Welcome back! I hope all of you beautiful people had a fantastic version of whatever holiday it was that you celebrated. It may have been a holiday weekend, but Tiger Mask isn’t taking any time off! This week we get the semifinals of the Masked World Tournament. Can Tiger Mask perfect his new killer move? Let’s find out! As always, you can watch every episode of Tiger Mask W over at Crunchyroll and if you want to find the rest of my recaps, you can do that here.

Tiger Mask W Episode 12 Recap: Tiger vs. Tiger

The episode begins with Haruna kicking a punching bag several times. It looks like we might have a future joshi star on our hands. Maybe Tigress Mask? The punching bag swung back and knocked her down, so needless to say, there’s quite a ways to go before she has a successful in-ring career. As her uncle gets into the house she quickly hides the fact that she was training. Probably a solid move if she doesn’t want to go through the hellish training that Naoto did. Haruna and her uncle discuss Naoto’s training at the New Japan dojo and then she shows off the tickets she scored for the tournament finals. The question raised here is why does she have four tickets? Who are the other two for? I’m sure you have an idea and you’re probably right.

In the dojo, Tiger Mask works on his flipping kick killer move, but he can’t seem to get the correct arc that he’s looking for. It’s the day of the tournament finals and Tanahashi shows off some poor decision making by telling Tiger Mask to practice his move on him. What could go wrong!?!?

A lot could, you dumb dicks.

Meanwhile at the venue for today’s show, Miss X puts together the card at the last minute. Opening the show will be a singles match between Alec and Bobby, two nearly identical white dudes that look like they were pumped out of the performance center.

Takuma’s friends, Mike and Kevin, were actually both named this week so I don’t get the opportunity to call them whatever generic white boy names come to mind first. The White Bread Express will take on Poseidon and Dragon Young in the second match of the night. Miss X explains that Kevin’s former masked character, Wagner, will never be returning after being embarrassed so badly by Mister Question. It’s probably in Kevin’s best interest to win this match, lest he be shipped off like his masked alter ego.

Miss X says that the Tiger Mask vs. Tiger the Dark match will be after that and the camera spends too long on a shot of her breasts.

The show is close to beginning and there’s a big problem. Tiger Mask, It’s-The-Ace, and Dragon Young all have yet to arrive. Miss X is, rightfully, not thrilled, but Haruna promises that they’ll all be there in time for their matches… probably. The fans are allowed into the building with the hopes that everything will go smoothly.

The show begins and as the battle of the two Tino’s begins, Fukuwara Mask joins the commentary desk. Tino 1 beats Tino 2 as Poseidon waits outside the venue for his partner to arrive. In the nick of time, the New Japan boys arrive on the scene, allowing Poseidon and Dragon Young to sprint to the ring for their match. Tiger Mask and It’s-The-Ace step out of the van, which causes Ace to wince and grab his shoulder in pain. Hmmmmmm… I wonder if he hurt his shoulder doing something stupid?! Tanahashi tells Tiger not to worry about it as they walk into the building.

Tiger Mask meets up with Haruna once he’s inside, just as the second match is wrapping up. The White Bread Express wins when Mike scores the pin on Poseidon. Ryu Wakamatsu continues to be the most protected young lion in New Japan history, not even taking the fall here when he was on the losing team. Poseidon blames Dragon Young for the loss and we get a tussle between the two partners.

Match 1: Yellow Devil vs. It’s-The-Ace

So I guess we’re not going in the match order that Miss X made earlier? It’s probably best for Tanahashi to get this out of the way so he can go back to icing his shoulder. Yellow Devil starts the match off hot with a sleeper. GWM has never felt more like WWE than right now. He releases the hold and nails Ace with the Devil Tornado, a spinning chop to the chest. It’s-The-Ace uses his backwards momentum to spring off the ropes and turn the tide of the match with a Sling Blade. Tanahashi climbs up to the top rope, looking to hit Yellow Devil with a High Fly Flow. On the outside, Ryu gets It’s-The-Ace’s attention to tell him to use a different move or risk blowing his cover. If these dummies haven’t figured out that he’s Tanahashi yet, I don’t think even a High Fly Flow will tip them off.

It’s-The-Ace follows Ryu’s advice and hits Yellow Devil with a flying cross chop, but he further injures his shoulder in the process. Yellow Devil takes the opportunity to unload a bunch of offense on Ace. Once he’s been sufficiently softened up, Yellow Devil puts Tanahashi in an Argentinian Back Rack. Devil stretches him to the breaking point, but It’s-The-Ace refuses to give up. The match comes to a close when Dragon Young throws the towel in to save his mentor from further harm. Tanahashi put in the best effort that he could, making him look strong even in loss. ***1/4

Match 2: Tiger the Dark vs. Tiger Mask

As the match begins, Dragon Young says that he’ll be TM’s corner man, an offer that Tiger Mask accepts as long as he promises not to throw in the towel. The two Tigers lock up and stare eye to eye, not knowing that just a few years ago the two rivals were friends. Naoto and Takuma aren’t in this ring, right now it’s only the Tigers. TM lands the first blow with a spin kick, which Tiger the Dark responds to with a shoulder block. They stand in the middle of the ring and throw devastating forearms at each other. Tiger Mask takes a slight edge in the exchange and sends Tiger the Dark into the corner. He attempts his killer move, but only manages to hit a somersault kick.

Where Naoto failed to put together his new move, Takuma excelled, locking Tiger Mask in the Darkness Hold. Tiger the Dark wrenches back on TM’s arm, looking like he could rip it out of its socket at any moment. He refuses to give up, but Tiger Mask starts to pass out from the pain. At the last second, he is roused awake by the sound of his trainer’s voice. It turns out that the extra two tickets Haruna got were for Daisuke Fujii and his nurse (looking super cute outside of her nurse uniform). Fujii cheers on Tiger Mask while Takuma wonders why his father has come to the show. Naoto uses all of his strength to move both men into the ropes, breaking the hold.

Following the Darkness Hold, both men are sucking air and using the ropes to hold themselves up. Tiger the Dark is the first to make a move, grabbing Tiger Mask and getting him set up for the Darkness Driver. Takuma gets distracted by the cheers of his father again, allowing Tiger Mask to reverse the hold and hit a tombstone of his own. TM throws Tiger the Dark into the corner and goes for his killer move again, this time successfully turning the somersault kick into a knee to the head on TD. I’m not scientist, but I don’t think this move is physically possible. The knee hit Tiger the Dark hard enough to bust him open, reopening the scar that Yellow Devil gave him across his face several years ago. Enraged, Tiger the Dark charges at Tiger Mask, but stops when the blood starts to affect his vision. Tiger Mask doesn’t let this moment go to waste, grabbing TD and planting him to the mat with a jumping Tiger Driver. The referee doesn’t even wait for Tiger Mask to go for the pin, calling for the bell and declaring Tiger Mask the winner by knockout. ****

The finals have been set and after his grueling match, Tiger Mask will be getting the battle he wants against Yellow Devil. Seeing his trainer in the crowd, Tiger Mask flashes back to what Yellow Devil did to Daisuke Fujii, crippling him and setting all of this into motion. In the backstage area, Tiger Mask has a stare down with Yellow Devil. Next week those two men collide in the biggest match of Naoto’s career.