Forever his era? Jay White Interviewed 【WK17】

IWGP World Heavyweight Champion speaks

New year, same as the last year. That7s the gameplan for Switchblade jay White going into Wrestle Kingdom 17, which means a 2023 that is sure to see even more twists and turns, but with the Catalyst of Professional Wrestling leading the way. Right before the Tokyo Dome, we caught up with the champ. 

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Nobody has done what I’ve done in this span

–January 4 2023 will be the fifth anniversary of your return match post excursion in New Japan Pro-Wrestling.

Jay: That’s right. 

–You could certainly make the argument that nobody has done what you have over a five year span after excursion, with Kazuchika Okada being the only possible exception. How do you feel looking back on those five years?

Jay: No, no, there is no exception. Let’s make that perfectly clear. Okada hasn’t done what I’ve done in this span. Nobody has done what I’ve done in this span. Grand Slam Champion, has Okada ever done that? No I don’t think so. And what’s my record against him? 4-1? So there’s no exception least of all Okada.

–Looking back at these five years, it’s interesting that you and Okada have been connected from the very start, when you joined CHAOS at the January 6 2018 press conference.  

Jay: I think it’s beautiful. Like you said, on day three after my first match back I joined CHAOS, and you should go and look at some of the things I said that day. Look at how everything turned out. Didn’t they go exactly as I said they would?

–A good point.

Jay: I sat there and I said I would be coming for him, and I did. I came from him and took everything from him. Now he wants to try and turn the tables, take everything back from me, but I’m not going to let him. I won’t let him drag NJPW backwards- that’s what an NJPW led by Okada is. He hasn’t led NJPW, only held it back.

Trust me, he is the villain here. I’m the hero

–You have a 4-1 record over Okada, as you mentioned. You’ve beaten him in the G1, beaten him in the Tokyo Dome, beaten him for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. There is no factual reason why people should believe you won’t beat Okada again at Wrestle Kingdom 17.

Jay: Finally, some truth told around here! Quite right. 

–Yet from the moment Okada challenged you at Declaration of Power, the discourse among fans has painted Okada as a heavy favourite; you’ve almost been painted as an extreme underdog in this situation. Why do you think that is?

Jay: Because that’s what NJPW wants you to think. They paint that picture and shove it in front of your eyes, because that’s what they want everybody to think. They want you to think that nobody can possibly beat Okada at the Tokyo Dome, but like you just said, I’ve already done that before. I know how to beat him, I have that man’s number more than anyone else.

–So you think that Okada’s being unfairly presented as the hero.

Jay: During the whole pandemic they tried to paint him like that, but he doesn’t even have the balls, the integrity, the courage to defend his right to challenge me from the G1. 

–Okada stated that the G1 winner should automatically have a shot at the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion at the Tokyo Dome, and though he faced JONAH at Declaration of Power, it was in a special singles match.

Jay: All of a sudden, for the first time in a decade, Okada decides that he doesn’t want to defend his right to challenge. And look what happened? JONAH isn’t here anymore. Okada and NJPW drove away a tremendous star in JONAH because they were so concerned with making everything easy for Okada. New Japan has to protect him at all corners. This is what I’ve been trying to say, and nobody listens. Just like two years ago when I said nobody wanted the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships unified. I was right then and I’m right now. 

–You think Okada being at the forefront is damaging?

Jay: Listen, I am trying to save NJPW from Okada, for all of us. New Japan will paint him as the hero all they want, but trust me- he is the villain here. I am the hero.

Okada wants a NJPW where nobody speaks up, nobody questions anything

–Okada suggested the idea of wrestlers from other promotions to try themselves in a New Japan ring. If you are the hero as you put it, what would your vision be as champion in 2023?

Jay: (laughs). You’ve seen what a New Japan led by Okada would be. It would be other wrestlers coming to New Japan, facing Okada in no stakes matches like I said, with a crowd quietly clapping along. What Okada wants is a New Japan where nobody speaks up, nobody speaks their mind, and nobody questions anything. That’s what I want to save us all from. 

–Let’s play Okada advocate for a second. Not defending the G1 right to challenge aside, Okada held the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship for the first half of the year, while you defended the title only twice in the second half…

Jay: (interrupting) Yeah, but what were people talking about when it comes to our reigns? Did people talk about any of those four defences? No, they talk about the four way I had at Forbidden Door. Everybody remembers that match, don’t they?

