Retro Review: Vader v. Kenta Kobashi
Updated: Feb 3, 2021
One of the aspects that I enjoy about this website is that I look at matches in a different way after putting them through a statistical analysis. This has been true for the modern-day product and I wanted to apply that analysis to some of my favorite matches from years past. Today we’ll be looking at Vader vs. Kenta Kobashi as they fight for the All Japan Pro Wrestling Triple Crown Championship from February 27th, 2000.
Vader (Leon White) has long been one of my favorite “big men” wrestlers. His combination of size and athleticism was always impressive. Somehow the height of his popularity never reached his full potential, at least in the United States. The story was different in Japan as Vader reigned as IWGP champion in the late 80s/early 90s. He found his way back to Japan in 1998 to compete for All Japan Pro Wrestling.
Kenta Kobashi is my favorite Japanese wrestler of all time. I’d compare him to Bret Hart in that he only needs to use five moves or so to make a match entertaining. Everything looks legit and he puts a great amount of passion behind every move. This includes his selling ability which will be on full display during this match. Since 1988 Kobashi had been involved with All Japan and had held the Triple Crown championship twice before.
I’m not including a link to this match. If you’re reading this on the internet, I trust you will be able to track this match down to watch. What I will be doing will be to break this match down into five minute segments and briefly covering the action.
Bell ring-5 minutes
The opening of this match is very methodically paced. Kenta’s ribs are taped up. Vader was known for his heavy hitting style and it’s on display in the opening moments. Vader foregoes any grapple moves while Kobashi is able to pull of a pair of grapples.
5min – 10min
Vader commits the match’s first and only foul as he rips the bandages away from Kobashi’s mid-section. The relentless strikes continue as Vader lands 24 to Kobashi’s five. This period is all Vader as his score is more than 300% that of Kobashi’s.
Kobashi mounts a comeback but he never overtakes Vader’s score. Vader’s assault continues on the bruised ribs of Kobashi, including a trio of Vader bombs off the middle rope. The crowd is becoming more vocal and invested in the match as Kobashi shows life.
Kobashi gives up on grapples all together. He also only lands five strikes but manages to get two strikedowns on Vader. The end of the match comes courtesy of a Burning Lariat from Kobashi as he claims the Triple Crown Championship for a third time.
Winner: Kenta Kobashi
Offense scores as follows: strikes = 1pt, strikedowns = 3pts, grapples = 4pts, dives = 5 pts, submissions = 1 pt/5second, finisher = 10 pts.
Despite winning a championship, Kobashi wouldn’t be in All Japan that much longer and left the company just a few months later to form Pro Wrestling Noah (vacating the title in the process). Vader also joined Pro Wrestling Noah several months later in 2001. Kobashi would retire in 2013. Leon White died in 2018 after a hospitalization due to pneumonia at the age of 63.
Any other classic matches or forgotten gems you’d like to see analyzed? Comment below with your suggestions!