Well with the start of the new month, I, Charles Schaeffer, have decided to try and start posting a match of the day here on the PS page. It came to my mind earlier that it would be fitting to kick off this daily video post with a series dedicated to Kenta Kobashi.
As many of you should know, Kenta Kobashi will be officially retiring from professional wrestling on May 11th, so I have found it fitting to post a match everyday in honor of Kobashi here on the page leading up to his retirement.
Over the last 11 days I have posted matches throughout Kobashi’s career, chronologically, that I feel best represents Kobashi’s legacy. Below you will find all the posts together, and even plenty of extra matches throughout, either via clickable links or embedded.
[1st Match in the Series]
Jumbo Tsuruta, Masanobu Fuchi & Akira Taue vs. Kenta Kobashi, Mitsuharu Misawa & Toshiaki Kawada from April 20, 1991.
Everyone was against each other in this match, Jumbo and Misawa had their feud, Taue and Kawada had theirs, and Kobashi especially was heading into this match with wanting to exact revenge on Fuchi for stomping his face into a bloody pulp in a previous encounter.
I chose this match to kick off the series as I think it definitely marks a solid beginning of Kobashi’s rise to fame.
[2nd Match in the Series]
Kenta Kobashi & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs. Dan Kroffat & Doug Furnas, Asia Tag Championship Match, from May 25, 1992 at the Miyagi Prefectural Sports Center in Sendai.
Kenta Kobashi and Tsuyoshi Kikuchi had formed a pretty strong team at this time and they finally earned themselves a title match against “The Can-Am Express”. This match is very notable in Kobashi’s career, and even Kikuchi’s, as being one of the few unprecedented under-card matches to ever get a huge reaction from the fans. I am not going to say much to how the fans reacted to this match, but I hope you watch it and see for yourself.
Kenta Kobashi’s popularity keeps soaring at this point and you will only see how things continued growing as we continue with this series in the days to come.
[3rd Match in the Series]
Kenta Kobashi vs. “Dr. Death” Steve Williams from August 31, 1993 at the Budokan Hall in Tokyo.
This bout would mark the first ever singles battle between Kobashi and Dr. Death. Kobashi has been making strides as a single competitor at this time, but has yet to claim the singles victory that he needed to push himself to the next level. Williams of course was a mainstay at this time and was on the verge of becoming a Triple Crown Champion within the next year following this match. This match would be a contendership match for the current Triple Crown Champion in Mitsuharu Misawa.
This match is noteworthy for being one of the more repeated brutal finishes to a match, and definitely ended up showing the toughness of Kobashi. If Kobashi surviving against Stan Hansen a month prior was not enough.
[4th Match in the Series]
Kenta Kobashi & Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue, AJPW World Tag Championship Match, from June 9, 1995 at the Nippon Budokan.
All 4 of these men, better known as the Four Corners of Heaven, at the time were the main guys to be building themselves as the must sees of All Japan. Kawada, Taue (aka the Holy Demon Army), Kobashi, and Misawa all had something to lose and prove against the rival team in this match.
Misawa was the strongest “corner” of the 4 at this time and Kobashi was left as the man who was the ever growing fan favorite, which is much seen in this match. Kobashi and Kawada were very much equals at this time having two draw matches against one another in 1995, for the Triple Crown on 1/19/1995 and another during the Champion Carnival on April 13, 1995.
Both Taue and Kawada both wanted to finally have a win over Misawa, and they would just about go to any means to get a win over him. Which was seen in this very match.
(The Champion Carnival tournament that year really set Misawa higher above the two in the pecking order of things, with wins over Taue and Kawada it would make them both desperately trying to go over Misawa.)
This would also be a World Tag Title defense for Misawa and Kobashi in which they have defended for nearly 3 months shy of 2 years (if you don’t count them re-winning the belts because of the annual tag league). Kobashi would definitely show his never give up attitude and would take one hell of a beating before it was all said and done.
Kobashi also went into this match with an injured knee, which got picked a part multiple times, and Misawa suffered from a broken orbital socket in his face, thanks to a well placed kick from Kawada back during the Champion Carnival that April.
