VIEW FROM THE RISING SUN
by Masanori Horie

The Original Tiger Mask,
Satoru Sayama

Tiger Mask vs. Ultraman
Tiger Mask's "Tope Suicida" vs. Ultraman, 1982

Satoru Sayama, Gran Hamada, Jushin "Thunder" Liger, Ultimo Dragon, and The Great Sasuke have fixed the lightweight division in Japanese wrestling, which Tatsumi Fujinami gave light and heat when he beat Carlos Jose Estrada (Sr.) to win the WWWF Junior Heavyweight title at Madison Square Garden on Monday, January 23, 1978.

Satoru Sayama was born in Shimonoseki City, Yamaguchi Prefecture on Sunday, November 24, 1957. He was a better Judo-ka and amateur wrestler (70-75 kg class) in high school, but he gave up school and joined Antonio Inoki's New Japan Pro's Dojo when he was 17 years old in July 1975. He debuted as a pro wrestler and lost to Shoji Kai (long time New Japan / UWF / RINGS referee) at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo on Friday, May 28, 1976. Inoki sent him to a mixed match on a martial arts show at Nippon Budokan on November 14, 1977, but he suffered a crushing defeat against Mark Costero. Sayama's mind took a new turn when he got a chance to learn Lucha Libre in EMLL in Mexico in May 1978. He beat Ringo Mendoza to win the NWA World Middleweight title at Arena Coliseo in Guadalajara on September 9, 1979. He kept the title for six months until losing to El Satanico at Arena Mexico in Mexico City on March 28, 1980. Sayama, as "Sammy Lee," went over to Great Britain and competed for the World Heavy Middleweight title from February 1981.


Tiger Mask cartoonTiger Mask cartoon, 1969

"Tiger Mask" beat Dynamite Kid with the German Suplex (9:29) on Thursday, April 23. Nobody could have expected that this cartoon hero would create a new sensation. The match was televised on Friday, May 1 (its main event match was Antonio Inoki beating Stan Hansen [12:56] for the NWF Heavyweight title). TV Asahi (Channel 10 in the Tokyo area) had televised their TV program "World Pro Wrestling" at 8:00 p.m. every Friday night from April 1973 to October 1986. New Japan Pro had enjoyed a record-breaking "PURORESU boom" in those days.

Tiger Mask vs. Dynamite Kid
Tiger Mask vs. Dynamite Kid

1981

April 23, 1981---Kuramae Kokugikan (Sumo Hall), Tokyo (TV taping for May 1)
Tiger Mask beat Dynamite Kid (9:29)

May 12, 1981---Natori City Gym, Miyagi (TV taping for May 15)
Tiger Mask beat Gentleman Chris Adams (7:42)

May 13, 1981---Yokohama Bunka Gym, Kanagawa
Tiger Mask beat Hiro Saito (6:04)

June 24, 1981---Kuramae Kokugikan (Sumo Hall), Tokyo
Tiger Mask beat Villano III (15:55 countout)

August 6, 1981---Kuramae Kokugikan (Sumo Hall), Tokyo (TV taping for August 7)
Tiger Mask beat Scorpio (Sr.) (10:18)

August 21, 1981---Omiya Skate Center, Saitama (Live TV taping)
Tiger Mask & El Solitario beat Brazo de Plata and Brazo de Oro---El Solitario was one of the most respectable legends in Mexico. He died of a heart attack on April 6, 1986. He was 39 years old.

September 23, 1981---Den-en Coliseum, Tokyo (TV taping for September 25)
Tiger Mask beat Solar #1 (a.k.a. Mariachi) (8:51)---The legendary match between Andre the Giant and Stan Hansen took place on this show.

October 8, 1981---Kuramae Kokugikan (Sumo Hall), Tokyo (TV taping for October 9)
Mascara contra Mascara (Mask vs. Mask)
Tiger Mask beat Masked Hurricane (Bobby Lee from the UWA in Mexico) (7:09)---Other drawing cards were Antonio Inoki vs. Rusher Kimura, and Stan Hansen & Hulk Hogan vs. Riki Choshu & Dino Bravo. This show was head to head against opposition from All Japan Pro Wrestling's 10th Anniversary show at the same facility on the next day (Giant Baba & Bruno Sammartino vs. Tiger Jeet Singh & Umanosuke Ueda, Ric Flair vs. Jumbo Tsuruta, and Dory Funk Jr. vs. Bruiser Brody).

