My views on Pro Wrestling from the East and West

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Who will beat Kobashi? Pt.2

In part one I took a quick look at the nine men Kobashi successfully defended the GHC Heavyweight title against. Now is my look at who I think stands the best chance of beating the Iron Man who he hasn’t defended against. Bear in mind I also take into account the reported current status of Kobashi’s health, which is said to not be too good.

Takashi Sugiura
- It’s pretty obvious I’m a HUGE Sugiura fan. Being a fan boy aside, Sugiura does indeed have the size to move up into the heavyweight division, unlike other big junior names in the division like Kanemaru and Marufuji. Sugiura also has the talent and power to take on the bigger guys. He’s been compared to Kurt Angle in the past, but that claim is seriously justified! Having him beat Kobashi in his current condition would be very believable, and make any future rematch very interesting. Sugiura can then get over some of NOAH’s undercard (Sano, Honda etc.) to build him up before defending against the big names like Akiyama or Misawa where they could push him as a legitimate main eventer if they give him a win against one of the two. Sugiura is definitely the right man to give a Nakamura like push to.

Mitsuharu Misawa
- Sadly, Misawa is the ONLY logical pick left from the NOAH roster that could beat Kobashi, whether he’s at 100% or not. But having Misawa as a transitional champion before dropping it to someone else really doesn’t sound like a good idea, even though it’s Misawa we’re talking about putting a young guy over. To my knowledge, Misawa hasn’t even been pinned SINCE losing the GHC title to Kobashi over a year ago. Even the aces in NJPW get pinned more than that.

Akira Taue
- I’m playing the sympathy card with Taue. He may indeed be past his prime, but has consistently shown in the past that he can up his game when required. And it wouldn’t be so much of a fluke to have him go over Kobashi for the title, much like the big upset Triple Crown title win over Misawa years ago in All Japan. Rewarding an old veteran like Taue with a big title win while he’s still able would be a nice touch even though just as a transitional stage.

Kensuke Sasaki
- Perhaps the biggest free agent on the market since Takayama, Sasaki has the credentials to be the man that dethrones Kobashi in his current state. It’s also a heck of a dream match and having the excuse that Kobashi was too beat up to take this match would make a future rematch, where both are in top shape, a really strong draw. But so far, there’s no news about Sasaki entering NOAH despite all the indy shows he’s working.

Minoru Suzuki
- There IS talk of Suzuki returning to NOAH, either with Takayama as a tag team, or in a singles run like Nagata had in September last year. And with Kobashi as beat up as he is now (supposedly with internal injuries), it would be a golden opportunity for a submission guy like Suzuki to beat him. It would also be believable (though not an outstanding contest) and Kobashi would have a good excuse for the loss. However, I only see Suzuki as a transitional champion (Like Nagata & Tanahashi as GHC tag champions). Losing the belt to Akiyama or Misawa either on his first defense, or after a V1 over someone like Rikioh, Honda or even fellow ex-shooter Takuma Sano. The downside might be that everyone would look at Suzuki as probably the worst champion since Yoshinari Ogawa!

Toshiaki Kawada
- There has been big talk of a champion vs. champion match, and these two have a heck of a history from their All Japan days, including TWO 60-minute draws in Triple Crown title matches. It’s really doubtful they could go an entertaining 60-minutes in this stage of their careers, but the possibility is there. As well as the chance of Kawada winning the belt off Kobashi. But the possibility of either man winning the top title of the others promotion would ultimately come down to who has the bigger budget to pay of the losing side. Also not a good idea for what I can see.

So there you have it, a few people that stand a good chance of beating Kobashi. There are many other names you could throw into the hat (Tenzan, Mutoh, etc), but while those others would indeed make for some big dream matches, the reality is that they don’t really stand much of a chance as Kobashi has just been TOO dominant. At this rate, ANYONE that beats Kobashi for the GHC heavyweight title would be a surprise. The only other possible scenario to get the belt off Kobashi would be for him to forfeit due to injuries, which would not be good as it does nothing for anybody other than have the title up for grabs.

Kobashi’s goal has been to break Yuji Nagata’s V10 defense record. He’s one defense away from tying the record and two defenses from breaking it. Is Kobashi gonna break the record? Or will someone upset him before then? Only time will tell.



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