This week on Review-A-Wai John Pollock and Wai Ting reviewed the October 2005 ROH "Joe Vs Kobashi" event and welcomed former ROH booker Gabe Sapolsky to the program to chat about this match. Below is an excerpt from the interview as Sapolsky discusses the building blocks of the match and problems he ran into.
I had read online that (Kenta) Kobashi was going over to Harley Race’s school to do a camp; NOAH would send guys over once a year to do a tryout camp at Race’s school. So, I had just figured if he’s coming over here, what’s the harm in calling Harley Race and seeing if we can get a match with him? Obviously, it was going to be a huge match for us, and I came up in the business as a Kobashi fan. When you look back at the stuff that heavily influenced Ring Of Honor, the All Japan stuff with Kenta Kobashi is right at the top of the list. He had never been on the East Coast, so it seemed obvious that it would do great business to bring him over here.
I contacted Mr. Race about it, and at first he was actually surprised that anybody wanted to book Kobashi outside of his thing in the St. Louis area. It didn’t seem like the deal was going to happen right then, but then I think he saw an opportunity to make some money off of it, because the whole thing wasn’t cheap, I will say that. He contacted us back about putting it together, and then as soon as he saw that opportunity, it came together.
The deal actually fell apart, and I’m not going to get into details, but it actually did fall apart right when we announced it. That’s a story I’ll save for my memoirs or whatever sometime. The match came very close to not happening, and then it came close to happening, and then it came extremely close to not happening. Once we had him booked, the obvious match was against Samoa Joe, that didn’t take any booking genius or anything like that. That was just clearly the obvious match to do with him, and the best possible match if you’re going to have someone like Kobashi come in. (Transcribed by Chris Maffei)