161. Kenta Kobashi (c) vs Akira Taue (GHC Championship Match, Pro Wrestling NOAH Navigation Over The Date Line 2004)

After being proven wrong with Akira Taue’s impressive performance against Mitsuharu Misawa at AJPW Champion Carnival 1995 (click here for my review), I decided to seek out more of Taue’s singles matches. Misawa, obviously, carried Taue with ease…but would anybody else accomplish a similar thing? What about the great Kenta Kobashi? I assume they fought in singles match during their AJPW days, but what about their Pro Wrestling NOAH days? They fought for the GHC Championship during Kobashi’s legendary title reign, but it’s not a match you hear about when that reign is brought up. Is it one of the lesser bouts of that epic reign, or is it another cracking bout?

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156. Kaito Kiyomiya vs. Kazuchika Okada (Keiji Muto Grand Final Pro-Wrestling “Last” Love, 2/21/23)

After completing the ‘Burning: The Greatness of Kenta Kobashi’ list, I was going to go back and search for other matches from the peak years of AJPW and Pro Wrestling NOAH. But, I wondered…how are those promotions doing now? I didn’t have to look much further than NJPW World, where a cross-promotional event celebrating Keiji Mutoh’s retirement match came up in the ‘Recommended’ section. Apart from Mutoh’s final bout, pitting him against Tetsuo Naito, the section featured a inter-promotional dream match pitting the GHC Heavyweight Champion against the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. In other words, NOAH’s World champion Kaito Kiyoyima against NJPW’s World champion Kazuchika Okada. What better place for me to start looking into modern day NOAH than this bout, presenting me with the familiar face of Okada? And I bloody loved it!

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152. Kenta Kobashi vs Kensuke Sasaki (Pro Wrestling NOAH Destiny 2005)

Just imagine the dream matches we’d have if you were to transpose peak Kenta Kobashi into the modern era: against Tomohiro Ishii, against AJ Styles, against Kenny Omega, against Gunther. When you think of dream match, you may think of Hogan/Rock, Cena/Styles, Angle/Joe. When it comes to imaginary dream matches, the list is endless. After Kobashi’s epic GHC Heavyweight title reign ended in 2005, he wanted a steady schedule and ‘event’ matches. That included a few dream matches. While some dream matches are worthy of the name, others stink the arena up (I’m thinking of Antonio Inoki vs Sting, for example). But would this Kobashi dream match end up being a sweet dream…or a beautiful nightmare?

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148. Kenta Kobashi vs Jun Akiyama (Pro Wrestling NOAH August 6th 2000)

Now, we turn to ‘Kenta Kobashi: The Pro Wrestling NOAH Years’ in this list of ‘BURNING: The Greatness of Kenta Kobashi’ (click here for the list).  Mitsuharu Misawa led a group of wrestlers away from AJPW to form a new wrestling company: NOAH (in 2000). When I say a group, I mean 24 out of 36 contracted AJPW wrestlers!. Kobashi was one of the ‘Four Pillars’ of AJPW, and would be one of the major figures of NOAH. But knee injuries would prevent him from reaching the top of the mountain for a few years. Even with these knee injuries, however, he competed in the first “great NOAH match,” according to Case Lowe, author of the ‘Burning’ list. That match is Kobashi vs Jun Akiyama…but was it great?

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139. Mitsuharu Misawa (c) vs Kenta Kobashi (GHC Heavyweight Championship, Pro Wrestling Noah Navigate For Evolution 1.3.2003)

Please, I advise all of you…never contract pneumonia. It’s knocked me for six! But then again, my hospital stay gave me plenty of time to watch wrestling matches on Youtube. I watched the phenomenal bout between Mitsuharu Misawa vs Toshiaki Kawada (the famed 3.6.1994 bout-click here for my review). The other notable bout I watched was the 2003 bout between Mitsuharu Misawa vs Kenta Kobashi. This wasn’t in AJPW, but Pro Wrestling NOAH. These two had fought many times during their careers in AJPW. Both were worn down by this point, Kobashi especially so due to various knee surgeries. How would this bout measure up?

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