In response to Kazuchika Okada saying Shawn Michaels was an inspiration for him, the WWE Hall of Famer has praised the NJPW star and said that he believes he would “adjust fantastically” if he were to sign for WWE.
Speaking to Sports Illustrated, Okada revealed that he learned a lot from repeated viewings of the classic match between Michaels and Chris Jericho at WrestleMania XIX while training under Ultimo Dragon.
“The first match that made me realize how great wrestling is was Keiji Mutoh and Hiroshi Hase vs. Yuji Nagata and Jun Akiyama. This was before NJPW World was around, so maybe non-Japanese fans aren’t so familiar with it, but it was a dream match and was fun to watch. There was one other match I used to watch a lot. It was on a DVD at my mentor Ultimo Dragon’s house, and that was Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho at WrestleMania 19. I learned so much from that match.”
In the same article, the ‘Showstopper’ spoke about how much he appreciated the comments and heaped praise on the ‘Rainmaker’ who he believes is an “unbelievably talented young man”. He went on to discuss being asked how well the former multi-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion would adjust if he were to join WWE, saying that he reminded him of Michaels himself in that he is talented enough to work anywhere.
“I’m so incredibly appreciative of that. I’ve always admired the style in Japan, and here’s a guy that admires my style. Someone once asked me how Okada would adjust if he were ever in the WWE, and I know the answer to that—he’d adjust fantastically because he’s a fantastic talent. It’s like me. People would say, ‘Well, you only wrestled in the WWE,’ but I could have wrestled anywhere. When a guy is talented, he’s talented. So I’m thankful that Okada, this unbelievably talented young man, gained one or two things from my match.”
While there is little likelihood of Okada joining WWE in the near future, he is reportedly set to become a major part of the burgeoning relationship between NJPW, Impact Wrestling, and AEW.