While nothing is official, all signs indicate that former Pro-Wrestling NOAH star KENTA (real name Kenta Kobayashi) will soon be plying his trade in the WWE.
KENTA made his wrestling debut in 2000, originally competing for All Japan Pro Wrestling. When Mitsuharu Misawa, the acting president of AJPW and one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time, left the promotion to form NOAH, KENTA followed suit.
Misawa placed a strong focus on his Junior Heavyweight division, something AJPW hadn’t been doing, and KENTA, who is only 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds, made the switch. He competed in the organization from 2001-2014.
Kobayashi became a highly-recognized name in NOAH and has developed a reputation as one of the better wrestlers in the world. He was part of a highly successful and exciting tag team with Naomichi Marufuji, and his finishing maneuver, the Go 2 Sleep, has since been popularized in the United States by C.M. Punk. Punk, who is obviously a fan of KENTA.
The WWE is claiming they don’t have any information regarding KENTA at this time, but that’s likely not the case. Those who know Kobayashi have expressed their belief that the WWE will be his new home. KENTA actually had a few tryouts for the WWE at their performance center in Orlando, Fl. back in Jan. Kobayashi claims he was merely fulfilling his dream to participate in a WWE workout (really?), but there’s probably more to the story than that.
Will KENTA be a success in WWE? It’s certainly a new horizon for a man who has wrestled his entire life in Japan, who now has to deal with the inner workings of a privately-owned and publicly traded company.
His age (33) and his size are also going to be issues. KENTA is a great wrestler, but that usually means nothing in the WWE unless you have charisma, mic skills and size. Daniel Bryan is proof that you don’t necessarily need to be big to make it to the top — although one could argue Bryan isn’t really at the top even though he is their world champion — so perhaps KENTA saw Bryan’s success and figures he can attain similar accolades.
We’ll find out sooner rather than later where KENTA winds up, but it’s only a matter of time before his move to the WWE is made official.