It’s been 11 years since CM Punk debuted on WWE’s main roster and many Superstars during that time have laid claim to the title “best in the world.” Punk himself wore that moniker with pride during his epic run in 2011, which saw him rise to the top of the industry.
He may have had his critics during that time, as he does now. But it would be hard to argue that he was among the elite of the business during the Summer of Punk in WWE.
But the distinction of best in the world now belongs to the IWGP heavyweight champion Kazuchika Okada.
Okada is pound for pound the best professional wrestler in the world today, and there are very few others in that conversation. Every fan has an opinion of course, and there are valid arguments to be made for other talents.
AJ Styles is pitch perfect in the ring, and is always on his game. Many surely feel the same about Seth Rollins. Kenny Omega from New Japan could certainly be mentioned as well. Of course “best in the world” need not apply only to the men, as Asuka has become the woman to beat in WWE.
The debate rages on, and the possible candidates come from different backgrounds and hail from different companies.
But if the criteria for choosing the best centers on the complete package, then Okada has to be the one. He’s got charisma, and he’s got the image. He has the “it” factor that many wrestlers can only dream of. If no one knew who he was and walked into a room, everyone would know that he’s somebody.
He carries himself like a star, because he is a star.
Okada is a natural in that regard, as it never seems as though he’s faking it. He’s not pretending to be important, or playing a role when he’s on camera. He’s genuine because he is the real deal. He has a presence, and that cannot be taught.
When it comes to his ability, he works like a veteran of 20 years. But he’s been in the business less than 13 years and he’s only 29. He’s only just begun.
The New Japan environment has to be considered of course. Okada works Strong Style, a discipline in which guys hit harder and test each other with stiff strikes. Like cowboys squaring off at high noon, New Japan stars stand their ground and dare each other to make a move.
But while he does work that style, it does not hinder his game. Okada could step into any company on any night, and have a five star match. He doesn’t need to bash in a guy’s skull to get over.
The Rainmaker has skill and grace, two things which the best desperately need in order to achieve longevity. Anyone can roughhouse, and anyone can flip over the ropes. But to be fundamentally sound and capable of working any style while adjusting on the fly, is crucial to succeeding.
Okada can do all of this and much more.
Not since the days of the NWA and Jim Crockett Promotions has there been a pro wrestling company as focused on the art of old school professional wrestling more than New Japan. Okada is the best representative of that company, and he is the best in the world today.
While WWE delivers sports entertainment to the masses, New Japan is giving fans pro wrestling. It’s a different presentation, with a different feel, and there are talents in that company that are working hard to bring the best every time the bell rings.
Okada is the best of the best, not only in New Japan, but in the world. He’s making it rain, and no one does it quite like he can. Okada has been the most consistent performer, and his championship is the most respected in the business today because of his efforts.
The title is booked as the most important piece of hardware in the industry, and Okada is the ideal man to wear it. He has made the title, as much as the title has made him. He’s a legitimate world champion, and it’s due to his work that New Japan is rapidly growing in popularity.
The hallmark of any great wrestler is that he makes his opponents look good, and he gets the match over. He must put the business first and he must work hard to make the company better. No one working today fits that those requirements better than Kazuchika Okada.
He’s at the top, and he could stay there for a very long time.