Kazuchika Okada Reportedly Becomes Free Agent In Early 2024

Kazuchika Okada has been the standard bearer for New Japan Pro-Wrestling for nearly twenty years. Joining the NJPW Dojo in 2007, he has won the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship on seven occasions, among his many other accolades. Recently, fans in the United States have seen him in action thanks to NJPW’s partnership with All Elite Wrestling. On an October episode of AEW Dynamite, he teamed with his CHAOS stablemate Orange Cassidy in a losing effort to Blackpool Combat Club’s Bryan Danielson and Claudio Castagnoli.

Last month, it was reported that WWE, now entirely under Paul “Triple H” Levesque’s creative leadership, has a renewed interest in signing Okada. There has been interest for years in the top star, but with Levesque now at the helm, he is making strides to show WWE has changed the way it portrays Japanese stars. Shinsuke Nakamura’s renewed push and feuds with top talents like WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth “Freaking” Rollins and Cody Rhodes were pointed to as examples. Another example is KAIRI’s return and pairing with Damage CTRL in a top program.

Sports Illustrated reports that Okada’s NJPW contract expires at the end of January 2024; at that time, he will become a free agent. He is apparently “seriously entertaining” the possibility of wrestling for a new promotion. The recent tag match he worked with BCC in AEW was said to serve a few purposes, including working with Danielson ahead of their upcoming Wrestle Kingdom match next month and to get a better feel for AEW. The Rainmaker is said to be weighing signing with AEW or WWE if he does not re-sign with NJPW.

Shawn Michaels, who runs WWE NXT and is a close friend of Levesque, told SI that he feels Okada would do “fantastically” in WWE. He also noted that many fans tell him they wish he had wrestled more outside of WWE, which is something Okada could similarly do if he left NJPW. Wherever he signs, Okada is in line for a massive payday.