wrestling / Columns

Csonka: Tanahashi Isn’t Being Wasted on Jay White

November 12, 2017 | Posted by Larry Csonka
Tanahashi vs. White NJPW

Welcome back to column time with Larry! Today I am here to disuses the fallout of the NJPW Power Struggle, and one angle and match in particular, I hope that you enjoy today’s column, and feel free to share your thoughts. It’s wrestling, we love it and will disagree. The only rules are “have a take, be respectful.

At the NJPW Power Struggle event, the identity of “Switchblade” was finally revealed, and unlike the big Chris Jericho reveal, it wasn’t a big surprise. Jay White made his return from his excursion, coming back home and revealing himself as the mysterious star of the video packages that have been airing for months.

But following the NJPW Power Struggle event, I was actually shocked at the negative reaction to the Jay White reveal and return angle. “Why is Tanahashi being wasted on Jay White?” “Why did Ibushi get screwed?” “Why should Jay White get on WrestleKingdom?” Some people just don’t understand, and I don’t want to lump everyone together, but a lot of these people I see complaining about it are mostly WWE fans. So I get why they don’t understand.

When it comes to WWE, it certainly feels like the Star making machine is broken, because why make new stars when you can constantly bring back stars from the past. But the cupboard is bare, they’ve brought back all the big stars they wanted, the others left that haven’t come back are too old, and now that Kurt Angle is wrestling matches, who is left to bring back to pop a crowd or attempt to pop a number? CM Punk and… and…? WWE should have more certified stars and draws on their roster than they do, but they have issues picking the right guys at the right time. You have Vince McMahon still working on the “Big Dog” project, which looks like more of a failure by the day since Angle and Triple H have seamlessly replaced him on shows in the Shield and seemingly made people very happy; Roman is not the guy, he is a guy and a replaceable one at that. Vince is still tied to overpaying Brock Lesnar and refusing to allow anyone with momentum to go over or get too much in during the short PPV matches, because the modern WWE stars aren’t Goldberg. And then there’s all of this time and effort put into making The Maharaja a thing, and it hasn’t worked.

So it amazes me that WWE fans are so judgmental of NJPW and this Jay White thing; after all, “NJPW isn’t competition, and only marks watch it.” The two companies are apples and oranges, but to seemingly single out the Jay White angle makes no sense. NJPW grooms talent in a very specific way. You start as a young lion, living in and cleaning the dojo all the time training your ass off. You set up the ring, and eventually earn a shot at wrestling, without knee and or elbow pads to toughen you up. You get beat like a drum, both physically & mentally as well as in the win/loss column. Once you show improvement, you start getting more, and right now a perfect example is Kawato & Kitamura. They have gotten over, the crowds react to them and by the booking of their matches, you can tell management likes them. And once you hit a certain level, you’re sent away on your learning excursion.

Yohei Komatsu and Sho Tanaka recently returned from excursion in CMLL & ROH, where they were working as the Tempura Boyz. And when brought back they were given the new gimmick of Roppongi 3K, hyped as important and won the junior tag straps in their first match back. They have been great since their return and were presented like stars from the first night back, given the titles and then won the junior tag tournament and are about to face The Young Bucks at WrestleKingdom 12. Roppongi 3K are the new hotness, the Bucks are the top stars of the division; the match makes sense. Roppongi 3K are stars, and it was done in a short amount of time, because when you want to make stars, when you want to activate the star making machine, you can anytime you want.

So many thought that NJPW was in trouble when Styles, Nakamura, Anderson & Gallows left for WWE. But to their credit, the company didn’t miss a beat. They kept rolling along, focusing on the elevations on Omega and Naito, both of which have paid off big time.

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Hiroshi Tanahashi Isn’t Being Wasted on Jay White, It’s called Making a Star

And that brings me to this, in no way is NJPW wasting Hiroshi Tanahashi on Jay White. Over the past few years, Tanahashi has done nothing but bust his ass to put people over; specifically Okada, Naito, Ibushi. Make no mistake, Ibushi lost at Power Struggle, but Tanahashi gave him everything, put him over huge and left things open for them to come back to the feud. Also keep in mind, Ibushi has commitment issues, which likely played a big part in him not getting a big time WrestleKingdom match. With Jericho working Omega, and there being no specific build to an Ibushi vs. Omega match, I have no issue with Ibushi losing, because you can always do the Omega feud with a real and strong build, and Tanahashi will always be there.

Jay White is just back from his excursion with ROH, where he lived and trained with Alex Shelley and put on a lot of great matches. He’s back with a fresh coat of paint, was introduced in front on Tanahashi. He made the challenge, and laid out the ace and due to that will be involved in one of the top three matches at NJPW’s biggest show of the year.

The star-making machine isn’t broken in NJPW, they’ve shown it with Roppongi 3k and are showing us again here. Hiroshi Tanahashi is the star-making machine, White will be working harder than ever before and I have no doubt that he will deliver. Win, lose or draw, if White has a great match with Tanahashi on the biggest show of the year, he will be a made man and a certified star. And that’s why Tanahashi isn’t being wasted on White, because either White wins and does so on the biggest show on the year, or he loses in a great and competitive match on the biggest show of the year in one of the top three matches on that show.

Tanahashi isn’t being wasted; he’s using the equity he has with the NJPW fans to put over another star, just like he did with Okada and Naito. Many still believe that Tanahashi is the true ace of NJPW still, he keeps delivering and in most years would be talked about as a WOTY contender, but in 2017, Okada & Omega are having next level years so many forget about him. Tanahashi isn’t being wasted, NJPW is making a star, and investing in the future in a homegrown talent that they have already invested a lot in; there is no waste in that

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– End scene.

– Thanks for reading.

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