 2016, is the newest in this series, and was made in conjunction with New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW). There are cameos from VERY popular wrestlers of the time as well as all the over the top drama one can handle. Without further ado, lets get on with the show!
The plot follows two young men who were at ringside during a huge, but VERY controversial match years back. As they hopelessly watched, their mentor died in a brutal wrestling match at the hands of an evil heel named Yellow Devil. That’s right folks! In Tiger Mask W there are some real stakes at hand, and a number of deaths happen. The company responsible for the incident, Global Wrestling Monopoly, was almost pushed out of Japan due to the death, but are somehow staging a comeback. GWM are basically stand-ins for the WWE, and it appears that (much like in real life) they will stoop to any low to try to increase their worldwide foothold on what they consider to be the only viable version of professional wrestling. This move by GWM, and the aforementioned match end up motivating the men that soon become both Tiger the Dark and Tiger Mask to begin their forays into the main event scene, however both have different ideas on how to handle it. Tiger The Dark wins a grueling test to become GWM’s newest star, set to eventually come face to face with his babyface counterpart who has taken a legendary mantle not held since 40 years prior – the heroic Tiger Mask!.
We see only a handful of wrestlers from Japan picked to take part in the huge GWM show, called Wrestle MAX, notably NJPW’s own Kazuchika Okada and Tiger Mask. Okada gives a pep talk and discusses his plan to basically use the show as a way to take the fight directly to the villainous owner of GWM, Miss X. Okada wants to prove that in Japan, wrestlers will wrestle in the Japanese way, which sounds like a real life jab at WWE’s many attempts to buy, partner with, and influence Japanese wrestling companies. It was interesting to see the show talk about backstage stuff, because it’s rather quite silly at times. While it does everything on the nose, as if wrestling storylines are 100% real, seeing backstage stuff was cool.
The newly revived Tiger Mask is put in the main event of the GWM show, facing off against Odin, one of their biggest stars. In a turn I was not expecting, Tiger Mask beats up Odin really badly, then walks out losing by count-out. This gave the show a poor main event, and made the GWM wrestler look weak, thus sabotaging the show. It looks like the first volley in the NJPW vs GWM war has started, it will be interesting to see where it leads!
despite its silliness, Tiger Mask W is a fun show that anime fans and wrestling fans should enjoy pretty evenly. Wrestling fans will get all of the little Easter eggs and fun jabs at WWE, while anime fans should just enjoy the spectacle of the whole thing. It comes across more like a superhero show than it probably should, but characters such as Tiger Mask are basically that very thing. Stay tuned for more episodes as I slowly move through this show again. If this proves popular, I may even go through one of the older shows!