Jay White’s AEW signing leaves Triple H with WWE box unchecked
The Post’s Joseph Stazewski brings you around the world of professional wrestling every Tuesday in his weekly column, The Post Match Angle..
There will be other opportunities, but for now, there is one important unchecked square left on Triple H’s booking bingo card.
After taking over as WWE’s head of creative in July, Triple H has yet to bring in a wrestling star without a strong previous relationship with the company and show that he can bring them under his watch on the main roster. Can make a big star – has done it before. NXT.
Most of the people Triple H has signed since July have been talents previously released or released by the company — even Cody Rhodes — and outside stars’ contracts don’t expire every day.
This is why WWE feels it is so important to miss out on Jay White for whatever reasons that may be. Because the opportunity to sign someone of his stature and name recognition feels like it could become less and less likely in the current wrestling landscape with so many companies flourishing. And free agent Kota Ibushi has already said that AEW is his first choice, especially with his good friend Kenny Omega there.
Fightful reported that WWE higher-ups “Failure to properly communicate with the process” In pursuit of White. Maybe Vince McMahon’s return played a role, maybe it didn’t. Either way, the former IWGP World Heavyweight Champion is now in AEW after debuting on Dynamite at UBS Arena last week instead of WrestleMania weekend.
Not only would landing White wrestle in free agency — given the fact that he’s previously performed in AEW and has strong storylines with several wrestlers — but it would be an interesting case study in Triple H’s booking philosophy. And White’s genius.
White is coming off a career-defining run in New Japan Pro-Wrestling, where everything finally clicked as the leader of the Bullet Club. While WWE touts his Bullet Club relationship with Finn Balor and AJ Styles, White would have had a chance to feel very fresh in WWE and possibly try something new if they had him in the club with friends. Do not try to connect. Luke Gallows and Carl Anderson.
There would have been many dream matches as White has never had singles matches with Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Cody Rhodes, Edge, Styles and Balor. White has a very unfiltered promo style that has made him a hated heel in New Japan. Would WWE have let him continue?
It will be interesting to see if WWE is interested and can put him in the main-event of WrestleMania or if he gets lost in the mid-card. Succeeding at first will create high rhetoric for future free agents. But now it seems we will never know.
Instead, we’ll likely see some deep storyline continuation in AEW from White, who has a history with Omega, Adam Cole, “Hangman” Adam Page and the rest of the Bullet Club in Japan as we approach Forbidden Door. He’s never faced the likes of Bryan Danielson, Darby Allin, Chris Jericho, MJF and Ricky Starks, so there’s a lot of new territory to explore with him. However, with a heel champion in MJF, it is difficult for White to get an AEW World Title shot in 2023, but anything is possible.
AEW got the best out of this free agency opportunity and we still have to wait and see how a major outside star in WWE will be handled under Triple H.
Blade and Bold
Tony Khan promises a big announcement for Dynamite and we end with two important pieces of news.
Earlier, AEW announced their long-awaited UK show on August 27 at the 90,000-seat Wembley Stadium, and the show will be called All In. Like The Elite’s independent show back in 2018, this is a hugely ambitious project for the company and is now the biggest show in its history. Finding success here would be huge for the company’s profile in the UK’s premier building, which hasn’t wrestled since SummerSlam 92, as well as its media rights in the UK. And if AEW’s schedule stays the same, it’s happening the weekend before All Out. So, that’s an insane amount of good wrestling if that happens.
White then teamed up with Juice Robinson to defeat Ricky Starks so they didn’t even have a match. This was announced shortly after White signed with AEW in a major acquisition and a possible move to the promotion. I had no problem with how White re-debuted. He’s been on the show before and it happened so fast that it leaves you with a good feeling that you don’t want to blink and miss a second of Dynamite. Starks recently had a world title match, so he’s more than an average mid-carder.
Vince McMahon’s creative role cannot become a constant distraction for WWE and its talent. There were reports of McMahon having a lot of influence on Raw last Monday after WrestleMania, and then there was Friday that he was at the Eagles ceremony during SmackDown and made some minor changes while remotely reviewing the show’s format. McMahon was reportedly not on Raw on Monday. It cannot become a complex creative attraction of weekly negotiations and war. Wondering who is really in charge is never a good thing. Clearly define roles and move forward.
