Kazuchika Okada’s contract with New Japan Pro Wrestling is coming up in less than two months.
Justin Barrasso of SI.com reports that the 36-year-old’s deal with NJPW expires at the end of January with the performer “seriously entertaining the possibility of wrestling for a different promotion.”
Barrasso reports that the two options for Okada would be WWE or AEW if he opted to leave New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Okada was originally trained in the Toryumon system by Ultimo Dragon and debuted in 2004 and would not enter the NJPW Dojo until years later and debut for the promotion in 2007.
In 2010, Okada was sent to TNA for his excursion and infamously given the persona of “Okato” persona and led to long-term issues with New Japan for his mishandling. Okada returned at the Tokyo Dome on Jan. 4, 2012, and was launched into the main event position by winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship for the first time the following month by defeating Hiroshi Tanahashi.
Okada and Tanahashi became the definitive rivalry throughout the decade and led NJPW out of its dark period and expand outside of Japan through streaming capabilities.
Okada has been positioned as New Japan’s franchise star for the past twelve years including seven runs as IWGP Heavyweight/World Champion, a four-time G1 Climax winner, and a two-time New Japan Cup winner. He has produced some of the greatest matches of the era against the likes of Tanahashi, Tetsuya Naito, Kenny Omega, Shinsuke Nakamura, Will Ospreay, SANADA, & Bryan Danielson among others.
In 2021, Okada was voted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame.