Jay White has become the first New Zealander to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. In addition to holding this distinct honour, White, one of the first Fale Dojo graduates, is also the second Kiwi to hold a recognised world title since Pat O’Connor’s NWA title win in 1959.
White captured New Japan Pro Wrestling’s premier championship by defeating the Japanese hero Hiroshi Tanahashi on February 11 at the ‘New Beginning’ event in Osaka. White was triumphant following an intense 30-minute battle that concluded with the “Switchblade” trapping Tanahashi the wily veteran in his signature hold ‘the blade runner’.
At the age of 26 and with only six years as a pro wrestler, White has attained a level of success that normally does not come easy for foreigners that compete in Japan. White used the opportunity to confront his doubters at the post-match press conference.
“I told each and every one of you, I was going to do this,” said White as he scolded the media.
“I’m the champion (not just of this company) that pro wrestling needs,” he roared, proclaiming his sovereignty across the wrestling world.
“I don’t care who disagrees with it. You think I’m not ready? Well look right in front of you,” he stated. “If you had any stupid doubt before, it has to be gone now. I was ready a long time ago!”
— Rogue General (@TOKSFALE) October 8, 2018
“You cannot look past me as the top … not Gaijin, the top wrestler, not just in this company, in the world!”
“You can throw in sports entertainment into that if you want to well,” said the IWGP Heavyweight champion. “Because I’m better than any of them, I’m better than all of them!”
White’s first major title defence will be on April 6 at Madison Square Garden in New York where Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling will host the ‘G1 Supercard 2019’. MSG, a wrestling landmark, was once exclusive to sports entertainment for nearly three-quarters of a century until recently. With ROH’s influence and NJPW’s star power, together they gained access to the historic venue and sold out the event.
“I have this belt, and I’m not defending it until then. I will be taking this to Madison Square Garden,” White confirmed before ending the conference.