Let’s just say that there was a lot going into this match and it is key match in not only Kobashi’s career, but Kawada and Taue’s as well.
Bonus Match: Kenta Kobashi & Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue from May 21, 1994.
[5th Match in the Series]
Kenta Kobashi vs. Mitsuharu Misawa, Triple Crown Championship Match, from January 20, 1997 at the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.
Continuing on in the series, Kenta Kobashi finally managed to win the Triple Crown Championship for the first time by getting a victory over Akira Taue on July 24, 1996. Kobashi would go on to hold the belt for the rest of the year and would claim a victory over Stan Hansen (part 1 & part 2) and yet another time limit draw over Toshiaki Kawada.
Misawa would become the next challenger for Kobashi and this would bring us to this big match on January 20, 1997. This match is arguable one of the best matches between the two with only the match from 1999 being up there.
This would be the ultimate break for Kobashi if he managed to finally put Misawa away and build up his initial TC reign, even if he did not win it would do nothing more than to put Kobashi over even more with the fans with his one of a kind fighting spirit.
[6th Match in the Series]
Kenta Kobashi & Johnny Ace vs. Stan Hansen & Vader from May 1, 1998 at the Tokyo Dome.
Johnny Ace and Kobashi would be both rivals in the ring and even prove to be successful tag team partners throughout the years. This tag match took place during AJPW 25th Anniversary show, and would mark one of the last big matches between Kobashi and Hansen. )Of course they would have a few more tag matches, but I feel this was one of the best of the last.) I have mentioned in a previous day of the serious of Kobashi claiming a victory over Stan Hansen in 1996 and that setup Kobashi to be the top star in the promotion in Hansen’s place.
This match might seem like an odd choice to some people, but I thought it would be worth showing Kobashi against wrestlers that more western audiences would be more familiar with. Vader of course was active in the WWF(E) at this time and Johnny Ace, who some may know now as John Laurinaitis, teaming with and against Kobashi respectively.
[7th Match in the Series]
Kenta Kobashi vs. Toshiaki Kawada, Triple Crown Championship Match, from June 12, 1998 at the Nippon Budokan.
There probably is not much more that I have not said already. Kobashi and Kawada have been face to face numerous times to this date and have found themselves on a stalemate as well when it comes to going a full 60 minutes in a match.
This match would have a lot of heat heading into it as Kawada was finally able to defeat Mitsuharu Misawa for the Triple Crown at the Tokyo Dome of all places, and then would successfully defend the World Tag belts (w/ Taue) against against Kobashi & Johnny Ace a month later.
This would bring us to the match between these two as Kawada aimed to prove that he was a strong champion after putting away Misawa in a high profile match. Kobashi would be coming in as well looking to finally defeat Kawada decisively in a high stakes match of his own.
[8th Match in the Series]
Kenta Kobashi vs. Mitsuharu Misawa, GHC Heavyweight Championship Match, from March 1, 2003 at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo.
The ultimate rival showdown, through much of Kobashi’s career Misawa stood the victor much of the time. This time around it was on new soil with Pro Wrestling NOAH.
Kobashi had a rough time with injuries from 2000-2002 that would keep him from any real title reigns with the new promotion. Though 2003 would fair well for Kobashi and he would finally earn himself a title match against none other than his longtime rival in Misawa, more specifically following a tag match as he teamed with Taue to take on Misawa and Masahiro Chono.
This singles bout between the two would be the very last between the two would ever have, and truth be told there may have not been anyway they could have outdone this match.
[9th Match in the Series]
[Match of the Day – Kenta Kobashi Series] Here is the ninth match of this eleven match series, as we countdown to Kenta Kobashi’s official retirement on May 11th.
Kenta Kobashi vs. Jun Akiyama, GHC Heavyweight Championship Match, from July 10, 2004 at the Tokyo Dome.
This event would be NOAH’s first event ever at the Tokyo Dome and this would be an explosive match through and through. Akiyama was the leader of the new generation heading into this match and was eager to finally topple the established star in Kobashi in a high profile match.. and you cannot get any more high profile than at the Tokyo Dome.
