You Think Kazuchika Okada is Great? Say Hello To His Alter Ego – OKATO!!!

As I write this, Kazuchika Okada is one of the hottest free agents in pro wrestling today. The Japanese sensation announced earlier this year he was leaving New Japan Pro Wrestling and it is seemingly clear he’s going to wind up in either WWE or AEW, the latter of which he’s already appeared in on a sporadic basis. Regardless of where he’s competing later this year, fans should be in for some spectacular matches. What’s interesting is that this won’t be his first lengthy stay with a US-based promotion as a decade ago before he became the phenom he is today he was in, of all places, TNA.

No, really, not making this up. He was. Look, he had an entrance video with his name on it and everything! You might be asking what type of, dare I say, IMPACT he made and who some of his arch-rivals were during this run. And by golly, that’s why I am here! I can tell you he took on Alex Shelley of the Motor City Machine Gunns…

…and he lost cleanly. Which apparently made the lighting crew so sad they lit the entire building blue. Or maybe they were expecting Sin Cara to invade the Impact Zone. Both seem equally likely.

Okada also battled Stevie Richards. Big Stevie Cool was one of my all-time favorite ECW originals, so it’s kinda awesome that these two locked it up and battled in the center on the ring.

The center of the ring I should note where Okada took a Stevie Kick to the mush and wound up counting the lights for another loss. Perhaps sensing that things weren’t quite working out for himself all that well in singles competition, he wound up in a tag team with Homicide.

Wait, stop…let me get this right. OKADA TEAMED WITH HOMICIDE? He sure did, and right there’s your evidence. Making it even weirder was who they were pitted against for their first (and last) match as a team, that being none other than…

…Generation Me! Look familiar? Yep, that there’s the Young Bucks, Matt and Nick Jackson. Sorry, Matthew and Nicholas Jackson. Need to get that right as I don’t want a fine from the EVPs. Are they allowed to fine me even if I’m not with the company? I’d rather not take chances. Especially since I just learned this week that no less than RJ City is a fan of this here website. Can’t trust that guy!

Anyway, you’d think that Okada’s odds here would improve, since after all, at the time these two goofy kids couldn’t even beat Eric Bischoff (as I covered rightchere). Alas, that was not the case as they did a couple of flippydos and pinned poor Okada again 1-2-3. Just when it looked like things couldn’t possibly get worse…well…they somehow did. I mean, it’s TNA. Of course they did!

So at the time, Samoa Joe was in a feud with “The Pope” D’Angelo Dinero. Of course you know who Joe is, having spent time in nearly every wrestling company known to man and having great matches everywhere. Pope is less well known (he’s also gone by the name Elijah Burke), but at the time he was really quite awesome as a douchey heel in TNA.

I mean, come on – you can’t be much more of a bag than that when someone’s waiting outside for an autograph!

During the feud with Joe, The Pope was collecting donations for the poor. You’d think this was a noble gesture indeed, but soon we’d all find out that money wasn’t going to the poor. In fact, it was going to of all people…

…STRIPPERS!! Pope denied this, but there he was caught on tape (it was 13 years ago, we still used tape back then right?). The question was who on earth was filming these nefarious happenings? Samoa Joe? Turns out it wasn’t Joe, but rather his new friend…

…Okada! In fact, they were such chums that Joe had given him his very own video camera. So thrilled was Kazuchika at receiving this lovely gift that he said, and I quote, “cool beans!” SERIOUSLY – THAT’S WHAT THE MAN SAID.

So the match between Joe and Pope takes place at Against All Odds, and it doesn’t take Dinero long to see this isn’t exactly going his way. Deciding that a lengthy beating probably wouldn’t be the best way to spend his night, Pope decides to head for the hills. Little did he know that Joe’s new friend was going to block his path.

Not only that, he was about to debut his new persona. For you see, Okada was dead.


Yes, friends, Kazuchika Okada was given a gimmick where he was to be the reincarnation of Bruce Lee’s Kato character from the old Green Hornet television show. A show, I should note, that took place FORTY-FIVE YEARS PRIOR. Who on earth could have come up with that idea?

Oh yes we do AJ. Say it with me kids!

Well, I mean, yeah. Of course he has.

Rest assured, there was no subtlety here – Okada was 100% portraying Bruce Lee’s Kato. The hat, the mask, the outfit, you name it. I mean, Bruce Lee was pretty daggum awesome so I guess there were worse folks to try to emulate right? Wait, I’m not seriously, SERIOUSLY, trying to defend this am I? Even I can’t do that with a straight face!

Forced back into action, Pope is quickly subdued by Joe and forced to tap out in seconds. Good for Okato – while he could never win a match himself, at least he was able to help someone else win one!

It wasn’t over quite yet, though as as after the bell Pope loaded up his knuckles with rings and popped Joe right in the mouth, bloodying him in the process. Not content to watch his pal get beaten up, Okato jumped the top rope…

…and immediately got punched in the mouth and fell to the outside like a total geek. I should note this isn’t some selective editing here – that was Okato’s entire save attempt. What a loser.

But he was going to have one more shot, this time taking on Pope himself on Impact. After getting some words of wisdom from his pal backstage, Okato said he was going to go it alone. Joe’s reaction was priceless, seemingly saying “Yeah, whatever dude” then walking away shaking his head.

But hey, here he comes, ready for action. He even has a revamped entrance video proclaiming to the world his new name! Surely with all this, he’d be ready to battle like never before, right?

Well, no. In fact, he got beat to a pulp once more. And thus was the end of Okato.

Like me, you probably want to know what the real story was behind the character. Doing my due diligence for y’all, I checked with Russo and this is what I got: “Samoa Joe told me about the guy, said he was funny as hell. I didn’t know who he was. But I came up with the character based on his last name and the conversation I had with Joe about him.”

Okada would dump the gimmick and head back to Japan (with New Japan reportedly being very upset with how he was used during his TNA tenure), and in the process become one of the greatest wrestlers alive today. And if rumors are true, he may be heading in full time for AEW…where his old pal Samoa Joe is currently the company’s world champion. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

Bring on the dream match, Tony!!

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