Tiger Mask is a Japanese manga series written by Ikki Kajiwara and illustrated by Naoki Tsuji. It was later adapted into an anime series by Toei Animation.In the manga and anime, Tiger Mask was a feared heel wrestler in America who was extremely vicious in the ring. After returning to Japan Tiger Mask joined the Japanese League headed by Giant Baba and Antonio Inoki (also Real Life wrestlers) who were then on the verge of kicking him out for his use of villanous techniques. Tiger Mask (whose real name was Naoto Date) was raised in an orphanage and later joined Tiger's Cave (a criminal cartel whose main activity was to train young people to became Heel wrestlers) to became "Strong as a Tiger".To save the orphanage where he was born and raised he decided to go against the main rule of Tiger's Cave (all wrestlers must give 50% of their income to the organisation) and as such he was marked a "traitor" and other wrestlers from the Cave tried to kill him on the ring (while hired assassins tried to do the same outside of the ring).When an orphan living in the same orphanage as Naoto started to take his heel persona as a life model Tiger Mask decided to fight honestly on the ring starting a series of confrontations that eventually brought him against the Big Bad, the master of Tiger's Cave.Most people outside Japan, though, only know Tiger Mask as a real professional wrestler from a fad in The Eighties. While it only began as a homage and promotion to the fictional character, it grew into a popularity of its own, especially in the West, due to the memorable Dynamite Kid fights. Since then five wrestlers have adopted Tiger's identity: Satoru Sayama, Mitsuharu Misawa, Koji Kanemoto, Yoshihiro Yamazaki and Ikuhisa Minowa, in that order.Tiger Mask appears in the Massive Multiplayer Crossover game, Sunday VS Magazine Shuuketsu Choujou Daikessen.
The Atoner: Tiger Mask has shades of this, as part of his motivations is a will to make up for all the No Holds Barred Beatdowns he inflicted, to the point he becomes physically unable to use fouls unless his foe uses them first.
Awesomeness by Analysis: Mr. Chi/The Great Zuma is this, having the ability to understand how to use or defeat any move by seeing it once. He shows the copying ability by using the Cobra Twist after seeing it in use once, and then defeated Tiger Mask's first finisher with embarrassing ease after seeing it once.
Mr. Chi's apprentice Snow Singh has a similar but lesser ability, being able to intercept flying attacks after the second time they're used on him, following with grabbing the unsuspecting victim and either sending him flying or applying a ferocious Metronomic Man Mashing.
Also, Miracle 3, is described as this by Mr. X: according to his manager, Miracle 3 could have revealed Tiger Mask every strength and weakness of the challengers for the NWA Maskmen World Championship as he had seen them fighting. There's some truth in this claim, as before Tiger Mask finally accepts his challenge we see him observing Tiger Mask fighting to try and find a way to counter the Fujiyama Tiger Breaker, then he claims he can do so... And when they finally fight, he actually does it.
Badass Boast: Many wrestlers have declared they'll defeat Tiger Mask and/or his Finishing Move. So far the only ones who succeeded are Mr. Chi (who had promised he'd make the Ultra Tiger Drop useless. Tiger Mask barely defeated him, but he still kept his promise) and Miracle 3 (who declared he'd counter the Fujiyama Tiger Breaker and defeat Tiger Mask, and was successful on both accounts).
An unusual example comes from Mr. X: in the period Tiger Mask had to defend his NWA Maskmen World Championship from various challengers, Mr. X boasted not his own strength but Miracle 3's.
Again from Miracle 3: at one point in his first bout for the NWA Maskmen World Championship with Tiger Mask (reigning champion), Miracle 3 complimented Tiger Mask for his ability, worth of the former Champion, speaking as if his victory was already decided. He then proceeded to defeat Tiger Mask.
Badass Cape: Tiger Mask wears a cape to the ring, but takes it off as he jumps in. In one occasion, the cape was even more badass by virtue of being filled with dynamite sticks (Tiger Mask expected to deal with gun-armed Mooks, and when that happened the dynamite forced them to ditch the guns, grab the knives and get mauled in the space of two panels).
Badass Normal: The ability to receive punishment of the wrestlers is above real life normal human levels. Pretty every wrestler is a Badass Normal since he can receive full force wrestling techniques (including falls from above) and survive. In the first episodes a wrestler (Black Python) kills a tiger bare handed breaking its neck.
Bad Liar: Naoto is very bad at lying, at least when he's improvising. Luckily he usually lies to a group of children who think he's a Rich Idiot with No Day Job, so when they spot the first lie he can 'admit' a lie better suited to his cover, and they fall for that one.
The Brute: A few heels are this, but Gorilla Man takes the cake in virtue of being the physically strongest wrestler in the entire series and the second of Tiger's Cave assassins (being sent out immediately after Black Python's defeat).
Bullying The Dragon: Happens late in the manga, when, during the Fake Tiger Mask arc, Tiger Mask is thought to have returned an heel: when he goes to America to find the imposter and prove he's still a face fighting other wrestlers without fouls, American wrestlers attack him with fouls to get a first strike. Mr. K is initially lucky, as Tiger Mask doesn't reply in kind, but later he and another wrestler have a run-in with the imposter, who shows them exactlywhyTiger's Cave wrestlers are so feared.
El Sicodelico takes part to the Heel World Championship only to fight the foulest wrestlers in the world, provoke them into using fouls and learn them, using his technique to carry the day anyway. Then he fights Tiger Mask, and is initially winning without fouls, but as soon as he starts doing them Tiger Mask considers himself authorized to reply in kind, laughs and makes short work of him.
