Satoshi Kojima is a longtime veteran of the sport and is undeniably the 2000s’ MVP of All-Japan. In addition to his impressive list of accomplishments, he is best known as being, to this date, the only wrestler ever to hold both the All-Japan Triple Crown and IWGP Heavyweight Championship simultaneously.
Like many Japanese wrestlers, Kojima has a background in Judo, but he chose not to continue the sport when he went to college. He got his start loading trucks for New Japan Pro Wrestling & after some months of persuasion finally convinced head trainer Animal Hamaguchi to accept him into the dojo. Kojima entered the New Japan Dojo in February 1991 and made his debut about 7 months later against Hiroyoshi Yamamoto, who we now know as Hiroyoshi Tenzan. Kojima’s breakthrough came in 1994, when he won the promotion’s Young Lions Cup tournament. After that he went on a 1-year excursion to Germany, returning to Japan in 1996. His first major title came in May 1997, when he & Manabu Nakanishi won the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. Their reign lasted just over 3 months. At the end of 1998 Kojima then joined Keiji Muto’s nWo Japan faction and formed a team with Tenzan, who he would win 2 more IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles with. Their pairing quickly came to be known as “TenKoji”.
In 2002 Kojima left New Japan and followed Muto to All-Japan. Success came quickly as he would win the All-Japan World Tag Team Title that year, and also travel outside Japan to win the MLW Heavyweight Title, his first major singles title. 2003 saw him win the prestigious Champions Carnival tournament. In 2004 he won his 2nd All-Japan World Tag Team Title and also won the All-Asia Tag Team Titles soon after, and would hold both simultaneously for about 3 months. But it was February 2005 that brought some of the defining moments of Kojima’s career-first he won his first Triple Crown by defeating Toshiaki Kawada, then just 4 days later he beat Tenzan to win his first IWGP Heavyweight Championship, doing what no other wrestler had (and to this date has) ever done-hold the 2 major Heavyweight Titles simultaneously. He would lose the IWGP Title just under 3 months later, but kept the Triple Crown for nearly 17 months, not losing it until July 2006. His 2005 earned him the Tokyo Sports Grand Prix MVP award and PWI recognized his accomplishments in their PWI 500, ranking him as the #3 wrestler in the world and the top Japanese wrestler in the rankings.
After dropping the Triple Crown Kojima briefly returned to New Japan, where he competed in the promotion’s annual G1 Climax tournament. He would reach the finals before losing to Tenzan, after which TenKoji was reformed and together they won All-Japan’s annual World’s Strongest Tag League tournament. The day after they faced Muto & Masa Chono in a New Japan/All-Japan crossover tag match at Tokyo Dome, won by the New Japan team.
2007 saw Kojima become more involved in faction warfare in All-Japan. Kojima shocked the All-Japan Army when he betrayed them and joined the Voodoo Murders, where he was quickly made the group’s co-leader along with TARU. Soon after joining, Kojima and TARU won the All-Japan World Tag Team Championship, but Kojima would leave in 2008 to once again reform TenKoji after returning from an injury and help Tenzan in his feuds with Voodoo Murders and Tenzan’s old faction, GBH (Great Bash Heel). TenKoji pulled off another first in 2008, becoming the first team ever to win both the G1 Climax Tag League and Real World Tag League in the same year.
After this, Kojima briefly took a small step back, forming his own stable in All-Japan. Known as F4 (Friends, Fan, Fight, Future), Kojima built this group around himself and 2 new wrestlers he took under his wing, the wrestler Hiroshi Yamato and his partner, the exciting high-flier KAI, then later adding the cheerful gaijin Zodiac. Kojima competed mainly in tag matches with Yamato and KAI while helping them slowly climb up the Jr. Heavyweight ranks but nevre straying too far away from the top, as was evident in September 2009 when he defeated Yoshihiro Takayama to win his second career Triple Crown. Even as he approaches age 40 next year, Kojima still is showing few signs of slowing down and still possesses one of the most vicious lariats in all of wrestling. His place in the record books is secure based on his career accomplishments, some of which may never be matched.
Kojima is no longer with All-Japan, deciding to leave upon expiration of his contract with the promotion on May 31, 2010. His final appearance in the promotion was May 30, 2010. He then had elbow surgery in June 2010 but returned to action in August 2010 to participate in New Japan’s annual G1 CLIMAX tournament, which he won for the first time. This eventually led to his winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship for the second time and his year as a whole, including his comeback from elbow surgery, was recognized with the 2010 Tokyo Sports Grand Prix Fighting Spirit Award. He is now considered a full-time member of New Japan, has been added to the promotion’s roster page and works virtually all shows and remains a top contender to the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, although in early 2011 he also has been feuding with top New Japan star Makabe.
Kojima is inactive as of mid-August 2011 due to a right orbital bone fracture suffered during a New Japan event in early August. It’s not known how long he’ll be out.
Stats & info:
Weight: 247 pounds/112 kg
Experience: 19 years
Finishing move: Lariat (Sometimes uses a Western Lariat), Koji Cutter
Current affiliation: Independent/Freelancer, regular participation in New Japan
Ring entrance theme: “RUSH!!”
2-time All-Japan Triple Crown Champion
2-time All-Japan World Tag Team Champion
1-time All-Japan All-Asia Tag Team Champion
2-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion
3-time IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champion
1-time MLW Heavyweight Champion
1994 Young Lion Cup
1998 Super Grade Tag League
2001, 2008 G1 Tag League
2002, 2003, 2006, 2008 Real World Tag League
2003 Champions Carnival
2003 Fire Festival
2003 BAPESTA!! Tag Team Tournament
2010 G1 CLIMAX
2001 Wrestling Observer Newsletter Tag Team Of The Year
Ranked #3 In 2005 PWI 500
2005 Tokyo Sports Grand Prix MVP Award
2010 Tokyo Sports Grand Prix Fighting Spirit Award
Official website (Japanese):