Major NJPW Star Set To Become Free Agent

NJPW Logo Over JONAH, New Japan

One of the biggest NJPW wrestling stars could become a free agent in early 2024.

It has been reported by Sports Illustrated that New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Kazuchika Okada could potentially be a free agent by the end of January 2024 if he doesn’t re-sign with NJPW. The story from SI was confirmed by Fightful as well.

The SI report by Justin Barrasso noted that the 36-year-old Okada is seriously entertaining the possibility of wrestling for a different promotion.

If Okada were to leave NJPW then the two major promotions that would likely go after him are AEW and WWE.

Out of those two promotions that are based in the United States with a global reach, Okada is more familiar with AEW. His last match in AEW was a tag team match on Dynamite in October when he teamed up with Orange Cassidy against Bryan Danielson & Claudio Castagnoli, who got the win in the match.

Okada has also wrestled in other matches for AEW including the main event of their joint PPV with NJPW called Forbidden Door in June 2023. At that show, Danielson defeated Okada in the main event dream match between two wrestlers that are considered among the best in their generation.

What Does WWE’s Shawn Michaels Think of NJPW’s Kazuchika Okada?

During his already legendary run in NJPW, Okada is a seven-time IWGP World Heavyweight Champion and has been a main event performer for over a decade while winning numerous awards for outstanding matches over his career.

It was nearly three years ago when WWE NXT boss and two-time Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels was asked by Sports Illustrated about Okada. Michaels responded with a lot of praise, which shows WWE is likely very aware of how great Okada is.

“Someone once asked me how Okada would adjust if he were ever in the WWE, and I know the answer to that—he’d adjust fantastically, because he’s a fantastic talent. It’s like me. People would say, ‘Well, you only wrestled in the WWE,’ but I could have wrestled anywhere. When a guy is talented, he’s talented.”

The WWE roster features several big name stars that have done well in the company including Okada’s friend Shinsuke Nakamura. On the women’s side, the likes of Asuka, WWE Women’s Champion IYO SKY, and the recently returned Kairi Sane are all being featured heavily as well.

It’s always possible that Okada remains in NJPW due to being there for so long, but if he does leave, wherever he goes will be adding a very talented wrestler to its roster.

UPDATE: Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer wrote on X/Twitter that: “Virtually every NJPW wrestler will be a free agent at the end of January. They mostly sign deals 2/1 to 1/31 every year, but we covered WWE’s interest in him weeks ago.”