Tiger Mask IV vs. Original Tiger Mask
Lost Classic #6

Promotion: Multi-promotional Super Card
Date: December 23rd, 1997
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Significance: The original legend vs. the young protégé

Over the years the original Tiger Mask, Satoru Sayama, has had a number of matches against his young protégé. Tiger Mask IV debuted in 1995, and was trained by Sayama and Great Sasuke. While today Tiger Mask is one of the stars of New Japan Pro Wrestling, back then he debuted for the small independent promotion Michinoku Pro and wrestled there for seven years before joining New Japan. Great Sasuke was Tiger Mask IV's primary trainer as he ran Michinoku Pro, but Sayama was also hands on for the first time in training the next wrestler to use the mask that he had made famous 15 years prior.

On December 23rd, 1997, Umanosuke Ueda Benefit Show was held to help Ueda with his medical bills due to a car accident the previous year that left him paralyzed. Sayama did not participate in any non-shoot style professional wrestling from 1984 to 1993, but made his return in an exhibition match against Jushin Thunder Liger in 1994. After wrestling a few other cards for New Japan Pro Wrestling, Sayama began wrestling more regularly again on the independent scene. As part of the memorial, Sayama donned the Tiger Mask outfit once again to face his young student one on one. To make the review easier to read, I am going to refer to Sayama under his real name, even though he wrestled this match as Original Tiger Mask.

The stage is set.

They circle each other to start and Sayama kicks Tiger Mask hard in the stomach. Irish whip by Sayama to the corner and he hits a Tiger Wall Flip, but Tiger Mask comes back with a drop kick. Irish whip by Tiger Mask to the corner and he does a Tiger Wall Flip as well. Sayama charges Tiger Mask, Tiger Mask goes for a backdrop but Sayama lands on his feet and both wrestlers miss dropkicks. They trade high kick attempts but neither can connect and they back off. Tiger Mask hits a single leg takedown and applies a knee lock, Sayama reverses it with a cross armbreaker but Tiger Mask reaches the ropes. Side headlock by Sayama and he trips up Tiger Mask. Sayama goes for Tiger Mask's leg but Tiger Mask gets out of it and goes for a cross armbreaker. They roll towards the ropes however and Sayama forces a break.

Tiger Mask picks up Sayama but Sayama Irish whips him to the ropes. Shoulderblock by Tiger Mask but Sayama does a kip-up and dropkicks Tiger Mask. Sayama goes off the ropes but Tiger Mask has recovered and delivers a cartwheel crossbody for a two count. Tiger Mask picks up Sayama, they both go off the ropes but Sayama back bodydrops Tiger Mask out of the ring. Sayama goes to do a dive but Tiger Mask walks to the other side of the ring, so Sayama flips himself back in. Tiger Mask gets back in the ring, Tiger Mask goes for leg kicks but Sayama blocks them. A slap by Tiger Mask sends Sayama to the mat, the referee begins a count but Sayama is up at 8. Punches by Tiger Mask but Sayama blocks them and levels Tiger Mask with a right hand. Since it was a punch and not a slap, the referee admonishes Sayama and won't do a 10 count.

Tiger Mask eventually recovers and he goes for a punch of his own, but Sayama avoids it and knocks him down with a back kick. High kick to the head by Sayama, Tiger Mask gets up but Sayama avoids his charge and kicks him again. Tombstone piledriver by Sayama, he goes up to the top turnbuckle and nails a diving headbutt. Cover, but it gets a two count. Sayama picks up Tiger Mask and delivers a snap DDT, cover, but again Tiger Mask kicks out. Sayama picks up Tiger Mask and hits the spinning back kick, slaps by Sayama while Tiger Mask is against the ropes and he goes off the far ropes, but Tiger Mask pulls the top rope down and Sayama falls out of the ring. Tiger Mask then goes off the far ropes and sails out onto Sayama with a tope suicida. Tiger Mask gets back in the ring first, and when Sayama prepares to re-enter the ring Tiger Mask goes for a high kick as Sayama is on the apron. Sayama blocks the kick however and delivers a high kick of his own, which stuns Tiger Mask. Sayama quickly comes over the top rope with a sunset flip, and he picks up the three count! Your winner: Original Tiger Mask

And in the end, the protégé was unable to beat the master as Sayama was never in any real trouble during the match. Tiger Mask tried to copy his teacher's moves, duplicating the Tiger Wall Flip and cross armbreaker, but when he went for the high kick Sayama was too fast and made him pay. The sunset flip was more a move of quickness then necessity or desperation, as Tiger Mask was out on his feet and stayed on the mat for some time after the bell. As of this day, Tiger Mask IV has never beaten Sayama, as Sayama has always been one step ahead of his student. But Tiger Mask IV has done his teacher proud, as he has had 9 titles around his waist and will no doubt have more before all is said and done in his career. In 1997 he still had a lot to learn however, and Sayama didn't hesitate to show Tiger Mask IV that he still had a ways to go to be the best man to ever wear the Tiger Mask.

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review completed on 12/11/08