I don’t want to say that this show sunk to new depths of dumb this week…. but a big part of me wants to say that most of what I’m going to talk about today is really stupid. The title of the column this week isn’t any kind of joke because the absurdity of the episode can stand on its own. That all being said, you can watch this and every other 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 30 Recap: The Tiger’s Sanction

I told everyone last week that YOSHI-HASHI was useless and there he is taking a nap on the outside of the ring. Looks like he’s dreaming about being Superman or something. Anyways, Miss X continues to lay down her challenge to New Japan after openly declaring war on them at the end of last week’s episode. Miss X says that the next set of GWM shows will be titled Final Wars and will feature the final wars between the two companies, culminating in a best of five series of singles matches. The winning side of the best of five will not only win the war, but will also win every belt from the opposing company. Rather than look like cowards, the New Japan side is pretty much forced to accept the challenge.

All around, this strategy is pretty brilliant by Miss X. Not only did she force New Japan into accepting her challenge, she also made sure that GWM will be making all the money at the gate from these matches. You also have to remember that New Japan has a lot more to lose in this battle. If GWM loses here, that’s just a single branch of their multinational wrestling empire that shuts down. If New Japan loses, it’s game over.

When Naoto returns home after the show, it seems as though he’s finally ready to hear what other people are saying. He knows that he messed up when he signed with GWM and Kentaro makes sure to remind him of every stupid thing that his rash decision has done. Tiger Mask is even farther from his match against The Third than he was when he signed and now neither side of the war will trust him after he betrayed them both. Just as Naoto is about to apologize, Kentaro stops him and welcomes him back to the team so they can begin training for his next match. I’m not going to lie, this scene was pretty heartwarming and was a much needed return to his senses for Naoto.

Before they can celebrate Naoto’s face turn, Haruna gets a message from Miss X, who has her come down to the Max Dome. Haruna is summoned there to sign a contract for Tiger Mask’s next match where he’ll be taking on Miracle IV in the main event of the opening night of Final Wars. Haruna was expecting some kind of scolding from Miss X, but the boss lady was pretty calm about everything. She even said that she figured this would happen eventually, just not as soon as it did. Miss X tells Haruna that The Third doesn’t have the time for a title shot against Tiger Mask anytime soon because of the war with NJPW. Haruna threatens to cancel their contract with GWM, but Miss X reminds her that there’s a clause that doesn’t allow the contract to be cancelled. Plus, it’s not like New Japan would be willing to take Tiger Mask back right now.

As the meeting goes on, Kevin pays a visit to Takuma while he undergoes his rehab. Kevin brings him flowers and green tea flavored pudding, Takuma’s favorite food (something that Naoto had forgotten when he visited). I don’t really like to make assumptions like this, but based on how Kevin talks to Takuma and how he reacts to Ruriko’s arrival, I think Kevin may be looking for more than friendship with Takuma. Hell, it might already be that. As Kevin watches Takuma’s therapy, the amount of struggling that Takuma has to do becomes too much for him and he has to leave. Kevin can’t bear to see Takuma this way.

Later that night at the Max Dome…

Fukuwara Mask walks through the hallways to get to the commentary booth and finds The Third waiting for him. Rather than letting the champion intimidate him, Fukuwara Mask doesn’t break stride or even acknowledge that The Third is there. I would wager that a big blowup is brewing between these two.

We join the show in progress during the semi-main where Miracles I, II, and III take on Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Ryu Wakamatsu. Gee, I wonder who’s going to eat the pin. It couldn’t possibly be the young lion, could it? This is a booking decision that doesn’t make much sense when you’re watching a wrestling show, but makes even less sense in the cartoon world where wrestling is real. When you’re at war with another company and every match counts towards building your momentum, why would you put a young lion in a position like this? I’m sure they all really believe in Ryu, but it makes them look like a bunch of idiots to send what is effectively still a wrestler in training to fight guys that managed to take out Honma while they’re on their home turf.

Things go predictably in the match. Okada and Tanahashi seem to have the advantage until Ryu tags himself in and gets wrecked by the GWM team. Miracles I and III play defense, allowing Miracle II (Kevin), to score the pin.

