All eyes of professional wrestling are on “Switchblade” Jay White. The former IWGP World Heavyweight Champion has actually won all the company’s singles titles in just under five years, making him a New Japan Grand Slam Champion. White hasn’t had the best 2023 so far, however.
After losing the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship to Kazuchika Okada at this year’s Wrestle Kingdom and then just last week losing to former Bullet Club teammate Hikuleo in a “loser leaves Japan” match White now finds himself against AEW’s Eddie Kingston this weekend at New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s Battle in the Valley pay-per-view with a “loser leaves New Japan” stipulation.
As White preps for his match with Kingston, he looks back at 2022. The grappler sees it as the best year of his career having won the title from Okada at New Japan Dominion, drafting Ace Austin to Bullet Club, and having a near-flawless G1 Climax tournament.
“Not many people’s years could compete with my last,” White tells Gamespot. “Look at what I accomplished, showing up in all these different companies, sending Bullet Club to new heights, and winning the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship, I think it was my best year hands down and there’s not anybody that could deny it.”
At Battle in the Valley, White and Kingston will have their first one-on-one match after the two have been calling each other out for months. They previously tangled up in a tag match at NJPW’s Rumble on 44th Street event with Kingston tagging with White’s Wrestle Kingdom opponent Kazuchika Okada, and White teaming with Bullet Club brother Juice Robinson.
Both White and Robinson were graduates of New Japan’s Young Lion system, as White attests to the program as helping build up the right foundations for becoming “the best professional wrestler you can be.” White is looking back at those foundations as he takes on Kingston, all the while trying to match the Mad King’s unhinged level.
“I think I’ve shown that a few times in my career that I can have a screw loose or two and some things have pushed me over the edge. The problem with a hot head like Eddie, it’s very easy for him to overheat and that’s when you can capitalize on his mistakes,” White says. “Nobody capitalizes on mistakes like Switchblade Jay White.”
White added that he doesn’t feel like he has much to lose at the moment against Kingston and where he now has to shift his focus to going into this match. “Can’t focus on what’s going on in Japan that’s in the past now, so there’s a lot to focus on now in New Japan Strong, and who is the lucky one that gets my attention first? It’s the Mad King himself, Eddie Kingston. He’s going to be very lucky to finally receive his moment in the spotlight with the catalyst of professional wrestling. I only hope how much Eddie appreciates that moment and realizes how grateful he needs to be and I hope he’ll thank me.”
Bullet Club turns 10 in May. The villainous faction originally formed by foreigners has become a professional wrestling staple. White was made leader back in December of 2018, making him the youngest leader at the age of 26 and over four years later, the longest-reigning leader. In the early months of the pandemic, White could not enter Japan and had to lead things remotely. Should he have to leave New Japan altogether, he doesn’t see the Club faring well after his exit.
“Look what happened last time Bullet Club was out of the hands of Jay White. You had that! EVIL was successful for a time sure, he became a double world champion, but didn’t really work well after that. That’s a perfect example of a Bullet Club that’s not led by Jay White. Let’s just thank the heavens, thank our lucky stars, and well…thank me, the catalyst of professional wrestling that I am the leader of Bullet Club because if that changes…wheeeew.”
This isn’t the first time White has been at the center of professional wrestling speculation. Back in 2020, after he lost to Kota Ibushi at Wrestle Kingdom 15, where he expressed his desire to quit NJPW stating that he was “as close to death as he had ever been, and he would hopefully ever be.” That worked wrestling fans into a frenzy, and every January since brought up rumblings of White leaving New Japan. This time around, it could be a reality. However, if White does stay in New Japan, but in America does he feel like he has anything left to prove to wrestling fans or to himself? Absolutely not.
“I don’t have anything left to prove to anybody. I think my body of work and championship wins speak for themselves,” White exclaimed. “As for where I’m going, this is stuff for you guys to talk about, this is nothing I’ve even put out there. People love to create their own things and scenarios and then stir it up. If that’s what you have fun doing, be my guest. What I do next is between me myself and I.”
You can catch “Switchblade” Jay White take on Eddie Kingston in New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s Battle in the Valley, streaming on FITE, February 18 at 7 PM PST/10 EST.
Image Credit: New Japan Pro-Wrestling