My views on Pro Wrestling from the East and West

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Who will beat Kobashi? Part 1

Of all the pro-wrestling world champions in the world today, none have been more dominant than Pro-Wrestling NOAH’s GHC Heavyweight Champion, Kenta Kobashi. WWE can brag about Randy Orton’s 7 month reign as Intercontinental champion, but it just pales in comparison to the current 16 month reign and 9 DECISIVE championship defenses of Kobashi.
Compared with other major Puroresu feds at the moment, New Japan seem to be having trouble just keeping a stable champion without being plagued by injuries or going MIA. Zero-One doesn’t even have a world singles champion, and only All Japan’s Toshiaki Kawada can match Kobashi’s reign with 5 successive title defenses in the past 8 months of his title run, though the caliber of his challengers compared to Kobashi’s could be debated.
Ever since NOAH’s big DEPARTURE Tokyo Dome show where Kobashi defeated Akiyama, everyone’s been scratching their head wondering who will be the person that gets the golden push of beating the tetsujin (iron man) of NOAH? I’d thought I’d toss my two cents in with who I think could get the job done and why. However, I’ll be dividing up this article into two parts: First, I take a look at the nine men Kobashi has already defeated, and in part 2, I make my predictions of who could dethrone the Grand Sword.

One thing Kobashi and NJPW ace Yuji Nagata’s long title reigns have in common is that they never defended their world championships against the same guy twice. I thought I would first take a look at Kobashi’s first nine challengers and see who would be worthy of a rematch with the best chance of winning the title of Kobashi.

V1 – Tamon Honda
- The whole point of this match was to build up Honda and bring him into the main event picture. And Honda earned it big time in this match! It led to Honda getting a good semi-main event push and a GHC tag title run with Kobashi as his partner. Honda has since seen his push dwindle, and at his age it probably wouldn’t do much good if he did win the title.

V2 – Masahiro Chono
- The first big challenger to Kobashi’s title, many have debated how different this match could have been if not for Chono’s leg injury. I myself would love to see a rematch with Chono now at 100%, and with his new evil attitude, a really intense battle could ensue! Chono would still not beat Kobashi, but the rematch would definitely be good and catch the interest of many.

V3 – Bison Smith
- The only other gaijin to ever challenge for the GHC Heavyweight Championship other than Vader. However, Bison’s monster foreigner push has hit a dead end as he isn’t even being used in NOAH anymore. A sad shame really.

V4 – Yuji Nagata
- I’ll admit I was a bit disappointed in Nagata’s performance here, but they still pulled off a good match. The chances of seeing Nagata in NOAH again are really slim as by his own admittance he’s concentrating more on his home turf of NJPW. I’d welcome a rematch, as long as Nagata steps up his game from their previous encounter.

V5 – Yoshinari Ogawa
- The smallest guy to challenge Kobashi, and the guy it took the champion the LONGEST to beat! It was a failed experiment when Ogawa won the title off Akiyama the first time and it would be another really bad idea if Ogawa were to be the man that took the belt off Kobashi.

V6 – Takuma Sano
- Like Bison, Sano was a true darkhorse going into this match and I still have a strong interest to watch it along with the Bison defense. Sano is one of those guys I truly believe can be pushed to be the next ace. He has a good look and can work a good match. But now might still not be the time for him to rise to the top.

V7 – Takeshi Rikioh
- With his partner Morishima on the sidelines with a leg injury, Misawa is pushing Rikioh into more singles matches, which will be good in building up Rikioh. He supposedly had a excellent showing against Kobashi, and will most probably one day be the flag bearer in NOAH and feuding with his WILD II mate, Morishima.

V8 – Yoshihiro Takayama
- Probably the best of Kobashi’s defenses I’ve seen for myself. Takayama is already a certified main eventer and a big name draw. He really came close on 4/25 to beating Kobashi, and should he get a rematch and defeat the iron man, I really wouldn’t have a problem with it.

V9 – Jun Akiyama
- This real brain-bender of 7/10 was Kobashi retaining the title over who EVERYONE and their grandma thought would dethrone him. The question now is how credible would Akiyama’s win be now if he beat Kobashi for the title? A rematch fresh off the Dome would be too soon, and then there’s the matter of Kobashi’s health. Unfortunately, now is not the time for Akiyama to be champion as his momentum has ran straight into a brick wall.

Coming Soon: Part 2 – My picks for who could get the job done.



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