“The nurse asks Naoto if he’s ever been to a wrestling show before and then laments the fact that she hasn’t had the opportunity to go. Then to Naoto’s surprise, she asks if he’ll take her to a show sometime. Naoto agrees and my favorite sitcom trope is set up. Instead of Naoto taking two girls on dates to the same restaurant, Naoto is going to have to go on a date while wrestling as Tiger Mask on the same show. I’m already declaring this future episode to be the best one of the entire series.”
I wrote that back in the review for episode 8. This week we get to see if it lives up to my expectations. You can watch this and 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 14 Recap: Crossroads
When the show begins both Naoto and Haruna have their heads down on the kitchen table. They’re both super bummed out for their own reasons. Naoto is understandably sad about his leads on Yellow Devil running dry and Haruna is less understandably upset that Naoto donated all of the money he won from the Masked World Tournament to charity. Not a great look for Haruna, especially because he probably donated the money to relief efforts for his hometown that’s still recovering from a devastating earthquake. Haruna’s uncle tells them not to worry about the past and to focus on the future. This ends with him trying to get Naoto to train for his next match at in their rad tiger themed secret hideout.
Naoto has more than training to think about though. He gets a phone call from his trainer’s nurse, Ruriko, and she’s taking him up on his offer to go to a wrestling show together. She heard that New Japan has an upcoming show at Korakuen Hall (or Kourakuen Palace as she calls it) and she wants Naoto to take her. He just so happens to know someone that can get him tickets, so they’re all set for their date.
Meanwhile, as Naoto heads off to train with Kentaro, Haruna gets a phone call from Yuji Nagata. I’m sure you can guess what it’s about. Not knowing that he has a prior engagement, Haruna books Tiger Mask to wrestle at New Japan’s next show at Korakuen. I’m not saying that I willed this episode into existence….. but I think I willed this episode into existence.
What’s Takuma up to?
Somewhere on a GWM jet heading away from Japan, Takuma confronts Billy the Kidman, wanting to know what happened to the original Yellow Devil. Billy says that he doesn’t know what happened and Takuma stomps on his crotch, demanding to know where the real Yellow Devil is. Kevin has to hold Takuma back from attacking again as Billy and his crushed dick desperately explain that he never knew who the first Yellow Devil was.
— Kelly Harrass (@comicgeekelly) January 17, 2017
When they arrive at the Tiger’s Den, Takuma explains to Kevin that he joined the Den to get revenge for what happened to his father. This is the first time that he’s told anybody his real motives behind his time in GWM, proving that he sees Kevin as a true friend. As punishment for not winning the Masked World Tournament, Takuma and Kevin are headed to the bottom of the Tiger’s Den and the hellish training that awaits. They meet their old friend Odin down there, who is extremely excited that he’s no longer the new guy that the rookies practice their moves on. Rather than waste time, Takuma tells the coach that he wants to be placed in a match called Hell in the Hole. I’m not sure what that is, but entering it means that a wrestler can leave the bottom level… if they survive. Kevin says that he’ll join the battle royale style death match as well. Odin also decides to try his odds in the Hole too, but something tells me that he’s going to get his arms or legs ripped off. Odin is the definition of cannon fodder. Apparently big money is thrown around when people bet on the match, but what that means for the match will have to wait until next week (maybe, it wasn’t mentioned at all in the preview for next week).
Over at the secret tiger hideout, Naoto grapples with a robot. When he finishes training, Naoto calls Yuji Nagata as Tiger Mask to ask for a pair of tickets to the Korakuen show. Nagata says that won’t be a problem and then tells Tiger that he’s counting on him to put on a good match in the semi-main. Tiger plays off things like he knew he was booked on the show, but the second he gets off the phone he begins feverishly searching for Haruna, who confirms that he is booked on that show. Naoto sulks out of the room, trying to figure out what he’s going to do. Not knowing what’s going on, Haruna breaks the fourth wall, looks at the viewer, and asks “what?”
— Kelly Harrass (@comicgeekelly) January 17, 2017
That night, GWM has a show at the WrestleMax Dome and they draw like it’s a NOAH show. With a 38% full building and plummeting merch sales, GWM is not doing well in Japan without Tiger Mask on the card. Miss X apologizes to Mister X for her failure. He tells her that she needs to learn from her previous successes and needs to book Tiger Mask on a more consistent basis. These shows need to draw because her life depends on it.
The next day, Naoto has his date and Tiger Mask has his match. Haruna, not knowing that Naoto has a date, drives off angrily upon finding out that he left on his own for the venue earlier. Naoto visits his trainer before the date to get some advice on how to handle everything. Fujii tells him to just explain to Ruriko that he’s Tiger Mask, but Naoto he explains that Tiger Mask isn’t just him. There’s been other men to hold the title and ultimately the legacy trumps his name. Then as Fujii asks how things will proceed with Ruriko, Naoto freaks out in the girls are gross type way that an 11 year old would.
Ruriko meets Naoto in front of the assisted living center and is dressed much nicer that he is. Naoto assumes that they’ll ride to the show on his motorcycle, but that won’t go so well seeing as Ruriko is in a skirt. Already off to a great start, Naoto. Luckily she has a car to drive herself in. When they enter the arena, Naoto makes sure that Haruna doesn’t see him while she’s selling Tiger Mask merch in the lobby. Right behind Naoto and Ruriko, Miss X and her secretary enter Kourakuen incognito, looking to scout how well attended the show is.
