Even before he lost a “Loser Leaves Japan” match last weekend, or his bout with Eddie Kingston this Saturday night in San Jose became a “Loser Leaves NJPW” affair, signs were pointing toward former IWGP World Heavyweight champion Jay White leaving New Japan.
While writing about the situation in the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer only had the same guess most of us have had about where White will land next. But in the process, he dropped another tantalizing tidbit from his sources (emphasis mine):
“It is not clear what is next for White, although one would suspect WWE or AEW would be his next destination, because nothing else would make sense. Those in WWE who would normally know of major acquisitions during Mania season didn’t know about this one and only said that there was a much bigger major free agent in play right now that was internally the priority.”
Meltzer’s left most fans & pundits stumped as to the identity of this “much bigger major free agent”.
- Anything like this will conjure “CM PUNK RETURN IMMINENT” reactions, but as Dave points out elsewhere in this week’s WON, he’s still under contract to AEW. A surprise WrestleMania debut is also exactly the kind of thing that makes Tony Khan hesitant to release Punk even if he doesn’t plan to use him again.
- Another former IWGP World champ, Kota Ibushi, is a free agent. But given his plans to run a wrestling school in Japan he doesn’t seem like a great fit, and it’s questionable if he’s someone WWE would think is a “much bigger” name.
- Kenny Omega is certainly more well known in the U.S. than White or Ibushi, and at one point was supposed to be a free agent around this time. But it’s believed he had injury time added onto the four year deal he signed when AEW launched, so he probably wouldn’t be available until later this year at the earliest.
- The Young Bucks could be on the market, and Dax Harwood has said FTR’s AEW contracts expire in April. But would WWE see a tag act as a marquee signing?
Is there anyone we’re missing? Let us know, along with how much stock you put into this report, in the comments below.