Tetsuya Naito expresses that he wanted Kazuchika Okada to stay in NJPW

Photo Courtesy: New Japan Pro-Wrestling

Naito and Muto chat NJPW. 

At the end of January 2024, Kazuchika Okada’s contract with New Japan Pro-Wrestling will have expired and he’ll be wrapping up with the company near the conclusion of The New Beginning tour.

One of Okada’s rivals and current IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Tetsuya Naito spoke about Okada’s pending departure. Tokyo Sports pushed out their sit-down discussion with Naito and Keiji Muto

Naito thinks Okada’s ambition to reach a new stage in his career is amazing, but he wanted him to stay with the company. 

Naito: I think his ambition to reach a new stage and a higher position is amazing. I was shocked when Muto-san left New Japan. So it is important to go to a new place and challenge yourself, but I wanted (Kazuchika) Okada to stay in New Japan.

The IWGP World Champion understands wrestlers wanting to go overseas. He does not think that would be an option for him, even if he was younger. 

Keiji Muto chimed in and shared his thought that there will come a time when young Japanese talents will pass through NJPW and AJPW and go on to try out for WWE. 

Naito: Of course, I understand that as a wrestler, you want to be seen by as many people as possible. I’m not against wrestlers who go overseas. I don’t think that is an option for me. Even if I were younger.

Muto: But that’s fine too. That’s where new competition will emerge. I think the time will come when talented young Japanese will pass through New Japan and All Japan and suddenly try out for WWE.

Naito’s first title defense is taking place on the last day of The New Beginning tour in Sapporo. He’ll be defending against SANADA.

As of this writing, Okada’s last bout in NJPW is going to be against Hiroshi Tanahashi on February 11th in Osaka.

About Andrew Thompson 8727 Articles
A Washington D.C. native and graduate of Norfolk State University, Andrew Thompson has been covering wrestling since 2017.