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The E Under The Sun: Kobashi vs HBK

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Alright I admit it. I AM IN LOVE WITH JAPANESE WRESTLING! Now that’s over with I would like to announce that over the coming weeks I plan on doing a little comparison exercise in the form of trying to find the Japanese equivalent for as many WWE superstars as possible. Not exactly original I realise but still fairly interesting.

I will therefore start with one of the most popular comparisons that has been made many times already, namely, Shawn Michaels and Kenta Kobashi.

Now, firstly you must understand that over in the land of the rising sun the wrestling is a lot different to the E. Charisma (that thing that Shawn Michaels seems to ooze like water through a colander) isn’t as highly valued for one thing, with a lot of emphasis being placed on in ring talent and toughness, in fact I challenge you to find a single Japanese match that doesn’t have some sort of stiff strike exchange in it. The style of wrestling is also very different, the E preferring a safety first style to create the illusion of pain, where as not selling and stiffness is commonplace in Japan. However despite the many differences, similarities can be found everywhere between individuals such as HBK and Kobashi.

For a start, both men were (and still are) ludicrously popular in their respective countries. Michaels charming many with his lack of size not dampening his fiery spirit and cocky athleticism in the ring, the ability to be the most hated man in wrestling and still charm haters out of their vendetta to the point that when he turned heel for his title feud with Cena and his retirement feud with Flair it just didn’t work and he was cheered anyway. While Kobashi whipped every crowd into a frenzy with his furious passion and hard hitting toughness, the ability to give a single shout and have the entire Tokyo Dome shouting with him.

But with the similarities must come the decision when we must decide exactly which of these fine gentleman is best; I reckon that the only way to do so is a painfully ruthless scientific questioning method which shall begin now.

World Wide Popularity. OK Shawn definitely has this one in the bag, although Kobashi is more respected within the business itself I have no doubt that some of you who read this will have never heard of him and if this is the case then I hope you look up some of his more memorable matches to get a taste of him, but none the less, the name Shawn Michaels will always be known and associated with greatness while the name Kobashi will probably never be heard of by many young fans.

Best Match. This is where Kobashi deals one of his trademark chops straight to HBK’s wedding tackle as if you take Shawn’s best matches such as the iron man with Bret and THAT match with The Undertaker, they still won’t get near the majesty of Kobashi’s. If you asked me my favourite match of all time, i will always say either Kobashi vs Misawa or Kobashi vs Kawada. There is a very good reason why Kobashi has over 20 5 star matches under his belt, when it comes to weaving an emotional rollercoaster with a story the man is almost unmatched. If you were to compare Taker/HBK with Kobashi/Misawa I still maintain that it would be like comparing a particularly sturdy park bench to a vibrating arm chair, yes the bench is more familiar and you sit on it every day to feed the ducks but your arse is going to be far more comfortable in an arm chair because...well it’s a fucking arm chair for god’s sake!

Time Of Retirement. This one is very important, in some cases the earlier the retirement the better but in others it would be perfectly fine for the wrestler to go on for years. However in this case, I’m afraid the point must go to Kobashi, I understand Shawn’s fear of lingering too long and stealing the spotlight and his back probably resembles a used bog brush by now but the fact is that you just know that he has a few more left in him. Kobashi on the other hand is carrying pretty bad knee injuries, got through cancer and has just recovered from serious nerve damage in his arm but he is still going at it and can still work. He has also managed to not get in the way of the youth coming through in Pro Wrestling NOAH, placing himself firm in the role of nostalgia whilst leaving the way clear for Sugiura, Marufuji and Shiozaki to slowly take over the spotlight.

Move-Set. Again, this one is quite hard due to the huge difference in styles, big lumbering Kobashi sank a lot of his offence into chop variations and various ways of dropping people on their heads, which may not sound like much of a move-set but he always managed to time each move perfectly so that they seemed as effective as they looked instead of just dropping everyone on their head thousands of times. Kobashi also has the plus point of inventing four rather spectacular moves; Black Crush (suplex cutter), Diamond Head (power bomb DDT), Organge Crush (suplex powerbomb) and the more famous Burning Hammer which has only been used 7 times due to its dangerous nature. However the point must still go to Shawn on the basis of range, no he didn’t innovate any new moves, but every match I’ve ever seen him in he has demonstrated a healthy mix of strike, submission, power and even flying moves. Thus, score one for HBK.

Number Of Main Title Reigns. This is the deciding comparison and it doesn’t get more cold heartedly factual than this. I’m not going to count things like tag reigns or minor belts like intercontinental title reigns, in which case, Kobashi’s total is....4! Three Triple Crown reigns in AJPW and 1 GHC heavyweight title reign (the longest reign the belt has ever seen at over 2 years). Now if the drum roll could please start I can reveal that HBK’s total is........5! With 1 TWA title reign, 1 World Heavyweight title reign and 3 WWE title reigns

So the points stand at Kenta Kobashi 2, Shawn Michaels 3. Your opinions on the subject would be very much appreciated and if you’ve never seen Kobashi work before I encourage you to look him up and witness ‘Zettai Ohja’ (The Absolute Champion) at work.
This is Fendevered, still convinced that Kobashi vs Michaels would be better than either of HBK’s Undertaker matches.

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Tags: hbk, kobashi


  1. Majindavegeta's Avatar
    I think Keiji Mutoh would compare more to Shawn Michaels.
  2. Fendevered's Avatar
    Well he is going to be featured in later comparisons but i always thought Muta and Sting were rather similar.

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