Match Point is an ongoing series at Last Word on Pro Wrestling, where we look at intriguing matchups in indie wrestling and beyond. They may be dream matches, first-time matchups, or hotly anticipated rematches. This edition looks at the upcoming cross-promotional super fight between New Japan Pro-Wrestling legend Satoshi Kojima and IMPACT Wrestling‘s Joe Doering of Violent By Design at this Saturday’s IMPACT PPV, Against All Odds.
With The Forbidden Door now busted wide open with talents from NJPW, All Elite Wrestling, and IMPACT appearing on each other’s programming, we’ve seen more and more New Japan stars arriving on North American television. From KENTA appearing on AEW Dynamite to FinJuice capturing the IMPACT World Tag Team titles to Jon Moxley facing former IWGP Heavyweight Champion Yuji Nagata on AEW Dynamite, the flood is upon us. Last month, we saw a former IWGP Heavyweight Champion in the legendary Satoshi Kojima make his IMPACT debut and now he’s set to appear on his first IMPACT PPV this Saturday when he faces off against Violent By Design’s big hoss Joe Doering at IMPACT Against All Odds. To the casual fan, it may seem like a random opponent for Kojima’s IMPACT PPV debut at Against All Odds. Surely, you may wonder, he would be better suited against one of the bigger stars of IMPACT like Moose, Eddie Edwards, or Rich Swann. But to longtime fans of puroresu wrestling from Japan, Against All Odds is the culmination of years of bad blood in Japan, between two men who have held the top gold in the country.
Satoshi Kojima was part of the 1991 class at the NJPW Dojo where he would become one of the Young Lion standouts, winning the Young Lions Tournament in 1994. At the end of 1994, he was sent to Europe on his excursion, working primarily for Austria’s prestigious Catch Wrestling Association (CWA) as Joe-Joe Lee. He returned to New Japan in 1996 as a full-fledged member of the roster, forming the tag team The Bull Powers with Manabu Nakanishi (the man he defeated in the Young Lions finals in 1994). In May of 1997, the duo won the IWGP Tag Team titles, for Kojima’s first championship gold. In 1998, he joined Great Muta in nWo Japan, forming a tag team partner with a fellow member of the 1991 Dojo class, Hiroyoshi Tenzan. As TenCozy, they would capture the IWGP Tag Team titles on six occasions (lastly in 2017). In early 2002, in protest over NJPW head Antonio Inoki‘s decision to pursue more MMA fighters and style for New Japan’s direction, Kojima and Muta left New Japan for All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW). He also traveled to New York to compete for fledgling indie promotion Major League Wrestling (MLW), where he won the MLW World Heavyweight Championship, his first singles gold. On February 16, 2005, he defeated Toshiaki Kowada to win AJPW’s Triple Crown Championship and then, four days later, defeated his former partner Tenzan to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at the NJPW/AJPW cross-promotion title vs title match at New Year Gold Series. In 2010, he returned to New Japan as a former 2x Triple Crown Champion, and that October won his second IWGP Heavyweight title. A few months later, he formed his own stable in New Japan, Kojima-gun, with Taichi as its first member. His stable was short-lived – or rather, his time as its leader was short-lived – as only six months later, he was booted from the group in a mutiny, with a returning Minoru Suzuki assuming control of the faction and renaming it Suzuki-gun. At NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 8 at the Tokyo Dome, Kojima defeated Rob Conway to become the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion. Now, at 50 years old, Kojima is one of New Japan’s respected veterans and a multiple-time world champion.
Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Joe Doering began his wrestling story in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, where he trained at the Can-Am Dojo under Scott D’Amore. He became a regular with D’Amore’s Border City Wrestling (BCW) and, in 2005, worked two matches for Total Nonstop Action (TNA). In 2006, he headed to Puerto Rico where he worked a three-month tour for Carlos Colon‘s World Wrestling Council (WWC) while continuing to work in the U.S. indie scene. In 2007, Doering headed to Japan to train at the AJPW Dojo and upon completion, signed a gaijin contract to become a full-roster member with the company. He briefly left in 2010, signing a WWE developmental deal and competing in Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) as Drake Brewer, but after an early release, he returned to All Japan that November. In 2014, he defeated his longtime rival Suwama to win his first Triple Crown Championship, which he held for 160 days. Doering nearly lost not only his pro wrestling career but his life in 2016, when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. After a successful surgery and a year off from wrestling, he made his return in early 2017, and that October, he defeated Suwama once again to become a 2x Triple Crown Champion. He last appeared for All Japan in late 2019, before the pandemic hit, and in November of 2020, he made his return to TNA/IMPACT Wrestling, this time as the monster enforcer for Eric Young in Violent By Design, where he’s the current IMPACT Tag Team Champion alongside Rhino.
The Kings Collide at Against All Odds
During Doering’s first year in All Japan (2007), he became a protege of The Great Muta in his wars against Satoshi Kojima’s Voodoo Murders stable, which featured another young star in Suwama (who would be one of Doering’s biggest rivals). Doering and Muta would feud with Kojima’s squad for over a year until Doering turned heel and joined Voodoo Murders. But Kojima had left and formed another stable, F4, and Doering and Voodoo Murders continued to feud with them. In what was thought to be his final match in AJPW (before heading to FCW), Doering would finally get his singles opportunity against his three-year rival Kojima, in a match for Kojima’s Triple Crown title at AJPW New Year Shining Series. Despite besting Kojima’s teams on a near consistent basis for three years, in their first (and only) singles encounter, Doering fell short. By the time Doering returned to AJPW, Kojima had returned to New Japan, and thus, the two longtime rivals have managed to avoid each other for over a decade. But now this Saturday, at Against All Odds, Joe Doering finally gets the chance to avenge his loss to Kojima in 2010 and finally finish this 14-year feud once and for all.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can catch IMPACT Wrestling on Thursday nights on AXS TV and Twitch.TV as well as all the time on IMPACT Plus (where Against All Odds will be airing).