by Tim Birkbeck
A year removed from making his Ring of Honor debut, Jay White returns to the pay-per-view where he made his first appearance for the company.
White’s stock is one that is on a massive incline at the moment, and is arguably one of the hottest commodities in ROH today. So, with his Search and Destroy faction going head-to-head with The Rebellion, in a match where the losing team must split up, the stakes have never been higher for the Kiwi on his return to the Best in The World show.
With White gearing up for the match, SteelChair Magazine had the chance to speak to him to discuss his aspirations within the company.
For you Jay, this is a year come full-circle having made your debut at the Best in the World 2016, so how have you viewed your year in Ring of Honor?
It has been awesome, I don’t think it could have been any better. Being with all the really awesome guys they have on their roster, being on all the shows and doing the tour of England last year was great. I obviously aligned myself with the Motor City Machine Guns so it has been really good to look back on the past year and view it as there hasn’t been any time wasted.
Are you surprised at how quickly things have fallen into place? This year alone, your name is one many fans have been buzzing about, so do you feel this is all your hard work paying off or is it a case of right place, right time?
It’s a little bit of both, I think the hard work is paying off and it is nice to have all these opportunities. I mean you could be that guy who just sits around in the background and never gets used, but that’s not what I’m about. I managed to get myself out there and work with quite a few companies and just making the most of an opportunity which presented itself. Like whenever there has been a match on TV I try to make the most of that spot, so people are going to want to see more of me.
Talking about making the most of your opportunity, it has been announced that you are in line for a shot at the ROH TV Championship, so what do you think your chances are? And how does it feel having your name spoken in the same breath as people like Marty Scurll and Kushida?
It is really cool. Me and Marty go back to when I first started wrestling, and we have mixed it up at various different places. I am hoping that Kushida holds onto it tomorrow night as me and him have never had a singles match and I would really like that to happen. And also I want to get back over to Japan, and I’m a little heavy to be a junior at the moment so it would be unlikely for us to go one-on-one over there.
I wanted to talk to you a little about your training as you trained in my hometown of Portsmouth, so how did it come about that you ended up there and what do you think of the city?
I consider Portsmouth home, so every time I visit the UK that’s where I go. When I left New Zealand, I went to Guernsey and I just looked into training schools. I first found Andy Quildan and Andy Simmonz school, and then I found Varsity Pro Wrestling and I just packed up all my stuff and went. I ended up messaging UK Kid and did a trail session and that went well and the rest is history.
Had you done any form of training in New Zealand?
No. When I came to the UK that was the first time I stepped in the ring. There was no wrestling scene in New Zealand, so I knew that I needed to leave if I wanted to become a wrestler.
Obviously, the next step was you going to New Japan, was that somewhere that you had always wanted to go or was it that you got there and things just seemed to click?
It was more getting there and feeling comfortable with it. Where I trained was very similar to the WWE style. It was thanks to Finn Balor that I ended up going over there as he did a seminar at the school in Portsmouth. He gave me his card and he went back and spoke to people like Bad Luck Fale who said, “If you want, you should come over to the DoJo.” It was really daunting as I didn’t know a whole lot about it, but of course, it was an opportunity I was going to take and then I started watching more and I just fell in love with the style they have over there.
You hear stories of how hard the NJPW DoJo is, is it really as hard as people make it out to be?
It was a massive shock going over there. For the first week or so I could barely walk from doing 500 to 1,000 squats a day. You would train in the morning for three hours and it would be so hot because they had this heater going and the windows would be shut in there during the winter. Then in the summer, it was just crazy hot anyway. And then, once training was done, you’d have a quick shower, then get down to the kitchen to look after the older boys, and maybe a bite to eat yourself. So yeah, it gets pretty brutal in there.
Most people know you for your work at NJPW and ROH but are there any companies you have your eye on that you would like to work with?
There were a couple but no, because of contractual obligations that may not happen. So, Progress and ICW were ones that I would have liked to work with. But I have managed to get to most of the ones I wanted to.
Nowadays, social media fans have a lot more access to their favourite wrestlers. Do you think that’s an advantage or does it take away some of the mystery of what wrestling has to offer?
I agree with the latter. It can make certain wrestlers less of a star and that fans think you are just their buddy. Not saying that wrestlers are above people, but instead of looking up to them, they can feel like they know them personally. But I guess that is down to how the person portrays themselves and acts on social media. But on the other hand, it is great for people to get themselves out there, especially Twitter which seems to be swamped with wrestling, and you can share clips and things like that to hold people’s attention so it works both ways.
At tomorrow’s Best in the World show you are involved in the big eight-man tag match, so what is the buzz like going into the event and how are you and the rest of Search and Destroy approaching it?
Well Search and Destroy are just going to continue to do what we have done the whole time. The Rebellion has been a thorn in our sides for far too long. We thought we had resolved this issue once or twice and they keep coming back. So this is the only option to have a match were the losing team disbands. We have each other’s backs and we know what we have to do, and under the Motor City Machine Guns’ leadership, I feel like we can come out on top.
But for the whole PPV, a lot rides on the main event between Christopher Daniels and Cody Rhodes. Obviously, Rhodes will be the first to say he is a free agent and isn’t signed anywhere, so I’m not sure him winning that belt would be a good thing.
Being part of the Search and Destroy faction you do a bit of everything, but do you prefer tag wrestling or singles wrestling?
I see myself as more of a singles guy. I feel like I perform better as a singles guy and I’m just more comfortable, but either way, I’m happy just to take the match.
If I just round off with two quick fire questions. If you could face one person in ROH and one in NJPW to have a long lasting feud with, who would it be?
Ring of Honor, Jay Lethal; and New Japan, Hiroshi Tanahashi. That is the match I want more than anything else.
Perfect Jay, thank you very much for your time and best of luck tomorrow.
Awesome. Thank you very much.
Best in the World is an ROH event being held on the 24th of June, at 2:00 am BST in Lowell, Massachusetts. UK fans can watch through the FITE app.