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All Japan Pro Wrestling (2003–2005)
Kono trained in the All Japan Dojo and made his debut on March 28, 2003 in a losing effort to Nobutaka Araya.For the next two years, Kono largely was in opening matches where he worked with fellow newcomers and aging wrestlers as he paid his dues. During this time, Kono had no title matches or took part in any tournaments. In 2005, Kono left All Japan and professional wrestling to focus on Mixed Martial Arts.
Mixed martial arts (2005–2008)
In early 2005, Kono began a MMA career fighting for Pancrase Hybrid Wrestling. He won his first fight at Pancrase – Spiral 5 on July 10, 2005 defeating Yukio Kawabe by Technical Submission. He then lost to Aslan Dzeboev by Knockout at Pancrase – Spiral 8 on October 2. He then went on a two fight win streak defeating Teymur Aliyev at Pancrase – Blow 4 and Daniel Lyons at Pancrase – Blow 7 both by TKO. Kono then lost his last four fights, losing to Mu Bae Choi by Technical Submission at Pancrase – Blow 10, then to Tetsuya Mizuno at Pancrase – Rising 9 by TKO. His next appearance was at Warrior Realm 12 where he lost to Brad Morris by Submission. His most recent fight was a loss to Stanislav Nedkov at Pancrase – Shining 10 by TKO.
Return to All Japan (2009–2013)
By early 2009, Kono ended his MMA career and returned to professional wrestling. He spent the first few months of 2009 in Canada, wrestling on the independents before finally returning to All Japan in May 2009. Upon his return, Kono had an immediate impact as he teamed Keiji Mutoh to defeat Satoshi Kojima and Suwama with Kono submitting Kojima. Throughout the spring and summer, Kono fought for the All Japan army and occasionally team with Mutoh. On July 5, 2009, Kono received his first title shot when he teamed with Mutoh to challenge Minoru Suzuki and Taiyo Kea for the World Tag Team Championship but they came up short. In the fall of 2009, Kono teamed with Suwama in the 2009 World's Strongest Tag Determination League. The two were able to make it to the finals but lost to Mutoh and Masakatsu Funaki.
In his first big victory of 2010, Kono defeated Suwama at Pro Wrestling Love in Ryogoku Vol. 9 on March 21, 2010. In the spring, Kono entered the 2010 Champion Carnival. He finished secon in his block with 5 points which allowed him to advance in the semi-finals where he fell to Funaki. Following the Champion Carnival, Kono joined the New Generation Force stable with Suwama, Ryota Hama, Seiya Sanada, and Manabu Soya and from there began a feud with the Partisan Force stable (Minoru Suzuki, Masakatsu Funaki, Akebono, and Taiyo Kea). On July 4, 2010, Kono challenged Suzuki for the Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship but lost. At Pro Wrestling Love in Ryogoku Vol. 10 on August 29, Kono faced Masakatsu Funaki and lost by Knockout. In September 2010, The New Generation Force broke up, and shortly afterward, Kono joined the Voodoo Murders and began using the ring name KONO. On November 5, 2010, KONO teamed with Minoru to win a Number 1 Contenders tournament for the All Asia Tag Team Championship, but lost the following the day in the title match against Seiya Sanada and Manabu Soya. In late November, KONO entered the 2010 World's Strongest Tag Determination League teaming with KENSO. The two emerged victorious, defeating Suwama and Ryota Hama in the finals.
On January 3, 2011, KONO and KENSO challenged Taiyo Kea and Akebono for the World Tag Team Championship but lost. On February 6, Kono and Joe Doering defeated Taiyo Kea and Akebono to win the World Tag Team Championship. On June 3, 2011, in the aftermath of a backstage fight between Yoshikazu Taru and Nobukazu Hirai, which resulted in Hirai suffering a stroke, All Japan Pro Wrestling disbanded Voodoo Murders, suspended all of its Japanese members, including Kono, and vacated the Unified World Tag Team Championship. Kono was suspended specifically for not attempting to stop Taru's assault on Hirai. Kono's suspension was lifted on June 30. At the press conference Kono announced that he would be returning to performing under his real name. Kono made his return to All Japan on October 10, 2011, teaming with Joe Doering and Osamu Nishimura in a six-man tag team match, where they were defeated by Akebono, Masakatsu Funaki and Ryota Hama. On January 4, 2012, Kono made a special appearance for New Japan Pro Wrestling at Wrestle Kingdom VI in Tokyo Dome, where he teamed with Masakatsu Funaki to defeat the Seigigun of Yuji Nagata and Wataru Inoue. On June 20, 2013, Kono, following Funaki, announced his resignation from All Japan out of loyalty to Keiji Mutoh, who had left the promotion when Nobuo Shiraishi took over as its new president at the beginning of the month. Kono's final match for the promotion took place on June 30 and saw him, Funaki and Koji Kanemoto lose to Akebono, Osamu Nishimura and Ryota Hama in a six-man tag team match.
On July 10, 2013, Kono was announced as part of Keiji Mutoh's new Wrestle-1 promotion. During the promotion's inaugural event on September 8, Kono teamed with Masakatsu Funaki in a tag team match, where they were defeated by Katsuyori Shibata and Kazushi Sakuraba. Following the match, Kono turned on Funaki, hitting his mentor with a steel chair and beating him down with help from Kohei Sato and Ryoji Sai. Kono and Funaki faced off in a singles match at Wrestle 1's second show on September 15, where Kono was victorious with help from Sai and Kazma Sakamoto. Kono, Sai and Sakamoto, replacing an injured Kohei Sato, formed a stable named Desperado, which was in October also joined by René Duprée. In early 2014, after Desperado had failed in their attempt to recruit Kai to the stable, Kono entered a new feud with the self-proclaimed ace of Wrestle-1. The feud culminated on July 6 in a grudge match, where Kono put the future of Desperado on the line. Kono, however, was victorious over Kai, forcing him to have his head shaved. On September 21, Kono entered the Wrestle-1 Championship tournament, defeating Jiro Kuroshio in his first round match. The following day, Kono handed Wrestle-1 founder Keiji Mutoh his first loss since March 2012 by submitting him in a three-on-four handicap match, where he, Kazma Sakamoto and Ryoji Sai faced Mutoh and the Novus stable (Jiro Kuroshio, Koji Doi and Rionne Fujiwara). On September 23, Kono defeated Yusuke Kodama to advance to the semifinals of the Wrestle-1 Championship tournament. On October 8, Kono defeated Masakatsu Funaki in their semifinal match, after Funaki's training partner Tajiri turned on him and joined Desperado. Later that same day, Kono defeated Kai to win the tournament and become the inaugural Wrestle-1 Champion. Following his win, Kono nominated Keiji Mutoh as his first challenger for the title, claiming that he was going to retire Mutoh at his 30th anniversary event on November 1.
- Finishing moves
- Giant Knee Drop (Diving knee drop)
- Running or a jumping knee
- Signature moves
- Backdrop suplex
- Running dropkick
- "Future Shock"
Championships and accomplishments
- All Japan Pro Wrestling
- World Tag Team Championship (1 time)- with Joe Doering
- World's Strongest Tag Determination League (2010) - with Kenso
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI ranked him #157 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2011