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  April 15, 2000



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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

Kobashi wins Carnival Championship
By JOHN F. MOLINARO -- SLAM! Wrestling

Triple Crown champ and Carnival 2000 winner Kenta Kobashi.
Triple Crown Heavyweight champion Kenta Kobashi finally got the monkey off his back, defeating Takao Omori today in Tokyo, Japan in the finals of All Japan Pro Wrestling's Carnival Championship tournament.

A reported sell-out crowd of over 16 000 at Nippon Budokan Hall saw the Triple Crown champion and upstart contender go at it for the most prestigious heavyweight tournament championship in Japanese wrestling. The match saw acton go back and forth as Kobashi and Omori traded power bombs and axe bombs. Kobashi scored the pinfall after 25 minutes of action, scoring the pin following a power bomb and a lariat clothesline.

Kobashi's path to the finals was a difficult one. In a first round match on April 1 in Okayama, Japan he defeated former tag team partner Johhny Ace. In the quarter-finals he defeated former Stampede Wrestling standout Johnny Smith on April 8 at Tokyo's Korakuen Hall. Kobashi advanced to the finals after defeating All Japan booker Mitsuhara Misawa in the semi-finals on April 11th in Kanazawa, Japan.

Omori's appearance in the finals was the major surprise of the tournament. Going into this year's tournament, it was expected that young, superstar Jun Akiyama would receive a major push and be elevated to the next level of All Japan's hierarchy with an appearance in the finals.

Instead, booker Misawa chose to elevate Omori, giving him the quickest win in the 20 year history of the Carnival tournament, defeating Akiyama in the first round in seven seconds on March 26th in Nagoya, Japan. Omori then defeated former WWF star Mike Burton (AKA Bart Gunn) in a quarter-final match on March 6th in Maebashi, Japan. Omori then scored another major upset in the semi-finals, defeating Steve Williams on April 9 in Sendai, Japan.

With a strong showing in the finals against Kobashi, and two major wins over Akiyama and Williams, Omori instantly becomes elevated from mid-card status to the upper echelon of All Japan's roster.

It is expected that he will receive a shot at Kobashi's Triple Crown title on June 9 at Nippon Budokan Hall.

The Carnival win was the first of Kobashi's long, illustrious career with All Japan. Considered one of the top wrestlers in the entire wrestling world, Kobashi is a three time Triple Crown Heavyweight champion, has held the All Asian Tag titles several times, five Real World Tag League championship wins (the most storied tag team tournament in Japanese wrestling) and has won nearly every accolade and award imaginable from the Japanese wrestling press. Only the Carnival Championship eluded him.

Kobashi lost in the finals of the '97 Carnival, losing to Toshiaka Kawada in a triangle match that included Misawa. Last year, Kobashi lost in the finals to Vader.

-- With files from Shootangle

History of All Japan's Carnival tournament
Carnival 2000 Preview




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