Kazuchika Okada will become a free agent on January 31st.
In a move that once seemed impossible, Kazuchika Okada — widely regarded as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, will be leaving New Japan Pro-Wrestling. In a short statement, NJPW announced that Okada will become a free agent when his contract expires on January 31st.
“Kazuchika Okada will be leaving New Japan Pro-Wrestling after the conclusion of his contract on January 31 2024. We apologize to fans for the abrupt nature of this announcement, but join them in wishing Okada the very best in his future.”
The promotion also shared a statement from the man himself.
“I have nothing but gratitude for having been a part of New Japan Pro-Wrestling since 2007, and for NJPW bringing me from a 19 year old kid off the plane in Mexico to the Rainmaker I am today.
Thank you to the best of companies in NJPW, to the best of opponents that I’ve been able to face here, and to the best of fans that have cheered and booed over the years. I promise to make it rain in every match I have left, so keep watching.”
Back in December, it was reported that Kazuchika Okada was toying with the idea of entering free agency, although many fans and observers didn’t think it would actually happen. The news comes as a huge blow for NJPW — especially internationally, given the promotion will have lost Jay White, Will Ospreay, and now Okada in a little under 12 months.
What Next For Kazuchika Okada?
In November it emerged that there had been increased talk about Kazuchika Okada in WWE. A potential move for the star is reportedly behind the increased use of Shinsuke Nakamura.
Meanwhile, Tony Khan has teased big things for AEW on social media following the news.