Two examples from the very first chapter: Tiger Mask is attacked twice by civilians after inflicting a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on another wrestler. The first attacker, being a child and the son of one of Tiger Mask's previous victims, gets the advice to try it again in ten years and on the ring, when he'll be stronger than his father. The second, being a knife-wielding adult, gets a karate chop on the neck as warning to anyone wishing to imitate that child.
The Cape: Face wrestlers tend to this, but El Sicodelico more than the others. According to El Sicodelico, his brother Mil Mascaras is even more The Cape than him.
Chekhov's Gun: Early on it's shown that Tiger Mask is quite proficient in the bridge position, the back suplex and the Tomoe Nage Judo throw. The Fujiyama Tiger Breaker includes a Tomoe Nage to start the move (and in fact he first had the idea when he used one and started kicking his foe because he knew a Tomoe Nage wouldn't be enough), and the manga-only Tiger V is the fusion of four different moves including the Tomoe Nage and the back suplex and need the ability to use the bridge position.
Combat Pragmatist: Some of the greatest wrestlers are this, because, as explained by El Sicodelico, illegal manouvers interrupted before the referee ends counting to five are allowed. Tiger Mask becomes one after defeating El Sicodelico in a no-holds battle (that Sicodelico was actually winning when they weren't using illegal moves. Then Sicodelico started committing fouls and Tiger Mask replied in kind with his superior knowledge of those moves) and receiving this lecture.
According to El Sicodelico, being unable to do them right is the only reason he and his stronger brother Mil Mascaras are unable to defeat Dory Funk Jr. (then reigning NWA world champion), Verne Gagne (AWA champion) and Pedro Morales (WWWF champion). Dory Funk Jr.'s apparition seems to confirm this in-universe, as when Tiger Mask fought him for the championship and was on the verge of defeating him he punched the referee, losing by disqualification but keeping the belt.
Tiger Mask was no slouch even before meeting El Sicodelico, having won a fair number of matches by outsmarting his foes in a most painful manner (the commentator actually called him out on that once. The victim, Black V, was suffering too much to complain, and never showed up again), and applying his training in legal but still incredibly brutal ways (apart his Finishing Moves, there's that time he weaponized his cloak, that had been set on fire by his current foe).
wearing a rubber outfit with a thick 'neck' that housed the head and a fake head containing a cannonball;
wearing a full-body suit with needles that inject the opponent with anestetic;
causing a black-out so the official opponent, wearing a skeleton outfit, will be free to punch the victim while his sidekick, a black guy in a black outfit, keeps the poor sod pinned without nobody seeing him;
neck-strangling an opponent while keeping themselves out of the ring and over the ropes. Attacking the strangler results in the victim being strangled worse. This was actually pulled by Tiger Mask (a Tiger's Cave pupil) on the two guys above in retaliation for their trick, and was considered evil even for a Tiger's Cave wrestler;
using an armoured mask with a powered bite;
dressing as a mummy and use the bandage to hide pepper and sleeping powder to throw at the victim (the one who pulled this was a trainer, the one teaching his pupils the dirtiest tricks);
going to the journalists' bench and throw the journalists at the victim. This is followed by breaking the bench in two and use the rough edges of the pieces as makeshift blades;
and the crowner, present only in the manga: use three guys with similar builds and identical masks to simulate a wrestler capable of using respectively superior technique, overwhelming strength and the most disgusting fouls. When this was discovered not even Tiger Mask could believe it...
Composite Character: The anime-only supreme head of Tiger's Cave is a mix of the admins (his role as the head), Miracle 3 (his initial stage name as a wrestler, and has his namesake abilities of superior strength, technique and fouls while the manga version is actually three wrestlers specialized in strong wrestling, technical wrestling and fouls) and the fake Tiger Mask (his outfit as Tiger the Great).
Crossover: A stealth one with the baseball anime/manga Kyojin no Hoshi (also written by Kajiwara) during the Black V arc. It helps that Giant Baba had been a minor player for the Yomiuri Giants (the real-life baseball team featured in Kyojin no Hoshi) before becoming a wrestler.
Cult: Tiger's Cave has shades of a Religion of Evil, with the admins wearing the garbs of evil priests (and often acting the part) and the immense statue of a tiger with eagle's wings and a snake as a tail that hides the access to the headquarter being called the 'Devil God' and being treated as such by the admins and Mr. X.
Damn You, Muscle Memory: Happens three times. The first is when Great Zebra almost kicked in his one match and has to stop himself, as kicking would have been a dead giveaway to his real identity as Giant Baba. Then there is Tiger Mask using the Super Tiger Drop on Freddie Blessie after Mr. Chi countered it, resulting in Blessie dealing Tiger Mask the one defeat he never succeeded in avenging. Finally there is the match against Mr. Kamikaze, that Tiger Mask had decided to throw because Mr. Kamikaze's defeat would have resulted in Tiger's Cave killing his son, but, half stunned, executed the Fujiyama Tiger Breaker and won (he actually cried "Damn it!" when he recovered his senses and realized what he had done. He then proceeded to save Mr. Kamikaze's son anyway).
Another instance happened during the storming of Tiger's Cave, when Tiger Mask executed the Tiger V on one of Tiger's Cave wrestlers but had forgotten he wasn't on the ring, and thus there was no rope to grab to avoid giving an headbutt to the floor. He immediately called himself an idiot for that.
