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Tiger Mask IV

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Tiger Mask IV
Tiger Mask IV 2015.JPG
Tiger Mask in August 2015
Birth nameYoshihiro Yamazaki[1]
Born (1970-10-20) October 20, 1970 (age 52)[1]
Urayasu, Chiba
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Tiger Mask[2]
Billed height1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)[2]
Billed weight85 kg (187 lb)[2]
Trained bySatoru Sayama[2][3]
The Great Sasuke[1]
DebutJuly 15, 1995[2]

Yoshihiro Yamazaki (山崎 佳宏, Yamazaki Yoshihiro, born October 20, 1970)[1] is a Japanese professional wrestler, best known for being the fourth man to portray Tiger Mask (タイガーマスク, Taigā Masuku). He currently works for New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) where he is a former 6-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion and 2-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion. Having competed as Tiger Mask since 1995, he is the longest tenured incarnation of the character.

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Career

The young Yamazaki was originally trained by the original Tiger Mask (Satoru Sayama) and The Great Sasuke and unlike the second and third Tiger Masks, Yamazaki has been endorsed by Sayama himself. He also traveled to Mexico where he trained in lucha libre.[4]

Michinoku Pro Wrestling (1995–2001)

He made his professional wrestling debut in 1995 for Michinoku Pro Wrestling (Michinoku Pro/MPW) and became the fourth Tiger Mask, succeeding Koji Kanemoto. While working for Michinoku Pro Tiger Mask won the "APEX OF TRIANGLE" Six Man Tag Team Championship with his trainer the Great Sasuke and Gran Hamada. Just over a year into his wrestling career Tiger Mask won the UWA World Middleweight Championship and held it for 3 months before being forced to vacate the title due to an injury.[5] After returning from his injury Tiger Mask spent a couple of years working mid card and lower main event matches until he was finally given another run with a singles title when he won a tournament to crown a new British Commonwealth Jr. Heavyweight Champion in London, England. Despite it being called "British Commonwealth", the title was mainly promoted in Japan. Tiger Mask would later vacate the title due to an injury but was given a second reign with the title in 2000 that would last exactly one year shortly before Tiger Mask left Michinoku Pro.[6]

After leaving M-Pro, Yamazaki trained with mixed martial artist and fellow Sayama trainee Enson Inoue. Management of Pride Fighting Championships proposed him to compete in mixed martial arts with his mask on, but he declined after receiving a better offer to wrestle for New Japan Pro-Wrestling. The same year, there was a suggestion of making Guy Mezger fight at Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye replacing Yamazaki under the Mask, but he similarly refused.[7]

New Japan Pro-Wrestling (2002–present)

Tiger Mask made his NJPW debut on January 20, 2002, and at first wrestled as a Michinoku Pro star and not a full-time worker. In December 2002, he officially joined NJPW, and quickly rose in the contenders ranks in the Junior Heavyweight division. On April 23, 2003, Tiger Mask was booked to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship from then champion Koji Kanemoto.[8] Tiger Mask's first IWGP reign came to an end in December 2003, when he had to vacate the title due to an injury.[9] Tiger Mask returned with renewed strength and won the 2004 Best of the Super Juniors tournament where he beat the then IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Heat in the semi finals and Koji Kanemoto in the finals to win the annual tournament.[3] It wouldn't be until 2005 that Tiger Mask was able to recreate his semi final victory to defeat Heat for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title.[9] Tiger Mask also won the 2005 Best of the Super Juniors making him the first and only wrestler to win the tournament two years in a row until the record would be shared by Hiromu Takahashi in 2021. In October 2005 Tiger Mask lost the title to the fourth incarnation of the Black Tiger gimmick (Rocky Romero).[9] Tiger Mask defeated Black Tiger in a rematch on February 19, 2006, in a match where Black Tiger put both the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship and the NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship on the line, making Tiger Mask a double champion.[9][10] Tiger Mask's reign as IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion ended on May 3, 2006, by the man he won the title from the first time, Koji Kanemoto.[9] the NWA World Junior Heavyweight title would reside around Tiger Mask's waist for over a year until he lost it to Mike Quackenbush on a National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) sanctioned show in Portage, Indiana.[10]

Tiger Mask in September 2013.
Tiger Mask in September 2013.

