Who is Kenta Kobashi? Simply put, he is one of the greatest practitioners of puroresu in history.
Kenta Kobashi (Born 小橋 建太 on March 27th, 1967) started his career in All Japan Pro Wrestling in the early 90's by losing 63 matches in a row, all to establish him as the ultimate Determinator, showing plenty of fire, charisma, and fight in every one, until the day he finally won his first singles competition. He eventually rose to the main event and put on legendary bouts with longtime nemesis Mitsuharu Misawa, Akira Taue, and Toshiaki Kawada. And then he did it all again when he eventually moved to Pro Wrestling NOAH alongside his erstwhile friend Misawa. He is also the progenitor of the Burning Hammer finishing move, a Dangerous Forbidden Technique that is so well-protected and so infrequently used it became legendarily powerful, to the point that anyone who has tried it since him has only ever done it in the most dire of circumstances, and it's pretty much always finished the match. He's even said to have killed his own cancer with it.
Unfortunately, years of knee injuries began to take their toll on his body, and finally Kobashi announced his retirement in December 2012 — 25 years after his first match — before spending the next four months training just for his retirement match, which was held on May 11th, 2013. He's since been more of a supporting figure for his many proteges, as well as being a special guest of honor in NOAH and AJPW for special events.
Kobashi finished his career one of the most decorated and successful champions in Japanese wrestling history. Having won AJPW's Triple Crown World Championship three times, The AJPW world tag team championships six times with three different partners, and winner of the 2000 Champions Carnival. In NOAH, he only won the GHC World Heavyweight Championship once, but holds the record for longest reign (735 days), and the second-most successful defenses of said belt with 13. He was also a winner of the GHC Openweight Hardcore belt, and a 2-time winner of the GHC-Tag Team Championships, both with Tamon Honda. Outside of the ring, he was given plaudits by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Tokyo Sports, PWI, and Nikkan Sports, all of whom labelled him either "Wrestler of the year" note , having participated in the Match of the Year, or awarding him five stars in many of his matches.
The following tropes are found in Kenta Kobashi:
- Alliterative Name: Far as anyone knows, or is willing to reveal, it's his only ring name.
- Captain Ersatz: He, or rather, lawyer friendly he, has been a regular in Fire Pro Wrestling.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: Fighting Spirit!
- Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Orange when he was with All Japan Pro Wrestling.
- Dangerous Forbidden Technique: The reason the Burning Hammer is considered such a devastatingly powerful move is because it's very nearly THE most dangerous move ever invented in professional wrestling, basically amounting to picking your opponent up across your shoulders, then dropping sideways to slam them down right on their head. The move is flat-out banned in WWE because it's too dangerous to be used, and even Kobashi himself only used it 7 times in 25 years. When Brian Kendrick pulled it out against Kota Ibushi in their match at the WWE Cruiserweight Classic tournament, the crowd predictably lost their shit- even more so when Ibushi kicked out of it.
- Determinator: His (original) defining trait.
- Finishing Move: Kenta Kobashi used the Burning Hammer seven times in his career. It won the match every time.
- I Know Karate: Took up Judo in high school.
- Lightning Bruiser: In his early years, he was fast, strong, and tough, complete with having a moonsault for his finisher, although age and a horrific number of knee injuries (at least in part racked up from said moonsaults) turned him into a Mighty Glacier.
- Made of Iron: He used to absorb insane amounts of punishment in his matches.
- The Mentor:
- To Kenta Kobayashi. To avoid confusion with his mentor, Kobayashi changed his ring name to KENTA (all caps and in Roman letters).
- Was also also mentor and tag partner to Gou Shiozaki who at one point was essentially "mini Kobashi."
- Pec Flex: Even when he's just goofing off it can be rather intimidating.
- Real Men Wear Pink: Don't laugh at his pink shorts!
- Red Baron: The Absolute Champion, Orange Crush, Iron Man (See Made of Iron above).
- Retired Badass: Wrestled his last match, an 8-man tag team, on May 11, 2013 at NOAH Final Burning in Budokan.
- Rugby Is Slaughter: Played in high school.
- Underwear of Power: He has plenty of patterns and colors for variety(though he usually just sticks to black) but if you see him in anything else, he probably won't be wrestling.