Being a young lion and being a successful young lion are two completely different things. And for those who have no idea what a “young lion” is, it is better known as a rookie wrestler who learns through the New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) system. Back to being a successful young lion, you have to go through a lot before you are necessarily ready to take on the world of New Japan. From the work in dojos and helping outside the ring at events to going on an excursion to some part of the world to learn and grow even more away from the dojo, it turns out to be a lot but helps create some of the best professional wrestlers in the world. All this leads us to Jay White, who as a gaijin went through the New Japan system and came out the other side as “Switchblade.”
The story of Jay White is a shorter one to this point, as at only 28 years old, the sky remains the limit for him. Even at that young age, he has accomplished so much so quickly but has been a part of pro wrestling for eight years. In this latest writing, we take a look at Jay White’s career to this point ahead of a major turning point in his career, whether it be in Japan, WWE, or elsewhere. This is the story of Jay White so far.
Early Career and becoming a Young Lion
“You want to talk to “Switchblade” Jay White. I’m sorry, you’re just getting Jamie.”
In his most recent promo with New Japan, White explained that we weren’t talking to the “Switchblade” character of him who had become a major player and was fresh off of losing in the main event of night two for Wrestle Kingdom 15. Instead, they were simply talking to Jamie. And that’s where this journey really begins.
Jamie White, from New Zealand, wasn’t always a young lion, but rather just a young kid wanting to be a professional wrestler. He began his career in the United Kingdom, where he was initially trained by The UK Kid as a member of Varsity Pro Wrestling. White competed there for two years, as well as other UK promotions before meeting Prince Devitt (aka Finn Balor). It was Devitt, the leader of the newly formed Bullet Club in NJPW, that eventually asked him to be apart of NJPW and become a young lion. As the story is told, he’d eventually agree in late 2014 and would move to Japan to become a young lion at the age of 22 years old.
Whit began training in the NJPW Dojo and started wrestling in lower card matches before he would eventually be sent on his own excursion in 2016. His location would be to New Japan’s United States partner, Ring of Honor (ROH). In ROH, White found some impressive success winning many of his matches and looking like everything NJPW was hoping for. One of his more notable showings for White came in his 20-minute draw with former ROH World Champion, Jay Briscoe. He also defeated the likes of Christopher Daniels and Kenny King while coming close to big wins against some of ROH’s best. By the end of 2017, Jay White was clearly ready to go for NJPW and would return with a gimmick that would lock him in for long-term success.
The Birth of the “Switchblade”
On Nov. 5, 2017, the answer to who was this “Switchblade” character was answered. Jay White was returning to Japan under this new persona and it was as clear as day that he would be a major player moving forward for the brand. At the Power Struggle event, he challenged “The Ace” of NJPW, Hiroshi Tanahashi, to a match for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship at the biggest event of the year for NJPW — Wrestle Kingdom 12. After laying the beat down, the match was made official and the young lion was now simply the young star. He came up short in the most important match of his career to this point, but after nearly 20 minutes of going at it with one of the best in history, he was clearly there to stay.
The night after, he would fakeout the leader of Bullet Club and reigning IWGP United States Champion, Kenny Omega, but planting him with a Blade Runner in the middle of the ring and declining the entry into the group. Instead, he would join Kazuchika Okada‘s CHAOS as he had his eyes on Omega’s title instead. The attack would set up the eventual match between the two later that month for the title, and White stunned everyone when he defeated Omega in the middle of the ring to become the second-ever IWGP United States Champion in his third month back in NJPW.
All was on the up for White heading into the rest of 2018, as he held gold and was only establishing the “Switchblade” moniker that much more. He was cocky, confident, and rather dominant. The championship was almost just an accessory considering how impressive he was with or without it. White defended the title three times against suitable challengers in Hangman Page, former young lion rival David Finlay, and Punishment Martinez (aka WWE’s Damian Priest). White’s run on top of the freshly created United States Championship division came to an end in July of that year at the G1 Special in San Francisco when he lost to Juice Robinson. Luckily for White, the G1 Climax was there to have him really make waves in NJPW.
As a member of the A Block, he recorded an impressive 12 points while defeating his faction’s leader Kazuchika Okada and the eventual winner of the tournament, Hiroshi Tanahashi. It was a showing that not only solidified his spot at the top of the card but showed he would challenge Kenny Omega as the top gaijin in the company. However, if that performance wasn’t enough to show everyone that NJPW was fully backing the New Zealand native, then his next move would guarantee it.
The Leader of Bullet Club and alignment with Gedo
Jay White’s first full year in NJPW as one of the main wrestlers was almost unmatchable, as his win over G1 Climax winner Hiroshi Tanahashi set him up for an opportunity to defeat him again and take the G1 Briefcase that guarantees an IWGP Heavyweight Championship match at Wrestle Kingdom. White picked his spot at the end of Destruction in Kobe on Sep. 23, 2018. Following the successful defense for Tanahashi over Okada, White made it clear he was next to earn the shot at the title match. As he attacked Tanahashi to show his seriousness, he then attacked Okada. The same man who welcomed him into CHAOS when he was looking for help. In one of the more stunning turns in New Japan history, Okada’s long time manager Gedo ran down to the ring to seemingly save him from the beat down. Instead, however, he hit Okada with the chair and officially created the most unlikely grouping as it would be White and Gedo from here on out.
