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10 Masked Wrestling Gimmicks That Changed Ownership

9. Tiger Mask

Pro Wrestling Illustrated

Inspired by the anime character of the same name, New Japan licensed the rights to the Tiger Mask likeness in 1981 as a way to attract a younger audience.

Initially considered a mockery of NJPW's serious spectacle, Satoru Sayama's pioneering performances under the mask revolutionised not only NJPW's product but would prove to be groundbreaking in professional wrestling going forward.

Stealing a march on their competition, All Japan purchased the rights to the character in 1984, enlisting Mitsuhara Misawa with the responsibility of following Sayama.

Graduating from a junior, Tiger Mask II became the first heavyweight portrayal of the character, as Misawa battled for AWA and NWA championships in a 6 year showing that would end spectacularly, when he demanded his partner Toshiaki Kawada to unmask him during a match in 1990.

NJPW re-licensed the rights to the character, as Koji Kanemoto became Tiger Mask III in 1992. Returning Tiger Mask to its junior-heavyweight roots, Kanemoto would fail to replicate the popularity of his predecessors.

Losing his mask to Jushin Liger in 1994, his successor Tiger Mask IV has been unremarkably under the charge of Yoshihiro Yamazaki since 1995.

Most recently, in conjunction with the launch of the new Tiger Mask W anime series, Kota Ibushi brought the new character to life in 2016.

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M is a writer and editor based in Paris.