November 5, 1981---Kuramae Kokugikan (Sumo Hall) (TV taping for November 6)
Tiger Mask beat Gran Hamada (father of Ayako Hamada in ARSION) (17:01)

November 19, 1981---Korakuen Hall, Tokyo
Tiger Mask beat George Takano (a.k.a. The Cobra / Cola Kid) (13:37)

November 27, 1981---Tokushima City Gym
Tiger Mask beat Nobuhiko Takada (11:06)

December 8, 1981---Ryogoku Kokugikan (Sumo Hall), Tokyo (TV taping for December 18)
Tiger Mask drew Canek (11:36 double countout)---Tiger broke his left foot

1982

January 1, 1982---Korakuen Hall, Tokyo (Live TV taping)
WWF Junior Heavyweight match
Tiger Mask beat Dynamite Kid (8:31)---Tiger won the vacant title and became the sixth champion

Tiger was awarded Tokyo Sports' "Most Popular Wrestler of The Year 1981" on January 4

January 8, 1982---Korakuen Hall, Tokyo (Live TV taping)
Antonio Inoki, Tatsumi Fujinami, & Tiger Mask drew Abdullah the Butcher, Badnews Allen (a.k.a. Badnews Brown), & Dynamite Kid

January 22, 1982---Kanoya City Gym, Kagoshima (Live TV taping)
Tiger Mask & Kantaro Hoshino beat Dynamite Kid & Bret Hart

January 28, 1982---Tokyo Metropolitan Gym (TV taping for January 29)
WWF Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask beat Dynamite Kid (12:38)---Tiger kept the title

February 5, 1982---Sapporo Nakajima Sports Center, Hokkaido (Live TV taping)
WWF Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask beat Bret Hart (17:34)---Tiger kept the title

February 9, 1982---Osaka Furitsu Gym (TV taping for February 12)
WWF Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask beat Baby Face (12:44)---Tiger kept the title

March 4, 1982---Korakuen Hall, Tokyo
WWF Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask beat Steve Wright (father of Alex "Berlyn" Wright) (11:48 count out)---Tiger kept the title

March 30, 1982---Shimizu Suzuyo Memorial Gym, Shizuoka (TV taping for April 9)
Antonio Inoki, Tatsumi Fujinami, & Tiger Mask beat Masked Superstar (Bill Eadie/Demolition Ax), Don Muraco, & Steve Wright

April 1, 1982---Kuramae Kokugikan (Sumo Hall) (TV taping for April 2)
WWF Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask beat Steve Wright (17:50)---Tiger kept the title

April 21, 1982---Kuramae Kokugikan (Sumo Hall)
WWF Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask drew Black Tiger (Rollerball Mark Rocco) (14:17 double countout)---title was held up by Tiger's injury

April 23, 1982---Omiya Skate Center, Saitama
Tiger Mask beat Jose Gonzalez (11:03)

May 25, 1982---Shizuoka Industrial Hall, Shizuoka (TV taping for June 11)
NWA World Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask beat Les Thornton (13:59)---Tiger became the 34th champion

May 26, 1982---Osaka Furitsu Gym (TV taping for May 28)
WWF Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask beat Black Tiger (Rollerball Mark Rocco) (14:15)---Tiger became the eighth champion

June 18, 1982---Kuramae Kokugikan (Sumo Hall), Tokyo (Live TV taping)
WWF Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask beat Ultraman (9:48)---Tiger kept the title

July 6, 1982---Osaka Furitsu Gym (TV taping for June 9)
WWF Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask beat Ultraman (12:12)---Tiger kept the title

July 23, 1982---Kanazawa Industrial Hall, Ishikawa (Live TV taping)
Dynamite Kid beat Tiger Mask (13:53 DQ)
Dynamite Kid, Masanori, and Lord James Blears
Dynamite Kid, Masanori, and Lord James Blears

July 30, 1982---Aichi Prefectural Gym, Nagoya (Live TV taping)
WWF Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask beat Bret Hart (17:03)---Tiger kept the title

July 31, 1982---Osaka Seaside Sports Center, Takatsuki (TV taping August 20)
Tatsumi Fujinami, Kengo Kimura, & Tiger Mask beat Greg Valentine, Dynamite Kid, & Bret Hart

August 5, 1982---Kuramae Kokugikan (Sumo Hall) (TV taping for August 6)
WWF Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask beat Dynamite Kid (15:58)---Tiger kept the title