Death by Adaptation: In the manga Mr. X and Tiger's Cave executives survives. In the anime the executives fight Tiger Mask personally and dies on the ring, and Mr. X dies in a last ditch attempt at killing Naoto before his match with Tiger the Great.
Determinator: Pretty much all of Tiger's Cave wrestlers, but Red Death Mask takes the cake: his counterattack to Tiger Mask's breaking his leg is to throw at him the reporters who were watching the match, followed by breaking their bench and attack him with the pieces (Giant Baba admitted he would have surrendered if he got a broken leg).
Didn't See That Coming: Once in a while, a wrestler does something completely unexpected, but the trainees of Tiger's Cave setting gorillas and leopards on the admins and the way Tiger Mask defeated Mr. Chi takes the cake, the latter having Tiger Mask himself unable to believe it (he was following an apparently useless suggestion from Kintaro Oki out of respect, not really expecting it to work).
Miracle 3's counter to the Fujiyama Tiger Breaker is quite deserving, as Tiger Mask had taken care to think of possible counters and had already neutralized three but hadn't seen that coming, principally because it was nearly impossible (and Miracle 3 had to admit that he nearly didn't pull it off).
Didn't Think This Through: Bobo Brazil studied the Fujiyama Tiger Breaker to counteract it, and realized that he could turn in mid-air to land on his head instead than back-first, hitting Tiger Mask's much less durable head with the most powerful headbutt in history. When he actually tried it he barely had time to cry "No!''NO!''" before Tiger Mask used the momentum that was making Bobo Brazil's headbutt the most powerful in history to execute on him the most powerful piledriver in history.
Played straight and averted by the protagonist himself. It had been played straight for his first finisher, when, after revealing it to the public by obliterating Ursus Apollon, had to deal with his much more skilled brother Star who could counter it by keeping his legs closed and then with Mr. Chi, who found a perfect counter that was quite embarrassing, and for the match with Gorilla Man, where his using the bridge position to counter the enemy's attack of jumping on a downed foe would have resulted in Tiger Mask's death due the enormous weight if Baba hadn't saw it coming and harmed his neck to stop him from the bridge (after the match, in which Gorilla Man broke the ring with that attack, Tiger Mask admitted it). Averted most of the times, as Tiger Mask has the habit of thinking ahead (and, after the Fujiyama Tiger Breaker, took care of researching any possible counter he could think of, as Bobo Brazil, Black V and The Convict learned the hard way).
An hell of aversion happened in the manga version of Mr. Kamikaze Arc. When Tiger's Cave bouncers were about to execute Kamikaze's son for betrayal Tiger Mask told them to stop, and they invoked this trope while training their submachine guns. Tiger Mask showed them that his cloak was filled with dynamite, and dared them to open fire as he moved to save the child. Then the bouncers played it straight, as they tried to kill Tiger Mask with knives in spite of being normal people.
Subverted and played straight at the start of the World Heel Championship. The promoter Big Condor was having the tournament in Las Vegas and prepared a profitable betting ring, but he was having the matches happen every night, taking customers from the local casinos, who didn't appreciated. But when the bouncers arrived to threaten him into not having matches on Saturdays and Sundays he was quick to point out that the tournament would summon a lot of people who normally didn't bet, and that the enormous costs of the bets on the tournament would drive most of them and of the regular customers back to the casinos in the attempt to win enough money to return to the tournament, and that the casinos would actually profit more than normal. Then the bouncers still tried to threaten him into submission, at which point they were forced to face how helpless they were against Freddie Blassie, Dick The Bruiser (who, as a former bouncer, scolded them for their idiocy) and Sky High Lee, and they couldn't even call for their fellow bouncers armed with guns as Blessie ate the phone when they tried.
The Dog Bites Back: In the anime, a few wrestlers from Tiger's Cave pull their own Heel Face Turns in rebellion to Tiger's Cave methods. In the manga the trainees of Tiger's Cave pull a spectacular one, getting the headquarter invaded by gorillas and leopards, when Tiger Mask and the JWA direct assault on the headquarter forces the admins on the defensive.
Downer Ending: Minutes before the match for the NWA championship, Naoto Date gets run over by a car and dies. No one will ever know he was the great champion Tiger Mask. Made even worse by the fact that he had survived countless assassination attempts and lethal matches only to die in a totally random accident!
The Dragon: Mr. X is Tiger's Cave head manager, with only the admins (and, in the anime, the big boss of Tiger's Cave).
The Dreaded: Two of them. The first to appear is Mister Chi, who, while almost unknown, is terror incarnated for anyone who has seen him fight. The second one is Red Death Mask, Tiger's Cave Hero Killer and their foulest fighter at the time (when Tiger Mask realizes who has come for his head, he considers himself doomed).
Red Death Mask is this trope: the mere sight of him caused a furious Dick the Bruiser (who is cruel enough to set an opponent on fire) to calm down and walk away calmly to not risk angering him, and apologizes when he tries being friendly and he takes exception.
Iron Tusk, Blassie's fictional apprentice, was banned from wrestling by all American promotions for his use of iron teeth in his matches. Blassie, who caused 92 fans to die from heart attack watching his matches, was never banned.
Inverted with Red Death Mask: Tiger Mask is the good counterpart. Both are Tiger's Cave alumni, both are been trained as Tiger's Cave Hero Killers, and Tiger Mask was slated to succeeded Red Death Mask as Tiger's Cave strongest and foulest wrestler had he not performed his Heel-Face Turn.
