Kazuchika Okada: The Star That Almost Wasn’t



There’s this story that floats around sometimes about a booker somewhere during the territory days who is down of his luck. The territory is on it’s ass, his competition is destroying him, and all he has is one lone guy who still draws who is about 40 and is stale as can be. One day, a new talent comes in and he gets the people interested. He makes it all the way to the main event level, and everyone knows that he should be the new champion, but the promoter won’t put him over the aging star. Eventually even the star realizes that this is ridiculous he goes to the promoter and says, “Hey, why won’t you put this guy over?” and the promoter simply says, “He might not draw.”

You see the irony? Even with everything falling to pieces around him, he was still so overcome with the fear of running with something unknown that he let his company sink into oblivion rather than take a chance. The reason this is an enduring story is because this is the mindset held by almost every promoter who has ever run a wrestling promotion. Go with the sure thing, run with it as far and as long as you possibly can, long past when any reasonable person could see that it’s time for a chance, because it’s safe and being trapped without anyone who can actually draw can spell doom for a small company, or a long stretch of miserable business for a big one. This mentality is why WCW sank under the weight of following the NWO, it’s why WWE has yet to find a successor to John Cena in their decade of trying, and it is the reason why New Japan was in the condition that it was in, in the year 2000.