Celebrities getting involved in wrestling is seldom a good idea. Sure, in the heyday of wrestling, you had some good moments, like with Dennis Rodman in the nWo, or with Stone Cold Steve Austin flipping the bird to Mike Tyson, or even with Mr. T and Hulk Hogan in the main event of the first WrestleMania. But nowadays? They’re cheap, they’re lame, and they’re rarely entertaining – looking at you, Raw guest hosts. And not even the wrestling world within Tiger Mask W is free from that unfortunate curse, as this week’s episode has… IDOLS??? This is gonna be bollocks, isn’t it?
It’s a new day (yes, it is) on the beaches of Okinawa, and as Okada and Wakamatsu are having a quick bite to eat, two girls appear and walk over to them. Are they fans? No, they’re pop idols Nama Ham and Yaki Udon, and they’ll be singing at tonight’s New Japan event, with a marquee main event being a tag match between CHAOS members Ishii and Okada versus GBH, the tag team of Makabe and Honma, and a match between Tiger Mask and Gorilla Jeet Singh, the “Phantom of Dubai.” They don’t seem entirely thrilled by the gig, but it is a paying gig. Both girls notice Tiger Mask running up the shoreline, and take notice of his mask – for those who aren’t aware, masked wrestlers keep their mask on in public, to protect kayfabe. Outside of the arena in Okinawa, some of the onlookers aren’t too thrilled about pop idols coming in to perform at the show, calling it a mockery of pro wrestling – what a bunch of marks. But we’ll see how the crowd reacts when the “special guests” take the stage. Onto the matches! Right in the undercard, Wakamatsu is having a bout with… someone… catching his opponent in a rolling key lock submission, doing over 60 rolling laterals to apply more pressure, but it just wears himself out. His shoulders are on the mat, and the referee, calling it like a shoot, counts the 3 for his opponent. Soon after, Yuji Nagata introduces the two pop idols to the Okinawa crowd, who respond with some scattered jeering. Kinda not good. One such audience member brings to attention the girls’ “official” Twitter feed, which says they were tricked to sing at the show because of business. But of course, it was all to poke some fun at wrestling fans, and it certainly got them some heat, so why not go all the way and turn heel on the crowd? Which, of course, is what happens, with many in the crowd chanting “Go home! Go home!” and throwing trash into the ring in protest. I guess they used up all their time on the format, because out comes Singh, ready for a match and waving his Ali Baba sword around – I sure hope that’s just a prop and not real. His attention turns to the girls, with sword in hand, but out comes Tiger Mask with the run-in save!
The bell has rung and now the match begins, but the referee starts counting to 5 because of the sword in Singh’s hand. So what does he do? He knocks the ref down – uh, BOLLOCKS, that’s an automatic DQ! Where is Jack Tunney when you need him? Ugh. Anyway, Tiger knocks the sword away, Irish whips Singh, and lands a LARIATO(!!!!!!) into a double-knee strike. Singh feigns remorse, but goes for a chop block, which Tiger Mask no-sells, and goes for closed fist strikes – again, illegal, immediate DQ. Come on, ref. Tiger lands a standing dropkick, but Singh quickly gets up, climbs to the top rope, and goes for a knee strike, only to land flat on the canvas. Yeah, his kneecap is busted. Tiger seizes the moment and lands a German suplex into a bridging pin, and gets the 3 count. It seems as though Tiger Mask struck a chord with the two idols, as they looked on with some awe at the finish of the match. Soon after, Okada comes out to the ring, mic in hand, and cuts a babyface promo about how everyone here loves pro wrestling, and that they should listen to… the idols’ song… yeah, the crowd claps along to it, and it’s the most generic pop idol song to ever pop idol song. Think of that “Love Makes the World Go Round” song from The Powerpuff Girls, it’s that kind of generic. And no, we never saw that tag team match, unfortunately. But I bet it was good.
Well, geez, whoever thought all you had to do to get nuclear heat was to be a non-wrestler in a wrestling ring? And whoever thought all you needed to make an immediate babyface turn was to have Okada vouch for you? Speaking of these girls, their designs make it look like they’re from Osomatsu-san, in a way. It’s the faces and the small gap in the teeth. As for Mr. Singh… dude. What’s with the real sword? You’re not Terry Funk with a chainsaw, and this isn’t 1998. Stop being a CZW-wannabe and learn how to work. As a whole, this was another solid episode of the series; it’s pretty clear that the creative staff at Toei are keeping this show fairly episodic, and it’s working out pretty well. Something to note is that Japanese wrestling is quite a bit different from American wrestling, in regards to presentation – there’s less emphasis on storyline and narrative, and more of a focus on match building and athleticism. Now, for what it’s worth, seeing that we’re firmly on the road to Wrestle Kingdom 11, New Japan’s annual mega-event, I can only hope that there’ll be some kind of Tiger Mask W presence on the show, be it before the show formally kicks off or even in the actual undercard. That is, unless NXT keeps Kota Ibushi for much longer than anticipated.
Tiger Mask W is available on Crunchyroll as a weekly simulcast, every Saturday at 3:45pm EDT.