Although he may not have the fanfare and flashy style of his fellow top-tier Jr. Heavyweights, Yoshinobu Kanemaru has staked his claim as one of the top Jr. Heavyweights of the 2000s. In addition to having the most GHC Jr. Heavyweight and GHC Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship reigns to date, he also has the longest Jr. Heavyweight Title reign to date.
Kanemaru debuted in All-Japan in 1996, and was immediately buried due to All-Japan being isolated from other promotions and pushing Heavyweights over the smaller wrestlers. His first high-profile match in 1997 saw him team with New Japan’s Koji Kanemoto (Tiger Mask 3) to battle freelancer Satoru Sayama, the original Tiger Mask, and his disciple, Tiger Mask 4. He stayed with All-Japan until Mitsuharu Misawa’s mass talent exodus to form NOAH in 2000, which Kanemaru was a part of. During this time he briefly worked in FMW and won the WEW Tag Team Titles.
He underwent a personality change in 2001, also adopting more of a high-flying style favored by Jr. Heavyweights, and it led to his becoming the first GHC Jr. Heavyweight Champion in June 2001. He since has won the title a total of 5 times, more than anyone else, and has reigned as champion for part of every year since except 2006. His 3rd title win also was notable because it came against the legendary Jushin Liger. He also won the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship, a victory that helped lead to creation of the GHC Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship.
After Kanemaru and then-regular partner Takashi Sugiura split in 2008, Kanemaru made a heel turn by using heel tactics in his matches and convincing Kotaro Suzuki to turn on partner Ricky Marvin. They soon would win the GHC Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles and would reign for 18 months until being forced to vacate the titles in January 2010 due to a Suzuki injury. Kanemaru also joined Disobey, the heel faction in NOAH. Unlike fellow Jr. standouts Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA, Kanemaru continues to compete primarily against Jr. Heavyweights and where Marufuji & KENTA are more faces, Kanemaru is clearly the top Jr. heel in NOAH and is always a threat to the GHC Titles.
Stats & Info:
Weight: 187 pounds/85 kg
Experience: 14 years
Finishing move: Touch Out
Current affiliation: NOAH
Ring Entrance Theme: “MAXIMUM Version 2.1”
5-time GHC Jr. Heavyweight Champion
4-time GHC Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champion
1-time IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champion
1-time WEW Tag Team Champion
2009 Jr. Heavyweight League
1998 Tokyo Sports Grand Prix Rookie Of The Year Award
Ring entrance music: