The biggest story in NJPW has been Jay White’s status within the company. Collings discussed why it’s pretty clear that White’s situation with NJPW is all part of a storyline on today’s episode of our The Wrestling Inc. Daily podcast with host Nick Hausman.
“At face value, just looking at how New Japan has advertised this Jay White thing, they’ve really brought up, ‘Hey, Jay White could be leaving.’ They’ve had stories on their website about that,” Collings pointed out. “Jay White’s mentioning it in promos. To me, that feels like an angle. I know there have been reports that his contract is coming up and that he might be going elsewhere. Gun to my head, I would say he’s staying with New Japan. His contract might not even be up. For the sake of our discussion, let’s assume that his contract’s up or is coming up. He’s going to be a free agent.
“Let’s say that that report that came out from a few days ago is accurate and that WWE is inquiring about him. I wasn’t originally a big fan of Jay White. I thought one of the big takeaways from Wrestle Kingdom is this guy’s amazing and that his character and his story had also kind of exploded in that main event of Wrestle Kingdom night two, when him and Ibushi almost went almost 50 minutes in that epic battle. And while it was a great night for Ibushi, it was perhaps an even greater night for Jay White because I think he established himself as ‘okay, this guy is as good as New Japan thought’.
“They were right to push him this way. They were right telling the story, and now, I think he’s on this long story where he’s probably going to turn babyface, and he’s got this year of doubt where he feels like he’s going to give up. This year where he’s going to hit rock bottom, not unlike Ibushi a year ago, when he lost in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom and that his story is going to come full circle.”
Recent developments suggest that White is unlikely to join AEW. However, Collings made a case for why every company should be trying to sign White if he is indeed a free agent.
“If he’s a free agent, I think, because he’s in New Japan and he’s not on American television each week, he’s kind of flown under the radar, but I think if he was on RAW, or SmackDown, or NXT or AEW, I think people would talk about Jay White the way they talk about MJF, as this guy who’s going to be a future megastar,” Collings said. “And it’s not just because he’s really talented. It’s because he gets the character side of things. He’s a different character than MJF.
“MJF’s more openly entertaining, but if you watch Jay White, you understand that everything he does is to support his character. All of his matches are structured around what his character is, as this kind of thief heel. This guy who will cheat. This guy who can steal things at the last minute. He’s just kind of, I don’t want to say old fashioned or old school because I think that’s kind of a loaded term, but he’s just got such a strong commitment to his character that not a lot of guys have in addition to being a great worker [and] a great promo.
“So every company should want him. WWE should totally be after him. AEW [should] totally be after him. New Japan sure as hell should want to retain him, and if he leaves and he goes to WWE, this is not a knock on WWE and the people that are in WWE, I think personally, he’s the most talented person in that entire company. And there’s really talented people there, and again, not saying that as a knock. I just believe that Jay White is probably one of the five most talented people in the world in wrestling, and he’s only 28 years old.”
Hausman and Collings then talked about Bullet Club and the future of the faction. Collings noted that White’s status as Bullet Club leader is disputed since Evil took over the group after White was unable to travel to Japan during the pandemic.
“It was kind of strange in 2020 where Evil basically made this big heel turn and essentially became the leader of Bullet Club or the de facto leader of Bullet Club,” Collings stated. “Part of the reason it was so awkward was because Jay White wasn’t around. He wasn’t able to get into the country. It kind of felt like Evil had almost assumed this role in Bullet Club, and Jay White went from being the leader to being kind of this guy who’s in Bullet Club.
“It’s really just him and Gedo. It’s not really anyone else in Bullet Club coming down and helping him. To me, I think he leaves Bullet Club this year, especially if he turns babyface. Even if he doesn’t, he becomes more of a solo guy, maybe Gedo’s still with him as his manager and stuff, then Bullet Club becomes Evil’s group or maybe they elevate Tama Tonga or another one of their guys, Kenta. They have guys to elevate in Bullet Club if Jay White leaves.”
Collings then talked about why he feels Bullet Club has run its course and why the group should split apart. He pointed out, however, that Bullet Club merch still sells very well and NJPW is unlikely to split the group up anytime soon.
“Personally, I think Bullet Club might benefit from the guys, the established talent, maybe splitting up or going their separate ways,” Collings admitted. “I just think the Bullet Club angle, which I was a huge fan of and helped make me a big fan of New Japan, has kind of run its course. It feels kind of outdated especially because of just the sheer amount of turnover that has happened.
“But the merchandise is still a money maker for New Japan. It’s still a group that people identify New Japan with. So I think that New Japan will stick with it. They might move some things around. All the Tongans could split off. Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa and Bad Luck Fale, that side could split off, or the Japanese side, Evil, Dick Togo and Taiji Ishimori, that side could go a completely different direction.”
Tama Tonga was seemingly set for a singles push in 2021 but instead is back in the tag team division where the Guerrillas of Destiny became seven-time IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions at this past Wrestle Kingdom. Collings talked about the potential of a Tama Tonga singles push.
“New Japan’s tag team division, especially the heavyweight tag team division, has never really been a strength of the company,” Collings noted. “The Guerillas of Destiny, they kind of feel, while I enjoy their work, they do kind of feel like, okay, they’re the tag team champions again. They’ve done it seven times. What’s different about them this time?
“Tama Tonga’s always one of those guys who’s interesting. He’s one of the longest tenured foreign wrestlers in New Japan. He’s been there for a really long time. There’s been years and years where people have been saying, ‘They got to push this guy. Singles run for Tama. Singles run for Tama. This guy’s got this kind of potential.’ He’s definitely someone who people think could be a singles star, and I’ve heard it tossed around that he’s going to be a singles star, but he never really has gotten that kind of big push.
“And maybe that’s going to be this year. Again, he’s someone who probably didn’t benefit from the pandemic, restricting his ability to get into Japan, but I could see him getting a singles push. I could see almost anyone in Bullet Club getting a big singles push at some point.”
You can follow Jesse on Twitter @JesseCollings. Collings’ full interview aired as part of today’s episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it’s released Monday – Friday afternoon by clicking here. You can listen to today’s episode, featuring newly engaged pro wrestling couple Teal Piper and Deimos, via the embedded podcast player below: