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Dark Pegasus Video Review: Path to Becoming 5 Crown King (Part One): The Legendary Tiger

July 2, 2009 | Posted by J.D. Dunn
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Dark Pegasus Video Review: Path to Becoming 5 Crown King (Part One): The Legendary Tiger  

Path to Becoming the 5 Crown King, Part I: The Legendary Tiger

by J.D. Dunn

With the recent passing of Misawa due to an in-ring accident, I got a lot of requests to do this set. For those who never had the privilege to see Misawa, he was one of the greatest in-ring wrestlers who ever lived – right up there with Jumbo Tsuruta, Ric Flair, and Shawn Michaels.

This DVD set, released nearly a decade ago, chronicles his ascent from Tiger Mask II to the “ace” position in All-Japan Pro-Wrestling.

  • Tiger Mask II vs. La Fiera (08.26.84).
    This is either Misawa’s debut or close to it in the mask. He had been wrestling since 1981 as a preliminary wrestler. He does well with kicks, and he’s fundamentally sound, but he’s not nearly as graceful and agile as Sayama. This match is highlighted by the monstrous sky-high bump Fiera takes off a reverse monkeyflip. Fiera gives him a good match, taking a Randy [email protected] bump over the top. TM adds a somersault plancha. Back in, Fiera misses a somersault senton, leading to Tiger Mask’s own senton. Tiger Mask blocks a punch and spins Fiera around into a Tiger Suplex (hence the name) at 9:36. Misawa never looked comfortable as Tiger Mask, but this was good as an example of young Misawa. It’s like comparing Black Tiger to Latino Heat Eddy Guerrero. **1/2

  • Tiger Mask II vs. The Dynamite Kid (11.27.85).
    So All-Japan bought the rights to the Tiger Mask gimmick, and it only made sense to put him in the ring against the original’s greatest rival – the Dynamite Kid. This one starts out as a typical wrestling match but gets a little heated as they take it to the floor. Back in, Kid takes him down and turns him over into a Boston Crab. He also reverses a Tombstone and then puts TM in an abdominal stretch. He even hooks his toe around Misawa’s calf. Gorilla Monsoon would be proud. Tiger Mask makes the ropes and takes a breather. He tries a pescado, but DK just gets out of the way, sending Tiger Mask into a SPLAT on the floor. Back in again, Tiger Mask tries to suplex Dynamite in, but Dynamite reverses to a suplex on the floor. This was really hardcore for the time. Dynamite picks him up, but Tiger Mask backdrop suplexes him on the floor for the double countout at 10:03. Way ahead of its time. It looks like something you might see on an ROH show these days. ***

  • We get highlights of Jumbo Tsuruta/Tiger Mask vs. Stan Hansen/Ted Dibiase from 7.3.87. Ted was still in the UWF at this point, although, when he came back, it would be vastly different and he would jump to the WWF by the end of the year. The match breaks down, and Tiger Mask squirts under the bottom rope to secure a countout win.
  • More highlights. This time of an AWA Title match between Curt Hennig and Tiger Mask from 1.2.88. Tiger Mask again gets a countout win but doesn’t gain the title.
  • More highlights. Tiger Mask reversing a Ted Dibiase suplex to a German Suplex and earning a huge singles win. (7.19.87).
  • Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Tiger Mask II (03.09.89).
    Misawa is noticeably bigger at this point and was literally outgrowing the Tiger Mask gimmick. Jumbo may be the best in-ring wrestler ever (per conflictus). Tiger Mask wrestles a *very* measured match early, just trying to ground Jumbo with a headlock. It’s kind of like when a football team is overmatched in talent, so they just try to use ball control to keep the other team’s offense off the field. It’s actually a successful strategy for a while as it keeps Tsuruta from gaining momentum. Finally, Tsuruta has had enough and just powers him over into a backdrop suplex. That sets up the high knee. Tiger Mask decides to unload after that. He sends Jumbo to the floor with a pair of kicks and adds a springboard somersault plancha. Flying crossbody! Back in, Misawa comes off the top with a frogsplash, but Jumbo gets the knees up. Tiger Mask gets a huracanrana for two, but Jumbo hotshots him on a second attempt. BACKDROP DRIVER! ONE, TWO, THRE-NO! Fans: Ti-ee-gah! Ti-ee-gah! A lariat misses, but that just pisses off Jumbo even more, and he finishes with another backdrop driver at 14:43. Tiger Mask was not yet at Jumbo’s level (that would come a year later), but this match demonstrates how a wrestler can wrestle a smart match and elevate himself while still clearly showing he’s lesser than his opponent. The match told a good story too of Misawa’s “put it in the freezer” strategy getting derailed and forcing him to go up-tempo, which is forte anyway. That shift in strategy led to mistakes, though, and the more experienced Tsuruta was able to capitalize. ***3/4
  • The 411: Not really indicative of the greatness he would later achieve. More like seeing Steve Austin's work in the USWA. It's a process of formation, and you can see a definite shift in styles over the years from light-heavyweight to a hybrid of hard-hitting and flying. Still, formative Misawa is pretty damned good

    Thumbs up for "The Legendary Tiger."

    Final Score:  7.0   [ Good ]  legend

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