Date of Birth: 3/27/67
Place of Birth: Fukuchiyama City, Kyoto
Debut: February 26, 1988 (vs. Motoshi Okuma)
Signature Moves: Burning Hammer, Moonsault, Orange Crush, Half Nelson Suplex, Sleeper Suplex, Burning Lariat, Brainbuster, Spinning Chops, Throat Chops and the Diamond Head.
- GHC Champion
- GHC Tag Team Champion(w/Tamon Honda)
- 3x AJPW Triple Crown
- 6x AJPW Double Tag Champion (2x w/Misawa, 2x w/Johnny Smith, 2x w/Akiyama)
- 4x All Asian Tag Champion (w/ Tiger Mask, Johnny Smith x2 and Tsuyoshi Kikuchi)
- Real World Tag League 1993, 1994, 1995 w/Misawa, 1998 and 1999 w/Akiyama
- Championship Carnival 2000
- AJPW One Night Six Man Tournament (w/Akiyama and Misawa)
- NOAH 2002 One Night Six Man Tournament (w/KENTA and Shinga)
Major Injuries: Several knee operations due to excessive use of the moonsault, he nearly retired in 2001 due to the injuries in both knees.
Kenta Kobashi always wanted to be a pro wrestler and his dream came true when he joined the booming All Japan. Debuting in 1988 and rising to the top in 1993 at a time when native talent was being pushed further after years of home v foreign battles. He was quickly placed with rising stars Misawa and Kawada in six mans and had a great match with native ace and big 1980’s star Jumbo Tsurta that raised his stock greatly.
As the promotion revolved around Misawa and Kawada during 1994-1998 it was often that Kenta would play a slightly understated role as the strong future ace. He and Misawa collided many a time with Taue and Kawada for the AJPW World Tag Titles and also in the Real World Tag Tournament. Throughout all of this though it became clear that Kobashi could and maybe would be the big dog in the promotion.
The first real indication of his greatness (apart from tearing the house down with great matches and innovative moves) was his first Triple Crown reign as he downed long time foe Taue for the gold in July 1996. It was reign that lasted until January 1997 and had a great 60 minute draw with Kawada and a high speed defence against Stan Hansen whom he downed with his famous lariat.
Then he ran into the true brick wall of his career, his mentor and tag partner Misawa who toppled him for the Crown in a 42 minute epic of head dropping, mat work and hi-octane action. Misawa went an epic 8 defences unbeaten (still a record) in which Kobashi fell to him again. He finally lost the title to Kawada at the company’s first Tokyo Dome show although this didn’t last long as Kobashi took the Crown with his Lariat in June 1998.
He toppled Taue and young friend Akiyama before yet again Misawa proved too much, another 40+ minute epic ended with a Misawa win thanks to a trademark stiff elbow combo. All throughout his though Kobashi had taken tag gold and remained strong, his time as the top player seemingly about to arrive.
The title was with Misawa again when Kobashi got his next shot and yet again the two went 40+ minutes before an Emerald Fusion kept him down, but still he was getting closer to Misawa’s spot. He got his third title reign in February 2000 as he took out Vader with the Lariat and defended once against the rising Takayama. He also won the Championship Carnival against Omari before his career and the fate of AJPW took a new turn….
Misawa fell out with the management whilst running AJPW and left to start his own promotion, Pro Wrestling NOAH with Kobashi and Akiyama his main stars. Only Kawada and Fuchi stayed in AJPW and many feared it would close. At this time Kobashi was suffering from intense knee pains and putting off operations to keep going. All those years of nailing his old finisher and trademark move the Moonsault where killing his knees. He’d already switched to the Lariat and the new Burning Hammer (Torture Rack to sideways piledriver or Reverse DVD) to save his knees and also stopped using the Orange Crush (Suplex in Sit Out Powerbomb) due to the strain it caused too. But he realised that after an aborted comeback in 2001 that he had to recuperate and get the ops done.
So he came back in 2002 a rejuvenated man and had eliminated the old moves (for now) from his list of moves. He still added a new one in the Diamondhead, a deadly head spike variant of the Powerbomb that was similar to the deadly Ganso Bomb. He became embroiled in a war with STERNESS and Akiyama and also set his sights on becoming GHC Champion for the first time. After a long battle and a constant return to form he faced off against in his first shot at the GHC Title.
He had never defeated Misawa one on one with a title on the line and many thought he was going to fail again but he proved them wrong. His knees held out (and still are) and after a 30+ minute battle that saw brutal and stunning exchanges Kobashi floored Misawa with the Burning Hammer for the 1-2-3 and a historic win.
Since that day (01/03/03 to be precise) he has reigned supreme with 11 successful defences of his title against all comers including Nagata and Chono of NJPW. He has defeated an old foe in Taue, a rival in Akiyama (MOTY from NOAH’s Tokyo Dome Show) and outsider threats from the likes of Takayama (he brought back the Moonsault to beat him!) and Bison Smith. He also find time to dethrone Akiyama and Saito of their GHC Tag Titles alongside Honda and hold them until Nagata and Tanahashi of NJPW took them during the ongoing NJPW/NOAH friendly war.
After a mammoth two year run with the GHC title, a space of time that saw him only drop two falls to Ogawa and Rikio, he finally was disposed of the title by the young, up and coming Rikio. Since then Kobashi has been the steady top draw for the promotion working with and against the young stars to help them on up the ladder. People like Marufuji, KENTA and Go Shiosaki have all benefited from teaming or facing him in recent months and his entertaining but short lived dream feuds with Kensuke Sasaki and Tenryu earned rave reviews once more.
Still wowing the crowds although some would say a shadow of himself during his peak and still with dodgy knees Kobashi carries one, bringing his Burning Spirit and class to the ring whenever he steps through the ropes.