WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship (New Japan), August 5th 1982
Tiger Mask (c) vs. Dynamite Kid
The Setting;

These two men had already contested some great bouts. Going back to ’81 when Satoru Sayama first debuted as TM, he and Kid were nearly always having great, innovative bouts that changed wrestling for the better. This one, in August 1982, was for Tigers ‘WWF Junior Heavyweight’ championship: a belt pretty much only used in Japan by this point. Tom ‘Dynamite Kid’ Billington was becoming a big name in wrestling thanks to his high flying, hard hitting matches in Stampede Wrestling and here, in Japan, over the previous few years. Tiger Mask was a character based on a hugely popular Japanese comic.

The Match:

The match starts in a flurry as both men go for moves that the other counters. Tiger brilliantly reverses a wristlock on Kid but he fights back with stiff headbutts. TM blocks a kick and escapes a monkey flip, they then reverse waistlocks and end up in the ropes. Kid trips the champ and puts on a complex leglock. After a rope break Kid takes things outside and gives Tiger a Suplex. Back in the ring Dynamite hits a Gut-wrench for a two count and applies a head scissors. TM gets out and delivers a beautiful back heel kick and suplexes Kid over the ropes to the floor. Back inside the champ nails a stiff DDT and a Gut-wrench of his own for a two count. Big Piledriver for a nice reaction from the crowd. Running the ropes he takes a dropkick but ducks a charging Kid who goes over the top. Dynamite Kid gets back in and ducks a charging TM this time, which allows the challenger to start wearing down his opponent. Tiger counters a submission with a modified Bow-and-Arrow but lets go and attempts a cover. In the ropes both men get up. TM with very stiff kicks but Kid cockily sidesteps one. Single leg takedown has DK in trouble as it allows Tiger Mask to do more damage to the legs. Just manages a rope break and catches TM off guard with hard shots and attempts a Piledriver. Mask backdrops out of it and whips Kid who ducks a bodyblock and nails a Tombstone. He gets to the top rope and lands a diving headbutt for a two count. TM manages to chuck him over the ropes and hits a suicide dive. Back inside he hits a nasty looking modified Tombstone and a top rope splash for a very popular pinfall.

The Aftermath:

The bout would win the Wrestling Observer Newsletter ‘Match of the Year Award’ for 1982

Satoru ‘Tiger Mask’ Sayama would grow disillusioned with wrestling and retire in 1983. Based on how popular he was the gimmick was eventually given to Mitsuharu Misawa. It is current in its ‘fifth’ incarnation, debutting back in 2010. Sayama would eventually return to wrestling and currently heads his own promotion Real Japan Pro Wrestling. As for Dynamite Kid, he would have a very bleak ‘rise and fall’ career. He and younger cousin Davey Boy Smith would find mega stardom in the then WWF as the ‘British Bulldogs’. Years of hard hitting bouts and drug abuse would take their toll on Billington, he lost his job, his family, his fortune and ultimately ended up in a wheelchair at the age of 34. In 2000 he published his very good autobiography ‘Pure Dynamite’. Highspots.com are making a feature length documentary on him, funded via Kickstarter (this writer is happy to state he is one of the many who pledged funding towards the project to help it become a reality).

 SEE IT HERE – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMRBsQyKxjw

James Simpson (@knowyourpuro)