Series / WMAC Masters
is a choreographed martial arts competition show produced by 4Kids Entertainment
, and syndicated
by the company's "Summit Media Group" division.note
WMAC stands for the World Martial Arts Council, an organization dedicated to the competition of the world's best martial artists, all competing for the "ultimate prize", the Dragon Star, which acts as a championship belt of sorts. For the most part, these competitions take the form of one-one-one martial arts battles, though other demonstrations and tournaments are shown.
Clearly the inspirations are both Professional Wrestling
(each of the fighters has a gimmick
and there is kayfabe
) and fighting games (with such things as life bars, the general aesthetics of the characters and different areas where matches take place, and even a couple actors from the Mortal Kombat
games appearing, such as Ho-Sung "Superstar" Pak, who played the original Liu Kang; also, from The Movie
, Chris "Red Dragon" Cassamassa (Scorpion) and Hakim "The Machine" Alston (Liu Kang's first fight)).
The first season was hosted by Shannon Lee, the daughter of Bruce Lee
, and was an aesop
of the week show, with life lessons imparted in every episode. The second season dropped the host aspect, limited the aesops to And Knowing Is Half the Battle
segments at the end, and introduced an Evil Counterpart
organization, Jukido, that sought to usurp the Dragon Star in a Myth Arc
(which is left unresolved by the end of the seriesnote
This Show Demonstrates Examples of the Following Tropes:
- And Knowing Is Half the Battle: "Do what's right! Don't fight!" is often repeated in this show. Justified, if you were taking a class from any real-life martial arts sensei worth his/her salt (and a lot of the actors on this show are actual martial arts teachers), one of the first things you would learn is that martial arts is theoretically supposed to be used to avoid fights whenever possible; attacking opponents is for self-defense only if they start a fight with you first. Also, the "Code of the Dragon Star" provides a lot of opportunity for knowing being half the battle.
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: "Superstar" Ho Sung Pak's backstory. Apparently, he used to be really full of himself, and it almost got him killed when someone he pissed off eventually returned for a rematch...with several of his buddies. "Star Warrior" Ho Yung Pak had to save his brother's life, and Ho Sung Pak has been more humble ever since.
- As Himself: All the Masters sans Tracer go by their real names and are playing fictional versions of themselves.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Due to the cancellation, this is the apparent end to the Jukido plot: The Dragon Star is stolen by Jukido; even as the Masters realize how Jukido had pulled it off, they've already made their escape, awaiting a helicopter pickup; and worse, Tsunami is joining them, having either joined recently or had been another infiltrator sent in after Warlock, apparently proving Great Wolf's vision wrong except for "theft" part.
- Black Best Friend: Willie "Bam" Johnson seemed to be this for most of the cast as he was the person they were most likely to talk to and was the only person to understand Cyclone.
- Break the Haughty: "Superstar" in his backstory, see above Arrogant Kung Fu Guy trope entry. Hakim "The Machine" Alston is another example; in his backstory, he thought he was hot stuff until his sensei made him fight a guy named Steve. Steve kicked Hakim's butt, which made Hakim so mad that he knocked Steve to the ground and started beating on him, disgracing his sensei in the process. Hakim still thought he had something to prove, though, so he challenged Steve to an "unofficial" match where they would fight without gloves, "for keeps". But Steve won the match by breaking Hakim's arm and leg, which was Hakim's own fault since Hakim was in such a berserker rage that he was in an "attack attack attack" craze, and Steve was just defending himself. Hakim was so ashamed of himself that he went into training in solitude to learn how to control his anger, and eventually he and Steve managed to make up and be friends.
- Card-Carrying Villain: A sort-of example with "Jukido", the evil treacherous organization that shows up in season two. Jukido is composed of martial artists who don't want to live by the code of the Dragon Star, meaning they don't want to disciplined, honorable, respectful, courageous, loyal, forgiving, wise, or compassionate. So they formed Jukido so they could use their martial arts skills however they wanted to regardless of the cost to others, and to this end are willing to do things like severely injure Panther off-screen or attempt to rig a match between Red Dragon and Warlock by having a ninja attack only Red Dragon, although Red Dragon won anyway, or finally steal the Dragon Star.
- Demoted to Extra: Tiana "Black Widow" Noguchi, despite the fact she was supposed to be the women's champion but she was never seen competing. Her brother Cyclone had it almost as bad but he was finally given a match in the last episode against The Machine. The two also were barely seen backstage.
- Eye Patch Of Power: Yin Yang Man wears one.
- Feud Episode: At one point in the show, Great Wolf and Tiger Claw got into a heavy feud, despite having been close friends beforehand. The reason is because in their backstory, Tiger Claw taught Great Wolf a very dangerous move in which the user jumps up and clamps both of his feet onto each side of his opponent's head, which results in a guaranteed knockout. However, Tiger Claw only taught Great Wolf the move on the condition that both Tiger Claw and Great Wolf never use the move on each other. The problem is, at the beginning of the "Broken Promise" episode, Great Wolf breaks his promise and uses the move on Tiger Claw. This gets Tiger Claw royally pissed off at Great Wolf, because Great Wolf had already broken his promise once before, but at the time had seemed sincere in apologizing about it and had promised not to make that mistake again. Eventually, the feud is resolved in a later match when Great Wolf uses the move again but Tiger Claw figures out how to block it this time, and now that Tiger Claw has a defense against the move, Tiger Claw is willing to forgive Great Wolf and they both move on.
