Over the weekend, Kazuchika Okada revealed he was one of the members of the New Japan roster who tested positive for COVID earlier this month.
We’ve since heard from two others (Taichi and El Desperado). But as the company’s current ace, a prolonged absence from Okada would have really rocked NJPW at a time when they’re still trying to regain momentum lost to AEW and the pandemic, and already dealing with a vacant top title after Will Ospreay’s neck injury.
Fortunately, it doesn’t seem they’ll have to worry about that. The Rainmaker returned at the Road to Wrestle Grand Slam show at Tokyo’s Korakuen Hall this morning (May 26). He said he was feeling great, and spent most of his promo talking about how he still wants the IWGP World Heavyweight title match he was booked for at Wrestle Grand Slam in the Tokyo Dome prior to the COVID outbreak and Ospreay’s injury.
’Next time you see me I'll be in my ring gear and kicking ass'— NJPW Global (@njpwglobal) May 26, 2021
Kazuchika Okada makes surprise Korakuen Hall appearance, throws hat in IWGP World Heavyweight Championship ring:https://t.co/ool3uyIhWi#njpw #njwgs pic.twitter.com/uJCfo98Yb6
New Japan reports Okada expanded on his comments backstage, saying:
“[Wrestle Grand Slam events at] Yokohama Stadium and Tokyo Dome might have been postponed, but to further postpone my [IWGP World Heavyweight Championship] challenge, now that I’m fit and healthy, I can’t let that slide. So that’s why I took the time to come out here and say what I said.”
New dates haven’t been announced for the planned stadium shows, which were postponed due to the state of emergency Japan put in place to fight the spread of coronavirus ahead of this summer’s Olympics in the country. Once Wrestle Grand Slam is rescheduled, Okada will still need an opponent.
Whoever it is, I wouldn’t bet against him.