Technician Miracle 3 in the manga is another. Tiger's Cave best pupil? Check. Very fast and capable wrestler capable of overwhelming world champion-level wrestlers with superior technique? Check. Above the world champion when it comes to fouls? He's a Tiger's Cave pupil, check to infinity. In fact Tiger Mask adopted the Romero Special (Miracle 3 favourite Finishing Move) as one of his own high school techniques.
Also his anime counterpart, especially after changing mask to Tiger the Great, when he becomes what Tiger Mask would have been had he remained a heel.
The manga-only fake Tiger Mask brings it into the Evil Twin realm, as he's identical to the real deal in mask, corporature, weight and even voice (Tiger Mask himself can't tell the difference between their voices), and his technique resembles Tiger Mask's when you press his Berserk Button and he starts dishing No Holds Barred Beatdowns. He went so far to adopt Tiger Mask initial gimmick of Zero Approval Gambit to lure more paying watchers hoping to see him defeated, and had a copy of the NWA Maskmen Champion belt.
Finishing Move: What did you expect from a wrestling manga? Tiger Mask had to develop his own Finisher after some episodes, rather than starting with his own, after he realised that he is in a handicap against other wrestlers that got them. Then, after Mr. Chi made it utterly useless, he created another, taking care of creating variations in case he found someone that could counteract the basic version (as Bobo Brazil and Black V learned at their expense). And he created a third after Miracle 3 counteracted that too.
Before inventing his own, Tiger Mask could still rely on the classical piledriver (that in one memorable occasion was fused with the Fujiyama Tiger Breaker) and back suplex. The latter was actually his signature finisher before he created his first personal one (and performs it liberally in the opening), and actually surprised everyone when he first pulled it on Black Python.
Tiger Mask already had one before the start of the series, the Tiger Chokehold. He used it on-screen only once, as it's an illegal move due its lethality (the victim of his move had really pissed him, and only survived because Tiger Mask wasn't in the mood of killing him).
In fact Tiger Mask created his legal Finishing Moves to have a last resort that was not Tiger's Cave-style fouls. And Mr. Chi making the Super Tiger Drop useless resulted in him reverting to the Tiger's Cave style at the first provocation.
Mr. X is a Foreign Wrestling Heelmanager: not only all the wrestlers he sicked on Tiger Mask were not Japanese, but he once declared himself an American (specifically he said he didn't want to kill two fellow Americans when Dick the Bruiser and Mad Dog Austin attacked Gorilla Man).
Grievous Harm with a Body: Once in a while a wrestler is sent flying on another, but the times where it was most impressive was when Mr. Chi ended his Curb-Stomp Battle against twenty opponents by throwing one of the last three on the other two, Tiger Mask receiving a Metronomic Man Mashing from Snow Singh and Red Death Mask throwing half a dozen journalists at Tiger Mask before attacking him with their bench.
Heel-Face Turn: The protagonist, who also manages to convert some of the wrestlers from the Tiger's Cave.
A Hero To His Hometown: Tiger Mask was this when he started wrestling in Japan, as he was Japanese and fought only foreign heels.
Hero Killer: In order of appearance we have: Gorillaman (the physically strongest fighter of the series), Lionman (Tiger's Cave head coach), Star Apollon (one of the best technical wrestler of the story), Mr. Chi (in-universe, the best wrestler in history, that even with the handicap of being over sixty years oldcurbstomped Tiger Mask for most of the fight and lost only due a Deus ex Machina. In his prime he was practically invincible), Red Death Mask (Tiger's Cave designated Hero Killer), Mr. Kamikaze (the strongest fighter of Tiger's Cave undergroun fighting rings), Black V (a wrestler apparently immune to submission holds), The Convict (a giant wrestler with enormous strength), Miracle 3 (Tiger's Cave greatest miracle, a wrestler with superb technique, immense physical strength and incredible ability with fouls. He's actually three different persons: Tiger's Cave finest technical fighter, greatest strongman and foulest wrestler) and the fake Tiger Mask.
Heroic Second Wind: Happens when Tiger Mask thinks about the orphans that he is trying to protect and his friends.
Improbable Weapon User: Tiger's Cave wrestlers and the heels in general use everything as a weapon, with one foe using an umbrella, a belt stolen from a fan and a pen, while Red Death Mask has used the antennas of his insect-like mask as whips and attacked Tiger Mask with half a dozen journalists before brandishing their bench.
Kung-Fu Proof Mook: Played straight and subverted by Black V, who was trained by Bobo Brazil to aquire circus contorsionism-level of flexibility to be immune to submission holds like the infamous Cobra Twist or Tiger Mask's Fujiyama Tiger Breaker. He actually demonstrated the ability to reduce the Fujiyama Tiger Breaker to just a powerful but tolerable headbutt on his back, but then Tiger experimented on him a variant of the move and defeated him.
Laser-Guided Karma: Flashbacks show that Naoto's Training from Hell had been made even worse by a sadistic trainer. At the Maskmen World League, Tiger Mask beat the utter crap out of Tiger's Cave wrestler King Satan... And discovered he was the same sadistic trainer.
Large Ham: Mr. X loves to describe in vivid particulars how strong is the wrestler he's sicking on Tiger Mask. Tiger Mask himself was one when he was an heel, but he never reached his levels.
