Okada Wants Matches vs. Punk, Danielson; Andrade Teases Ric Flair in AEW; NJPW on AXS

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 4, 2022

TOKYO, JAPAN - DECEMBER 22: Kazuchika Okada enters the ring during the New Japan Pro-Wrestling at Korakuen Hall on December 22, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)
Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

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Okada Hopes to Wrestle Punk, Danielson

New Japan Pro-Wrestling's Kazuchika Okada is perhaps the best in-ring worker in the world, and he has aspirations to face two other top-flight performers in the future.

In an interview with Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated, Okada discussed his desire to eventually wrestle AEW stars CM Punk and Bryan Danielson:

"Danielson and Punk would make for some incredible matches. A lot of those dream match scenarios are about getting excited for the possibilities. ... 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."

Both Punk and Danielson essentially were retired at one point before returning to wrestling in recent years.

Punk left WWE and stepped away from wrestling as a whole in early 2014, and it wasn't until September of last year that he had his first match back after arriving in AEW.

Danielson had to retire in 2015 due to head and neck injuries, but he was able to get cleared a few years later and made his in-ring return in WWE in 2018.

After achieving great success as Daniel Bryan in WWE, including winning five world titles, Danielson made the decision to leave WWE and sign with AEW in September as well.

Both Punk and Danielson have shown that they have plenty left in the tank in AEW based on their in-ring performances. Danielson has been especially impressive, wrestling Kenny Omega and Hangman Adam Page to time-limit draws.

Okada has wrestled some in the United States, but he has done most of his work in Japan, and it is unclear where he would want matches against Punk and Danielson to occur.

The possibility is present regardless since AEW has a working relationship with NJPW based on the likes of KENTA, Minoru Suzuki and others appearing on AEW programming. Plus, AEW stars like Jon Moxley, Chris Jericho and Lance Archer either currently have or have recently had deals with NJPW.

Okada vs. Punk and Okada vs. Danielson are matches that can become reality, but as The Rainmaker mentioned, it likely wouldn't be wise to wait too long given where Punk and Danielson are in their respective careers.

Andrade Teases Ric Flair Joining AEW

After recently confronting Darby Allin, Andrade El Idolo teased a potentially huge AEW moment on Twitter.

After Allin beat Anthony Bowens on Friday's episode of AEW Rampage, Andrade emerged and set his sights on Allin, allowing The Acclaimed to attack both Darby and Sting.

On Tuesday, Andrade took to Twitter and suggested WWE Hall of Famer Nature Boy Ric Flair could accompany him during a potential rivalry with Allin and Sting:

“EL IDOLO” ANDRADE @AndradeElIdolo

Hello!!! Kid <a href="https://twitter.com/DarbyAllin?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DarbyAllin</a> Nice to meet you sir <a href="https://twitter.com/Sting?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Sting</a> remember I have Many friends In the business but just one father In low <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TheMan?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TheMan</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ElIdolo?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ElIdolo</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/RicFlairNatrBoy?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RicFlairNatrBoy</a> <a href="https://t.co/IzzzeDw1Wc">https://t.co/IzzzeDw1Wc</a> <a href="https://t.co/qyFs8Y19tQ">pic.twitter.com/qyFs8Y19tQ</a>

Flair is Andrade's future father-in-law, as the Mexican star is engaged to his daughter and WWE Superstar, Charlotte Flair.

The elder Flair requested and was granted his release from WWE in August after he expressed unhappiness with how he was being utilized.

While Flair has yet to sign a contract with another company, he made his presence felt in the wrestling world less than two weeks after his WWE release by accompanying Andrade for his AAA Mega Championship match against Kenny Omega at Triplemania XXIX.

Despite dealing with serious health issues in recent years, the 72-year-old Flair even got involved physically by chopping Omega and putting Konnan in the Figure Four Leglock.

It was widely assumed Flair would join Andrade in AEW after that, but he came under public scrutiny after the release of a Dark Side of the Ring documentary on the Plane Ride from Hell.

A female flight attendant alleged that Flair forced her to touch his genitals during a flight in 2002 while Flair was a member of the WWE roster. It was revealed in the documentary that the flight attendant sued WWE after, leading to an out-of-court settlement.

Flair has remained in the public eye since then despite not signing with a wrestling promotion, and he has expressed a desire to wrestle another match.

If a final match is in the cards for Flair, teaming with Andrade against Allin and Sting would make sense given his longtime on-screen rivalry and personal friendship with Sting.

NJPW Returning to AXS TV in United States

AXS TV announced Tuesday in conjunction with Wrestle Kingdom 13 that New Japan Pro-Wrestling will return to its airwaves in March.

New weekly episodes will begin airing on March 3, and they will continue to air every Thursday night at 10 p.m. ET, following Impact Wrestling, which airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET.

NJPW previously aired on AXS TV from 2015-19, but it has not had an American television deal since their initial partnership ended.

Until new episodes begin airing on March 3, classic NJPW episodes will be shown on AXS TV beginning on Jan. 20.

Bringing NJPW back into the fold is a logical move on AXS TV's part since Impact is already on the channel and has a working relationship with New Japan.

The cross-promotion could prove fruitful for both wrestling companies, as well as for AXS TV, which now stands to become one of the main channels synonymous with pro wrestling in the United States.

Airing on AXS TV was a huge part of NJPW's surge in popularity in the United States, and it stands to gain even more viewership and interest now that it is returning to AXS.

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