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Kazuchika Okada (November 8, 1987) is a Japanese professional wrestler. He is currently signed to New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) where he has held the IWGP Heavyweight Championship four times. From February 2010 until October 2011, he was on a developmental tour, working for American promotion Total Nonstop Action Wrestling under the ring names Okada and Okato.

Career

Early Career (2004-2007)

Kazuchika Okada debuted in August of 2004 as a member of the Toryumon Mexico roster, part of the class of aspiring wrestlers taught by Ultimo Dragon. In December of 2005, Okada won the Young Dragons Cup, a tournament meant to showcase the Dragon Gym's young trainees. As a member of Toryumon Mexico, Okada toured the United States, working dates with independent promotions such as UWA Hardcore Wrestling and CHIKARA. On October 28, 2006, Okada received his first title shot, teaming with his teacher against the team of Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin, for the NWA International Lightweight Tag Team Championship. The pair were unsuccessful in their title challenge.

On July 22, 2007, Okada participated in Ultimo Dragon's 20th Anniversary show, teaming up with New Japan Pro Wrestling representatives Jushin "Thunder" Liger and Milano Collection A.T. in a six-man tag match. Following the match, Okada announced that he had signed with New Japan and was officially graduating from the Toryumon system.

A Young Lion in New Japan Pro Wrestling (2007-2010)

Following his entry into New Japan Pro Wrestling, Okada underwent a training course at the company's dojo to further hone his skills. He would go on to make his debut for the company in August of 2007, facing off with fellow Young Lion Tetsuya Naitō in a dark match. His proper debut would come the following year on April 12, 2008, when he fought against Taichi Ishikari. As a Young Lion, Okada lost most of his matches, though he still received many opportunities to showcase his growth as a wrestler, including a May 5, 2009, match in which he teamed with Hirooki Goto against the team of Go Shiozaki and Takashi Sugiura from Pro Wrestling NOAH. The following month saw Okada compete in NOAH alongside Hiroyoshi Tenzan, wherein he wrestled against the likes of Kenta Kobashi and Akihiko Ito. His third and final match on the summer tour with NOAH was against Go Shiozaki, in which he lost for a third time in a row.

New Japan Pro Wrestling announced on January 19, 2010, that Okada would be sent to compete in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, as part of a foreign learning excursion. Later that month, on January 31, Okada wrestled against Hiroshi Tanahashi in his send-off match.

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2010-2011)

Okada made his debut with TNA Wrestling during the February 16, 2010, tapings of their flagship show Impact!, where he was defeated by Alex Shelley in an untelevised match. His proper television debut was during the April 6, 2010 taping of TNA Xplosion. He competed in a tag match with Homicide, in which the pair were defeated by Generation Me (Jeremy and Max Buck). During this time, Okada (now going only by his surname) began competing more regularly during TNA's live event tours, as well as on television as Homicide's partner.

Okada made his debut on Impact! as one of the roster members trying to stop the ECW legends from hijacking the show. Afterwards, he returned to working on Xplosion exclusively, forming a tag team with Japanese wrestler Akira Raijin, known in TNA as Kiyoshi. The pair lost their debut match as a team to Ink Inc., the team of Jesse Neal and Shannon Moore; and further singles matches for Okada were also unsuccessful, with losses to the likes of Rob Terry and Stevie Richards.

Okada would return to Japan for one night on January 4, 2011, as part of Wrestle Kingdom V. Teaming up with Hirooki Goto, the pair faced the team of Takashi Sugiura and Yoshihiro Takayama, in which Okada was pinned after being hit with Takayama's Everest German Suplex. Following his New Japan appearance, Okada would be repackaged by TNA as the partner of Samoa Joe during the January 20, 2011, episode of Impact. During his on-camera appearance, Okada was given a costume and gimmick inspired by Kato, Bruce Lee's masked butler character from The Green Hornet; and was dubbed Okato by TNA. Okato would attempt to intervene on Samoa Joe's behalf during TNA Against All Odds 2011, trying to prevent D'Angelo Dinero from leaving the arena; but both Joe and Okato would be subject to a post-match beating. Okada's last appearance as Okato was on March 24, where he defeated Dinero in a match via disqualification. He would then be taken off of their main TV show and work under his real name once more. In May of the same year, Okada took part in New Japan Pro Wrestling's American tour, wrestling in a tournament to decide the inaugural IWGP Intercontinental Champion; he lost in the first round to MVP. His final televised appearance with TNA was on the June 21 episode of Xplosion, where he lost to Alex Shelley. His name was removed from the TNA roster page on the promotion's official website in October.

Though it was never outright said by other party, reports from the Wrestling Observer, Pro Wrestling Torch, and other newsletters say that the handling of Okada as a foreign trainee in TNA factored into the cooling of relations between TNA and New Japan Pro Wrestling. Per Okada, he nonetheless credits his time in TNA with inspiring him to create his Rainmaker persona, as a way of differentiating himself from the rest of the New Japan roster at that time.