Laughing Mad / Manly Tears: Happens in the final episode of the anime, after Tiger the Great manages to rip away the mask from Naoto. Tiger Mask starts laughing and crying before unleashing the worst No-Holds-Barred Beatdown of the series (both anime and manga), killing Tiger the Great and Tiger's Cave with him.
Lighter and Softer: The anime is much softer than the manga, changing Tiger Mask's stint as underground wrestler into a series of challenges with European wrestlers and omitting everything after Miracle 3.
Man Bites Man: Freddy Blessie (mentioned in the trope page) provides a Deconstruction. In his three matches we are shown how stupid it is: having a bite as the main attack against someone who has no problems trying to tear his teeth off (Tiger Mask did it with borderline legal moves, and stopped just short of actually tearing his teeth off); engaging a race to bite the forehead with a taller opponent (Red Death Mask. Had he used another move he could have escaped, but Red Death Mask had bitten him once and he didn't appreciate); biting a masked opponent who doesn't care for rules (Fantomas at the World Heel Championship had an iron plaque under the mask for his match with Blessie. Cue So Last Season).
Man of Wealth and Taste: Many heels, both from Tiger's Cave and indipendents, wear very nice and tasteful clothes (masked wrestlers will add their mask when they want to be recognized as such). Also, Mr. X almost always wear a tuxedo and top hat, and the admins wear the same nice suit as Tiger Mask himself.
Morality Pet: Kenta: Tiger Mask started fighting with legal moves because Ruriko had asked him to be his role model. Kenta has also hints of the Morality Chain: in the Maskmen World League Tiger Mask refrained from committing fouls (allowed by the rules) until a phone call from Kenta asked him why he was doing so even if the rules allowed them, at which point Tiger Mask unleashed a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on the Tiger's Cave wrestler that was about to kill him.
In the manga-only World Heel Championship arc (set in Las Vegas) the role falls to Sonny, a black child who is betting on Tiger Mask for the tournament to earn the money to open a shoe shop: during Tiger Mask's fight with Guillotine Gaston it's Sonny who stops him from possibly killing his foe.
Mugging the Monster: Every single time Tiger Mask creates a new Finishing Move a foe will think he'll be able to defeat him easily, only to get hurt hard. Among the 'muggers' we can count Ursus Apollon (first victim of the Super Tiger Drop after the bear it was originally tested on), Mil Mascaras (first public victim of the still nameless Fujiyama Tiger Breaker. To be fair the first round of the match had been a Curb-Stomp Battle in his favor, and he still managed to draw), a Foreign Wrestling Heel of the Outlaws tag team (first victim in Japan of the Fujiyama Tiger Breaker. He helped naming it when he compared the experience to being thrown down from mount Fuji, inspiring the fan who actually named it), and Miracle 3 (first victim of the Tiger V).
Nice to the Waiter: Tiger Mask is unfailingly polite with anyone who isn't the wrestler he currently fighting (or Mr. X).
No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Tiger's Cave wrestlers are masters of this, and in fact the very first thing Tiger Mask does is unleashing one on a wrestler stupid enough to face him. He still tend to unleash them when Tiger's Cave conditioning gets the better of him or someone is stupid enough to hit one of his Berserk Buttons.
No Koreans In Japan: Averted: not only Rikidozan (father of pro-wrestling in Japan, born somewhere in modern day North Korea as Kim Sin-rak) and Kintarō Ōki (born in Jeollanam-do, South Korea, as Kim Il) are shown, but Ōki's origins and real name are actually aknowledged, and he's depicted as one of the best wrestlers of the Japan Wrestling Association, second only to Baba and Inoki (and the later series Tiger Mask), and easily outsmarts the in-universe strongest and most experienced wrestler in history.
Also the Tiger Mask Imposter is Korean, orphaned and taken by Tiger's Cave during the Korean War.
In his match against Black V, Tiger Mask took a page from Mr. Chi's book, and defended himself from the Missile Headbutt by dodging and letting Black V hit the ring ropes (and kick him while he was tied up) or the ring post, before stepping up the game and drop kicking the Missile Headbutt (Tiger Mask landed on the journalists' table. Black V on concrete and ridicule).
Oh, Crap: A common reaction when a wrestler realizes he's about to receive a really powerful Finishing Move. One of the best happened when Bobo Brazil tried to counter the Fujiyama Tiger Breaker by hitting Tiger Mask not with the back but with his immensely tough headbutt but saw Tiger Mask dodge and change the move in the most powerful piledriver in history (Bobo Brazil's head hurt him so much that he could barely walk for a while).
The Paragon Always Rebels: Villainous version, as Tiger Mask was the best of Tiger's Cave apprentices and already on his way to become Tiger's Cave strongest wrestler when he pulled his Heel-Face Turn (hence Tiger's Cave giving him the mask of the tiger as a sign of this superiority).
Pirate: The manga-only character Viking Kid has a viking pirate gymmick, and nearly defeated Tiger Mask in a death match held in a floating ring in the middle of the ocean.
Pro Wrestling Is Real: Oh yeah. All heels are totally evil, all Tweeners are Blood Knights and all faces are The Cape. The only exception ever is the protagonist who was actually playing the heel to substain the orphanage (though he was also putting all his frustration against his harsh life in his fights).
There are at least three other subversions: in the first chapter we have Iron Bear (a loving father who plays the heel on the ring) and Hurricane Hill (a known heel and a friend of Iron Bear), and later in the series there's Mr K, another heel who is also a loving father and husband.
