Kazuchika Okada is a Japanese professional wrestler and a four-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion who made his debut in 2004 at the age of 16 after being trained by legendary Ultimo Dragon. In 2007, he joined the New Japan Pro Wrestling and made his debut for the promotion when he competed and lost a single match against Tetsuya Naito.
Okada who recently defended his IWGP Heavyweight Title at NJPW: Sakura Genesis 2018 against the winner of the 2018 New Japan Cup, Zack Sabre Jr. has in his years at NJPW, fought with the likes of Go Shiozaki, Shinsuke Nakamura, Takashi Takashi Sugiura, Tajiri. Hirooki Goto, to mention a few.
Here are details of his biography and all the other facts you need to know about the four-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion.
Kazuchika Okada – Biography
Okada was born November 8, 1987, in Anjō (a city in Aichi Prefecture, Japan) where he was partially raised. He started his primary education in Anjo but had to complete it in his mother’s hometown in the Gotō Islands in Nagasaki Prefecture.
He, however, returned to Anjo after his primary school. As a child showed great interest in athletics. While in middle school, he was a member of the school’s baseball team as well as the track team. Okada didn’t stand out as a baseball player but he did as a sprinter, winning a regional 100-meter dash competition.
His skills as a sprinter were soon spotted out by high school recruiters, he, however, didn’t end up as a professional sprinter. Okada was exposed to wrestling when his older brother brought home a copy of a New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) video game from his friend. He nursed his love for Wrestling from then on and was later trained by Último Dragón at his Toryumon professional wrestling school. At the expiration of his training, Okada made his first professional appearance in 2004 in the fight against Negro Navarro.
He spent the next few years in Toryumon Mexico building his career. In 2005, he won the Young Dragons’ Cup and soon began to appear on promotions such as the UWA Hardcore Wrestling as well as on Chikara. In 2006, Puma beat him during the first round in the UWA Hardcore Wrestling Grand Prix Tournament. Undeterred by the defeat, Okada went ahead to challenge Alex Shelley Chris Sabin for the NWA International Lightweight Tag Team Championship the following day, he was again unsuccessful.
In November 2006, he made his appearance on Chikara and this time, he defeated Osiris. In 2007, he participated in Último Dragón’s 20th-anniversary show, wrestling in a six-man tag team match with Jushin Thunder Liger and Milano Collection A.T (NJPW wrestlers).
After the match, Okada left Toryumon and joined NJPW. He remained with the NJPW till 2010. At NJPW, he went through further training before making his appearance in 2007, in a match against Tetsuya Naito, which he lost. While with the company, he competed in several high profile matches which he also lost. Despite the many losses, Kazuchika Okada was gaining fame and popularity as the crowd seems to love him.
In 2010, NJPW sent him off to Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) for what they called a developmental tour. After his time with at TNA expired, Okada returned to NJPW in January 2012 and took on the name “Rainmaker”. Just a month after his return, he faced Hiroshi Tanahashi in a fight, defeated him and won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. He only held the title for four months before losing it back to Tanahashi.
In the same year, he won the G1 Climax (NJPW premier tournament). By the end of 2012, Tokyo Sports magazine named him the 2012 MVP in all of Japanese professional wrestling. In 2013, he won the New Japan Cup and regained the IWGP Heavyweight Championship from Tanahashi which he lost again after thirteen months.
In 2014 also, he won the G1 Climax for the second time and has since then, won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship two more times. Kazuchika Okada is the first Japanese wrestler to make it to the top Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s list of the top 500 wrestlers in the world.
He was featured in the Japanese music video for Pharrell Williams‘ song Happy, alongside fellow NJPW wrestler Shinsuke Nakamura. In 2105, he featured as a voice character in Future Card Buddy Fight 100. Okada, alongside fellow NJPW wrestlers like Toru Yano, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tetsuya Naito, Satoshi Kojima and Hiroyoshi Tenzan, appeared in the 2016 video game Ryū ga Gotoku 6.
In 2017, it was announced that the Tekken 7: Fated Retribution video game would feature the heavyweight champion in-ring costume as an alternate outfit for the character King. Later that same year, he was featured in an episode of WWE’s 205 Live program.
Other Facts You Need To Know About Kazuchika Okada
Kazuchika was engaged to Yoko Mori (Asahi TV presenter). The duo dated for four years (2013 – 2017), he is currently in a relationship with voice actress and singer Suzuko Mimori.
His uncle and cousin were once diagnosed with cancer in 2014 and this prompted Okada to established a foundation “Rainmaker Kikin” (“Rainmaker Fund”). The foundation helps children with cancer.
For every match, he wins, he donates ¥30,000 (US$378) to the cancer foundation.