Return to New Japan (2012-present)

Birth of the Rainmaker (2012)

In December of 2011, New Japan announced that Okada would be returning to Japan in 2012, and that he had officially graduated to the heavyweight division after gaining 11 kg of muscle mass overseas. Okada reappeared with a new look, sporting bleached blonde hair; and a heel style of wrestling. In interviews following his homecoming, Okada proclaimed that he had become "Something greater than a monster;" and that he would "Make it rain money in New Japan," a reference to the paper bills that would later fall from the ceiling during his entrance. Taking inspiration from that phrase, he dubbed himself the "Rainmaker."

Okada made his return to New Japan Pro Wrestling at Wrestle Kingdom VI, in which he faced off against another returning wrestler, YOSHI-HASHI, who had been competing in Mexico. Okada would come out again later in the show, confronting Hiroshi Tanahashi after the main event and challenging him for his IWGP Heavyweight Championship. After being rejected by the audience with booing, Tanahashi told Okada that it was too soon for a title match with him, and urged Okada to become stronger. The next day, however, Okada challenged Tanahashi a second time, this time with the assistance of his new manager, Gedo. Tanahashi accepted the challenge, and during the following New Japan tour, Okada officially became a member of the heel unit CHAOS, scoring a main event win streak throughout January; including a pinfall victory over Tanahashi in a tag team match.

Tanahashi and Okada would face one another for the IWGP Heavyweight Title at The New Beginning on February 12, 2012. Pinning Tanahashi with his Rainmaker lariat, Okada went on to become the second youngest IWGP champion in history, behind only his fellow CHAOS stablemate, Shinsuke Nakamura. Okada would successfully defend his title against Tetsuya Naitō at New Japan's 40th Anniversary Special on March 4, and again on May 3 against New Japan Cup winner Hirooki Goto at Wrestling Dontaku. Okada would lose the title in a rematch with Hiroshi Tanahashi at Dominion on June 16, 2012.

Okada entered the G1 Climax for the first time in August of 2012. Competing in the same block as Shinsuke Nakamura, he lost his bout with the leader of CHAOS; but would nonetheless go on to finish in 1st place within his block. He went on to defeat Karl Anderson in the finals, becoming the youngest wrestler in history to win the G1 Climax, unseating Masahiro Chono from the record. In a post-match interview, Okada announced his intent to challenge the IWGP Heavyweight Champion at Wrestle Kingdom VII, which was later approved by NJPW president Naoki Sugabayashi the following day. Okada would defend his right to his IWGP Heavyweight Title challenge against Karl Anderson on October 8, and again against Hirooki Goto on November 11. At the end of the November 11 show, Okada confronted champion Hiroshi Tanahashi, thanked him for his hard work, but added that he would be the one to carry New Japan into the future. From November 20 thru December 2, Okada teamed up with YOSHI-HASHI, representing CHAOS in the 2012 World Tag League. Finishing with 3 wins and 3 losses, the pair were eliminated from the round robin phase by the team of Hirooki Goto and Karl Anderson.

Okada was named pro wrestling's MVP of 2012 by Tokyo Sports magazine, tying the Original Tiger Mask for youngest wrestler to receive the award; and furthermore received an award for best bout of the year for his June match with Hiroshi Tanahashi.

2013

As part of Wrestle Kingdom VII's double main event, Okada faced off with Tanahashi in their third IWGP title bout, where he lost to Tanahashi's High Fly Flow. Okada went on to feud with Minoru Suzuki and the rest of the Suzuki-gun stable, culminating in a match on February 10, 2013, against Suzuki in Hiroshima, in which Okada lost by pinfall. In March, sensing that he was entering a slump, Okada told the press that he had lost both of his major matches of 2013 because, "I had become conceited." On March 11, Okada entered the New Japan Cup, and won his first round match against Suzuki-gun member Lance Archer using a new submission hold, the Red Ink. He went on to the finals on March 23, defeating Hirooki Goto to win the New Japan Cup; and immediately challenging Hiroshi Tanahashi for an IWGP title shot. On April 7, in Ryogoku Sumo Hall, Okada defeated Tanahashi to win his second IWGP Heavyweight Championship belt. He would go on to defeat Minoru Suzuki on May 3; followed by a second title defense against Togi Makabe on June 22, and a third defense against Bullet Club leader Prince Devitt on July 20. As IWGP champion, Okada entered the 2013 G1 Climax in August, where he was eliminated from contention after a loss to Satoshi Kojima. In the same month, Okada made a guest appearance at DDT Pro Wrestling's Ryogoku Peter Pan show on August 18. He and Kota Ibushi competed in a special singles match, where Okada defeated Ibushi.