When New Japan decided to create several "Brands", Tiger Mask was appointed as an 'ace' of Wrestle Land alongside Hiroshi Tanahashi but ended up wrestling 2 matches under the WRESTLE LAND Brand. In July 2008, Tiger Mask defeated Prince Devitt in a tournament final to become a four-time IWGP World Jr. Heavyweight champion. On the "Circuit 2008 New Japan Generation" tour Low Ki ended Tiger Mask's reign. On January 4, 2009, during NJPW's annual Tokyo Dome show Wrestle Kingdom III, he regained the title and became only the third five-time IWGP World Junior Heavyweight champion in the title's history.[9] Tiger Mask made his first successful title defense Jushin Thunder Liger after which he was presented with a third-generation IWGP Junior Heavyweight championship belt. While being presented with the belt he was attacked by new version of Black Tiger, the fifth version of his storyline arch enemy. After defeating and unmasking the fourth Black Tiger (Rocky Romero) at Resolution '09 in a title vs. mask match, the fifth Black Tiger once again attacked Tiger Mask, gave him a Death Valley driver and then unmasked him.[11] On June 20, 2009, at Dominion 6.20, Tiger Mask defeated Black Tiger V in a mask vs. mask match. Afterwards Black Tiger removed his mask to reveal Tatsuhito Takaiwa, the first native under the Black Tiger mask.[12] On August 15, 2009, at G1 Climax 2009 Tour Tiger Mask lost the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title to Místico. He regained the title on November 8, 2009, at NJPW's Destruction '09 show when he defeated Místico.[13] On January 4, 2010, at Wrestle Kingdom IV in Tokyo Dome Tiger Mask lost the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship to Naomichi Marufuji.[14] After losing a rematch to Marufuji on May 8, 2010, Tiger Mask began showing signs of a heel turn as he attacked the champion after the match.[15] Tiger then entered the 2010 Best of the Super Juniors tournament in an attempt to win his third BOSJ and on May 30 continued his heelish behaviour by refusing to shake hands with La Sombra after losing his opening match to him.[16] The following day it was announced that Tiger had suffered a neck injury and would be sidelined for two months, forcing him to forfeit the rest of his matches in the Best of the Super Juniors tournament.[17]

He made his return on August 14, 2010, in a six-man tag team match, where he, Koji Kanemoto and Ryusuke Taguchi wrestled Pro Wrestling Noah representatives Atsushi Aoki, Ricky Marvin and Taiji Ishimori to a fifteen-minute time limit draw.[18] On August 22 Tiger and Kanemoto defeated Marvin and Ishimori at a Pro Wrestling Noah event to win the promotion's GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship.[19] They would lose the title to Atsushi Aoki and Naomichi Marufuji on December 24, 2010.[20] On January 23, 2011, Tiger Mask put his mask on the line in a Mask vs. Hair match at Fantastica Mania 2011, a New Japan and Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre co–promoted event in Tokyo, and defeated Tomohiro Ishii to win his third Lucha de Apuesta. After the match Ishii attacked and unmasked Tiger Mask.[21][22] On February 20 at The New Beginning, Tiger Mask defeated Ishii, who had begun wearing a Black Tiger mask, in a Mask vs. Mask match.[23] On June 16, 2012, at Dominion 6.16, Tiger Mask won his first IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship, when he and Jushin Thunder Liger defeated Taichi and Taka Michinoku for the vacant title.[24] On July 22, the team lost the title to Forever Hooligans (Alex Koslov and Rocky Romero).[25] On September 23, 2015, at Destruction in Okayama, Tiger Mask defeated Steve Anthony to win the NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship for the second time.[26] He lost the title back to Anthony on March 19, 2016.[27] On October 25th, 2021; Tiger Mask became IWGP Junior Tag Team Champion, with his Flying Tigers teammate, and current IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, Robbie Eagles.

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2007)

Tiger Mask made several appearances for the American-based wrestling company Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) through the working relationship between NJPW and TNA. He appeared on TNA Sacrifice 2007 in a four-way bout featuring Alex Shelley, Jerry Lynn, and Senshi.[28] He also made a couple of appearances on TNA Impact!, TNA's weekly show.

