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YMMV / Satoru Sayama

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  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Was Sayama an egotistical booker who wanted to see himself on top of the UWF, or was he doing it just because the fans actually wanted to see him on top?
  • Americans Hate Tingle: Not to the extent of hatred, but the first Tiger Mask is much, much less liked in United States than in almost every other country where he is popular. Even though he influenced future stars in American ground like Chris Benoit and Rey Mysterio Jr., you will have pressed to find an American pundit who tells you that Sayama was more than an one time sensation who happened to be very innovative on the ring.
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  • And You Thought It Would Fail: Before Tiger Mask, how many people in the business would have thought that a wrestler portraying a cartoon character was a good idea?
  • Badass Decay: A voluntary example. Now as chairman of Real Japan, despite being able to fall freely on the temptation of booking himself to be an invincible ace like he was carried in NJPW, Sayama has lost several matches to younger stars and guest wrestlers, which contrasts with the acussations of being a self-centered booker back in UWF. Perhaps it is just natural, as Sayama is one of the oldest wrestlers still active and cannot endure anymore the rigors of being the ace of a promotion.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Despite his status, Western wrestling pundits cannot decide whether Sayama is Fair for Its Day or not. Detractors typically point out that TM was often sloppy and spot-festy and that he only got over for being wildly innovative at the time, while supporters retort that his wrestling psychology flaws are acceptable considering that the style he was using didn't existed in the first place and that even with his occasional sloppiness he was awesome for the standards of his time.
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    • Though not for in-ring reasons, Sayama is controversial in Japan due to the damage he did to pro wrestling after helping to make it advance. Many fans became infuriated at seeing the most revolutionary wrestler of his era having the crown of cruiserweight wrestling on his hands only to cast it away, in order to pursue the developing of a sport which nobody cared for, and not without publishing a book which dismantled pro wrestling itself. It was later when MMA got popular that his efforts were acknowledged, but even so, he remained controversial due to his irregular activities, his on-off allegiance to Antonio Inoki and the remembrance of many of his enemies.
  • Critical Backlash: Guiding from what you might read in forums, you could be led to think that Sayama was one of the botchiest wrestlers ever and an embarrassment to watch.
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  • Ensemble Dark Horse: NJPW bookers didn't expect to Tiger Mask to surpass Tatsumi Fujinami in popularity, but he did it throughly. Even Antonio Inoki himself, arguably the biggest draw ever in puroresu, was forced to share some stardom with Tiger after he got over. The matter goes to the extent that, in a poll done by a Japanese wrestling magazine to find the most popular wrestler ever in Japan, Sayama placed as the second, only behind Inoki himself, and beating fair square names like Giant Baba, Shinya Hashimoto, Akira Maeda or Genichiro Tenryu.
  • Fandom Rivalry: With Gran Hamada. Just don't bring up the topic of whether Sayama was better or not than Hamada on the ring.
  • For Want of a Nail: Consciously or not, Sayama was the original cause of the MMA boom and is indirectly responsible for its upswing today. Explanation: when he brought Rickson Gracie to Japan, the pro wrestling circuit was forced to challenge him in order to keep its hegemony and failed miserably when Nobuhiko Takada lost to him, giving birth to PRIDE Fighting Championships which introduced MMA in Japan and carved its niche between puroresu and K-1. The success of PRIDE introduced a long gallery of great fighters to the world, forced RINGS and other promotions to adapt their ventures to MMA, and made Antonio Inoki go nuts with the concept and start the Inoki-ism syndrome. Finally, this activity made the Fertitta brothers and Dana White realize that MMA was something that deserved a dime, so they bought and revitalized Ultimate Fighting Championship to turn it into what it is today. Surprising, isn't it?
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Sayama was incredibly popular in Italia and especially Mexico. On the latter, Satoru is considered the best Japanese wrestler in history, and even today, whenever a Japanese man shows himself in a Mexican ring, the TV commentators will compare him to Sayama (or to Gran Hamada, who Sayama teamed up with during their time in Mexico).
  • "Holy Shit!" Quotient: A big exponent, thanks to his kicks and acrobatics.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: Every card with Tiger Mask sold the arenas full, something difficult even for names like Inoki and Fujinami. If anything, Satoru was the reason for many, many Japanese people to start watching pro wrestling.
  • Mis-blamed: Some detractors use the Nishi/Sayama "fight" (a MMA exhibition in which Sayama looks relatively little dominant against Yoshinori Nishi) to profile him as a phony without legit skill, but they conveniently forget that it was a worked fight, with Sayama even throwing pro wrestling kicks, and that Nishi was the promoter of the event in which the fight had place, so he was not going to book himself to look bad.
  • Older Than They Think: Despite he touts himself as Original Tiger Mask and the like, Sayama was not the first wrestler ever to use the gimmick. In 1971, Japan Pro Wrestling Association member Samson Kutsuwada wrestled in South Korea as "Ultra Tiger Mask", as the anime was popular there. However, the angle was short-lived and never saw the light in Japan.
  • Only the Creator Does It Right: Downplayed example. Though Mitsuharu Misawa as Tiger Mask II was moderately well received and Tiger Mask IV is considered to be at least solid, Satoru is still the best regarded of all the Tiger Masks. Back at his time, crowds in the arenas used to chant Sayama's name and not Tiger Mask's when he came to the ring.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Pro wrestling fanfics and "E Feds" have a tendency to turn "first" Tiger Mask heel. Might have something to do with Tiger Mask being one in the original manga before his face turn and Sayama himself having never played a straight heel in his career. But true to the comic, these also usually have him turn face after finding a Worthy Opponent.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: While Sayama has awesome matches and some of them are seen as all time greats, his style has not aged exactly very well, and many newer fans might find him simple, rudimentary and/or weird when compared to later junior heavyweights (who, again, were all following Sayama's footprints).
  • Took The Bad Gimmick Seriously: And he made it work. Thanks to his enthusiasm, charisma and technical work on the ring, Satoru turned something which would have probably become a future mention in WrestleCrap into an immortal wrestling legend.
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