In Japan Kenta Kobashi is legendary at what he does: con onlookers into believing he’s in a ball-crunchingly real fight. The stolid Kobashi stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 265 pounds, with a wide chest and a variety of facial expressions that put Jim Carrey to shame. If he embodies a Japanese archetype it’s that of the fearless warrior, though the wrestling ring is too expressive a place to allow for a warrior’s perpetually staid demeanor. On this uncommonly hot October evening, he enters the New Yorker Hotel Ballroom on Eighth Avenue wearing a black robe and red underwear. The crowd chants his name as he climbs into the ring. Standing across from his opponent, tri-state independent wrestler Joe Seannoa, he takes his palm and slaps it against “Samoa” Joe’s sumo-like chest. The crowd explodes.

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