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Okada: The King of New Japan

A Screenshot of Okada

I was introduced to Okada in 2019 at the G1 Supercard on April 6, 2019, at Madison Square Garden in NYC, a show dedicated to both New Japan and Ring of Honor that featured some amazing wrestlers. This was not only my introduction to Okada but my intro to Japanese-styled wrestling and to New Japan as a promotion.

Okada was theatrical and played to the crowd at MSG, and I knew that, along with some other wrestlers that had stood out, that he had gained a fan in me. But this won’t be a long trip down memory lane, rather a look into what makes Okada the King of New Japan.

The Beginning

Kazuchika Okada was born in 1987 on November 8th in Anjō, Aichi. Going to boarding school, he engaged in some sports. He was on both the track team and the baseball team. With regard to track, he did well enough that he was scouted there by high school recruiters. And while it seemed he could’ve gone a different route, Okada was introduced to New Japan after his bother borrowed a NJPW video game.

Okada was trained by Yoshihiro Asai (Último Dragón) at the Toryumon wrestling school. On August 29, 2004, Okada made his professional wrestling debut against Negro Navarro. While Okada mostly wrestled in Mexico, he also made appearances in Canada and the US. He also won the 2005 Young Dragons Cup 2005.

Round One in New Japan

Okada would leave Toryumon and join the NJPW Dojo to train. His first match with New Japan was with Tetsuya Naito, which was the start of a remarkable feud between the two.

He would come back in 2008 after an injury and was introduced to the New Japan audience as a heavyweight, taking on Taichi Ishikari, Shinsuke Nakamura, Tajiri, and the like of Go Shiozaki from Pro Wrestling Noah. He would become a fan favorite, even with the many losses under his belt.
Okada would go to YNA to develop more and he had his last match at the time with Hiroshi Tanahashi, another favorite of mine.

Eventually, he would make his way back and start to propel up the road of being what I think is: the king of New Japan.

The Feuds & Matches

Okada would have many different feuds over the years, some of the greatest feuds in wrestling history: Naito, Kenny Omega, Shibata, Nakamura, Aj Styles, and Tanahashi, to name a few. In particular, his match with Shibata was amazing. It was a match that had the crowd shocked at Okada being fierce, but also Shibata’s tenacity to keep going, something I admire about them both.

Two of the matches that stood out to me were his matches with Tanahashi. On October 13, 2014, Okada would take on Tanahashi again. They had a record of 2-2-1 against each other, and this was another highly anticipated matchup. For the whole match, Tanahashi would use techniques to stop Okada, but Okada kept going, using a Rainmaker to take him down. This, to me, is one of his greatest rivalries.

On March 4, 2012, Okada would put the IWGP’s Heavyweight title on the line against Naito. Many questioned Okada’s title win being a fluke. But in this match-up, you could see the greatest that was coming out of Okada. It wasn’t a fluke.

Okada wearing a white and gold rob walking to the ring. Okada the king of New Japan
Okada at Wrestle Kingdom

The Rainmaker

Now what makes Okada the King of New Japan?

Outside of Okada’s Rainmaker which is a clothesline with lots of theatrics and energy, we think about the persona he gives to entertain us. From the gear that he wears to the way he works hard for New Japan, few can match his dedication to the company, the brand, and himself.

Okada is the king of drip, wearing immaculate gear, especially for his big matches. From the camera angles to the glitz, Okada has made a name for himself to become one of the biggest wrestlers to date.

Legacy

Okada would also have many accomplishments outside of his amazing matches. He was the G1 Climax winner in 2012, 2014, and 2021. He would win the New Japan Cup in 2013 and 2019. In 2017, he would win Best Bout for his match with Kenny Omega on June 11th. Okada would hold the IWGP Heavyweight Championship 5 times, including his current reign. Plus, he has a ton of other accomplishments on top of all this.

He has represented New Japan in his work, his matches, and the way he carries himself. He has shown time and time again why he is everything you could want in a wrestler.

Okada is the King of New Japan.

Written by Katrina Blake

Katrina is a writer, podcaster, Youtuber and a wrestling backstage correspondent. She loves wrestling. So much so that during the Thunderdome era, she was a frequent visitor. When she isn't being sarcastic or laughing at memes, she is reading a good book. She also enjoys binge watching crime shows, anime, horror movies or watching her favorite matches. Katrina also is an award-winning author, writing under the name Kay Blake. She has a YouTube channel called In Kat We Trust, and a podcast called Kickin' Back with Kat where she interviews wrestlers from all over.

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