Kazuchika Okada was the “most underpaid, greatest wrestler of all time.”
On January 19th it was announced that Kazuchika Okada will be leaving New Japan Pro-Wrestling when his current contract expires on January 31st, 2024.
In a statement released via NJPW, Okada expressed his gratitude to the promotion for helping him become the star he is today, while also paying tribute to the fans who have supported him.
The news has rocked the wrestling world as although it had been reported that Kazuchika Okada was toying with the idea of entering free agency, most seasoned observers didn’t expect him to leave NJPW.
As speculation around Okada’s future goes into overdrive, it’s believed that AEW and WWE will both launch efforts to sign him.
Speaking on the Bryan and Vinny Show, Bryan Alvarez said Okada was being major underpaid by NJPW with AEW emerging as the frontrunner to land his signature.
“He’d been thinking about leaving once and then he had a meeting with New Japan and he wasn’t thinking about leaving anymore. And it wasn’t because he was offered a lot of money.
I don’t know exactly what he was making but people today were like this is the most underpaid, greatest wrestler of all time ever. So whatever he was making – if you compare it to what the top stars are making in America today, he’s grossly underpaid in New Japan. He’s done a lot of shows in AEW and don’t think he doesn’t know what they’re making there. They’re making a lot of money.
Tony Khan did a Tweet today and he talked about how it’s going to be an amazing year for AEW in 2024 and it’s certainly believed that AEW is the front runner for Okada, that he will likely end up in AEW but I can tell you he’s going to be negotiating with many different people.
So I would not say it’s a lock that he’s going to AEW, but I would say it’s very likely he’s going to AEW but it’s not like WWE ain’t throwing a lot of money around and it’s not like WWE ain’t got interest in Okada.
WWE Interest In Kazuchika Okada Is Very Real
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.
Alvarez noted that the increased profile of Nakamura and his references to “chaos” are far from an accident.
“Trust me they have interest to the point that [Shinsuke] Nakamura kept saying he was going to bring chaos to WWE, things like that are not a coincidence.
It’s like when he did that GTS for a few weeks, that was right around the time they were negotiating with CM Punk then everything with Punk fell through and he stopped doing the GTS. Then negotiations started up again and CM Punk returned at Survivor Series. It is no coincidence that Nakamura has talked about chaos and there is a chance that [Okada] would end up in WWE but it seems very likely that he’s going to AEW.
Despite the announcement, Okada will wrestle three more dates for NJPW in February.
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