Kazuchika Okada carried the Olympic Torch through his home city of Anjo on Tuesday as part of the build towards the Tokyo-hosted Olympic Games.
The five-time former IWGP Heavyweight Champion appeared to greatly enjoy the experience, smiling and waving to the crowd that had gathered to witness his run.
The Rainmaker commented to New Japan’s official website:
Everybody was waving and smiling as I made my run, so I wanted to return those smiles right back to them. It was a fantastic experience.
The event further punctuated what has been an enjoyable week for Okada, with New Japan confirming on Monday that he would be challenging for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Grand Slam on May 29th.
The match came about following Will Ospreay’s shocking title victory over Kota Ibushi at Sakura Genesis, where the new champion, seeking to avenge his Wrestle Kingdom loss earlier this year, immediately called out Okada.
The Rainmaker had made his way to the ring, presumably to respond, before Shingo Takagi interjected, claiming the first title shot as he had defeated Okada during the New Japan Cup.
Takagi did, however, offer his first title defence to Okada should he defeat Ospreay.
Unmoved, a silent Okada appeared happy to let the two former junior heavyweight rivals battle it out with a view to challenging the victor down the road.
With this idea now coming to fruition, Okada will return to the Tokyo Dome on May 29th in search of his first run with the freshly minted IWGP World Heavyweight Championship.