Kazuchika Okada “Trying To Make NJPW More Exciting”

Kazuchika Okada makes his entrance at AEWxNJPW Forbidden Door

Kazuchika Okada is widely considered one of the best singles wrestlers active today. He has been in New Japan’s main-event picture for over a decade and has been considered the company’s unquestioned ace since 2016.

And a big part of that has been the quality of his matches, many of which have been praised as being among the best in modern times.

But Okada doesn’t appear to be content with the status quo. He is determined to do whatever he can to keep making New Japan better. At least, that’s what his longtime-rival-turned-friend Hiroshi Tanahashi said about him recently.

In an interview with Justin Barrosso of Sports Illustrated, Hiroshi Tanahashi discussed his relationship with Okada, which has gone from one between intense and bitter rivals to an unlikely tag team to close friends.

“I can rely on Okada. He has that ability to turn the tables when the chips are down, and that fires everybody up, myself included. Okada is trying to make New Japan Pro-Wrestling more exciting, whether in Japan, the U.S., singles or tag team division. He has the same desire as I do.”

Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi have come a long way from being intense in-ring rivals

Tanahashi and Okada began their main event rivalry back in 2012, shortly after Okada’s return from his foreign excursion to TNA. After rechristening himself as “the Rainmaker” Okada stunned the wrestling world by beating Tanahashi for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in his first world title challenge.

Since then, Okada and Tanahashi have gone back and forth with both singles victories and title wins. The duo main-evented numerous New Japan PPVs opposite one another including multiple Wrestle Kingdom Tokyo Dome shows.

Their most recent singles match took place on February 18, 2023, at Battle in the Valley, in which Okada beat Tanahashi to retain the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship.

h/t Fightful for the transcription