Kazuchika Okada has explained his decision to leave NJPW when his contract expires at the end of January. Okada will have his final matches with NJPW in February, marking the end of his long tenure with the company.

In an interview with Tokyo Sports, Okada discussed his decision to part ways with NJPW. He mentioned that his contract was up for renewal this year, and after five years with the company, it felt like the right time to consider his options. He contemplated whether to sign another contract with NJPW or explore opportunities elsewhere.

“First of all, my contract was up for five years this year (the last year of my contract). It was a good time for me to think about something. When I thought about whether I would sign another contract with New Japan Pro-Wrestling…or whether I would look at other worlds, I thought that maybe this was my last chance,” he said.

Okada further elaborated on the timing of his decision, stating that he had been thinking about it for a while. However, he only recently made the final choice. He admitted that the comfort of his current position played a role in his decision to leave. He expressed a desire not to become complacent and to maintain his hunger as a wrestler.


“After announcing that I was quitting and going on the tour…I felt too comfortable. I wondered what that would be like. I started my wrestling career in Mexico, came to New Japan Pro-Wrestling, and became a rainmaker 12 years later. Maybe if I stay here, I can wrestle without any inconvenience. But I don’t want to become the same Kazuchika Okada without such hunger. I don’t want to be in a situation where I have to rest on my laurels. If I were “human” Okada, I would have friends here, and I would be in the best environment. But as “wrestler” Okada, it was different.”

The idea of staying in NJPW, where he has spent most of his career and achieved great success, was tempting, but Okada wanted to continue challenging himself and evolving as a wrestler. He didn’t want to rest on his laurels and wanted to maintain the drive that has defined his career.

Okada will have a high-profile match against Hiroshi Tanahashi in one of his final NJPW appearances on February 11, marking the end of an era in his NJPW journey.

What are your thoughts on Kazuchika Okada’s decision to leave NJPW when his contract expires? Let us know in the comments.

Steve Carrier

Steve is the Founder of RingsideNews. He has been writing about professional wrestling since 1996. He first got into website development at the time and has been focusing on bringing his readers the best professional wrestling news at it's highest quality.

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