Punch Clock Villain: Mr. X is one in the manga: when he first appears he mentions all the horrible tortures and deaths inflicted to Tiger's Cave wrestlers who even ask if they can pay less than 50% (that one died on the ring when Tiger's Cave assassins finished destroying his internal organs), but then gives him a last chance to pay his dues to Tiger's Cave, and when he fails he simply sends Tiger's Cave assassins to give him a (relatively) swift death on the ring, and when Tiger Mask won the Maskmen World League he paid the promised $10,000 when he could have easily cheated his way out of it. His later Kick the Dog moment, where he kidnaps Kenta and forces Tiger Mask to endure a gauntlet that will kill him slowly, happens only when, with the defeat of Miracle 3, he has failed one time too many and is gonna get murdered if he doesn't do anything (and still implies he'll free Kenta without a scratch once Tiger Mask is dead).
The manga-only character Big Condor is another. He may have been the one who organized the World Heel's Championship to execute Tiger's Cave final attempt at killing Tiger Mask, but made clear he had no animosity toward our hero and was doing it for the enormous gain he got in the process. And when Tiger Mask won the tournament he complimented him for it and for finally being a wrestler with champion-level skills in both legal techniques and fouls, and paid him the one million dollars of the prize (one million dollars of the seventies).
Black Python, Tiger's Cave first assassin, is another one, who plainly admits he's not thrilled by having to kill Tiger Mask and that he's doing it only because failure would mean ending on Tiger's Cave shit list and was promised to be freed from the dues if he succeeded.
Real Life Writes the Plot: Tiger Mask was prevented from winning real life championships with various plots justifying him quitting, missing or losing in four World Big League tournaments. Also he could only draw against Mil Mascaras when he tried to win the NWA Americas Heavyweight Championship and while he won against Dory Funk Jr. for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship he did so by disqualification, with Funk keeping the championship.
The Red Baron: Many wrestlers had such names, like Star Apollon (The Two Thousands Moves Man), Great Zuma (India's Sun King) and Tiger Mask himself (the Yellow Demon). All of them are justified in some way: Star Apollon loved to brag of knowing two thousands wrestling moves (and he used on screen nineteen different moves, many of which extremely difficult), Great Zuma was practically invincible, and Tiger Mask had sent dozens of wrestlers to the hospital with the right combination of fouls, brain and brutality.
Refuge in Audacity: During his stint as an underground wrestler (made Lighter and Softer in the anime version), Tiger Mask's promoter convinced him to go to Paris and fight with his mask in Tiger's Cave own underground fighting promotion, because they would never think to check beforehand if he was the real one (and in fact the gunmen who kept security there actually laughed at the sheer improbability of it), and once he was on the ring their own rules said that you couldn't unmask a masked wrestler until he was defeated (Mr. X actually never fell for it, but he was too late to check), even after everything else had identified him as the real Tiger Mask.
Sadistic Choice: During the manga version of the Mr. Kamikaze arc Tiger Mask was winning when the bouncers of Tiger's Cave underground wrestling arena announced that Kamikaze's son had tried to rattle them to the police, and that they would kill him unless Kamikaze won. Tiger Mask decided to throw the match and his life, but won by accident and had to save Kamikaze's son the hard way.
Saving the Orphanage: The reason Naoto Date/Tiger Mask betrays the Tiger's Cave and starts to get hunted by them is to save the orphanage where he was raised and to make the life of the orphans (who he sees as his family) better.
Save the Villain: In an early story arc, Dick the Bruiser and Mad Dog Austin decided to show off and attacked Gorilla Man, reasoning that, without fighting techniques, he would be an easy pick. Giant Baba then performed the trope, saving their lives in the nick of time (then Tiger Mask had to save Baba).
The Smart Guy: Baba isn't just strong, he's smart. Enough to see through Tiger Mask' Zero Approval Gambits, give useful suggestions on how to defeat a much more skilled wrestler and recognize high school fouls that escape everyone else's notice.
So Last Season: Happens to Freddie Blassie, real life wrestler (in)famous for his tendency to bite the foreheads of his foes who had actually defeated Tiger Mask early in the series: when he fights against the French masked wrestler Fantomas (no, not that one) in the World's Heel Tournament his well known bite is ineffective, as his opponent had an iron plate under the mask exactly for this occurrence (Fantomas kicked his ass while he was pained by the broken teeth).
Sorting Algorithm of Evil: The wrestlers sent by Tiger's Cave to kill Tiger Mask are progressively stronger and more lethal. It started with the less talented but more experienced Black Python (who could kill a tiger bare-handed) and progressed all the way to the top of Tiger's Cave 'legal' roster (meaning they fought on legal promotions), then their Hero Killer, then the champion of their underground fighting circuit, and then ad-hoc solutions like the admins (anime only: in the manga they're weaklings), Miracle 3, who in the manga is actually three different masked wrestlers with similar builds, one being a skilled technical fighter capable to find out how to counter the Fujiyama Tiger Breaker, one being the third physically strongest fighter in the series (the second is a presumed yeti, and first is the gigantic Gorilla Man) and the third a master of fouls, exchanging roles according to needs, and a fake Tiger Mask who was actually a match for him, culminating in suckering him into taking part to a tournament with no rules and filled with the worst heels of the world and El Sicodelico.
