Hello, friends. Welcome back to the weekly Tiger Mask W review column. My apologies if it comes to you a little later than normal this week. This episode was so strange, I decided it was best to take an extra day to digest what I watched before writing this. Strap yourselves in, this is gonna be a weird one. 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.
Episode 16 Recap: A Capable Promoter
As the episode begins we find ourselves on the New Japan bus as the boys engage in some hot banter about meat and cakes. I feel like this scene is everything that our own Rich has ever wanted out of conversations between wrestlers.
— Kelly Harrass (@comicgeekelly) January 31, 2017
On another bus the conversations are more business related and, uh, sexually charged? Yuji Nagata is negotiating a deal with a prominent Mexican wrestling promoter. We don’t see her face, so most of the focus is on her breasts and hips. Nagata tries to play it cool, but he’s intimidated by her. The woman demands that New Japan loans her Tiger Mask in an effort to revitalize the dying Mexican wrestling scene that was ravaged by GWM’s talent poaching. Nagata explains that he can’t give her Tiger Mask because he’s freelance and she’ll have to talk to his manager. In response to Nagata beating around the bush, the promoter places her foot on his crotch and squishes little Yuji until he gives her Haruna’s phone number. Movies like this aren’t my cup of tea, but I’ll continue watching for all of you.
— Kelly Harrass (@comicgeekelly) January 31, 2017
Back at Takaoka Motors, Haruna gets a call from the aggressive Mexican promoter. Nagata cowers and holds his balls in the background of the shot. We’re not even four minutes into the show and it’s already the weirdest episode of the series. The promoter offers to pay Tiger Mask 50,000 to wrestle in Mexico. Having dealt with GWM so much as of late, Haruna assumes that she is offering 50,000 American dollars and jumps as the opportunity.
The New Japan bus arrives at the venue for their next show and they find that they’re working an abandoned school in an old village. As Nagata tries to find the guy that booked this show, a group of old men advance on the wrestlers, singing all the way. The man leading the group is not only the promoter of the show, he’s also the village mayor. The group of old guys behind him are the village youth association. Ryu Wakamatsu points out the absurdity of the situation and Okada places him in an abdominal stretch to punish him for his rudeness. The mayor explains that there aren’t any young people in the village due to depopulation, which also explains why the school is abandoned. If you’re wondering why New Japan is running a show in such an odd place, the company is obligated to work there because one of their big sponsors is from the village and he’s trying to revitalize the town.
The village women’s association (also all old) prepare a huge lunch for all the wrestlers and give them wine, but Nagata is quick to put his foot down *heh* and say no alcohol until after the show. That doesn’t keep the crew from enjoying the meal though. It’s nice to see YOSHI-HASHI and Bad Luck Fale side-by-side in the buffet line, adding an odd sense of realism to this series. The town mayor tells Tiger Mask that they’ve got a separate room for him so he can eat without his mask on, which is an incredibly thoughtful gesture. As they’re talking, Haruna’s van comes flying into the lot, almost crashing into the New Japan bus. There’s money to be made and Haruna isn’t wasting any time.
In her meeting with the Mexican promoter, whose name we still don’t know, Haruna is disappointed to find out that the 50,000 she was offered earlier isn’t in dollars, but is actually pesos. After a quick calculation, she sees that this is a much smaller sum of money than she had initially assumed. The amount is even smaller when she finds that the flight and lodging are both included in the 50,000 peso total. Haruna adamantly turns down the deal, which leads to the promoter begging her to help save Mexican pro wrestling. The answer doesn’t change, so the Mexican promoter decides to make a wager. In the semi-main of today’s show, Tiger Mask faces off against Saboten, the son of the promoter. If Saboten wins, Tiger Mask will come to Mexico for 50,000 pesos a match, but if Tiger Mask wins, Haruna can have any terms that she wants.
Tiger Mask has to fight someone with special needs
And here’s where the episode takes an even stranger turn. Before we find out if Haruna accepted the wager, we seen the Mexican promoter talk with her son. This cactus headed wrestler isn’t on the bright side. I know that he’s supposed to come off as really stupid, but the writers went a bit too far and made him seem mentally challenged. This fully grown man clearly has the intelligence of a child, often starting sentences with me. Example: “Me eat your food for you! Me good son, right?” What makes things worse is that the promoter reacts to finding that her son ate her lunch, but punching him in the face. It’s supposed to be played for laughs, but comes off more than a little unsettling. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time finding humor in a woman abusing her mentally challenged son.
