In recent weeks, top New Japan Pro Wrestling star Jay White has become a hot topic as speculation mounts on what his next move will be once his current contract expires.
On January 4th, White headlined NJPW’s biggest show of the year, Wrestle Kingdom 17, when he defended the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship against Kazuchika Okada. Despite his best efforts, The Catalyst couldn’t overcome The Rainmaker and Okada left Wrestle Kingdom with the title, beginning his second reign with the latest iteration of New Japan’s top prize.
Jay White was a target signing for AEW before company was officially announced
Following the loss, Jay White cut an emotional promo backstage that ended with him blaming Guerillas of Destiny member Hikuleo for his loss. The next night at New Year Dash, White and his Bullet Club allies El Phantasmo, Taiji Ishimori, and KENTA took a DQ loss to Hikuleo, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tama Tonga, and Master Wato after ELP hit Tonga with a belt.
Following the match, Jay White viciously assaulted Hikuleo with a steel chair before challenging him to a ‘Loser Leaves Japan’ match which has now been made official for New Beginning in Osaka on February 11th.
'I'll take away all the moments that mean the most to you because you took the one that meant the most to me!'
Will Jay White force Hikuleo out of Japan February 11 in Osaka?
— NJPW Global (@njpwglobal) January 13, 2023
Since that stipulation was added, reports have emerged that White is set to leave NJPW with both WWE and AEW interested in signing the star.
In the latest edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer has revealed that AEW’s interest in White predates the announcement of the company itself, with them having reached out to The Switchblade as far back as 2018.
“Fightful reported that Jay White’s contract is coming due and that both AEW and WWE are interested in him. White currently lives in Orlando. He has a loser leaves town match with Hikuleo set for the 2/11 show in Osaka.
“In 2018, when AEW was being formed, White was asked his contract status since he was a guy that there was interest in, since he was very good and people in AEW worked with him in New Japan and ROH.
“At the time White said he was under contract for seven more years. Obviously that time frame doesn’t add up if he’s available now. The story reported that WWE was the favorite to get him but it wasn’t a done deal, and technically neither side are as of yet unable to legally approach him.”
Jay White has appeared on AEW TV before, helping Adam Cole and The Young Bucks against CHAOS’ Trent Beretta and Rocky Romero in February 2022 before defeating Beretta in a singles match on Rampage.
At Forbidden Door in June 2022, he successfully defended the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship against Cole, Hangman Adam Page, and Okada.