Spot the Imposter: Late in the series there's a fake Tiger Mask, who imitated the real one in body build (down to the weight), combat style, outfit, belt of NWA Masked World Champion and even the voice (Tiger Mask himself is unable to tell his own voice from the imposter's imitation). After Tiger Mask loses control and starts cheating, the only one who can tell the difference is the promoter of their match, who noted that the mask of the real Tiger Mask had plastic fangs while the imposter's had steel ones ("The proof of the real Tiger... Is the fake fang!", as he put it).
Training from Hell: Apart from a normal fighting training taken to the extreme, some of the methods of Tiger's Cave include wrestling with big cats, spending a night tied to a rope under a bridge, whipslashes, the pool of tan and oil and being set on fire. No wonder you get to be a Badass if you survive.
The training to create the Tiger V included Tiger Mask having his apprentice trying to run over him with a car. Notable because this was entirely Tiger Mask's idea.
It's not a Tiger's Cave exclusive. In his younger days, Baba had been subjected to a harsh training that included one of the same exercises used by Tiger's Cave (a less horrible version, as it replaced the risk of death with a master ready to beat the crap out of you at every screw up), and Baba himself decided that the best way to teach Tiger Mask how to dodge Black V's Missile Headbutt was to throw baseballs at him with all his strength and with the highest rate of launch he could manage (a very fast rate, given that Baba had been a professional baseball player before switching sport). Both exercises worked: the exercise Baba had been subjected to was supposed to increase his leg strength and his kicks were devastating, and after Baba's torture Tiger Mask actually ridiculed the Missile Headbutt with Nonchalant Dodges with painful side effects (like hitting the ring post).
True Companions: The fighter of the Japan Pro-Wrestling Alliance are this. Best shown in the manga when Tiger Mask was forced to go at Tiger's Cave headquarter and they rescue him while wearing tiger masks as a declaration of war against Tiger's Cave.
Unskilled, but Strong: Gorilla Man is the biggest (300 kg) and strongest fighter in the series by a long shot, but has absolutely no skill, and ends defeated by Tiger Mask because of this.
Dick The Bruiser is physically stronger than Tiger Mask, and won many matches by committing fouls and taking anything his opponent unleashes, but has little real skill. He ends humiliated and Hoist by His Own Petardtwice when he tries and cheats in a no-holds-barred match against Tiger Mask, who, being from Tiger's Cave, is much more skilled at fouls (and had actually been set on fire during training, so he knew exactly what to do when Dick did the same in their match).
When Tiger Mask described that the physically stronger wrestlers tend to be less skilled than their smaller counterparts, the manga used a picture of Bruno Sammartino as example.
Up to Eleven: Miracle 3 does it three times. The first two happens at the same time, as he not only defeats the Fujiyama Tiger Breaker (that had previously proved itself a Finishing Move impossible to defeat) but does it in a way that requires the greatest display of strenght in the series (in fact he nearly fails in that), while the third is him actually being three different wrestlers with similar build and the same mask, one being an extremely capable technical fighter (and the one who actually came up with the counter to the Tiger Breaker), one being the third physically strong fighter in the series (topped only by what seems to be a yeti and Gorilla Man, an absurdly huge man raised by gorillas), and the third a master of cheats, exchanging themselves with each other according to the needs of the fight. When exposed, this was actually called the greatest scam in the history of pro-wrestling.
Dick the Bruiser tries to pull this in terms of fighting dirty by setting Tiger Mask on fire and trying and strangling him with the ring rope, but Tiger Mask replies by hitting him with his cape in flames (it helped that dousing his clothes with fuel and setting them on fire was part of Tiger's Cave standard training, so he already knew the counter) and not only escaping from the ring rope but perfecting the attack on him.
Use Your Head: That's the shtick of real life wrestlers Kintaro Oki and Bobo Brazil: hitting their foes with devastating headbutts. Black V brought it Up to Eleven thanks to Bobo Brazil training him to be a stronger version of himself.
Weak, but Skilled: Mr. Chi/The Great Zuma is this, being over seventy years old and, according to Tiger Mask, clearly physically weaker than the other competitors in the pan-Asian tournament, but at the same time can use perfectly almost all pro-wrestling move in existence, and his Awesomeness by Analysis allows him to copy the ones he doesn't know and counteract them after seeing them once, as best shown when he counteracted Tiger Mask's first finishing move with embarrassing ease.
As a general rule, the most skilled wrestlers are relatively weak in terms of brute strength, as bigger and stronger muscles tend to make them slower and hamper the fast moves and change of techniques they use.
The Worf Effect: Happens quite often to show how dangerous was the newest threat, starting with an actual tiger being killed by Tiger's Cave first killer who had decided to show off. It's handled fairly well, as even worfed characters remain Badass Normals and capable wrestlers (a good example is Dick the Bruiser, who got massacred by Gorilla Man's unrivaled strength early in the series but still gave the late series Tiger Mask a run for his money in the Heel World Championship).
A strange example is Bruno Sammartino: he never appeared in person, but managed to get worfed twice during the Pan-Asiatic tournament, when Tiger Mask remarked that Snow Singh's brute force was superior to Sammartino's (the highest of regular wrestlers at the time) and then admitted he could tell it because he had actually fought him to a draw before the Heel-Face Turn.
The post-Heel World Championship arc plays it straight twice: where Inoki was a match for a non-fouling Tiger Mask for most of the series and Mad Dog Austin could actually beat him when he was still getting used fighting without fouls, in the final arc Tiger Mask utterly curbstomped Inoki in a spar, and his match with Mad Dog (where Tiger Mask's legal moves completely outclassed anything Mad Dog could come up with, and he still used very effective fouls when Mad Dog tried them) was so one sided that Baba likened it to a battle between an actual dog and an actual tiger, and ended with Tiger Mask using Mad Dog's own Finishing Move to win.
