Okada’s final NJPW matches are set after an emotional show in Osaka


NJPWWorld’s X

It was an eventful Sunday for Kazuchika Okada.

At New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s The New Beginning in Osaka yesterday (Feb. 12), the crowd had Okada looking tearful before his match with Hiroshi Tanahashi even began.

Okada would go on to pick up a win over NJPW’s current President. It wasn’t as epic as their Tokyo Dome clashes, but it hit all the right notes for the occasion, culminating in Tanahashi vainly trying to escape on last Rainmaker. The ~17 minute bout put a bow on one of the rivalries that’s defined both of their careers, and passed the torch to from Tanahashi-to-Okada as the company’s “Ace”.

Afterward, they embraced. Then Tanahashi left Okada in the ring for another goodbye.

But it’s not the end of Okada’s New Japan run. We already knew that he had a pair of dates left before he departs (almost certainly to AEW… a report from Fightful confirming that move was the other eventful part of The Rainmaker’s Sunday). Now we know what he’ll be doing on those dates, Feb. 23-24 in Sapporo.

The matches are both multi-man affairs where Okada will team with members of his CHAOS faction — and Tanahashi. On the 23rd he’ll be with Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI & YOH as they take on United Empire’s Jeff Cobb, Great-O-Khan, Aaron Henare, Francesco Akira & Callum Newman. The next night it will be Okada, Tanahashi, Ishii, Goto & YOSHI-HASHI taking on Matt Riddle, Cobb, Great-O-Khan, Henare & Akira.

Neither will see Okada pass the torch to new “Ace”, but NJPW’s booked his farewell to honor the past more than to establish the future. The New Beginning in Sapporo shows will advance the promotion’s main event storylines, though. They’ve announced the winners of the IWGP World Heavyweight and Junior Heavyweight title matches there will face off in a champion vs. champion match at their 52nd Anniversary event on March 6 in Ota.

Here’s a look at the full cards for Sapporo:

Fri., Feb. 23

  • David Finlay (c) vs. Nic Nemeth for the IWGP Global championship
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs. Matt Riddle for the NJPW World Television title
  • EVIL (c) vs. Shota Umino for the NEVER Openweight championship
  • El Desperado (c) vs. SHO for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title
  • Mayu Iwatani (c) vs. Mina Shirakawa for the IWGP Women’s championship
  • Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, Hiromu Takahashi, Yota Tsuji & BUSHI vs. SANADA, Taka Michinoku, Yuya Uemura, DOUKI & Taka Michinoku
  • Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI & YOH vs. Jeff Cobb, Great-O-Khan, Henare, Francesco Akira & Callum Newman
  • Ryusuke Taguchi, Togi Makabe & Boltin Oleg vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Yujiro Takahashi & Ren Narita
  • Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Yuji Nagata
  • Toru Yano & Tomoya vs. Tomoaki Honma & Katsuya Murashima

Sat., Feb. 24

  • Tetsuya Naito (c) vs. SANADA for the IWGP World Heavyweight championship
  • Yota Tsuji vs. Yuya Uemura in a Hair vs. Hair match
  • Shingo Takagi vs. Taichi
  • Hiromu Takahashi vs. DOUKI
  • BUSHI vs. TAKA Michinoku
  • Nic Nemeth & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. David Finlay & Gedo
  • Guerillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) vs. Guerillas of Destiny (El Phantasmo and Hikuleo) in Tonga’s NJPW farewell match
  • Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Matt Riddle, Jeff Cobb, Great-O-Khan, Henare & Francesco Akira in Okada’s NJPW farewell match:
  • Shota Umino, El Desperado, Togi Makabe, YOH & Boltin Oleg vs. EVIL, SHO, Ren Narita, Dick Togo & Yujiro Takahashi
  • Toru Yano & Tomoya vs. Tomoaki Honma & Katsuya Murashima

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