August 29, 1982---Den-en Coliseum, Tokyo
WWF Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask beat Black Tiger (Rollerball Mark Rocco) (18:03 countout)---Tiger kept the title

August 30, 1982---Madison Square Garden, New York
WWF Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask beat Dynamite Kid (9:36)---Tiger kept the title

September 3, 1982---Fukuoka International Center (Live TV taping)
WWF Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask beat Villano III (7:02)---Tiger kept the title

September 21, 1982---Osaka Furitsu Gym (TV taping for October 1)
WWF Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask beat Black Tiger (Rollerball Mark Rocco) (19:08)---Tiger kept the title

October 22, 1982---Hiroshima Prefectural Gym (Live TV taping)
Tiger Mask beat Les Thornton (4:35)

October 26, 1982---Osaka Furitsu Gym (TV taping for October 29)
WWF Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask beat Kuniaki Kobayashi (16:57 DQ)---Tiger kept the title

November 4, 1982---Ryogoku Kokugikan (Sumo Hall), Tokyo (TV taping for November 12)
NWA World / WWF Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask beat Kuniaki Kobayashi (13:40 DQ)---Tiger kept both titles

November 22, 1982---Madison Square Garden, New York
WWF Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask beat Carlos Jose Estrada (Sr.) (9:42)---Tiger kept the title

November 25, 1982---Philadelphia Spectrum, Pennsylvania
WWF Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask beat Eddie Gilbert (13:17)---Tiger kept the title

November 28, 1982---El Toreo, Mexico City
WWF Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask beat Villano III (2-1)
(1) Villano beat Tiger (9:30)
(2) Tiger beat Villano (3:15)
(3) Tiger beat Villano (4:45)---Tiger kept the title

December 12, 1982---El Toreo, Mexico City
WWF Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask beat Perro Aguayo (2-1)
(1) Aguayo beat Tiger (10:44)
(2) Tiger beat Aguayo (3:09 countout)
(3) Aguayo quit the match---Tiger kept the title

1983

January 6, 1983---Korakuen Hall, Tokyo (TV taping for January 7)
NWA World Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask beat Kuniaki Kobayashi (23:10 countout)---Tiger kept the title

Tiger was awarded Tokyo Sports' "Wrestler of The Year 1982" and "Best Technical Wrestler 1982" on January 4

February 3, 1983---Sapporo Nakajima Sports Center, Hokkaido (TV taping for February 4)
NWA World Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask beat Gran Hamada (17:20)---Tiger kept the title

February 7, 1983---Kuramae Kokugikan (Sumo Hall), Tokyo (TV taping for February 11)
WWF Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask beat Black Tiger (Rollerball Mark Rocco) (15:18)---Tiger kept the title

February 8, 1983---Osaka Furitsu Gym (TV taping for February 18)
WWF Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask beat Kuniaki Kobayashi (16:50)---Tiger kept the title

March 10, 1983---Tochigi Prefectural Gym, Utsunomiya
NWA World Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask beat Miles Zrno (12:19)---Tiger kept the title, but title was vacated by Tiger's injury

April 21, 1983---Kuramae Kokugikan (Sumo Hall), Tokyo (TV taping for April 22)
NWA World Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask drew Dynamite Kid (11:12 double countout and extension 6:52 double countout)

June 2, 1983---Kuramae Kokugikan (Sumo Hall), Tokyo (TV taping for June 3)
NWA World Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask beat Kuniaki Kobayashi (18:06)---Tiger won the vacant title and became the 35th champion

June 12, 1983---El Toreo, Mexico City
WWF Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask beat Fishman (2-1)
(1) Tiger beat Fishman (11:06)
(2) Fishman beat Tiger (4:37)
(3) Tiger beat Fishman (7:05)---Tiger kept the title

July 4, 1983---Minami-urawa Horse Race Place, Saitama
Tiger Mask beat Dave Finlay (Fit Finlay / Belfast Bruiser in WCW) (11:09)

July 7, 1983---Osaka Furitsu Gym (TV taping for June 8)
NWA World Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask beat Isamu Teranishi (16:59)---Tiger kept the title

June 14, 1983---Sapporo Nakajima Sports Center (TV taping for June 15)
WWF Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask beat Kuniaki Kobayashi (16:52 DQ)---Tiger kept the title

