Earlier this month, the card for one night of New Japan’s Wrestling Dontaku event had to be changed up at the last minute due to members of the roster testing positive for COVID. An additional seven cases were then reported, and with the country already in a state of emergency due to an increase in infections ahead of this summer’s Olympics, NJPW paused operations for more than two weeks.
They resumed shows this past weekend, but Kazuchika Okada didn’t work the Road to Wrestle Grand Slam in Tokyo. He’s also not in the line-up for two others this week. Yesterday (May 23), the star confirmed he’s recovering from COVID.
Okada was one of the wrestlers pulled from Wrestling Dontaku as a precaution, as he’d wrestled in a trios match the night before with the two men who had the initial positive tests. He told the press, including Tokyo Sports, he tested negative repeatedly, but had a fever and felt ill. Eventually, a test confirmed it was COVID.
The man with the longest IWGP Heavyweight title reign in history said he generally felt unwell and lost his sense of taste, but that’s returned as he recovers overall. He offered no specifics about when he’ll be back, but told fans to look forward to his return.
The Rainmaker was going to try and claim New Japan’s new top prize, the IWGP World title, later this month at a Wrestle Grand Slam event in the Tokyo Dome. But the state of emergency in the country has postponed that show, and the man Okada was set to face, Will Ospreay, has vacated the title due to a neck injury.
Here’s hoping everyone gets healthy. Should be interesting to see what NJPW does then, and in the interim.