We finally get the expected heel turn of Trish Stratus as she attacks Becky Lynch after being pinned to lose the Women’s Tag Team Championship to Raquel Rodriguez and Liv Morgan. Lita was attacked last stage – and we still don’t know by whom. One explanation that works for Stratus’ actions is that given how quickly it escalated, the Hall of Famer was jealous of Lynch being friends and winning the title with her bestie Lita – something Trish would likely want to do. was Lynch then let her guard down and attacked Stratus and Lita during the match.
Dominic Mysterio says he pulled his punches at WrestleMania to show mercy and not hurt his dad, a solid six on the heel excuse score. Is Dom the best heel in wrestling right now?
Over at Dynamite, it was a mixed night for Sammy Guevara. He had a nice win over Commander, but the USB Arena felt like the wrong time and place for a long promo trying to garner some babyface sympathy while beating hometown hero MJF. Then, at All-Access, after talking to Bryan Danielson after their two-out-of-three falls match and watching him squash his beef with Eddie Kingston, it’s a good one for him to see him get emotional. it was night Shined by Guevara’s passion and maturity.
Performing MJF on Long Island remains a one-of-a-kind experience. His MJF Day celebration was completely different than anything you see on wrestling television. From his Louie Prima song and dance number to a real town supervisor giving him a giant “key to Long Island” to the truth in Champion’s message about growing up with attention deficit disorder. Jungle Boy disguised as a cameraman was good to advance the Four Pillars title story.
Indie Hartwell is going to be a great underdog champion as her resume and her recent bookings don’t make her scream worthy of champion material – but she is – and the returning Cora Jade and Tiffany Stratton would both be great to play. .
The Impact got everything it needed after Josh Alexander left his world championship with a triceps injury. Alexander showed the true emotion of what this meant and his son was trying to take it back. Steve McLean wants to submit to Kushida instead of facing him at Rebellion and taking issues with his challenger is a really sold way to build the match.
Triple H announced that the WWE Draft is coming up in a few weeks, everyone is eligible. But is it too much to ask to date it?
Mercedes Monae’ is doing everything she said she’d do as IWGP Women’s Champion – putting on kick-ass matches and raising the profile of the division. The former WWE star had a great triple-threat match with Hazuki and Azumi at Sakura Genisis. Which had a crazy fast paced, hard hitting action that you would expect with some super innovative moves and counters that had all three competitors interacting.
Twitter friend Starkman has been telling me for a while that AEW Julia Hart has something special. Her main event match with Anna Jay at Rampage was a worthy performance as her great presentation/entrance with the House of Black and her in-ring work are starting to come together. Both women knocked it out of the park.
The best thing about Braun Breaker’s “heel turn” is that some will see it as a true new beginning for him. Others will see the attack as a justified act as Carmelo Hayes deserved it after cheating on Trick Williams to help him win the NXT Championship at Stand and Deliver.
Extra: What a great use of the count-out finish in the Bobby Lashley-Bronson Reid match on Raw. Those two beat the hell out of each other and that got the crowd hot for more – maybe at Backlash.
Extra, extra: The Rhodes family should be very proud of last week’s A&E biopic on Dusty Rhodes. It painted an honest and heartfelt picture of the man and truly honored his legacy. It also drew great parallels between Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis’ approach to entertainment that I hadn’t considered before.
Extra, extra, extra: This Brock Lesnar storyline could also make for a great first title feud for Cody Rhodes with a few tweaks…just saying.
Wrestler of the week
Sanada, New Japan
The 35-year-old veteran’s ride has been spectacular, culminating in a surprise win over IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada at Sakura Genesis in New Japan on Sunday to capture the first world title of his 16-year career. This led to a complete overhaul of his character that began during the New Japan Cup. Sanada joined a new faction in “Just 5 Guys”, changing his appearance and adding a new move set. It all paid off with the biggest win of his career after going just 1-8 against Okada in the ensuing singles matches.
Match to watch
Steve McLean vs. Kushida, Impact World Championship (Rebellion, April 16, 8 p.m., FITE)
Now that an injured Josh Alexander has officially relinquished the title, Impact will crown a new champion. It was McLean, after winning a four-way match on No Surrender, who was supposed to face Alexander. The New Jersey native has been on the best run of his career and will now have to wait for Alexander to return from his triceps injury to face him. But will the impact wait for him to finally become world champion?
Around the ring
Nick Wayne, two days after his 18th birthday, will make his AEW debut on July 12 against Swerve Strickland for the DEFY Championship to complete his trilogy.
Logan Paul has re-signed a multi-year deal with WWE.