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Mitsuharu Misawa

Mitsuharu Misawa

Mitsuharu Misawa was a Japanese amateur and professional wrestler and promoter. He is primarily known for his time in All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW), and also for forming the Pro Wrestling Noah promotion in 2000. In the early 1990s, Misawa gained fame alongside Toshiaki Kawada, Kenta Kobashi, and Akira Taue, who came to be nicknamed AJPW's "Four Pillars of Heaven", and whose matches developed the ōdō style of puroresu and received significant critical acclaim. Despite never working in the United States during the 1990s, Misawa had significant stylistic influence upon American independent wrestling, through the popularity of his work among tape-traders in the country. Misawa is regarded by some as the greatest professional wrestler of all time. However, the physical demands and consequences of the style in which he worked and the circumstances of his death have made his legacy, or at least that of ōdō, somewhat problematic.

Koji Kanemoto

Koji Kanemoto

Kōji Kanemoto is a Japanese professional wrestler of Zainichi Korean descent. He has previously worked with New Japan Pro-Wrestling and All Japan Pro Wrestling. He is currently a freelancer.

Lucha libre

Lucha libre

Lucha libre is the term used in Latin America for professional wrestling. Since its introduction to Mexico in the early 20th century, it has developed into a unique form of the genre, characterized by colorful masks, rapid sequences of holds and maneuvers, as well as "high-flying" maneuvers, some of which have been adopted in the United States, Japan, and elsewhere. The wearing of masks has developed special significance, and matches are sometimes contested in which the loser must permanently remove his mask, which is a wager with a high degree of weight attached. Tag team wrestling is especially prevalent in lucha libre, particularly matches with three-member teams, called trios.

Michinoku Pro Wrestling

Michinoku Pro Wrestling

Michinoku Pro Wrestling is a Japanese professional wrestling promotion founded by The Great Sasuke on October 1, 1992. It was the first independent wrestling promotion in Japan to not base its operations in Tokyo, but rather in Morioka, Iwate. Since the promotion is primarily focused on the Lucha libre style of wrestling, many of their wrestlers don masks and special motifs as they compete in the ring. However, Michinoku Pro has accepted wrestlers from various styles and backgrounds over the years. In 2003, Sasuke left the running of the promotion to Jinsei Shinzaki.

Gran Hamada

Gran Hamada

Hiroaki Hamada , better known by his ring name Gran Hamada , is a Japanese professional wrestler, the first to adopt the high-flying Mexican lucha libre style. He has wrestled for New Japan Pro-Wrestling, the Universal Wrestling Federation, Michinoku Pro and All Japan Pro Wrestling and was the founder of Universal Lucha Libre. He has also had stints with the World Wrestling Federation and Extreme Championship Wrestling in the United States. His daughters Xóchitl Hamada and Ayako Hamada are professional wrestlers.

British Commonwealth Junior Heavyweight Championship

British Commonwealth Junior Heavyweight Championship

The British Commonwealth Junior Heavyweight Championship was a professional wrestling championship that although being created in England, it gained its biggest notoriety in Japan. Not long after its creation the title made its way to Michinoku Pro Wrestling where it stayed until Jushin Thunder Liger took it to New Japan Pro-Wrestling and combined it with seven other Junior Heavyweight Belts to create the J-Crown. After the J-Crown was disbanded the title resurfaced in England for a short time. After a tour of England Tiger Mask took the title back to Japan, where it returned to Michinoku Pro then made its way to Toryumon, where it was last defended before becoming Inactive.

London

London

London is the capital and largest city of England and the United Kingdom, with a population of just under 9 million. It stands on the River Thames in south-east England at the head of a 50-mile (80 km) estuary down to the North Sea, and has been a major settlement for two millennia. The City of London, its ancient core and financial centre, was founded by the Romans as Londinium and retains its medieval boundaries. The City of Westminster, to the west of the City of London, has for centuries hosted the national government and parliament. Since the 19th century, the name "London" has also referred to the metropolis around this core, historically split between the counties of Middlesex, Essex, Surrey, Kent, and Hertfordshire, which largely comprises Greater London, governed by the Greater London Authority.