Miracle3 played it straight in his two not-Tiger Mask fights. The first time he used Killer Karl Kox to show off his superhuman strength (and defeated him on July 3 in 33 seconds to show off even more), and then humiliated Abdullah the Butcher with high school techniques, concluding with the Romero Special.
Worf Had the Flu: Tiger Mask's subpar performance against Cyclone Gaston was due he subjecting himself to Tiger's Cave-like Training from Hell in preparation for the rematch against Miracle 3 and fighting him without resting. The characters realized it when Tiger Mask fought Miracle 3 and, differently from the first match, fought on his same level of abilities.
The draw between Tiger Mask and Mil Mascaras is owed to this on both sides: in the third round, Mil Mascaras was too weakened by being the second victim of the still unnamed Fujiyama Tiger Breaker in the second round to do more than escape, and Tiger Mask was unable to catch him due being still fatigued by his stint as an underground wrestler.
World's Strongest Wrestler: Played with. In terms of pure strength Gorilla Man is unrivaled, but was handily defeated by Tiger Mask when he was still unexperienced in fighting fairly. The series shows that skills are more important than pure strength, well evidenced by Tiger Mask losing a round against the technician Miracle 3 and, a couple minutes later and still tired, curbstomps the much stronger but less skilled Strongman Miracle 3, and the string of victories that Mr.Chi (physically the weakest fighter in the series) achieved against physically stronger foes, including the best Korean wrestler in history, before handing Tiger Mask his ass on a silver platter and losing only due a truly unexpected development.
Interpreting the trope as 'best wrestler around', the series has the following World's Strongest Wrestlers: Mr.Chi/The Great Zuma in his prime (by the time he appears he's the fourth due him being over seventy years old), Lou Thesz (real life wrestler with enormous strength and formidable skills. Before passing his prime, the strength of a wrestler in-series was measured by how long it took for Thesz to win), Bruno Sammartino (real life wrestler, he's shown as one of the physically strongest and a fine technician to boot, thus being mentioned as the strongest in many occasions after Thesz passed his prime), and Dory Funk Jr. (real life wrestler and final adversary to Tiger Mask. Drawed with Thesz when he was still in his prime). Tiger Mask qualifies at the end of the series, actually defeating Dory Funk Jr. (the manga actually says that he was the strongest in the world as he held Funk in a Cobra Twist).
Initially averted by Tiger Mask, who admitted he didn't even understand the concept. It was only after his victory against Star Apollon that he understood it, with both complimenting the other for the magnificent match.
Invoked mixed with Badass Boast by Miracle 3: during his first title match with Tiger Mask he complimented him and admitted he was worthy of being the former champion. He then proceeded to win the match and the title.
Yakuza: They have a brief but very important part in the series, as the orphanage owed money to them, and Naoto paid that debt with the money he owed to Tiger's Cave.
You Have Failed Me: It's stated early on that Tiger's Cave who fail in the attempt to defeat Tiger Mask will be killed by Tiger's Cave, but the only one actually confirmed is Red Death Mask (plus Rico and Rocky in the anime), while the others may have escaped and Gorilla Man is confirmed as living.
Mr. X narrowly averts it thrice in the manga. The first time was after Red Death Mask's defeat: Mr. X begged to not be thrown on the execution ring where Red Death Mask had just been murdered, but the executives first berate him for daring to assume they'll give him the death of a wrestler and then announce that, having done everything he could and succeeded in the secondary goal of making Tiger Mask resort to fouls, he'll be given another chance. The second time is after Miracle 3's defeat: this time the executives were ready to have him killed, but Mr. X returned with a kidnapped Kenta to bait Tiger Mask into going back at Tiger's Cave, and the executives decided to wait and see (when Tiger Mask actually showed up Mr. X was spared again). Finally, after Mr. X's last plan fails due to the True Companionsstorming Tiger's Cave with Tiger Mask, they decide to let him get killed by the beasts supposed to kill the attackers, but Tiger's Cave trainees opened the gate so that the beasts would invade the main base, saving his life (last we see him he's holding the executives at gunpoint as they run away in s helicopter).
Zero Approval Gambit: Tiger Mask is quite fond of these. As an heel his gymmick was that of the foreigner who beat the crap of everyone and intentionally called for the fans' hate, so there would be more people watching his matches in the hope to see him defeated. As a face he did it three times he was expecting to die (first he abandoned the World Big League tournament and insulted Baba to try and win the Maskmen World League, then he beat the crap out of aspirant wrestler Teppei Oiwa to supposedly vent the frustration of having to fight Black V, and then insulted the whole JWA roster before having to try and storm Tiger's Cave) so that his loved ones wouldn't suffer (plus Teppei Oiwa's beating doubled as a Secret Test of Character), but every time someone saw through it: when he quit the World Big League Baba thought about it and realized that Tiger Mask wanted the first prize to pay a surgery to heal a blind girl and, with the identity of Great Zebra, helped taking down Egyptian Mummy and Lionman; Teppei immediately recognized it was a test of character and told so to Ruriko (who, for once, had actually fallen for it); when Tiger Mask insulted the JWA roster Baba, who remembered the past experiences, immediately called him on it, and when Tiger Mask insisted he followed him to Tiger's Cave with the rest of the roster, saving his life and helping taking down Tiger's Cave.