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  Feb 27, 2000



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Kenta Kobashi wins Triple Crown Title


By JOHN MOLINARO -- SLAM! Wrestling

Kenta Kobashi defeated Vader today in Tokyo, Japan to win the All Japan Pro Wrestling Triple Crown championship.

Fans at Tokyo's Budokan Hall were treated to a great match as the two heavyweights put on a physically exhaustive exhibition. The last few minutes of the match saw the action in the ring hit a fever pitch as the two exchanged stiff lariat clotheslines and choke slams. After Vader kicked out of a moonsault, Kobashi scored the win with a pinfall after a lariat at 19:49.

Vader had won the title for the second time back on October 30th defeating Mitsuhara Misawa in Tokyo.

The win by Kobashi wasn't the only surprise on the card. In the semi-main event Jun Akiyama defeated Mitsuhara Misawa in 23:40 after executing a brainbuster and a wrist-clutch exploder.

The win by Akiyama marked the first time he pinned Misawa in a singles match. Misawa, who doubles as the company's booker, has been the corner stone of All Japan's Heavyweight division since 1993, arguably the greatest division in all of pro wrestling. While on top, Misawa chalked up five reigns as Triple Crown champ, putting on the best matches in the world and was named wrestler of the 90s by Dave Meltzer's Wrestling Observer Newsletter.

All Japan Triple Crown champ Kenta Kobashi. Photo courtesy the wonderful Puroresu Hall of Fame.
The result is symbolic as it elevates Akiyama to the top tier of the All Japan promotion, joining the likes of Vader, Kobashi and Toshiaka Kawada. All Japan has been bringing Akiyama along slowly since his debut in 1992 and with a win over Misawa, he now appears destined to lead the promotion in the new millennium. The loss by Misawa, who has been banged up and wrestled hurt for most of the year, could also mean that he is ready to phase himself out of the top spot in the promotion.

In a post match in-ring interview, Kobashi called out Akiyama, setting up the main event for All Japan's annual Tokyo Dome show in May. The two were regular tag team partners, winning the past two annual Real World League Tag Team tournaments, the most prestigious tag team tournament in Japanese wrestling.

The win by Kobashi marks his third reign as Triple Crown Champion. He first won the title on July 24th, 1996 defeating Akira Taue in Tokyo. Kobashi dropped the title six months later to Misawa in Osaka. Kobashi won it for a second time on June 12th, 1998 defeating Kawada in Tokyo before losing it to Misawa in October.

With files from ShootAngle.com

More on the Triple Crown title