These two have a very well documented past, Akiyama made his debut against Kobashi back in 1992 and has managed to beat his sempai in the past, most notably during NOAH’s debut show. That win would mark a huge win for Akiyama and signify that he was the leader of the new generation in NOAH. From 2000 to 2004, we would see Kobashi’s “Burning” faction against Akiyama’s “Sterness” faction back and forth much of the time. Akiyama, at this time, was already a former GHC Heavyweight Champion, the 2nd in history, following a big win over Misawa back in 2001, but now he was given a chance to show what he had against Kobashi in the biggest stage of them all.
Kobashi on the other hand was on the verge of making history with his reign as champion by already knocking off 8 other high profile wrestlers… from Tamon Honda, Masahiro Chono, Bison Smith, Yuji Nagata, Yoshihiro Takayama, and others. Of all the opponents that Kobashi would face in his reign this match against Akiyama would go down as one of the best, if not “the” best.
[10th Match in the Series]
Kenta Kobashi vs. Kensuke Sasaki from July 18, 2005 at Destiny 2005 at the Tokyo Dome.
Considered to be two of the strongest brute force wrestlers in Japan. These two are known for their brutal chops and their hard hitting lariats. Both are very similar in terms of their career rise and have held numerous titles throughout their careers. This singles showdown was the ultimate dream match for many fans who grew up watching these two throughout their careers. There is a lot of pride and determination from both to win and they go to great lengths to try and show that there is no quit between them. That includes taking whatever big maneuvers the other has and getting back up to their feet. This leads to one of the most noteworthy moments in the match as these two end up having the lengthiest, back and forth, chop battle in the history of puroresu. Both Kobashi and Sasaki would show their fighting spirit and manage to keep the fans in attendance enthralled throughout the match.
Bonus match: Kenta Kobashi & Go Shiozaki vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Katsuhiko Nakajima from November 5, 2005 at the Nippon Budokan.
[11th Match in the Series]
Kenta Kobashi & Yoshihiro Takayama vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Jun Akiyama from December 2, 2007.
On June 29, 2006, Kobashi announced that he had been diagnosed cancer in his right kidney. Kobashi would announce that he would be taking time away from the ring for treatment of the illness. On July 6th, he underwent a 5 and a half hour laparoscopic surgery that successfully removed the kidney. Later in that month on July 27, Kobashi would be discharged from the hospital with much support and encouragment coming from the fans for his full recovery. Kobashi would undergo surgery on both of his knees in Janauary 20, 2007 which would further keep him out of action. Kobashi would announce his return to the ring on October 27th and a tag match would be set that December.
This tag match marked the return of Kobashi as he spent 546 days away from the ring. There is a lot of emotion from the fans to see one of their favorites return to the ring and to bounce back from a potentially life threatening illness. Kobashi’s return was much like everything else in his career, Kobashi would fall, but his determination and heart would keep him coming back for more and more.
Kenta Kobashi & Yoshihiro Takayama vs Mitsuharu Misawa & Jun Akiyama from February 12, 2007 at the Nippon Budokan.
Satoshi Kojima, KAI & Hiroshi Yamato vs Kenta Kobashi, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Akihiko Ito from August 30, 2009 at the Ryogoku Kokugikan.
~ Kobashi’s first match back in All Japan after the AJPW/NOAH split.
Kensuke Sasaki, Katsuhiko Nakajima, Kento Miyahara & Takashi Okita vs. Kenta Kobashi, KENTA, Akihiko Ito & Atsushi Aoki, Eight Man Survival Tag Match, from August 17, 2008 at the Korakuen Hall.
Keiji Mutoh & Kenta Kobashi vs. Toru Yano & Takashi Iizuka, ALL TOGETHER, August 27, 2011 at the Nippon Budokan.
I think that just about covers what I was intending on doing with this series, and it is officially the end of an era with Kobashi hanging up the boots for good. I want to give a special shout-out to Chris J for helping me out with this series, and I hope you all have learned something or at least come to better graps what Kobashi was all about in the ring.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to send me an email AT PuroSpirit (@) gmail (.) com, or if you are on facebook, feel free to join the official PS discussion group.