England

England

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. It is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

Enson Inoue

Enson Inoue

Enson Shoji Inoue is a Japanese-American jiu-jitsu practitioner and retired professional mixed martial artist. A professional competitor from 1995 until 2010, he fought for the PRIDE Fighting Championships, the UFC, Shooto, and Vale Tudo Japan. He was the first and only Shooto Heavyweight Champion, and was a finalist in the Lightweight category at UFC 13.

New Japan Pro-Wrestling

New Japan Pro-Wrestling

New Japan Pro-Wrestling Co., Ltd. (NJPW) is a Japanese professional wrestling promotion based in Nakano, Tokyo. Founded on January 13, 1972, by Antonio Inoki, the promotion was sold to Yuke's, who later sold it to Bushiroad in 2012. TV Asahi and Amuse, Inc. own minority shares of the company. Naoki Sugabayashi has served as the promotion's Chairman since September 2013, while Takami Ohbari has served as the president of the promotion since October 2020.

Guy Mezger

Guy Mezger

Guy Mezger is an American martial artist, who competed in professional combat sports including Full Contact Karate, Kickboxing, and Boxing, but is most recognized as a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter. Mezger retired from professional competition on January 25, 2005. He is associated with Lion's Den and runs their school in Dallas. Mezger was a champion in mixed martial arts in two different promotions, the UFC and Pancrase. He holds wins over Tito Ortiz, Masakatsu Funaki, Yuki Kondo, Semmy Schilt, and Minoru Suzuki.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship

The IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship is a professional wrestling world junior heavyweight championship owned by the New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) promotion. "IWGP" is the acronym of NJPW's governing body, the International Wrestling Grand Prix . Only wrestlers under the junior heavyweight weight-limit may hold the championship. NJPW currently controls two junior heavyweight championships: the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship and the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. The weight-limit for the title is 100 kg (220 lb).

Other media

Outside of wrestling, Yamazaki appeared on the second SASUKE competition in 1998 although he failed to make it past the first obstacle of the First Stage.

Personal life

On July 22, 2006, Yamazaki married a then 32-year-old woman whose given name is unknown, though her former surname was Nishimura.

Championships and accomplishments

Luchas de Apuestas record

Winner (wager) Loser (wager) Location Event Date Notes
Tiger Mask IV (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship) Black Tiger (IV) (mask) Tokyo, Japan Resolution '09 April 5, 2009 [11]
Tiger Mask (mask) Black Tiger (V) (mask) Osaka, Japan Dominion 6.20 June 20, 2009 [12]
Tiger Mask (mask) Tomohiro Ishii (hair) Tokyo, Japan Fantastica Mania January 23, 2011 [21][22]
Tiger Mask (mask) Black Tiger (VI) (mask) Sendai, Japan The New Beginning February 20, 2011 [23]

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World Junior Heavyweight Championship (AJPW)

World Junior Heavyweight Championship (AJPW)

The Pacific Wrestling Federation (PWF) World Junior Heavyweight Championship is a professional wrestling world title in Japanese promotion All Japan Pro Wrestling, contested exclusively among junior heavyweight wrestlers. It was created on July 31, 1986, when Hiro Saito defeated Brad Armstrong in a tournament final.

Michinoku Pro Wrestling

Michinoku Pro Wrestling

Michinoku Pro Wrestling is a Japanese professional wrestling promotion founded by The Great Sasuke on October 1, 1992. It was the first independent wrestling promotion in Japan to not base its operations in Tokyo, but rather in Morioka, Iwate. Since the promotion is primarily focused on the Lucha libre style of wrestling, many of their wrestlers don masks and special motifs as they compete in the ring. However, Michinoku Pro has accepted wrestlers from various styles and backgrounds over the years. In 2003, Sasuke left the running of the promotion to Jinsei Shinzaki.

Gran Hamada

Gran Hamada

Hiroaki Hamada , better known by his ring name Gran Hamada , is a Japanese professional wrestler, the first to adopt the high-flying Mexican lucha libre style. He has wrestled for New Japan Pro-Wrestling, the Universal Wrestling Federation, Michinoku Pro and All Japan Pro Wrestling and was the founder of Universal Lucha Libre. He has also had stints with the World Wrestling Federation and Extreme Championship Wrestling in the United States. His daughters Xóchitl Hamada and Ayako Hamada are professional wrestlers.

