Friends, we’re on the very cusp of the final battles of the GWM/NJPW war. The fists are flying and the verbal barbs are savage. Who will come out on top? Well, I assure you that we won’t find out today. Yes, today the table is being set and dinner is being prepared, but we can only stare at the food until the dinner begins next week. Until then, it’s time for some story development! Before we get into things, don’t forget that 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 34 Recap
Grand Melee

Now, before you get disappointed like I did, the Grand Melee isn’t the GWM version of the Royal Rumble. I was hyped for a GWM vs. NJPW battle royal, but instead we got an episode lacking in action, but was good in spite of that. Speaking of action, the episode beings in the thick of it with Tiger Mask and Tiger the Black exchanging forearms on the outside of the ring. Meanwhile, in the ring, Miracle I puts away Tomoaki Honma with a Miracle Rana to score a win for GWM. Following the match, Miss X announces that the Final Wars tour is coming to an end and the next show will be the finale of this titanic clash.

The next day at the New Japan offices, the crew discusses the rules of the fight ahead of them. Each company will put together teams of five wrestlers that will be placed into a series of matches. The team with the most victories wins all of the belts from the opposing company. The series shakes out as follows; a singles match, a tag match, a trios match, another tag match, and a final singles match. Obviously, this is a card made for more than five wrestlers so the ordering of matches will become very important because some wrestlers will have to work multiple matches. Nagata likens the structure of this card to a team match in tennis or table tennis, which are two sports that I know nothing about so I will take you at your word, Yuji.

At a press conference, both companies announce their teams of five. GWM goes first announcing Miracle I, Miracle II, Tiger the Black, Big Tiger the Second, and Tiger the Great the Third as their team. New Japan follows up this tiger filled announcement with their own team; Tiger Mask, Togi Makabe, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tetsuya Naito, and Kazuchika Okada. Both companies are bringing out their big guns, most notably both of their World Champions. New Japan is even taking a risk announcing Naito as part of the team while he’s still on tour in Mexico.

Training for Battle

At Takaoka Motors, Haruna is once again training for her potential joshi career until she hears Naoto and Kentaro return from their training session at Mount Fuji with Takuma. Naoto lets slip that Ruriko drives Takuma to the secret tiger hideout and Haruna is furious. Her uncle has never even allowed her to go that far. As Tiger Mask’s agent, she has as much of a claim to go to the tiger base as Ruriko does. Haruna argues with her uncle as Naoto closes his eyes and tries to drown out the argument that he accidentally kicked off.

At the rehab/assisted living center, Ruriko informs Takuma that he’s well enough to be discharged from the facility. Takuma asks if he can stay there until he finds a place to live, which is okayed by Ruriko. As someone that has known people that were forced to spend some time in a facility like this one, this isn’t the kind of place that you just choose to stick around at. We just see Takuma and his dad, but there’s a good chance that he’s surrounded by old people that broke their hips. I was about to say that the cost of staying there would be insane as well, but then I remembered that I was looking at this through the lens of the broken American healthcare system. Sigh…

When Ruriko and Takuma hit the road to go train at Mount Fuji, they’re seen by Hikari Kuruma, who tails them to see where they’re going. I was going to say that this seems unbelievable, but if you told me that a wrestling journalist stalked a wrestler, I wouldn’t be shocked one bit. When Kuruma finds the secret tiger base, she immediately begins taking pictures from the bushes. She’s a character I’ve liked up to this point, but this is just creepy. The unwanted photoshoot of Ruriko is broken up when Haruna pulls up in her van. Ladies, don’t take pictures of the female friends of the object of your affections in the name of news. It’s really weird.

Haruna and Ruriko talk outside the secret tiger base and Haruna just lays it all out there, asking Ruriko if she and Takuma are dating. Ruriko blushes and says that they’re just friends (bullshit) and then asks Haruna if she has feelings for Takuma. I don’t think that Haruna has ever actually met Takuma so I one hundred percent believe her when she says no. Ruriko seems relieved by Haruna’s answer which means that she wants Takuma to be her boyfriend. I feel like I’m in high school right now.

