Following the announcement that Kazuchika Okada is exiting the promotion when his contract expires, New Japan Pro-Wrestling is making some changes to their upcoming cards — the biggest of which is to add one last match between Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi.
The current president of New Japan, Tanahashi was also its undisputed biggest star... until Okada returned from his U.S. excursion in 2010. The passing of the torch from the Ace to the Rainmaker didn’t happen overnight, but over a years-long rivalry in which Okada holds an 8-5 edge over Tanahashi in singles matches (with three time-limit draws thrown in for good measure). The final match NJPW’s booked between them will take place in the same city and building, Osaka’s EDION Arena, where Okada upset Tanahashi to win the IWGP Heavyweight title back in 2012.
With that being added to Feb. 11’s The New Beginning in Osaka. The match with Okada and Tanahashi originally set for that date is moving to Jan. 24 at Tokyo’s Korakuen Hall for what will be Okada’s farewell (for now) to that iconic venue. President Ace & the Rainmaker will team with Tomohiro Ishii to defend their NEVER Openweight Six-Man titles against TMDK’s Shane Haste, Mikey Nicholls & Kosei Fujita.
No word yet on what’s planned for Okada’s final dates, Feb. 23-24 in Sapporo. The announcement of the above changes only mentions that “more details will be released at a later date.”