Wrestle Kingdom 15 saw Jay White’s double-gold aspirations end uneventfully for the second year in a row. After his career-making performance, what’s next for “The Switchblade”?
If there was any doubt going into Wrestle Kingdom 15 whether or not Jay White deserves to be considered among one of the best professional wresters in the industry, the Bullet Club leader more than proved his worth in that debate.
With the upper hand in three previous singles matches against Kota Ibushi, Jay White went in as the odds-on favorite to spoil Kota Ibushi’s hard-fought journey to “become God”. What followed was a classic that made history as the longest Wrestle Kingdom main event in history, clocking in at 48 minutes and 5 seconds and breaking the previous record held by New Japan ace Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega.
Switchblade controlled much of the early goings of the match before Ibushi mounted a comeback, emphasized by a Kamigoye for a near-fall. Jay White’s best efforts to put Kota Ibushi away included frequent interference from Gedo, multiple sleeper suplexes, Bloody Sunday and his signature Blade Runner, which the defending champion became the first wrestler to ever kick out off. However, an Ibushi clothesline executed with vigor similar to that of Okada’s Rainmaker, followed by consecutive Kamigoye strikes ended White’s championship hopes.
Sanada immediately challenged Ibushi to a title match afterwards, confirming White’s exit from the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental picture for the immediate future. White—dejected in defeat—would follow undoubtedly his best match in New Japan to date with his best promo.
Kevin Kelly named Jay White as “wrestling’s Nostradamus”, pointing out White’s confident predictions largely turn out to be true. White’s demeanor in this promo was that of a broken man who in a rare occurrence, failed to deliver on his lofty projections, achieve his “Destino” and “become God”. Speaking as Jamie rather than Jay, he proclaimed New Year Dash—an event in which he suffered a pinfall loss to Tomohiro Ishii in ten-man tag team action—to be his last match in New Japan.
Wrestle Kingdom and New Years Dash events of years past have typically served as the last appearance for departing New Japan stars, especially Bullet Club leaders. While Jay White would be an easy main event-level asset to any major wrestling promotion in the world, no such move has been confirmed as of yet. It’s most likely New Japan allowed White to blend some reality into his promo to create some early intrigue for his eventual return or even begin preparing for delays and travel issues among its gaijin stars amidst Japan’s recent state of emergency declaration.
White’s first IWGP title reign ended at the hands of Okada in Madison Square Garden after less than two months and zero successful defenses, leaving him without a true championship run to include himself in the same category as his main event contemporaries. Now that Naito and now Ibushi have had their pinnacle moments, Jay White’s star-making Wrestle Kingdom performance could be the starting point of a similar journey to redeem his championship losses and become IWGP Champion for a second time.