They were one of the most controversial tag teams in the world by 2013. After a failed run in TNA and a huge amount of controversy over a handshake in WWE, they were mainly wrestling on the indie scene, for companies like ROH and PWG.
However, one day out of the blue, the Young Bucks received a call from Tiger Hattori of New Japan Pro Wrestling. Hattori is the current foreign liaison officer of NJPW, and deals with hiring a number of foreign talent to the company.
He called the Young Bucks in 2013, offering them a role as part of the Junior Heavyweight Tag Team division in the company.
They jumped at the chance, giving them the opportunity to work for Japan’s biggest company, and grow their merchandise empire which was taking over pro wrestling.
However, this opportunity would not have been possible without The Young Bucks helping a young Kazuchika Okada get out of an uncomfortable situation during their time together in TNA.
Okada was sent to TNA as part of his excursion from New Japan, to learn how to work in front of a new audience, and build a character for his return to the company years later.
However, this did not go well. He was brought in as Okato, a character inspired by Kato from the Green Lantern film.
Before one show, he was told he needed to bleed, with management forcing him to cut his head to facilitate this command.
Not wanting to do this, he sought the help of the Young Bucks, who talked to TNA management and got the segment changed.
In their book, Killing the Business, the Young Bucks wrote:
“One day, a never-serious [Kazuchika] Okada approached Matt [Jackson] and me [Nick Jackson[, but this time he seemed legitimately scared.
“‘They [TNA management] want me to bleed tonight. They want me to cut’ he said, while pointing to his forehead, ‘But I don’t want to. Please help me’.
In wrestling, to increase the level of drama, wrestlers will sometimes secretly cut themselves with a tiny razor blade. The act is referred to as ‘blading’ or ‘gigging’.
In the old days, it was a normal, common occurrence, but around this time it was done less and less and was becoming quite controversial in the business.
We approached the producer of the segment, Pat Kenney, who was a former wrestler named Simon Diamond, who explained the situation,
‘We’re gonna have to talk to Vince [Russo]’ said Pat. Like approval over our haircut, all the decision came down to Vince, no matter how big or small.
We found Vince shortly after and told him how nervous Okada was about blading. We outright said we didn’t think it was needed.
To his credit, he quickly agreed. We came back to Okada and told him it was taken care of, and I’d never seen anyone more relieved. it was the least we could do for one of our own.”
Years later, the Young Bucks received a call from NJPW, offering them a job based on a character recommendation from them-IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchiko Okada.
“Tiger Hattori was now calling me on the phone. ‘Matt? Okada says you guys are good workers. he say you also good boys. We need new junior heavyweight tag team. Do you want to to come to Japan?’
He offered us $1,8000 each per week, and we accepted.”
Thanks to Okada’s recommendation, the pair went to work in Japan, met Kenny Omega and eventually formed All Elite Wrestling, alongside Tony Khan.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.