Kazuchika Okada, who had a legendary career with NJPW, is now heading to AEW for their big year in 2024. This news shouldn’t come as a surprise to many, as AEW has already had a strong start to the year under the leadership of Tony Khan.
It has been reported that Okada was in talks with WWE, but many wrestling fans shouldn’t be surprised that he joined AEW. This is because AEW has been making strong recruiting offers.
Reports emerge regarding Kazuchika Okada’s next destination
According to recent reports, Kazuchika Okada, one of the best pro wrestlers in the world, is said to be concluding his career in Japan, and it seems he’ll be joining All Elite Wrestling (AEW) instead of accepting WWE’s offer. Fans won’t have to wait long, as all signs point towards Okada joining AEW soon.
Sean Ross Sapp from “Fightful Select” has reported that Kazuchika Okada is likely to join AEW after leaving NJPW. While the deal has been effectively agreed upon in recent weeks, it has not yet been officially confirmed. AEW has been confident in securing his services for several weeks, going back to mid-January.
“WWE sources that we spoke to in Las Vegas did confirm that there were talks between Okada and WWE. We’ve heard from WWE talent who noted Okada was weighing the pros and cons of heading to WWE compared to AEW. In the end, we’re told that AEW was very confident in their offer to Okada,” wrote Sean Ross Sapp.
There is still no official announcement regarding Kazuchika’s debut in AEW. However, it is expected to take place after he finishes his obligations with New Japan Pro Wrestling. As early as January, creative ideas for Okada were already being discussed, and talks in Las Vegas suggested significant developments for the company in the first half of March.
WWE was also interested in signing Okada, and sources from WWE confirmed discussions between Okada and them. Nevertheless, it has been confirmed that the former IWGP World Heavyweight Champion will be joining AEW.
The Rainmaker says emotional goodbye to NJPW
Yesterday, on February 11, Kazuchika Okada had an eventful Sunday at New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s The New Beginning in Osaka. The crowd made Okada emotional before his match with Hiroshi Tanahashi had even started. However, Okada managed to win against NJPW’s current President, Tanahashi.
Although the match was not as legendary as their Tokyo Dome battles, it was still fitting for the occasion, with Tanahashi attempting to escape from Okada’s last Rainmaker in vain. The fight lasted for about 17 minutes, bringing an end to one of the rivalries that had defined both of their careers and passing the torch from Tanahashi to Okada as the company’s new “Ace.”
After the match, they embraced before Tanahashi left Okada in the ring for one last goodbye.However, before he leaves, he still has two upcoming dates on Feb. 23–24 in Sapporo. These events will be his last appearances in New Japan.
On the 23rd and the next night, Okada will participate in two multi-man matches where he will team up with members of his CHAOS faction, as well as Tanahashi. On the first night, Okada will team up with Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, and YOH to take on the United Empire’s Jeff Cobb, Great-O-Khan, Aaron Henare, Francesco Akira, and Callum Newman.
On the second night, Okada, Tanahashi, Ishii, Goto, and YOSHI-HASHI will face off against Matt Riddle, Cobb, Great-O-Khan, Henare, and Akira. It is unlikely that we will witness Okada passing the torch to a new “Ace” in NJPW, as his farewell is more focused on honoring the past than establishing the future.
However, The New Beginning in Sapporo shows will still progress the promotion’s main event storylines. It has been announced that the winners of the IWGP World Heavyweight and Junior Heavyweight title matches will compete in a champion vs. champion match at the 52nd Anniversary event on March 6 in Ota.
Do you think Kazuchika Okada will join the AEW roster? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!