‘The Rainmaker’ will soon be All Elite.
On January 19th, New Japan Pro Wrestling made the shocking announcement that former IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada would not be re-signing with the company, with his contract expiring on January 31st, although he’s set to remain with NJPW until February 24th.
Fightful Select are now reporting that Okada had effectively agreed to join AEW within the last couple of week, and whilst they’re yet to receive confirmation that the company have officially signed the 36-year-old, AEW are said to have been confident of landing him as far back as mid-January.
“Fightful has learned that legendary New Japan Pro Wrestling star Kazuchika Okada is headed with All Elite Wrestling after leaving NJPW. We’re told that the deal was effectively agreed to in the last couple of weeks, but we haven’t confirmed that pen has been put to paper as we’re told it is being finalized. AEW has been confident that they’d land him for the last several weeks, and even as far back as mid-January.”-Fightful Select
Fightful additionally noted that, as of writing, they’re yet to hear of firm plans as to when Okada is set to debut as a contracted AEW talent, although they were able to note that they’d heard its expected to be after he finishes up his commitments with NJPW.
As for Okada’s creative direction in AEW, the report adds that ideas had been tossed out as early as January, with discussions having also taken place in Las Vegas this past weekend that the first half of March would be big for the company.
On top of AEW’s interest, WWE were also heavily rumoured to be in the race for Okada’s signature, although that no now longer appears to be a possibility. Fightful were able to confirm with WWE sources that the company were in talks with Okada, however AEW looks to have ultimately come out on top.
“WWE sources that we spoke to in Las Vegas did confirm that there were talks between Okada and WWE. We’ve heard from WWE talent who noted Okada was weighing the pros and cons of heading to WWE compared to AEW. In the end, we’re told that AEW was very confident in their offer to Okada.”-Fightful Select
Okada defeated his long-time rival Hiroshi Tanahashi as today’s NJPW The New Beginning in Osaka show in what is currently expected to be his final singles match in the promotion, although his involved on the February 23rd and 24th shows in Sapporo have yet to be revealed.
As always, we’ll aim to provide any further updates on Kazuchika Okada’s future as soon as we hear more.