I remember, when a young Watanabe went away for a while people were wondering what his future may hold. This wrestler was never seen again, however a “gentleman” by the name of EVIL rocked New Japan to its core. I say core, what I really mean is he had a scythe and laser fingers (obviously). This left fans, reviewers, podcasters etc making light of the name, wondering what this meant. A lot of people thought that it looked like a poor man’s early 90s Undertaker gimmick. Look at him now, winning mid card championships, being an important LIJ member and, more importantly having a stellar main event outing with Okada at King of Pro Wrestling. He was made to look like a credible opponent even though everyone knew Okada wasn’t losing until the Dome!
Jay White came in strong as Switchblade, but debuting just after Jericho appeared is a bit of a no-win situation. The Japanese audience hasn’t had the chance to see him with his new, bulkier look. The New Zealand Native has had a decent excursion also having some good matches in Rev Pro in between American commitments. One match I really enjoyed was in ROH against Will Ospreay match.
He has a great look, is very athletic and has been in the right places at the right times throughout his relatively young career. At 25 years of age, there is a massive upside especially with New Japan looking to pursue a more Western (dare I say “Global”?!) fan base.
The downside? A few bits of feedback from people after the Switch Blade reveal have been saying that they feel Jay White is “bland” and a little “vanilla” for their tastes. Listening to the Art of Wrestling with Colt Cabana, you get a feeling of how new he is and the untapped potential he has.
I started the article talking about Watanabe and EVIL. I believe that we can look at Jay White as being in a similar position to Watanabe/EVIL. He has gone from not doing too much in Ring of Honor (Its Honour – it irks me every time I write the American English), having good, consistent matches to coming out and challenging the “Ace” Tanahashi. By all accounts this is a push – but really, it is more of a sink or swim situation. Can you put on a show, raise yourself to the level of a main/semi main event dome match? Why not? All his training has lead him to this moment. Plus he is in the ring with a world class athlete that has really made a lot of people in his time. Look at his matches with Nakamura, both working together on the rise. Hiroshi Tanahashi made Okada the great draw and focal point that he is today. You could argue that Tanahashi has had the best matches anyone could possibly get out of Bad Luck Fale. This will be special, but I think Jay White will prove a valuable member of the roster in the long term whether this is a success or not. However, at the dome he will need to fight for attention with “Alpha v Omega” taking a lot of the headlines and Okada v Naito being an exciting clash of two charismatic stars. This is not easy, very few professionals in the world could, but he is on the right path. Perhaps he will get the push that Devitt was due until Uncle Paul and big daddy Vince came in with a boat load of cash for the now “Finn Balor”. There are some similarities between Devitt and White so let’s see where this takes us and enjoy every minute of it.