All Elite Wrestling and New Japan Pro-Wrestling extended their working relationship in 2021, resulting in the likes of Kenta, Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Minoru Suzuki and Tomohiro Ishii all making appearances on AEW programming. But fans have been dying to see one of Japan’s biggest names, Kazuchika Okada, eventually make his way through “The Forbidden Door” and compete against some of AEW’s biggest stars, including his old rival Kenny Omega. “The Rainmaker” finally gave fans a bit of hope for that this week, telling Sports Illustrated he wants matches with CM Punk and Bryan Danielson.
“Danielson and Punk would make for some incredible matches,” Okada said. “A lot of those dream match scenarios are about getting excited for the possibilities, and once the match is done, it’s done. So it is important to keep that excitement and anticipation, I think. Still, if we wait too long, they’ll both retire eventually, so I want to face them both while they’re still active.”
Okada defeated Shingo Takagi in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom 16 Night One on Tuesday, becoming the new IWGP World Heavyweight Champion (his sixth world title reign with the company). He’ll defend that title against Will Ospreay on Wednesday night.
AEW president Tony Khan spoke with ComicBook last week and addressed the future of AEW’s partnerships with other promotions.
“We’ve only begun opening the Forbidden Door, and I think we still can and will open the Forbidden Door, many more times,” Khan said.
He also discussed AEW’s plans for 2022 — “Hopefully we’ll be able to do the whole year touring, and spend 52 weeks touring across different, great markets. This year, the first half of the year, we were very fortunate that we were able to do the shows in Daily’s Place, but it wasn’t until the second half of the year, where we got back on the road and saw so many more great fans across the country. So, we’ll always keep Daily’s Place in the mix. We’re there this week, and we’ll be back again soon. But we’ll be a lot of great places around the country in between. And I think it’ll be great to bring AEW back to the west coast this year with Double or Nothing. And some of the TV around that. And I look forward to hitting more markets.
“And also, this will be the first year we’ve had this full roster in place. A lot of people came to AEW at the end of 2021,” he added. “Huge stars, like CM Punk, Bryan Danielson, Ruby Soho, Adam Cole and now Kyle O’Reilly. All of them and more will have a chance to wrestle a full year in AEW, and I think that’s going to be very special.”