At King of Pro Wrestling, White got the chance to lock in his match for Wrestle Kingdom and solidify the phenomenal first year back in Japan. In their third match, it was Tanahashi who would best White once more to put an end to it on a small package pin. White, not happy with the result, starting to attack the “Ace” again. This time, Okada came down to try and make the save. This is when the ultimate moment happened, as the Bullet Club OG group and Jado made their way down to the ring. For those who may not know, the Bullet Club OG’s had removed themselves from The Elite, trying to reestablish the morals of what Bullet Club once was. With no leader at the time, it was clear that “Switchblade” would be the one to take over once and for all. He would become the fourth leader in the history of the group.
Jay White established himself as one of the true pillars of NJPW moving forward as he now led their most popular faction and was on his way to a match with Kazuchika Okada at Wrestle Kingdom 13.
The 68th IWGP Heavyweight Champion
Wrestle Kingdom 13 was a moment for White that maybe nobody expected. Facing Kazuchika Okada in the Tokyo Dome was no joke, considering his many years of main eventing prior. And Okada returned to his greatness that year, returning to his trunks and blonde hair to the roar of the crowd and people on social media. All seemed to be in Okada’s favor until a Blade Runner put all that to bed and saw White walk out the winner. It was completely shocking and eventually helped White go on to The New Beginning in Osaka to be Tanahashi’s first opponent since winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom. It was there that Jay White shocked the world, defeating the “Ace” again and becoming the 68th IWGP Heavyweight Champion in history.
That moment was forever, as White had got to the top of the New Japan mountain and nothing could take that away from him. He would main event New Japan’s first-ever appearance in Madison Square Garden in 2019, defending the championship against Okada. And while he did lose in his first and only defense, it seemed as if nothing could stop him from reaching the mountain top again and again.
G1 Finals, IWGP Intercontinental Champion, and the Double Gold Dash
There’s something about White that seems to have never lost that confidence he has had since Day 1. Whether it be the first loss to Tanahashi at his first Wrestle Kingdom or losing his IWGP United States Championship, he never seemed to be too affected and instead used it as fuel to be better. Losing the IWGP Heavyweight Championship was no different. He went onto the finals of G1 Climax 29 in 2019, losing to Kota Ibushi but again not losing hope by any means. He would guarantee his spot at Wrestle Kingdom 14 another way. Much like Destruction in Kobe in 2018, he saw that event as the opportune spot to push himself forward. He defeated Tetsuya Naito to win the IWGP Intercontinental Championship and would ultimately defend it once vs. Hiroki Goto to guarantee that he would go on to the Double Gold Dash event at Wrestle Kingdom 14.
Defending against Naito on night one, he seemed to have the advantage as he was the reigning champion and already had his number before. That did not end up being the case, as he would lose the title back to Naito and be left without any gold moving forward. He wouldn’t end Wrestle Kingdom winless, as he defeated Kota Ibushi the next night on Jan. 5, 2020. But it was time for him to bounceback yet again, leading us to his most recent stretch.
Rebuilding only to come up short in the Wrestle Kingdom 15 Main Event
2020 was a lost year for many and for much of the year, his career was put on hold. He would eventually get back to Japan in August just in time to be a part of the 30th G1 Climax. “Switchblade” tied for the second-most points in the entire tournament with five other men, but unfortunately Ibushi had two more than him and would win the A Block and the entire tournament. However, night three of the tournament saw White get a win over Ibushi and would set him up for the same opportunity that he had just two years earlier. He would face Ibushi for the Tokyo Dome IWGP Heavyweight Championship challenge rights certificate at Power Struggle. And for the first time in history, the G1 Climax winner would not be using that certificate to have their match at the Tokyo Dome. White did what he always did, showing everyone that they should not doubt him and won the briefcase.
“Switchblade” was set as Wrestle Kingdom 15 was finally going to be his night. Sure, he had championships in the past but not reigns to have him feel as though he accomplished his ultimate goal. This was the time he could do that. He would main event night two against whoever walked out with the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships on night one. That was Kota Ibushi, the same man he defeated for the briefcase to get this main event. In a 48 minute slugfest that could have gone either way, the champion retained and it was the final breaking point for “Switchblade.” He hugged the championships that were not his and looked more defeated than ever in his life. This time, there didn’t seem to be a bounceback. Just uncertainty that he didn’t have the answer to.
An Uncertain Future Ahead
Minutes after losing the titles, White was first up in the post-event interview portion of the event and was showing that sadness. He was defeated, broken, and ready to quit. He questioned if New Japan cared about all he had done for them. White was questioning if he had a place in New Japan anymore. If the grind to get to that moment was all worth it. Were those sacrifices worthy of his time? NJPW has even said that White was quitting the company once and for all, and while that may not be the case, the future is uncertain for the leader of the Bullet Club.
At this point, he was just Jamie like we started with. He competed at New Year’s Dash the next night and was pinned by Tomohiro Ishii in the middle of the ring. That was it. As of this writing, White has not been heard from and the uncertainty is more real than ever. There’s a chance he can redeem himself in New Japan. Perhaps have the redemption story where he puts together the pieces of his broken soul and finds himself where his Wrestle Kingdom opponent Kota Ibushi did in 2021. Or he can try something brand new for the first time since his excursion in 2016 and 2017. The rumors are there. But for right now, Jamie will decide what he can do to better the story of Jay White because truth be told, this is a story far from its final chapter.
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