British Commonwealth Junior Heavyweight Championship

British Commonwealth Junior Heavyweight Championship

The British Commonwealth Junior Heavyweight Championship was a professional wrestling championship that although being created in England, it gained its biggest notoriety in Japan. Not long after its creation the title made its way to Michinoku Pro Wrestling where it stayed until Jushin Thunder Liger took it to New Japan Pro-Wrestling and combined it with seven other Junior Heavyweight Belts to create the J-Crown. After the J-Crown was disbanded the title resurfaced in England for a short time. After a tour of England Tiger Mask took the title back to Japan, where it returned to Michinoku Pro then made its way to Toryumon, where it was last defended before becoming Inactive.

National Wrestling Alliance

National Wrestling Alliance

The National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) is an American professional wrestling promotion and former professional wrestling governing body operated by its parent company Lightning One, Inc.

NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship

NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship

The NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship is a professional wrestling world championship in the National Wrestling Alliance. Created in 1945, the title is competed for by junior heavyweight wrestlers.

New Japan Pro-Wrestling

New Japan Pro-Wrestling

New Japan Pro-Wrestling Co., Ltd. (NJPW) is a Japanese professional wrestling promotion based in Nakano, Tokyo. Founded on January 13, 1972, by Antonio Inoki, the promotion was sold to Yuke's, who later sold it to Bushiroad in 2012. TV Asahi and Amuse, Inc. own minority shares of the company. Naoki Sugabayashi has served as the promotion's Chairman since September 2013, while Takami Ohbari has served as the president of the promotion since October 2020.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship

The IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship is a professional wrestling world junior heavyweight championship owned by the New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) promotion. "IWGP" is the acronym of NJPW's governing body, the International Wrestling Grand Prix . Only wrestlers under the junior heavyweight weight-limit may hold the championship. NJPW currently controls two junior heavyweight championships: the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship and the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. The weight-limit for the title is 100 kg (220 lb).

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship

The IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship is a professional wrestling tag team championship owned by the New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) promotion. "IWGP" is the acronym of NJPW's governing body, the International Wrestling Grand Prix . The title was introduced on August 8, 1998, at an NJPW live event. The IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship is one of two tag team titles contested for in NJPW; the IWGP Tag Team Championship is also sanctioned by NJPW. According to NJPW's official website, the Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship is listed as the "IWGP Jr. Tag Class", while the IWGP Tag Team Championship is considered the "IWGP Heavyweight Class". The title is contested for by junior heavyweight wrestlers; the weight-limit for the title is 100 kg (220 lb) per partner. Being a professional wrestling championship, the title is won as a result of a predetermined outcome.

Robbie Eagles

Robbie Eagles

Robbie Eagles is an Australian professional wrestler, who currently works for New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW), where he is a member of Chaos. Eagles is a former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion and was one-half of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions with his partner Tiger Mask IV. Eagles started wrestling on the Australian independent scene, for companies like Professional Wrestling Alliance, Melbourne City Wrestling and World Series Wrestling. Eagles has also gained prominence in other countries wrestling for companies such as Chikara, Progress and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla.

Best of the Super Juniors

Best of the Super Juniors

The Best of the Super Juniors is an annual professional wrestling tournament held by New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW), typically in May or June. Originally known as Top of the Super Juniors, the first tournament was held in 1988 with annual tournaments taking place since 1991. The wrestlers in the tournament are typically junior heavyweight wrestlers from promotions all over the world. NJPW has held 28 Super Juniors tournaments. Hiromu Takahashi holds the record for most tournament wins with four, while Jushin Thunder Liger and Koji Kanemoto have won three each. Takahashi is also the only wrestler to have won three consecutive tournaments. Kanemoto holds the record for the most final appearances, having wrestled eight finals between 1997 and 2009. Liger has participated in the most tournaments, competing in all tournaments except 1995 and 2000 until his 26th and final Super Junior tournament in 2017.

Source: "Tiger Mask IV", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2022, November 25th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger_Mask_IV.

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References
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  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-11-20. Retrieved 2009-08-24.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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