Kazuchika Okada’s Choice to Depart from NJPW Sends Shockwaves Through Wrestling Circles

Kazuchika Okada's Choice to Depart from NJPW Sends Shockwaves Through Wrestling Circles

Former seven-time IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada recently revealed the reasons behind his departure from NJPW.

On January 18, the wrestling community was taken aback when New Japan Pro Wrestling declared that Okada, a former seven-time IWGP World Heavyweight Champion, would be leaving the organization as his contract expires on January 31.

Okada is set to participate in the New Beginning tour throughout February, with his farewell performances scheduled for February 23 and 24 in Sapporo.

In an exclusive interview with Tokyo Sports, Kazuchika Okada elaborated on the factors that influenced his decision to part ways with NJPW. He stated:

“Initially, my contract was up for renewal this year after a five-year term. It was an opportune moment for me to contemplate my future.”

“When faced with the choice of either renewing my contract with New Japan Pro Wrestling or exploring other opportunities, I felt that this might be my final chance.”

When asked about the timing of his decision, Okada responded:

“Naturally, discussions with the company had been ongoing, and I had been pondering it for some time. The decision, however, was only solidified recently.”

Regarding the rationale behind leaving New Japan, Okada explained:

“After announcing my departure and embarking on the farewell tour, I realized I was too comfortable.”

“I questioned what that comfort would do to me. I commenced my wrestling journey in Mexico, joined New Japan Pro Wrestling, and evolved into ‘The Rainmaker’ over 12 years.”

“Staying here might allow me to wrestle without hindrance, but I don’t want to be the same Kazuchika Okada without that hunger.”

“I don’t wish to find myself in a situation where I rest on my laurels. As ‘human’ Okada, I’d have friends and enjoy the ideal environment. However, as ‘wrestler’ Okada, it’s a different story.”

Okada is set to face Hiroshi Tanahashi for the final time in NJPW on February 11 at New Beginning in Osaka. As of now, the company has not yet disclosed Okada’s final matches in New Japan at NJPW New Beginning in Sapporo on February 23 and 24.

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