- Friend or Idol Decision: In one episode, it's revealed that the Machine's niece and nephew are a big fan of Red Dragon, and since Red Dragon and the Machine are friends, would Red Dragon mind coming over to the Machine's house one day to hang out when they're visiting? Red Dragon promises he'll be there. However, Red Dragon then meets a very pretty female astronaut who, after they hit it off, invites Red Dragon to watch a rocket launching right from the base. Hey, an opportunity like this doesn't come along every day, and the Machine's a cool guy, surely he would understand, right?...it turns out Red Dragon chose to hang out with the Machine's family after all. He just couldn't do it, he just couldn't break a promise. The astronaut understands, however, and extends another invitation for much later on.
- Handicapped Badass: Richard "Yin Yang Man" Branden was one; he was blind in one eye after being in a car accident as a kid. Another factored into his backstory, when he met a martial artist who was in a wheelchair, teaching him to look at his own blindness as a challenge to overcome rather than a handicap and inspired Richard to make up for lost time.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: With the first Ninja Challenge offering a chance for three ki symbols, Superstar mocks Tsunami's chances. He then challenges Tsunami to a bet where the loser has to do 100 push-ups for every one of the winner's ki symbols (Superstar had nine at the time). As the Challenge goes on, Superstar ups the bet to the winner being on the loser's back and mockingly gives Tsunami a magazine featuring Superstar. The final scene has a victorious Tsunami reading the magazine while sitting cross-legged on Superstar's back as he completes the first third of his push-ups.
Tsunami: Not bad.
Superstar: (grunting in pain) Thanks.
Tsunami: No, I meant the magazine. Just two hundred more to go, "Superstar."
- Loads and Loads of Characters: There were 25 masters on the show however some were seen more then others.
- Magical Native American: Great Wolf. Complete with a prophetic dream like a seer, too! Although the prophetic dream turns out to be wrong about Tsunami, so maybe Great Wolf isn't that magical...
- Meaningful Name: All of the martial artists' ki symbols. Hakim "The Machine" Alston got his name because he had to gain iron control of his own emotions in order to prevent another screw-up like the time he lost his temper at Steve. "Red Dragon" was the name of the first martial art Chris Casamassa trained in. "Superstar" harkens back to Ho Sung Pak's tenure as a film movie star. "Olympus" is named after the time Herb Perez won the 1992 Gold Medal in the Olympics. Richard Branden sketches yin yang symbols as a hobby, hence "Yin Yang Man". "Bam", a.k.a. Willie Johnson, shouts "Bam" instead of a kiai. "Mouse", or Michele Krasnoo, had really high-pitched kiais as a child. "Great Wolf" is the translation for Jamie Webster's Native American name. "Baby Doll" Bridget Riley's father gave her that nickname as a child. Eric Betts claims to be able to move as fast as a "Panther". Hien Nguyen got the idea for "Tsunami" from Bruce Lee's admonishment to move fluidly like water instead of in a rigid fashion. Johnny Lee Smith got the name "Tiger Claw" from his tiger claw technique. Finally, Taimek's name is Aztec for "Striking Eagle", so that's his ki symbol. There were no explanations revealed for the other ki symbols, such as why Michael Bernardo calls himself "Turbo" or why Ho Young Pak calls himself "Star Warrior" for example.
- The ninjas that are sent to battle the Masters in the battlezones and in the cage. The ones in the cage wear regular ninja outfits, but the ones in the battlezones wear differently-colored costumes depending on the battlezones. They are not as skilled as the Masters and thus usually go down quickly; they're only there to make the matches slightly more difficult. The only exception is the ninja who manages to beat both Superstar and the Machine at once...but he wasn't really a ninja, he was the WMAC Master Warlock in disguise as part of a plan to win the Dragon Star that ultimately didn't work.note
- Jukido also had a set of Mooks of their own, ninjas wearing red masks and sashes. They're first seen when Warlock sics four of them on Wizard to keep him quiet about their past in Jukido, and later plants one in the crowd to fix his Dragon Star match with Red Dragon. Presumably they would have appeared more in season 3.
- Myth Arc: The second season features a shadow war with an Evil Counterpart to the WMAC for the Dragon Star.
- The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The World Martial Arts Council itself; we never see them except in silhouette at the arena, and their decisions are only relayed secondhand, but what they say goes, period.
- Prophecies Are Always Right: Averted! In season two, Great Wolf has a prophetic dream in which an evil, "Jukido" version of the referee destroys the Dragon Star declaring it to be a fake, but then Tsunami bursts in as the hero with the real Dragon Star in his hands. As it turns out, Tsunami is himself a traitor, and he's the accomplice who helps steal the Dragon Star for Warlock and Tracer.
