So here's the background you need to fully appreciate this: The character of Tiger Mask was originally created by Ikki Kajiwara and Naoki Tsuji in 1968 for a shonen manga series of the same name that told the story of Naoto Date, a pro wrestler who turned to the side of good in order to battle against an evil organization that trained orphans to be evil professional wrestlers.

In addition to providing us with the greatest villainous plot of all time, the character proved popular enough that in the early '80s, New Japan Pro Wrestling licensed the idea to introduce a real-life Tiger Mask, a gimmick so successful that it evolved into a legacy of five men to wrestle under that identity.

Earlier this year, NJPW and Toei animation announced the production of a new anime called Tiger Mask W (pronounced "Double"), and this week, the new character made his debut at New Japan's King of Pro Wrestling event, taking on his equally fictional opponent, Red Death. So yes: anime is real. And so is pro wrestling.



While I respect nothing as much as the sanctity of masked wrestlers' secret identities, there's a lot of speculation about just who this mysterious new Tiger Mask might be --- and if you're familiar at all with New Japan's roster, it's not difficult to come up with a theory based on the signature moves on display in the video above.

The match comes as part of a cross-promotion for the anime's debut on October 1, a collaboration that will see other New Japan wrestlers also appearing as themselves on the show. And, in case you're wondering, here's the trailer and the premise:



The protagonists are two young pro wrestlers, Naoto Azuma and Takuma Fujii. Both were trainees of "Jipang Pro Wrestling," a small pro wrestling team, until it was crushed by the evil "Global Wrestling Monopoly (GWM)" team. To plan their revenge, Azuma trained at the foot of Mount Fuji, becoming the "New Tiger Mask," while Takuma entered "The Tiger's Hole," the organization that manipulates GWM, becoming "Tiger the Dark."

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