1. Kenta Kobashi & Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Steve “Dr. Death” Williams & Johnny Ace (3/4/95) – 7
2. Kenta Kobashi & Mistuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue (6/9/95) – 9
3. Kenta Kobashi vs. Akira Taue (7/24/96) – 6
4. Kenta Kobashi vs. Stan Hansen (9/3/96) – 6
Now we’re getting into the meat of Kobashi’s career. The gaijin team of Doc and Ace brought some awesome intensity. Kobashi started off with Ace and exchanged some blows. After Kobashi tagged out, Doc was frantically trying to get his partner to tag him in. He recieves the tag and him and Misawa have a great exchange. The match was hot for the first little bit and then died down once Doc and Ace gained control. Kobashi and Misawa fought back with some harrowing strikes and moves. One thing I really liked about the match was that every time someone was thrown into the guardrail, they hit it so hard as if a truck had bashed through it. Misawa and Kobashi executed a sweet cross-body/powerbomb double team move on Ace. Misawa’s follow through was so great that when he landed he ran over and knocked the shit out of Doc, who fell to the floor in a great deal of pain. Not to be outdone, Doc yanked each of his opponents off the top turnbuckle so hard that when they hit the mat, it was like they had just been hit with a cannon. The finish saw Doc execute a plancha onto Misawa and Kobashi score the pin with a legdrop off the top turnbuckle on to the back of Ace’s head.
The second tag features for certifiable Japanese legends. Kobashi and Taue start off and feel each other out. After a few minutes, Taue tags out to Kawada who comes in and starts trading blows with Kobashi. Kobashi throws Kawada toward the ropes and Kawada kicks Misawa, who was napping on the apron, straight in the face. Oh snap, son! Now you’ve pissed off Misawa! Misawa and Kawada throw some hard strikes and then the match begins to heat up. Misawa executes an awesome suicide dive with perfect form and damn near kills himself. One thing I forgot to mention is that Kobashi’s left thigh is seriously taped up. Funny I should mention that because Misawa gets pulled off the turnbuckle and lands directly on Kobashi’s leg, who sells it like he had just been stabbed with a butcher knife. For the next few minutes, it’s a 2-on-1 situation because Kobashi is on the floor trying to regain feeling and taping up his leg. Another thing is that I didn’t see too many rest holds in the match, either. That to me is a testament to the fortitude of all four men for going 40 minutes balls out. For the final ten minutes or so, there were some absolutely fantastic false finishes. Taue gave Misawa and earth-shattering chokeslam from the apron to the floor and minutes later chokeslammed Kobashi in the ring. Kawada got the final pin with a powerbomb into a pin. A great, great tag match.
The singles match against Taue was a huge win for Kobashi in his career as he took the AJPW Triple Crown in a great match. They feel each other out early and then start in with the heavy stuff. I noticed that Kobashi’s facials were excellent, as I could feel the emotion of the match through him, even though I don’t speak a single syllable of Japanese. Taue goes for the massive chokeslam spot that he executed on Misawa in the previous tag match. Kobashi blocks it and knocks him off the apron with a series of quick shots to the side of the neck. It seemed to me that Taue was relying on choke spots too much in the match. There was a nice sequence where Taue went for a chokeslam and was countered with a serious lariat from Kobashi. The sick move of the match was were Taue tried to slam Kobashi off the top turnbuckle onto the floor. Kobashi blocked it and legdropped Taue on the back of the head on the floor. The camera angle on it wasn’t the best but it was still a pretty ballsy move. Some nice false finishes really helped the match move up the recommended range. Kobashi hit Taue with another top rope leg drop for the pin and a Triple Crown win.
Finally, the title defense against Stan Hansen (Borger, T-X represent!) wasn’t nearly as stiff as I thought it would be. The action started hot with Hansen rushing Kobashi before the bell and Kobashi firing back and then getting dumped over the top rope. A brawl commences on the outside as Hansen rips up the mat and powerbombs the shit out of Kobashi on the hard floor. Later on, they’re brawling on the apron and as Hansen goes for a lariat, Kobashi ducks, and Hansen lariats the ring post. Hansen’s selling was very believable and Kobashi spent the majority of the remainder of the match focusing his attack on the injured limb of Hansen. Mysteriously, once Hansen regained the offense, he stopped selling it. Hansen tried to finish Kobashi off with a right-handed lariat and got the closest two-count imaginable. In the end, Kobashi beat Hansen at his own game and defeated the wild man from west Texas with a lariat of his own. A solid match with good selling by Hansen, just not what you would expect when you see this match on paper.