Kazuchika Okada is the type of superstar that both AEW and WWE will pull out all the stops to sign when he becomes a free agent in 2024.
Some interesting news came out of professional wrestling on Monday, December 4. Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated reported that Kazuchika Okada is set to become a free agent in 2024. Next year was already shaping up to be momentous on the free agency front, but this is a massive announcement. If he were to leave New Japan Pro Wrestling, both AEW and WWE would be in the hunt to sign him to a deal, but WWE’s upturn in momentum helps it stand out as the initial front-runner of the group.
Okada is one of the best professional wrestlers in the world today. While some of the casual viewers who stick to North American wrestling may be unaware, one looks at “The Rainmaker” and it becomes clear why he’s remained one of the focal points in Japanese wrestling for years. Everything about Okada screams superstar and he’s rightfully compared to the same level as John Cena and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin during their primes. Both promotions would have pros and cons for the multiple-time champion, but there are reasons to think that WWE stands a bit above.
All Elite Wrestling is a viable competitor in the market. While some fans complain about its current creative direction, one thing that will always stand out about AEW is its ability to create amazing professional wrestling on a daily basis. Okada has already been a part of some of those moments, such as his exceptional match against Bryan Danielson back at AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door II. If he were to head to that promotion, it would be a massive deal to pick up one of the most talented performers in the world.
But that’s also a big question within AEW. How will the company continue to find time to book all the performers that fans want to see at the top level? MJF is standing firm with the AEW World Heavyweight Championship. Individuals like Swerve, “Hangman” Adam Page, Kenny Omega, Jon Moxley, Danielson, and many more are right there nipping at the heels of the champ, not too far behind in stature. Then there’s Will Ospreay coming in 2024 and he’s going to be another huge addition to the roster. Fans have long shown concern with AEW’s booking of the same few names at the top of the card. Could Okada immediately break through that glass ceiling? Of course, but recent creative direction still gives pause to that outcome.
If this was a WWE run by Vince McMahon, then Okada would be best served to stay away from the company at all costs. But thanks to his legal issues, it seems that McMahon is finally out of any type of power in the company. That opening would best fit Okada as his arrival would be a huge spark for the company. Triple H’s creative has given more space for performers like Okada and that may be the point that helps this promotion in the impending race.
WWE is the biggest platform in professional wrestling and that’s an undeniable fact at this point. Seeing Okada as a part of a WrestleMania showcase would be something that many would have thought impossible. He immediately stands at the same level as Roman Reigns, CM Punk, Seth Rollins, or anyone else on the WWE roster. There’s so much that could be done with Okada that would be different and surprising, that he would ultimately draw eyeballs that had originally turned away from the product.
Kazuchika Okada as a free agent in 2024 is head-turning news. If he is to leave NJPW, expect AEW and WWE to make a full-court press to bring him into the company. While both are viable options, WWE has the momentum and the cash to make a big play that would blow the doors off wrestling in 2024.