Okada's IWGP title reign continued with a G1 rematch with Satoshi Kojima on September 29, and a fifth title defense against Hiroshi Tanahashi on October 14. With Tanahashi saying that this was his last chance at IWGP title contendership, Okada's victory solidified him as NJPW's new ace. Okada's reign continued with a victory over Karl Anderson on November 23.

Okada ended his year by winning Tokyo Sports' MVP award for the second year in a row, the first time a wrestler had won the accolade twice in a row in 25 years.

Feud with Bullet Club (2014)

Although Okada defended his IWGP title at Wrestle Kingdom 8, his bout with G1 Climax winner Tetsuya Naito was relegated to the semi-main event of the card, after losing the main event slot in a fan vote to a match between Hiroshi Tanahashi and Shinsuke Nakamura for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. Okada's title reign continued with a successful defense against Hirooki Goto on Feburary 11. On April 6, after a tag team match victory over Bullet Club's Bad Luck Fale and Tama Tonga, Okada was confronted by a debuting AJ Styles, who dismissed Okada as the same "young boy" he knew from TNA. On May 3, at Wrestling Dontaku, Styles successfully challenged Okada for the IWGP title with the help of Yujiro Takahashi, who had turned on Okada and CHAOS to join Bullet Club. Okada and Styles would proceed to face one another multiple times in the spring and summer of 2014, starting with a three-way title match in America at Ring of Honor's War of the Worlds 2014 show on May 17; where Styles retained his championship after pinning Michael Elgin. A rematch with Styles took place in Yokohama on May 25, where Styles defended his title despite interference from both Yujiro and CHAOS teammate Tomohiro Ishii.

In July and August of 2014, Okada participated in the G1 Climax, where he finished in his block with eight wins and two losses, including a pinfall victory over AJ Styles. He went on to defeat CHAOS' leader Shinsuke Nakamura in the finals of the tournament on August 10. Okada teamed up with YOSHI-HASHI on September 21 in an unsuccessful IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship challenge against the team of Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows. On September 23, Okada and Anderson had a singles match, in which Okada successfully defended his number one contendership contract. Okada faced a second challenge on October 13, defeating Tetsuya Naito.

Together with YOSHI-HASHI, Okada entered the 2014 World Tag League, but again they were knocked out of contendership during the round robin phase, with 4 wins and 3 losses.

Career Slump and Recovery (2015)

Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi faced off once more at Wrestle Kingdom IX on January 4, 2015, for the IWGP Heavyweight Title. After failing to defeat Tanahashi, Okada began openly crying in the ring; and afterwards fell into a multi-month slump where he struggled to score any singles wins. In the months following Wrestle Kingdom, he was defeated several times by Bad Luck Fale, including a first round elimination from the 2015 New Japan Cup. After suffering 3 losses to Fale in a row, Okada finally defeated him on April 5 during Invasion Attack 2015, after which he demanded a title shot with IWGP champion AJ Styles; going so far as to attack him after the main event of the show with a Rainmaker. Styles and Okada had their rematch on July 5 at Dominion 7.5 in Osaka-jo Hall, where Okada regained his IWGP Heavyweight Championship.

Okada competed in the 2015 G1 Climax during August, and ended up with a record of seven wins, two losses. He was eliminated from contention on the final day of the league phase by his stablemate Shinsuke Nakamura, who forced him to submit. On August 16, after a loss to AJ Styles in a six-man tag match, Okada found himself in a staredown with veteran wrestler Genichiro Tenryu, who decided upon Okada as his opponent for his retirement match.

Following the tag match loss to Styles, Okada successfully defended his IWGP title against him at King Of Pro Wrestling on October 12. The following month, on November 15, Okada wrestled Tenryu at Final Revolution, from Ryogoku Sumo Hall, defeating the retiring wrestler in his final match. At the end of the year, Tokyo Sports named Okada wrestling's MVP for the third time, and also awarded Match of the Year to his bout with Tenryu.

Start of a Record Breaking IWGP Title Reign (2016)

Okada entered Wrestle Kingdom X on January 4, 2016, as IWGP Heavyweight Champion; facing off against Hiroshi Tanahashi, winner of last year's G1 Climax. The two wrestlers had a bout that was, at the time, the longest main event in Tokyo Dome show history; with Okada successfully defending his championship and cementing once and for all his status as the company's new ace. He went on to beat Hirooki Goto the following month on February 11. The next month, Okada personally announced the addition of British wrestler Will Ospreay to CHAOS' ranks. Later in March, Okada additionally recruited Goto, who had lost in the finals of the New Japan Cup to Tetsuya Naitō. On April 10, Okada faced off against Naito at Invasion Attack 2016, where he lost the IWGP Heavyweight Championship thanks to interference from the other members of Naito's group Los Ingobernables de Japón, BUSHI, EVIL, and the newly debuting SANADA. Okada would get a rematch with Naito on June 19, where he regained his IWGP title, a reign that would last for nearly two years.