Meanwhile, Haruna tells Naoto that she accepted the wager and if he wins his match, they’ll be in a resort hotel in Acapulco. Naoto seems a little iffy about this deal, but he can’t stop things now, Haruna already signed the contract.
In the lunchroom, the mayor tells the wrestlers that he can take them to some hot springs if they’d like, a proposition that gets Ryu’s gears turning. He immediately finds Tiger Mask and Haruna and tries to get them to come with, purely in an attempt to sneak a peek at Haruna in the springs. To Ryu’s dismay, both Tiger and Haruna decline the invitation and stay behind to explore the old school. The Mexican promoter hears this and orders her son to stick around the school to attack and injure Tiger Mask before their match. Unsurprisingly, she also kicks her son in the head while explaining the plan.
Tiger and Haruna begin wandering around the school, which is honestly the least weird thing about this episode. Haruna quickly notices that Saboten is on their tail and that he’s carrying around a frying pan. To cover for being caught, Saboten says that he’s training his head and smashes the frying pan into his skull until he’s knocked unconscious. Tiger and Haruna act like it’s nothing and go explore the science lab. Saboten tries to make an attack in the lab, but he’s paralyzed in fear by a skeleton and an anatomical model before he can do anything.
Let’s see what’s going on with the boys in the hot spring, surely it can’t make the show any more upsetting. As Ryu relaxes, he notices several shiny objects in the trees and bushes that surround the springs. The wrestlers are being watched. Ryu leaps into the bushes to catch one of the perverts watching them. What he at first assumes is a little boy turns out to be an old woman. In fact, the entire women’s association is peeping on the wrestlers and taking pictures of them. The mayor explains that the women weren’t taking pictures of the nude wrestlers for their own perverted reasons. They were really taking the pictures so that they could send them to their friends, who would then want to go to the show later in the night to see those handsome men in the flesh. The mayor is planning to sell the show out with the help of his army of peepers and their weird friends.
This is troubling for a number of reasons. Peeping is a real problem in Japan, so much so that many cellphones in Japan have camera sound effects that can’t be disabled in an attempt to curb unwanted up-skirt photographs from being taken by gross dudes. Having a bunch of characters peeping and then trying to make it an ok thing to do just helps to make the practice acceptable. Nagata orders the New Japan wrestlers to pose for the old women in their towels and I’ve had just about enough of their episode.
Things don’t get better
We return to the school and while Haruna and Tiger are exploring the music room, Saboten attempts to attack Tiger with a bucket. Instead he smashes his cactus head on the ceiling and staggers toward a window. He, of course, breaks the window and falls three floors to the ground. Comedy!
Time passes and a bunch of old, lust fueled women and their husbands arrive to the show, packing the building. Without wasting any time, we jump right to the semi-main event. Saboten attacks Tiger Mask before the bell, unleashing a flurry of offense before locking in a stomach claw. Tiger breaks the hold with a boot to the face, which he follows up with a dropkick and a spinning toe hold. Saboten’s mom helps him by tossing him a cactus to use as a weapon. Tiger Mask breaks the spinning toe hold, attempting to put distance between him and the spike covered plant.
The Mexican promoter jumps on Tiger Mask’s back, putting him in a sleeper. Saboten rushes at Tiger, planning to smash the cactus into his face. Tiger ducks at the last second, causing Saboten to slam the cactus into his own mother’s ass. Saboten is chased around the ring by his mother while yelling “Mommy, forgive me!” as the crowd goes nuts. The old folks are hooting it up and throwing money and cushions into the ring. The mayor declares the event to be a huge success.
Later in the night, while Haruna is beaming about the trip to Acapulco in her future, they hear a scream. Upon investigation, Saboten is hugging the mayor and calling him daddy while the Mexican promoter says that the mayor should marry her and help save Mexican pro wrestling. The last words we hear are the cries of help from the mayor.
Let’s never do this again
Anybody else feel like they need a shower? This episode was all around gross and ultimately felt meaningless in the grand scheme of things. If you’re going to make me sit through a mother abusing her mentally challenged child and old women peeping at wrestlers, at least make the content surrounding it worthwhile. The Mexican promoter, who was never even given a name, was an absolutely vile woman that I hope we never see again. Rather than introducing new characters, why not focus on the ones you already have. It’s worth noting that this is the second week in a row that we haven’t seen Tiger the Dark. No stories were advanced and Tiger Mask felt like a supporting character in his own show. This was gross and terrible. Never before this week has writing this column felt like work. Let’s please never do this again.
Next week: Tiger Mask hangs out with GBH