Naoto and Ruriko find their seats and then this starts to turn into a Spider-Man story. Ruriko tells Naoto how much she likes Tiger Mask and how she really wants to learn more about wrestling now, but before he can further their discussion, he gets a phone call and runs off after spouting some nonsense about getting Ruriko a soda. Naoto tries to get backstage, but the staff won’t let him through because he’s not with the company. He runs through the arena and finds an unguarded back entrance to get into the backstage as the show is starting. As he’s riding up the elevator, Naoto puts on his mask and becomes Tiger Mask, a guy that actually should be backstage. He runs into the locker room and finds Yuji Nagata looking for him. Nagata was worried that Tiger wasn’t coming, but he tells him that he’s counting on him to put on a good show. When Nagata turns his back, Tiger Mask takes off for the elevator where he takes off the mask and changes back to Naoto.
As Naoto sprints through the arena again, headed back to his seat, he runs into Haruna in the lobby. Haruna immediately starts yelling at him to being late and for not being in costume already. Naoto rushes back to his seat, just in time for the beginning of a match. Naoto really gets a lot of cardio in this episode.
Match 1: Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma vs. Kenny Omega & Tama Tonga
Naoto explains that these two units are in a feud. She asks him what units are and he explains that they’re just teams. It’s good to have someone like Ruriko around to explain some stuff to viewers that might not be super familiar with wrestling. Honma attempts the Kokeshi off the top rope on Omega, but Kenny rolls out of the way and Honma slams into the mat. Ruriko gasps in shock and Naoto explains that he’ll be fine, wrestlers are trained to take falls like that. As she asks about treatment that wrestlers get for injuries, Omega slams Honma into the mat with the One Winged Angel. Kenny picks up the win and the doctor is called in to check on Honma.
Before he can make more time for his date (or not date, I’m not really sure anymore), Naoto’s phone rings and he takes off, claiming that he’s going to get some food. He sneaks past Haruna, gets in through the back entrance, changes in the elevator, and suddenly Tiger Mask is backstage.
Match 2: Tiger Mask vs. Bad Luck Fale
Tiger Mask rushes to the ring as Ruriko and the rest of the crowd go crazy for him. Tiger and Fale lock up as Okada and Naito look on. Fale gets Tiger up for the Bad Luck Fall, but Tiger wiggles out of his grasp and rocks him with a spin kick to the face. With Fale staggering into the corner, Tiger Mask is able to hit his new killer move. He nails the lethal combo of the kick into the somersault, the flipping Meteora, and the codebreaker. Naoto’s not getting paid by the hour, so he ended this one quickly.
As Tiger Mask runs through the backstage to get to his dressing room, he runs into Hikari Kuruma, who asks what his new finishing move is called. He blows her off and tells her that he’ll think about it. Then Nagata pops out of nowhere to ask if Tiger can work the next tour and he blows him off with a “call my agent!” Naoto is one robber away from having his Uncle Ben moment, though I suppose he already had that when Fujii was hurt by Yellow Devil.
Match 3: Tetsuya Naito and BUSHI vs. Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI
As Naito taunts Okada, Naoto finally makes it back to his seat. Ruriko says that she enjoyed Tiger Mask’s match and then Okada kills BUSHI with a Rainmaker. It was a super short match, but Ruriko went nuts for the finish, so I guess it was ok.
Outside the venue, Naoto and Ruriko have their post-date conversation. Apparently the show made Ruriko want to change her job. She’s leaving the hospital to become a nurse for a major foreign company. Naoto thinks this means that she’s moving overseas, but it really means that she’s taking a job as a nurse for GWM and her new place of work will be the WrestleMax Dome.
Ruriko says she’ll call Naoto and drives off, leaving him stunned at her revelation. Haruna find Naoto and begins yelling at him for not helping her carry any of the merch. The yelling is a common theme today. As they’re talking, Haruna’s phone goes off as Miss X gives her a call. Miss X says that Tiger Mask is booked for the next GWM show and the contract that he signed for the Masked World Tournament says that he has to make the show or else he’ll face a penalty of $100,000.
Haruna tells him what’s going on and Naoto is more than happy to accept the booking. Working for GWM will bring him that much closer to finding the original Yellow Devil. When Naoto find out the booking is at the Max Dome, he’s none too happy that he’s going to have to continue hiding his secret identity from Ruriko.
— Kelly Harrass (@comicgeekelly) January 17, 2017
I hope you were more excited about this episode than Naoto was because I really enjoyed it quite a bit. These kind of goofy, character building episodes are my favorite if they’re done well. The premise of the episode was clearly something that I was hoping to see out of this series and I think they pulled it off. It was also nice to see new faces in the series like Kenny Omega and BUSHI. This is a good sign that Omega is locked up in a contract with New Japan and is a part of the big deal that NJPW made with the Amuse talent agency. This is all an assumption though, so don’t go quoting me on Reddit.
While it wasn’t the huge dramatic episode we got last week, it was a really fun episode. Naoto is a total dork and some cool stuff is setup for both his and Takuma’s future.
Next week: Tiger Mask fights Bigfoot.