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Spotlight: Tiger Mask - Finale


G. Badger

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Thanks for sticking with me! We're finally to the end of Tiger Mask in NJPW. Or at least to the end of my DVD set! Let's take a look :)

Tiger Mask/Kantaro Hoshino vs. Kuniaki Kobayashi/Isamu Teranishi (7/20/83): One clip in the match but that didn't hurt anything. All high speed action match. The finish was really nice too! 

Tiger Mask vs. El Halcon - WWF Jr. Title (7/29/83): Return to early form with the Falcon. This was a near great match (***3/4+) since it was just so clean and well executed. It was more lucha than anything done recently. I still felt the sense of competition. It was like two honorable competitors trying to use their techniques to gain victory as opposed to fighting with strikes. A joy to watch!

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Tiger Mask/Osamu Kido vs. Kuniaki Kobayashi/Isamu Teranishi (8/1/83): jip but what was shown was really good stuff. Lots of trying to steal the mask. Isamu damn near pins Tiger with a German suplex. Great finish...kinda like a leg trap powerbomb! Fighting after the bell too, I love it!

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Tiger Mask vs. Isamu Teranishi - NWA Jr. Title (8/4/83): The final match goes out with a bang! Teranishi is the Akira Taue to Sayama Tiger's Misawa. They went all out for this with stuff that easily could have been seen in 1993. On top of that Teranishi has the German suplex which damn near beat TM a couple of days earlier. This is the end of the road and anything could happen!

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To close out the DVD, Sayama (I presume) gives commentary on some of his trademark moves. Too bad that I don't understand Japanese yet its still an excellent quick overview of the set :)

In summary, this has been a fantastic experience. I've gotten so much enjoyment out of this project. I've been able to see a bunch of different wrestlers from the early 80's UK, Mexico, and Japan. I know some folks have differing opinions on Tiger Mask and some of these matches. That's cool but I beg to disagree. The most well-known matches vs Dynamite are still great. I believe only the final encounter is what I would consider a classic. The feud with Kobayashi is more my preference and maybe when comparing ratings, they aren't too different. However the Kobasyashi matches just feel so much more REAL than the D.K. bouts. I'm only comparing because those are the two defining feuds of Tiger Mask.

Black Tiger should have been an equal but other than a couple matches, I never felt like he was in the same league. Not only story wise but also performance wise. I think if it was just Marc Rocco and not Black Tiger, we'd be talking about something different. The Gran Hamada matches were something that I heard a little bit about but man, go see 'em. I wish there were more. Hamada is a favorite of mine so these lived up to and exceeded expectations. Pete Roberts and Steve Wright...yeah no idea and was so happily surprised. In fact, I had read mediocre things about many if the non Dynamite -Kobayashi-Black Tiger bouts. I read that the Teranishi matches were crap. What!? In a way, I'm glad that's what I read because it felt like I was finding something special on my own. And that's why I had such a great time.

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If you can't tell, I highly recommend watching these matches and getting the DVD set if that's your thing. The mix of opponents, match types, and styles made this a blast!

I usually list my favorite matches at the end of my projects but I urge you to go back through the posts and re-read. The above mentioned matches should give you an idea of the classic and great ones but there are so many others worth your time as well. Thanks for reading! Stay safe and be kind this holiday season :)

 

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Bummed to see that Highspots apparently has gotten rid of most/all of their DVD-R catalog. That includes this Tiger Mask set but also ones that I own & I'm planning on watching in 2022 like Best of  BJW and NJPW in 2006. I think the biggest bummer is they had the AJPW Samurai Classics from '74-90 as well as multiple best of the 90's Japan compilations covering AJPW, NJPW, Michinoku Pro, AJW, and more...without these there would be no G. Badger. Keep buying physical copies of stuff folks - its not about owning something but about archiving wrestling history.

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