New Japan Pro-Wrestling has officially announced that “Switchblade” Jay White will defend the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Madison Square Garden.
In case you missed it, the Bullet Club leader shocked the world Monday by defeating Hiroshi Tanahashi at NJPW The New Beginning in Osaka to become the 68th man in history to hold the coveted world title. In doing so the 26-year-old New Zealand sensation joined a rare group of foreign stars to stand at the top of Japan’s biggest promotion — a list that includes names like Brock Lesnar, Big Van Vader and of course, Kenny Omega.
White’s very first defense will come on April 6th in New York City when both New Japan Pro-Wrestling and Ring of Honor present the first ever G1 Supercard event in front of a sold out Madison Square Garden crowd.
But who will face the Switchblade at the world’s most famous arena? That question will be answered over the course of two weeks in March, as the winner of the annual New Japan Cup will become the #1 contender to the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at G1 Supercard.
The New Japan Cup is a single elimination tournament that has taken place every year dating back to 2005. It generally features 16 of the promotion’s top heavyweight stars, not including the current reigning heavyweight champion.
In recent years the tournament has also left out the NEVER Openweight Champion and the IWGP Intercontinental Champion, giving the winner an option of which title to challenger for. However, with the main event of New Japan’s biggest show in U.S. history on the line and the title in question already being chosen, it will be interesting to see who is included in this year’s field.
Thus far, Kota Ibushi is the only named confirmed.