Kuruma walks up to the two women and instantly asks what this place is. I’d like to note that she lies and says that she tailed Haruna to find the secret tiger base, hiding the fact that she followed her crush and his female friend. Kuruma starts asking tons of questions, but Haruna leads her away, pointing out that she’s currently trespassing on private property.

What day is it?

The concept of time is kept fast and loose in this episode as we’re suddenly back with Tiger Mask at the New Japan offices. To hell with the transitions, we’re only getting meaty segments today. Nagata reveals to his team what the lineup for the matches will be. Makabe kicks things off in the singles match. Tanahashi and Naito team up for both tag matches. Makabe, Tiger Mask, and Okada make up the trios team. Finally, Okada wrestles in the last singles match. It’s a solid plan, but Tiger Mask is a bit disappointed to only wrestle once and, oh yeah, we still don’t know where Naito is.

In the hallway outside the office, Ryu Wakamatsu runs into Haruna and just decides to go for it. Ryu asks out Haruna, acting on the feelings that he’s clearly had for months. Haruna dances around her answer for a while, but eventually turns him down by telling him that she likes someone else. Ryu asks if it’s Tiger Mask and if he’s that much of a better guy than he is, to which Haruna answers yes to both questions. When the meeting ends, Ryu looks Tiger Mask right in the eyes and tells him that he has his blessing. Ryu walks off and Tiger Mask is left very confused by the encounter.

On the car ride back to Takaoka Motors, Haruna asks Naoto how he feels about Ruriko. Man, we’re really hitting every potential relationship this week. She asks what he thinks of her helping out Takuma so much and Naoto says that he really don’t think anything of it. The way he says it tells me that he’s actually gotten over Ruriko and has accepted that he lost her to Takuma. Then Haruna does a bit more story house cleaning and asks Naoto how progress is going on his new killer move. Apparently, Naoto has a move ready to go, but he’s saving it for a fight with The Third.

Final Wars, Final Show

At the Max Dome, Lady tells Miss X that tickets are predictably sold out for the Final Wars finale. This makes me wonder if GWM gets the full gate for the event or if some goes to New Japan. Who pays the booking fee for the New Japan wrestlers? When you think of it from that perspective, it makes the company vs. company feud seem even messier than before.

Mister X tells Miss X that he’ll step in to take change if things start to go in New Japan’s favor, but Miss X has total confidence in her boys. In the other locker room, things aren’t so calm. Naito is still nowhere to be found and Nagata is freaking out. The crafty Nagata says that they’ll have to use the usual pro wrestling trick to buy themselves time and at the opening ceremony he announces their fifth participant as Mystery Wrestler X. Takuma borrows Haruna’s staff badge to go see Naoto backstage. They briefly discuss what’s going on and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tiger the Dark step up to replace Naito.

First Match: Togi Makabe vs. Tiger the Dark

In the opening singles match, both teams entered their big bruisers. The match starts off hot with Tiger the Black nailing Makabe with a flying crossbody. Makabe takes the hit and springs off the ropes, hitting Tiger with a lariat, knocking them both over the top rope. Tiger the Black hits Makabe with a chair and then attempts another flying crossbody. This time Makabe ducks, causing Tiger to fly into a steel post. The two men continue to brawl on the outside until the referee counts them both out, declaring the match a draw. NR

Addressing our immediate concerns of what happens if the best of five series ends in a tie, Mister X says on commentary that there will be a singles match tie breaker if need be. Following their draw, neither Tiger the Black or Makabe leave the ring, insisting on being a part of the tag match that’s coming next. I know that I’ve said this before, but the writers of Tiger Mask W had to have been fans of old ECW because they love to use their booking trope where one match immediately leads into the next.

Both teams decide to change their orders and the stage is set for the tag match next week where Makabe and Okada take on Tiger the Black and The Third. It’s clear that we’re in the home stretch of the series because everything is firing on all cylinders. The scripting is tight and they’re finally paying off some storylines. There’s so much talk of who likes who and I’m a gossipy bitch so I love it. With this best of five series of matches in full swing, it should be all action from here on out.

Let’s meet back here in a week to talk about cartoon wrestlers punching each other. Sound good? Talk to you all then.