Get ready to breathe with the Switchblade, folks.
At New Japan Pro Wrestling’s New Beginning in Osaka today (for full results, check here), the main event IWGP Heavyweight Championship match pitting champion Hiroshi Tanahashi against challenger “Switchblade” Jay White was, as usual, a stunning epic.
Built around intensive legwork from Switchblade, targeting Tanahashi’s arthritic knee with abandon, Hiroshi nonetheless managed to scrape rally after rally out and work through his usual match, albeit practically dragging his leg behind him at times. Indeed, eventually Tanahashi was perched up top, ready to end it… and White managed to counter High Fly Flow into his own Blade Runner and keep the 1/100 Ace down for a count of three to become the 68th champion in the line.
Post-match, he spoke about how he’s beaten all three of Kenny Omega, Kazuchika Okada, and Hiroshi Tanahashi and winning the title from the Ace was just the final punctuation mark. He intends to spit in our faces, metaphorically, by holding the title and following nobody’s rules.
This is an interesting move from New Japan— Jay has really grown into his own in a big way over the last year, but there’s something about him that still kind of comes off like a kid wearing his older brother’s leather jacket, and I can’t help but wonder if they would have ever even put the title back on Tanahashi in the first place if Omega wasn’t leaving.
Mild concerns about the visuals of the situation aside, I’m inclined to give Switchblade’s title reign a chance, personally. With Kota Ibushi around for the foreseeable future, Tetsuya Naito gunning to be double champion, and Kazuchika Okada clawing his way back up and looking to get his win back after clearing White’s Rogue General Bad Luck Fale away today, he’s got a number of strong contenders lined right up and seems likely to build a pretty decent title reign out of it overall.
There you have it, folks
Excited to see what White brings to the table as champion, Cagesiders?