August 4, 1983---Kuramae Kokugikan (Sumo Hall), Tokyo
NWA World Junior Heavyweight title match
Tiger Mask beat Isamu Teranishi (14:37)---Tiger kept the title


Sayama gave notice to New Japan Pro on August 10, 1983 because there were various problems with them (money, human relations, and his devotion to shoot style). He opened his Tiger Gym in February 1984. He came back as "The Tiger" against Mach Hayato on the UWF (Universal Wrestling Federation) show at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo on July 24, 1984. Then, he changed his ring name to "Super Tiger" and wrestled for the UWF until September 1985. UWF appealed to fans by using shoot and submission style pro wrestling. He had so-called UWF style matches with Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Osamu Kido, Akira Maeda, Nobuhiko Takada, Kazuo Yamazaki, and Masami Soranaka (Karl Gotch's son-in-law) for 14 months. These are his matches in the UWF, which readers in foreign countries will probably have interest in, especially when Mark Lewin lost to Satoru Sayama. It showed how UWF was.

August 29, 1984---Takasaki City Gym, Gumma
Super Tiger beat Richard Charland from Montreal (6:04)

August 30, 1984---Okaya City Hall, Nagano
Super Tiger beat Steve "O" (11:46)

September 2, 1984---Tokura Town Gym, Nagano
Super Tiger beat The UFO (Bob Della Serra)

September 5, 1984---Tatebayashi City Gym, Gumma
Super Tiger beat Jack Snuka (Cocoa Samoa) (14:58)

September 8, 1984---Koshigaya City Gym, Saitama
Super Tiger beat Mark Lewin (12:27)

October 11, 1984---Iizuka City Gym, Fukuoka
Super Tiger beat Phil Lafleur (Phil Lafon / Danny Kroffat) (17:36)

November 21, 1984---Nishio City Gym, Aichi
Super Tiger beat Scott Magee (17:14)

January 8, 1985---Matsudo City Gym, Chiba
Super Tiger beat Dave Finlay (Fit Finlay / Belfast Bruiser in WCW) (18:26)

February 26, 1985---Nishi-nippon Exhibition Hall, Kita-kyushu
Super Tiger beat Dean Solkoff (Dean Malenko) (16:31)

UWF had a card at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo on September 11, 1985. This was their last show. The relationship between Sayama and other wrestlers grew bad in those days. Sayama left the UWF, and Maeda, Kido, Fujiwara, Takada, and Yamazaki returned to New Japan Pro at Ryogoku Kokugikan (Sumo Hall) in December 6, 1985.


Sayama was inactive as a pro wrestler between September 1985 and the end of 1994. He concentrated on running his "Shooting" and wrote a book named "Kay Fabe," which caused a lot of heat from the wrestling industry.

Masanori and Satoru Sayama
Masanori and Satoru Sayama

Sayama came back to New Japan Pro after a nine-year absence and wrestled as "Tiger Mask," "Tiger King," "Super Tiger," and "Satoru Sayama" for other smaller offices, such as The Great Sasuke's Michinoku Pro, Ken Suzuki & Yoji Anjo's UWF International, and Tokyo Pro Wrestling from 1995. He helped Antonio Inoki's new office, UFO (Universal Fighting-arts Organization), and they had their first show at Ryogoku Kokugikan (Sumo Hall) on October 24, 1998 (Naoya Ogawa beat Don Frye).

However, Inoki and Sayama split from their difference of opinions. Sayama left the UFO and set up "Seikendo" (actual fighting style pro wrestling) with a new sponsor in Hokkaido. He had its opening show and, as Tiger Mask, beat Asian Couger (7:04) at Asahikawa City Gym in Hokkaido on July 10, 1999. He also beat Taka Michinoku (13:56) at Kushiro Welfare Annuity Gym in Hokkaido on July 22. Sayama is helped by Victor Quinones (WWF / IWA) and Yuji Shimada (Battlarts). "Seikendo" announced that Kurt Angle, Danny Kroffat, and Jose Estrada Jr. would come to their first big show at Yokohama Bunka Gym in Kanagawa on November 5, but they couldn't clear some problems to bring them in and will have the show without them.

Sayama is a very modest and mild person in his private time. His brightest time as Tiger Mask was actually very short, only two years. He has had a very eventful life. If he and his new "Seikendo" would like to have good prospects, they have to give us dreams and passion like Tiger Mask used to give over 15 years ago.

Tiger Mask

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