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Kōji Kanemoto (金本 浩二, Kanemoto Kōji, born October 31, 1966) professional wrestler of Zainichi Korean descent. He has previously worked with New Japan Pro Wrestling and All Japan Pro Wrestling. He is currently a freelancer.

Professional Wrestling Career[]

New Japan Pro Wrestling (1990-2012)[]

Kanemoto practiced Judo during his high school days and won a few championships as a professional before being recruited by the New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) Dojo. He debuted in November 1990, wrestling against Michiyoshi Ohara. In March 1992, he portrayed Tiger Mask in its third incarnation, succeeding Mitsuharu Misawa. In January 1994, he famously lost a "mask vs. mask" match against popular cruiserweight Jushin Thunder Liger at Battlefield. Since 1994 he has wrestled under his own name for NJPW. His style used to be the classic junior heavyweight wrestling, but repeated high-flying moves, the fans' change in taste, and inherent damage on his body put an incentive on him to use shoot-style taught by Kazuo Yamazaki, largely as a modification of his wrestling persona. Hard shoot kicks combined with scientific wrestling are his current trademark along with the facewash, which always gets the crowd going in a football stadium-like chant.

Kanemoto was the first man to defend the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship in the United States, a match against Alex Wright at Starrcade '95: World Cup of Wrestling (although World Championship Wrestling did not announce it as such). He also holds a victory over revered MMA fighter Kazushi Sakuraba in shoot-style wrestling.

In the early 2000s Kanemoto formed a popular tag team with Minoru Tanaka called "Jr. Stars" the 2 enjoyed a lengthy reign as IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, but before they could receive a rematch for their titles, Kanemoto was injured. Kanemoto made a very controversial return, turning on Tanaka and siding with Masahiro Chono's "Team 2000" Stable. As a reward for his defection Chono gave him his own sub-group to lead named "Team 2000 Jr."; among their ranks were Gedo, Jado, & AKIRA. During this time, Kanemoto wore entrance gear very similar to Chono, as a way to show "he was a boss". After Team 2000 dissolved he became a calmer, much more calculating individual & it was apparent that his days of a rude, arrogant punk were over. In 2003, in an attempt to regain the Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team titles from rival promotion Pro Wrestling NOAH he formed a tag team with Jushin Thunder Liger known as "The Unbeatables" the 2 held on to the titles until November when Kanemoto fractured his left cheekbone and were forced to vacate them.

On May 3, 2006, Kanemoto defeated Tiger Mask IV to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title for the fifth time.

In the 2006 G1 Climax, Kanemoto reached the semi final, the first junior heavyweight to achieve this feat. Along with Hiroshi Tanahashi, he made it to the finals of the G1 Tag League two years in a row – the 2006 and 2007 editions. Also in 2007 he became the first junior heavyweight since Bas Rutten to receive an IWGP Heavyweight Championship match. Although he lost this match against his tag team partner Hiroshi Tanahashi he was revered for his performance, especially after kicking out of Tanahashi's dragon suplex finish after only a 1 count. After this match it was regarded that Kanemoto was not only the top junior heavyweight but one of top talents that New Japan has in its entirety.

On January 2, 2009 at a Zero-1 show Kanemoto announced his engagement to Zero-1 joshi wrestler Hikaru. The two have since divorced.

On June 14, 2009 Kanemoto forced Prince Devitt to submit to his trademark Ankle Lock, winning the Best of the Super Juniors tournament for the third time, becoming only the second man to do so. On May 8, 2010, Kanemoto and El Samurai defeated Apollo 55 (Prince Devitt and Ryusuke Taguchi) in the finals of an eight team tournament to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. Just over two months later, on July 19, Kanemoto and El Samurai lost the Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship to Devitt and Taguchi. On August 22 Kanemoto and Tiger Mask IV took part in a Pro Wrestling NOAH event and defeated Ricky Marvin and Taiji Ishimori to win Noah's GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. They would lose the title to Atsushi Aoki and Naomichi Marufuji on December 24, 2010.

All Japan Pro Wrestling and Wrestle-1 (2011-2013)[]

In late 2011 he began to work more frequently in All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) and teaming with Minoru Tanaka and on January 31, 2013, Kanemoto officially quit New Japan Pro Wrestling to join All Japan Pro Wrestling.

In June 2013, Kojimoto also announced his resignation from All Japan in the aftermath of Nobuo Shiraishi taking over as the promotion's new president. Though Kanemoto did not officially join Keiji Mutoh's splinter promotion Wrestle-1, he did take part in the promotion's inaugural event on September 8, reuniting the Junior Stars with Minoru Tanaka in a tag team match, where they defeated Fujita Hayato and Masaaki Mochizuki.

Freelancer (2013-Present)[]

On May 24, 2015, Kanemoto returned to his Tiger Mask persona, when he took part in Asistencia Asesoría y Administración's Lucha Libre World Cup in Mexico City, alongside Kenzo Suzuki and Masamune as Team AJPW. They were defeated in the first round of the tournament by Team MexLeyendas (Blue Demon Jr., Dr. Wagner Jr. and El Solar).

In wrestling[]

  • Finishing moves
    • Ankle hold
    • Bridging tiger suplex – adopted from Tiger Mask
    • Koji Clutch – Innovated
    • Moonsault
  • Signature moves
    • Facewash – adopted from Shinjiro Otani
    • Falcon Arrow (Sitout suplex slam)
    • Vertical suplex powerslam
  • Managers
    • Sonny Onoo
  • Nicknames
    • "The Jr. Star"
    • "Jr. Charisma"

Championships and accomplishments[]

Luchas de Apuestas record[]

Winner (wager) Loser (wager) Location Event Date Notes
Jushin Thunder Liger (mask) Tiger Mask (mask) Tokyo, Japan Battlefield January 4, 1994
  1. 11月24日(木)東京・後楽園ホール (in Japanese). Chō Sentō Puroresu FMW. Archived from the original on 2016-11-25. Retrieved on 2016-11-25.