Kazuchika Okada to AEW: Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Published 02/12/2024, 2:15 AM EST

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When it comes to famed wrestlers finding a new place to call home, there is a ton of competition these days. You have a ton of places to choose from, like the WWE, AEW, Impact Wrestling, etc. However, when it comes to Kazuchika Okada, he’s made his choice, and it’s Tony Khan’s AEW for now. Leaving the grounds of New Japan Pro Wrestling behind, here is everything you need to know about the five-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion.

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Trained by Último Dragón, Kazuchika Okada’s impressive journey

Did you know that Okada was introduced to the world of pro wrestling by the NJPW video game? Yes, and this led him to train under the legend that is the Último Dragón. Being trained by someone who concurrently held ten titles, a record that stands to this date, is nothing less than an achievement in and of itself.

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After debuting in Dragon’s own wrestling school in 2004, he moved on to NJPW in 2007. However, it would take him a year, until April 12, 2008, to make his official debut in the company. Despite not winning any big matches, he was a fan favorite and even took on WWE’s Shinsuke Nakamura and Tajiri, unsuccessfully.

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This led NJPW to send him to TNA for development, as they did not see him at his full potential. He debuted in TNA on February 16, 2010, in a dark match. Just like NJPW, he didn’t win matches but the admiration from the fans. He would return to NPJW in 2011 with zero title wins in TNA. However, this would be the start of his rise to stardom in the company.

His acclaimed feud with Hiroshi Tanahashi, starting in 2012, would see his first big win. He won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship for the first time at The New Begining in February 2012. This would lead him to lose and win the title four more times. From 2016 to 2018, he was the longest reigning IWGP Heavyweight Championship for a total of 720 days in his fourth title reign.

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Big stars usually don’t depart Japan to ply their trade in the US. However, news of his departure created shockwaves in the pro wrestling realm. He had his fair share of picks and he chose AEW.

Why did Kazuchika Okada choose AEW over the WWE?

It was reported that AEW had plans for Okada since January 2024. On the other hand, the WWE did want him but had nothing creative in mind. Furthermore, the WWE is packed with talent and does not need any fresh faces.

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Other reports suggest this could have been the reason why the WWE did not put forth an excellent offer. AEW may have offered Okada more money to get a chance to capitalise on the star’s fame. What do you think about Okada’s journey? Tell us down below.

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Written by:

Christopher Paul

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My passion for professional wrestling began when I saw Kane ripping the Hell in a Cell door off in the iconic 1997 match. I used to enjoy watching WWE re-runs at 5 in the evening when I got home from school. It was sort of a ritual for me.
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Edited by:

Amal Joyce

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