From July 18 to August 12, Okada participated in the G1 Climax, where he was eliminated on the final night due to a time-limit draw with Hiroshi Tanahashi, finishing with a final record of five wins, one draw, and three losses. During the round robin phase, he also faced off with and lost to Pro Wrestling NOAH head Naomichi Marufuji, which led to a rematch on October 10 for the IWGP title. Two days before their title match, on October 8, both Okada and YOSHI-HASHI competed in NOAH for the GHC Tag Team Championship against Marufuji and CHAOS member Toru Yano; whom they were unable to defeat. On December 14, Tokyo Sports gave Okada his third Match of the Year award in a row, for his G1 Climax bout with Marufuji.

Continued Championship Dominance and Rivalry with Kenny Omega (2017)

At Wrestle Kingdom XI, Okada faced off against the current Bullet Club leader, Kenny Omega, in the show's main event. In a match lauded by critics such as Dave Meltzer, and wrestlers such as Steve Austin and Daniel Bryan, as one of the greatest matches of all time, Okada successfully defeated Omega after 45 minutes of action. Okada would follow up this performance with a successful defense on February 5, 2017, against the returning Minoru Suzuki, who had attacked Okada with the help of Suzuki-gun at New Years Dash on January 5. His title reign would continue with a match against 2017 New Japan Cup winner Katsuyori Shibata at Sakura Genesis 2017 on April 9. The next month, on May 3, Okada defeated Bad Luck Fale, and granted Kenny Omega a second title shot after the match.

Omega and Okada's second bout took place in Osaka on June 11, where the two wrestlers fought to a time limit draw after 60 minutes. Following dissention in Bullet Club's ranks during the match, Okada would go on to defend his championship against Cody in the United States, as part of NJPW's G1 Special in USA, on July 1. Okada entered the G1 Climax from July 17 thru August 12, where he finished in second place in his block, behind Kenny Omega. Omega and Okada faced each other in the final night of round robin play to decide who would advance to the finals; in a match that saw Omega finally defeat Okada. After losing to Los Ingobernables de Japón member EVIL in the G1 Climax, Okada avenged his loss in his next IWGP title defense on October 9, extending his reign to 8 defenses in a row, his final title defense of 2017. Later that month, on October 22, Okada broke the record for longest IWGP title reign, previously held by Shinya Hashimoto.

2018

On January 3, 2018, the day before Wrestle Kingdom 12, Okada broke the record for longest accumulated days as champion, previously held by Hiroshi Tanahashi. The next day, he successfully defended his championship for the ninth time, defeating G1 Climax winner Tetsuya Naitō in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom. His tenth title defense came a month later against Naito's stablemate SANADA. Following the end of the 2018 New Japan Cup on March 21, winner Zack Sabre Jr. challenged Okada to an IWGP Heavyweight Championship bout, which took place on April 1 at Sakura Genesis 2018. With his 11th title defense, Okada tied the record set by Hiroshi Tanahashi; setting up for a title match between Okada and Tanahashi the following month at Wrestling Dontaku, on May 4; a match that saw Okada defeat his former rival and break his record with 12 straight title defenses. After the match, Okada personally challenged Kenny Omega, expressing frustration with the lack of a decisive winner in their rivalry. Omega accepted, and offered up the challenge of a best of 3 falls match with no time limit. The three-falls bout between Omega and Okada took place on June 9 at Dominion, where Okada finally lost his championship belt to Kenny Omega after over an hour of combined wrestling, and after 720 consecutive days of holding the title.

In wrestling

  • Finishing moves
    • Bridging German suplex – 2004–2011; used as a signature move thereafter
    • Rainmaker (Wrist-lock transitioned into a short-arm lariat takedownJanuary 4, 2012, or a lariat – January 25, 2012–present)
    • Red Ink (Kneeling cross-legged STF) – 2013–present
  • Nicknames
    • "New Age Star"
    • "Rainmaker"
    • "Shin Jidai no Ace" (Japanese for "Ace of the New Era")
    • "Chojin" (Japanese for "Superman")
  • Entrance themes
    • "Cefiro & Radio Comeback (Seishun Saikai)" by Maximum the Hormone
    • "Kick It, That Makes Me Funk" by Yonosuke Kitamura (NJPW) (2007–2011)
    • "Rain Maker" by Yonosuke Kitamura (2012–present)
    • "Rain Maker: 20130104" by Yonosuke Kitamura (2013)
    • "Rain Maker (2014 Edit)" by May's
    • "Rain Maker (Tokyo Dome 2017 Ver.)" by Yonosuke Kitamura

Championships and accomplishments

External links