–…Will Ospreay won the IWGP United States Championship at Dominion, and also defended the title at Forbidden Door. He’s defended four times, again to you at just two.

Jay: This (world) title is worth a lot more than his so of course this gets defended less often. And also, that’s all up to Will. If he wants to put his neck out there constantly and put himself at risk, that’s up to him. That’s why I’m a great smart champion, because I’m smart with where I defend. I want to lead this place. Will- I have no idea what Will wants to do, but it’s never going to be as significant or important as what I do.

If they don’t speak and openly state how grateful they are to the Catalyst, that is a spit in the face to me

–Obviously the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship is just that, a world title.

Jay: Correct, thank you. 

–Okada has acknowledged the work you’ve done on NJPW STRONG and in the US, but he’s also said that people going to events in towns across Japan are buying tickets to see the world champion, and that the champion should be making towns in Japan. How do you react to that?

Jay: I would make the towns in Japan. I would, but not when they’re quiet, dead towns who don’t have the respect to open their mouths and express their adulation and appreciation for me. If they don’t speak and openly state how grateful they are to the Catalyst of Professional Wrestling, that is a spit in the face to me as champion. 

–Cheering events started to return to the calendar in September, and 2023 will have new guidelines seeing cheering crowds from Wrestle Kingdom 17.

Jay: Like it’s some kind of reward? No it should be their duty for the people to show their appreciation to me. It should be required for those people to say, out loud, ‘thank you Switchblade’. That’s why I’ve been active in America, and believe me, if it wasn’t for NJPW STRONG, if it wasn’t for NJPW’s events in the USA then New Japan would be absolutely nowhere this year. 

–There’s a cliched question about whether the spot and the pressure of a situation affect you.

Jay: You know the answer to that. 

–I do, and you’ve shown how successful you can be on big stages. But there is something different about the main event in the Tokyo Dome.


–You lost in the main event on January 5 2021, and broke down backstage afterward. There’s no disputing the fact that we saw a side of Jay White that we hadn’t seen before or since. Is there something you learned, or gained from that experience that you plan to put in use on January 4?

Jay: (angrily)That’s just the thing. You guys, you press, journalists, announcers, all making links to something else. Let’s try and link this match to a match that I lost, let’s try and plant doubt, get in my head, try to put me at a disadvantage. That all suits your grand plan for Okada, doesn’t it? But listen. No, the moment doesn’t get to me. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first match or the last match, whether it’s Tokyo Dome, United Center or wherever else. The only thing, the *only* thing that matters to me is that it’s Kazuchika Okada that’s opposite me. A man who wants to be everything that I am, but he isn’t. I am. I’ve beaten him four times, and I’ll beat him for a fifth.

Nobody- not Okada, not Tanahashi, not Antonio Inoki can compare to Jay White

–It’s a little surprising that you’ve said you want to end Wrestle Kingdom with a ‘1,2,3 Daa!’. You haven’t been the type to respect history or tradition in the past. Does this being Antonio Inoki’s memorial event mean something significant to you?

Jay: (laughs) No. No, it means nothing to me. Tokon, Fighting Spirit, Strong Style doesn’t mean anything to me, but it means everything to them, to the fans and to the company. That’s why I want to yell 1,2,3 Daa! And hold up the Too Sweet, because I want to rub that in everybody’s faces. I want to do that over Okada’s limp body. I want 25, 30,000 people to see me standing over Okada, holding up the title and the Too Sweet and know that nobody- not Okada, not Tanahashi and not Antonio Inoki- nobody can compare to Switchblade Jay White.

 –As we’ve said, you’ve done a lot over five years, and just in 2022, we’ve had big US events, cheering crowds coming back in Japan, you representing BULLET CLUB in Japan, the US, AEW, IMPACT. There’s a lot to build on. What does 2023 look like for you and for NJPW with you at the front?

Jay: You’re right. That is a lot to build on, but what happens every single year? People always say ‘wow Switchblade, what an amazing year, but what happens next?’ I top it every single year, so my answer is wait and f**king see. What’s next? It’ll be more of me dominating every company I step foot in. More of me at the top of this industry. More of the Catalyst sparking every fire that needs to be sparked in professional wrestling. You’re going to see more of the same. Not the same old Okada, but the same, new Jay White. More of the same… which is better than anything you’ve seen before.