When you talk about the history of Ring of Honor, you simply cannot overlook Bryan Danielson and KENTA. Danielson grew his reputation into the best technical wrestlers in the world during his legendary reign with the ROH title, helping build the company into one of the biggest non-WWE promotions in the United States and helping it retain it’s fanbase coming into 2023.
KENTA, meanwhile, is one of the most influential wrestlers of the 2000s (although looking at his WWE run as Hideo Itami, you wouldn’t think so). His battles with Naomichi Marufuji defined their own style of wrestling, with fast-paced, hard hitting matches which revolutionised the Junior Heavyweight style both in Japan and the United States. He was the top man in Pro-Wrestling NOAH by the time he battled with Bryan Danielson and was regarded as a huge get by ROH when he made his way to the United States.
So far in their career, the pair have battled in four one-on-one matches. They fought many times in tag team matches, but in singles matches they have only the four bouts to rest on. Luckily, they are all incredible matches with the best one being regarded as one of the greatest matches ever on American soil.
They wrestled twice in Ring of Honor and twice in NOAH. They traded wins and both got the best out of each other in some of the hardest hitting yet technical matches you may ever seen. All four are worth a watch and will rank, from worst to best, the Bryan Danielson vs KENTA matches from 2006 to 2008
Bryan Danielson vs KENTA
NOAH Winter Navigation ’06 – Pro Wrestling NOAH (December 2nd, 2006)
This match was rated 8.12 by users on Cagematch, but was not given a star rating by Dave Meltzer.
NOAH Autumn Naviagation ’08 – Pro Wrestling NOAH (October 13th, 2008)
Two years after they first clashed in Japan, NOAH booked the rematch between KENTA and Bryan Danielson.
This match was rated 8.73 by users on Cagematch, but was not given a star rating by Dave Meltzer.
ROH Drivern 2007 – Ring Of Honor (June 23rd, 2007)
This match was rated 9.34 by users on Cagematch, but was not given a star rating by Dave Meltzer.
ROH Glory By Honor V – Ring Of Honor (September 16th, 2006)
The first ever encounter between two of the most influential wrestlers of the 2000s also happens to be their greatest match. Danielson, representing ROH and KENTA, representing NOAH, battled it out in a dream match for the hardcore wrestling fans and would promise to be a hard hitting encounter between two of the hardest strikers in professional wrestling.
Both men take this match as seriously as a real fight, adding an intense feel to the fight. Danielson plays the heel in the match as does it like nobody else, getting the fans to boo him to hell despite some incredible wrestling ability. He set the tone early on with a cheap knee into KENTA’s skull during a rope break, although the former Hideo Itami responded in kind by attacking the former ROH Champion’s shoulder.
Bryan sells the shoulder throughout the match, adding a sense of tension and jeopardy to the bout. KENTA’s attacks are so brutal and real-looking (probably because he was actually kicking and elbowing Danielson for real throughout) that you almost feel for the American Dragon, before he takes a cheap shot and brings you right back into the booing.
The match built to a crescendo at the end, with a slow build up in the middle leading to an impressive series of near-falls to finish off. Danielson did his best to flaunt the rules at all costs while KENTA simply wanted a fair fight. The American Dragon retained his ROH Title by submission after locking in a brutal Cattle Mutilation, ending a match that lasted over 30 minutes and wowed the crowd in incredible fashion.
It was the best of the quadriology of Bryan Danielson vs KENTA matches and will go down as one of the best matches in Ring Of Honor’s history. It was rated 9.57 by Cagematch and was awarded 4.75 Stars by Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer.
Which is your favourite match between Bryan Danielson and KENTA? Let us know what you think in the comments or click below to read about the trilogy of matches between FTR and the Briscoe Brothers.