Main event time rolls around and we’re getting a super weird stipulation. Once Tiger Mask and Miracle IV are in the ring, a dome descends from the ceiling of the Max Dome. They heard you like domes, so they put a dome in the dome. At the top of the dome there’s a bunch of monkey bar looking pipes that will be important later. Miss X announces the structure as the Snow Dome Stadium. While I’m sure the writer that came up with this idea thought it would be cool, it’s a really stupid idea. If I was a fan, I would be super angry to have my view obscured by the structure of the dome. Sadly, the bad ideas don’t stop there.

Miracle IV tells Tiger Mask to prepare to taste his space technique before ripping off his own mask to reveal a second mask underneath. Fukuwara Mask recognizes the second mask as the mask of Universal Mask, an old foe of the original Tiger Mask. I said mask five times in that last sentence.

While I normally enjoy the callbacks to the previous Tiger Mask manga and anime, this one feels really forced. What was the point of introducing Miracle IV, only to have him change gimmicks two weeks later? It’s not the original Universal Mask come to take revenge on a second generation of Tiger Mask and it’s not like Naoto has any shocked reaction to the reveal either. Everything about this scene fell flat.

Snow Dome Death Match
Tiger Mask vs. Universal Mask

The bell sounds and Tiger Mask rushes at Universal Mask, peppering him with kicks and chops. The beating is pretty brutal looking, but Universal Mask no sells all of it, dodging a dropkick in the corner by leaping up and grabbing onto the bars above them. Clearly having some kind of gymnast background, Universal Mask swings off the bar and nails Tiger Mask with a corkscrew dropkick. He strikes again from the air with a crazy flipping body press. These flying attacks continue for a while as Tiger Mask seems to be too stupid to get out of the way of them.

After taking enough punishment, Tiger Mask decides to join Universal Mask on the pipes, but it doesn’t go very well for him up there either. Universal Mask kicks the crap out of Naoto and then wraps his legs around Tiger’s neck to essentially hang him. Fukuwara Mask stands up at the commentary desk and yells out some advice to Tiger Mask; “The deer hunter doesn’t see the mountain!” I don’t see how that could help anyone, but sure, whatever.

Tiger Mask fights his way out of the head scissors, dragging Universal Mask down to the ring with him. Naoto manages to nail Universal Mask with a single kick before the spaceman retreats to the monkey bars above. That’s when Naoto realizes what Fukuwara Mask was trying to tell him, he needs to use the bars against his opponent. Tiger Mask starts kicking the crap out of UM, doubling the damage by knocking him into the bars. Naoto shows off that he’s been watching Kota Ibushi tape by attempting to German suplex Universal Mask off of one of the bars, much like Ibushi likes to do off the top rope. Universal Mask manages to hang on until Tiger changes up his position and flings him to the mat with a spider German.

After swinging himself off of the bar, Tiger Mask crushes Universal Mask with a corkscrew elbow drop to the back. Naoto rolls over the dead weight of his opponent and scores the three count. What was a match with a stupid stipulation turned out to be okay. There was no real psychology to this one as Tiger Mask just started winning after the advice from Fukuwara Mask. It didn’t really seem to change how Tiger Mask was fighting, he only started to actually hit his attacks. **1/2

Following the match, Tiger Mask walks to his dressing room and crosses paths with the three New Japan wrestlers on the show. They all give him appropriately dirty looks and walk off before any words are spoken.

As Fukuwara Mask leaves the arena, he runs into The Third in the parking garage. This time around, the two actually interact and we find out that Fukuwara Mask is The Third’s former coach. The Third asks why he betrayed Lion’s Den and FM replies by saying that it was because he was sick of it. For that to be the final line of the episode, I feel like something had to have been lost in translation.

That wet fart of a closing line is really a good representation of the entire episode though. This week’s show was fine as long as you didn’t think about it at all. The first half of the episode was pretty good, but once the opening night of Final Wars began, it all fell apart. This is the first stinker in a while so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. It can’t always be great. Here’s hoping that things will be better next week when we all take a road trip to Kyoto. See you guys there!