On Saturday, New Japan Pro Wrestling will return to the U.S. to host Battle in the Valley in San Jose, California. The event will potentially be the destination for Jay White’s final match with the promotion.
Mercedes Moné’s debut match is the biggest selling point for the upcoming show, which will also feature the latest edition of Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi’s iconic rivalry. Still, all eyes would be on The Switchblade following the outcome of his dramatic Loser Leaves Japan bout at The New Beginning.
Last week, Hikuleo defeated the leader of Bullet Club and banished him from his adopted home. After he accepted his fate, the New Zealand wrestler set his sights on a showdown with AEW’s Eddie Kingston. However, the two upped the ante on this week’s episode of Wrestling Observer Live with our own Bryan Alvarez and Mike Sempervive.
Kingston challenged White to a Loser Leaves NJPW match, and the former IWGP world champion agreed. The added stipulation doesn’t add much suspense to their conflict because many assumed it would be his final appearance with the Japanese promotion.
Instead, the occasion will likely mark the end of the Cutthroat Era and make King Switch the hottest new free agent in wrestling. During his interview with Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated, White said he was “at peace with it.”
“I don’t know if there is much more I could have done,” he said. “I don’t feel like I left a bunch of boxes unchecked. I’ve been living it, so it can be hard to appreciate it in the moment, but as I move on, I’ve started to look back at the weight some of it holds. As time goes on, I hope people appreciate it even more.”
The first NJPW grand slam champion certainly had a prosperous and impactful run with the company. So, what’s next for the self-proclaimed Catalyst of Pro Wrestling?
Unfinished Business With All Elite Wrestling
The Elite has a long history with White stemming from Kenny Omega’s failed attempt to recruit him at NJPW New Year Dash 2018. The Switchblade rejected him, waited for Bullet Club to implode, and eventually stepped in as its new leader.
When The Cleaner and The Young Bucks left New Japan, he thrived as the top gaijin star in the company. The formation of AEW and the rise of the Cutthroat Era ran parallel to one another as Omega’s successor secured numerous accolades in his absence.
It didn’t take an expert to see that the 30-year-old would inevitably make his way to the U.S. as well. For starters, every wrestler who rose to prominence as the head of Bullet Club did so before him, including its founder, Finn Balor.
White started making inroads into America in 2020 as a part of NJPW Strong. The following year, his U-S-of-Jay Open Challenge became a fixture at these shows, and he appeared on Impact Wrestling.
By the time he made his triumphant return to Japan at Wrestling Dontaku 2022, it became clear that he would be at the forefront of NJPW’s new partnership with AEW. In the process, he continued to gain new fans in the U.S., and you could see where this was leading.
For that reason, AEW would be a perfect landing spot for King Switch. The company’s audience already knows him, and its core fanbase has an affinity for New Japan because of The Elite. His style of wrestling would also fit seamlessly on a roster full of some of the best wrestlers in the industry.
Even more, there are so many potential storylines for him there with familiar opponents like The Best Bout Machine. Straight away, White would be an excellent opponent for Adam Cole at Revolution. After all, the two-time IWGP world champion was a part of his last pay-per-view match at Forbidden Door, and he has reason to seek revenge.
The Next Bullet Club Member to Sign With WWE
If White wants to step out of his comfort zone and compete on a larger stage, WWE is the best option. AEW is a safe bet because he could pick up where he left off with NJPW in some ways and continue to build on established rivalries.
WWE would allow him to do something different and reach a broader audience. It’s hard to imagine he would leave Japan just to keep doing the same character work and catering to a niche audience.
It would be fun to see him work with The Elite or test himself against Bryan Danielson. However, one could argue that he has already done memorable angles with Omega, and he successfully surpassed him as the leader of Bullet Club.
The Switchblade has already beaten him for the IWGP United States Championship. He one-upped him in the main event of G1 Supercard at Madison Square Garden and took part in Forbidden Door.
There are still stories to tell and comeuppances to dish out, but White doesn’t gain as much from revisiting lingering questions surrounding Omega’s NJPW exit. King Switch created a mystique by filling the void he left behind and doing things his way. So, wouldn’t it make more sense for him to chart his own path free of the ever-present comparisons between the two men?
Signing with WWE would definitely come with the risk that the company would dilute his character or repackage and saddle him with an unimaginative name change. Still, he would have a better chance of immediately entering the world title picture there than he would with AEW.
After Roman Reigns’ monster run as the undisputed universal champion, the company will need fresh contenders. In particular, there will be room for a new heel to step up when he isn’t as present on WWE programming.
AEW doesn’t need a new major antagonist as much because MJF just started his reign of terror. It will be hard to compete with him for the top spot right now. So, White could probably make a more significant impact with WWE on the main roster.
White has two great options in WWE and AEW. Both companies have pros and cons, but it all depends on what he wants out of the next chapter of his career.