From a lackluster run in the United States, to returning to Japan and becoming an Icon, Kazuchika Okada run in wrestling has certainly been a wild ride.
Kazuchika Okada has became one of the top wrestlers in the world. For the last five years Okada, has been the face of New Japan Pro Wrestling becoming its most recognizable and popular star.
Okada began his training in 2004, he was trained by the legendary Ultimo Dragon. Okada then wrestled in Ultimo Dragon’s promotion Toryumon Mexico and also made some brief appearances in The United States and Canada.
Okada would win the promotions prestigious Young Dragons Cup in 2005, and would stay in the company until 2007. He would then sign with New Japan Pro Wrestling and would continue his training at the NJPW Dojo.
Okada would battle stars such as Tanahashi, Naito and Nakamura during his first run in NJPW, despite losing all these battles Okada gained a huge following from the fans. Okada would then be sent by NJPW to the United States on a tour to further sharpen his wrestling skills. His tour would land him in TNA.
Okada’s time in TNA was seen as both a waste and a missed opportunity for TNA. Okada was used as nothing more as a comedic sidekick for Samoa Joe while he was feuding with D’Angelo Dinero. The misuse in Okada caused NJPW to immediately cease its working relationship with the company.
Despite being misused while he was in TNA, Okada has stated that his run was important as it showed him that he needed more than to just be a good wrestler he needed a good character persona as well.
When Okada returned to NJPW in 2012 he joined the villainous (at the time) stable, Chaos and gained Japanese Legend Gedo as his manager. He then ushered in his new gimmick and character The Rainmaker.
Okada would quickly challenge Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Okada would defeat Tanahashi for the Championship in February 2012 and would hold the title for 125 Days before dropping it back to Tanahashsi in June.
Okada would then partake in the G1 Climax that year. Okada would defeat Karl Anderson in the finals to win the 2012 G1 Climax and became the youngest ever to win the tournament.
Okada would challenge Tanahashi at WrestleKingdom 7, Okada failed to defeat Tanahashi for the championship. However, Okada would win the New Japan Cup and challenge Tanahahsi once again for the title. This time Okada would win, becoming a two time IWGP Heavyweight Champion in the process.
Okada would then go on to have one of the more successful reigns in NJPW history as he held the title for nearly 14 months. During this time he would defend the title 8 times successfully
His title reign came to an end in May 2014 when he lost to AJ Styles. Despite the loss Okada would go to the G1 Climax for the second time in 2014. Okada would challenge Tanahashi once again for the title at WrestleKingdom 9, but ultimately would lose again.
Okada though would win the championship back in July when he defeated AJ Styles (Styles had defeated Tanahashi for the Championship in February). At WrestleKingdom 10 Okada was finally able to beat his longtime rival Hiroshi Tanahashi in the main event of the big show.
Okada though would lose the championship in March to Tetsuya Naito. However in June, Okada would beat Naito in their rematch to win his 4th IWGP Heavyweight Championship, with Okada at the moment being the current champion.
Kazuchika Okada is not only one of the most popular wrestlers in NJPW, he is one of the most popular wrestlers in the world. Along with Tanahashi and Nakamura Okada leads a new generation in NJPW where characters are big in the promotion now.
Okada’s Rainmaker persona has become one of the most popular in all of wrestling. His feud with Tanahashi has also been considered one of the greatest rivalries in the history of professional wrestling.
As the leader of Chaos and the IWGP Heavyweight Champion the sky is the limit with Okada. Whether he remains in NJPW or eventually heads to WWE in the future of the Rainmaker Kazuchika Okada will be a fun one to watch.