36-year-old Kazuchika Okada’s contract with New Japan expired at the end of January, and it was known he was headed to the States for the next chapter of his career. Still, whether he was WWE or AEW-bound wasn’t clear, as both promotions were keen on securing his services. However, after Will Ospreay and Mercedes Moné both picked AEW over WWE in recent months, it has now been reported by Fightful that Okada has done the same and is expected to sign with Tony Khan’s promotion shortly.
While highly respected in Japan as an elite worker, Okada only became known in the United States by casual wrestling fans once he began working with AEW. This is because his past 2010 to 2011 US run was with TNA, where he competed under the name Okato with a gimmick inspired by Kato from The Green Hornet. This use of him was cited as one of the main reasons New Japan ended its working relationship with TNA at the time. Yet, it should be noted that he credits his time working for the promotion with teaching him about character, which led to him becoming the Rainmaker upon his return to New Japan.