#NewJapanWeek Switchblade: Jay White is NJPW’s Next Breakout Star

Jay White receives the biggest match of his career on January 4 when he challenges Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 12. 2017 was a turning point for White after going on excursion from New Japan Pro Wrestling in June of 2016. The world got to see what the man from New Zealand had to offer outside of being a Young Lion. The fire and intensity shown this year set up the persona change into “Switchblade.” Hiroshi Tanahashi defended his championship against Kota Ibushi at NJPW Power Struggle and that’s when White showed his true colors, emerging in a leather jacket on his return and leaving “The Ace” on his back in the ring. If there’s one thing White needed to work on was developing his character and now that he’s done that, he needs to really deliver in the ring in a big match.

Ring Of Honor Wrestling and Rev Pro in the UK presented the best of Jay White this year, including a thrilling match on Pay Per View with Will Ospreay at ROH War Of The Worlds in May. NJPW officials must have really opened their eyes to the obvious experience and momentum gained from excellent matches with Jay Briscoe, Punishment Martinez, Adam Cole and Christopher Daniels because now the weight is all on the shoulders of “Switchblade.” White went undefeated in Rev Pro, even defeating fellow Kiwi competitor Travis Banks. The Blade Runner (a swinging STO) is a major new key in the arsenal that could be hit suddenly at any time.

Photo: NJPW

Social media has been a fantastic way for wrestlers to promote themselves and White has done just that after already sending a message to the IWGP Intercontinental champion. White’s character is cryptic so far but his silent-but-deadly approach says more than a long promo ever could. White posted himself standing over Tanahashi with the Championships with the caption: Do you feel like a champion? This is a match Tanahashi could retain because nothing great in life is predictable but the torch looks to be passed here for the fate of NJPW’s future.

As a Young Lion, early in his New Japan career (Photo: NJPW)

At 198 pounds and only 24 years old, the future is bright but the future is also now for the man that was a Young Lion just 2 years ago. White has blown past fellow Young Lion David Finlay as the future top star, now it’s his time to pull the trigger. After being signed to NJPW in 2014, White had a somewhat bland look and ring-style but he has improved so much in between the ropes that he may hold the second most prestigious title in NJPW at the biggest show of the year. Future title defenses against Trent Baretta, Kota Ibushi and Tomohiro Ishii would be main event caliber matches and would go a long way to establishing a new future “Ace” of the company. Jay White has never won a championship to date in his 5 year career.

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