- Red Herring: Two of them, one per season. In the first season, when a ninja knocks both Superstar and The Machine off the platform, "Turbo" is suspected of having been the ninja because of a suspicious comment Turbo had made earlier about being determined to win the Dragon Star at all costs. It turns out it was Warlock, not Turbo. In the second season, Sophia Crawford ("Chameleon") is suspected of having been Tracer and Warlock's accomplice, tasked with stealing the Dragon Star from the women's Dragon Star match since Tracer was frequently seen talking to her. In actuality, however, Chameleon, disgusted by Tracer's advances, was actually trying to ignore him. In addition, Olympus correctly points out that if Chameleon were the accomplice, she wouldn't need to steal the Dragon Star, because she had won it fairly. When Chameleon saw that the Dragon Star had been replaced by the Jukido symbol on the pedestal, she screamed in genuine terror, so she obviously was not the accomplice. It turns out the accomplice was Tsunami, of all people.
- There was a possible third one in the second season as well; when Tiger Claw rescues Wizard from a brutal beating at the hands of Jukido, the masked assailants drop the ki symbol of disgraced former Master "Striking Eagle", who was exposed for lying on his application and banned from WMAC competition. The others briefly speculate if Striking Eagle had joined Jukido to get revenge, but Red Dragon and Turbo are convinced that the ki symbol was planted by Jukido to throw the Masters off their trail. It's never really determined whether that was true or not.
- The Reveal: The first reveal is that "Warlock" and "Tracer" are actually traitors working for Jukido. The real twist is the second reveal, because it turns out a third WMAC Master was working with them as an accomplice...and the accomplice is comic relief Tsunami of all people!!!note
- Ring Out: This only happened twice. The first time was during Kid Carmichael's debut at the Danger Dock battlezone; Yin Yang Man had been winning the match in terms of life points, and one more good hit would've finished Kid Carmichael off. However, at the very last minute Kid Carmichael managed to knock Yin Yang Man off the docks into the water, instantly winning the match. The second time was during the Red Dragon vs Machine match at the Mayan Mystery battlezone; the Machine managed to knock Red Dragon into the water, again, instantly winning the match. Note that this is only in Battlezone matches; in championship shots, the whole point is throwing the opponents off an elevated rotating platform.
- Sacrificial Lion: Not a "killed" example of this trope obviously, but in the second season, how does the viewer know that Jukido, the evil traitorous organization, is serious about its anti-ethical ideals? Off-screen, they attack and severely injure "Panther", which is why Panther doesn't appear after that.
- Show Within a Show: All the in-ring action technically takes place in one and especially in the first season. It mostly vanished after Shannon Lee left the show.
- Significant Anagram: Tracy Swedom=Destroy WMAC They happen to have an anagram finder, this leads to some humorous anagrams of the other characters. However, the anagram finder didn't reveal Tracy Swedom's true nature, because the Masters were called away before they could run the finder on him, and Tracer took advantage of the opportunity by erasing his particular incriminating anagram from the finder, before walking away gloating in song.
- Took a Level in Badass:
- Any Master who graduates from the Academy; those who train at the academy take part in the competition as the ninjas, getting the crap beat out of them by the Masters. A ninja who distinguishes themselves during their training gets called up to the competition as a Master. Tsunami is the first to do so, followed later by Kid Charmichael.
- This applies to a lesser extent to the other Masters as well; as the title suggests, the World Martial Arts Council recruits martial artists from the tops of their fields, such as Herb Perez, who took gold in Tae Kwon Do at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.
- Tournament Arc: Much like pro wrestling, only more explicit as every match is intended to move up to #1 contender status and eventually win the Dragon Star. Over the course of the second season, this is gradually downplayed as the mystery grew from a failed theft to identifying infiltrators from an unscrupulous organization with sinister plans to destroy the WMAC.
- Twist Ending: The end of season one. It's a Dragon Star match between Hakim "The Machine" Alston and "Superstar" Ho Sung Pak. Who wins? Neither, because a ninja knocks them both off the platform with one attack! We don't find out who that mystery ninja was until season two; it turns out it was Warlock in disguise. He was trying to win the Dragon Star for Jukido, but failed to realize in advance that the WMAC organization does not award the Dragon Star to ninjas.
- The Unintelligible: Yuji "Cyclone" Noguchi only spoke Japanese and relied on Bam to translate for him, he did however say one English sentence when he was pushed to by Tracer "Get out of my face Tracy".
- He actually says one more: Yes, what will we do with the Dragon Star.
- Versus Character Splash: Being inspired by fighting games, of course this shows up. For the important matches, i.e. Battledome and Dragon Star matches, portraits of the competitors facing off would briefly be shown before the match proper began.
- Younger Than They Look: In a memory flashback, Babydoll is shown with her dad, who doesn't age as Babydoll progressively ages in the flashback.