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Spotlight: Tiger Mask Part 10


G. Badger

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If you've read the blog in the past or you've looked at enough entries, you know this is my busy time of the year for my job. So, I'm going to try in earnest to finish up the Tiger Mask set up before Xmas. I watched all of these yesterday and I have four more that I'm going to try for tonight. I don't like to rush things if you haven't seen yet ;) But I don't want to stretch the set out into 2022. I am looking forward to doing my 2021 Best Match Watched list along with other superlatives at the end of December. I would really like to finish the 2018 ROH Global Wars tour before then as well. I don't want to drag that out. I'm probably not going to finish my AJPW 2012 shows but you never know! If I can get Tiger and ROH done and have energy after work then, I'd like to shoot for it. 

Anyhow, let's get to the wrestling! Mid 1983 NJPW!

Tiger Mask vs. Kuniaki Kobayashi - NWA Jr. Title (6/2/83) - Oh my goodness! This is their best bout so far. This felt like a Misawa vs Kawada match as they have no only had many encounters to build the feud but they are physically and stylistically similar like you don't see very often. This is the match that Tiger Mask wanted to have. He can do lucha and British grappling. It really felt ahead of its time. The stiffness and aggression were amped up. This looked like a fight. I wrote a whole lot more but it may have spoiled the ending and I try to avoid that. It wasn't my favorite ending yet it was a clean finish. 

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Tiger Mask vs. Fishman - WWF Jr. Title (6/12/83, Mexico City, Toreo de Cuatro Caminos) - Good match with some good moves. First appearance of Tiger's Red bell bottoms. Great costumes and atmosphere.

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Tiger Mask vs. Isamu Teranishi - NWA Jr. Title (7/7/83) - Teranishi is a guy I've seen ringside but had no idea who he was. I always thought he was bald based on Fire Pro R. Not the case! I've seen poor reviews of this feud but you know this was very good stuff. Teranishi looks like a meat & potatoes wrestler but he's got quickness and some tricks up his sleeve. Kobayashi is at ringside and this breaks down after the 3 count and Tiger gets his mask shredded. This match along with the post match elevated this to something great and provides more substance to the larger TM/Kobayashi feud. Hells yeah!

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Tiger Mask vs. Kuniaki Kobayashi - WWF Jr. Title (7/14/83)- Oh boy, here we go again. This starts out like a shoot match and you can see Tiger's time with the judoka Kobayashi helped his vision for UWF. Much like the encounter above this exemplifies the best of Junior Strong Style. The action is exciting, the mat work is engaging and the stakes are high. This looks and feels like wrestling as competition. Here unlike other classic lucha and British style bouts, Tiger is able to fight a style of his own which combines stiff kicks,  minor acrobatics and grappling perfectly. Perhaps it is because Kuniaki is also comfortable in this style that we truly get to see the zenith of TM. That's why I made they Kawada/Misawa comparison. These two bring the best out of each other. Classic match as long as you're OK with the "80s ending. " I may have preferred it to the clean finish in their first match above. Or maybe equal...

This was an excellent clutch of matches to get me enthused about finishing the set.

Thanks for reading! Be kind! And hope to write again with more Tiger Mask real soon :)

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