“I’ve seen the future, brother. It is murder.”
-Leonard Cohen, The Future
CHAOS has died a death of a million cuts, bleeding out on the shower-floor of time, stabbed by an invader. Like Bruiser Brody, the legendary faction is all but memory now. Much like Brody’s killer, the killer of CHAOS will not be held to account. Instead, he will likely thrive in the year to come.
Starting 2018 holding a majority of the title belts in New Japan Pro-Wrestling, it seemed like the sky was the limit for the New York Yankees of NJPW. Kazuchika Okada was in the middle of the longest IWGP Heavyweight Championship reign in the history of the company. Will Ospreay was IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion. Roppongi 3K held the Jr. Tag Title. Hirooki Goto held the NEVER Openweight Championship. Then CHAOS added one more member.
After a Wrestle Kingdom 12 re-debut as “Switchblade,” former-Young Lion Jay White was offered a spot in Bullet Club at the beginning of the year, but instead used the offer as a chance to strike the then-IWGP United States Champion, Kenny Omega. White then revealed that he’d accepted an offer from CHAOS. White was a testy recruit, openly questioning why other CHAOS members didn’t challenge Okada’s authority. Shady as White’s intentions seemed, he quickly proved his worth, dethroning Kenny Omega and capturing the IWGP United States Championship, adding to CHAOS’s gold count.
Eventually CHAOS’s luck turned. As Dominion ended on June 9th, Hirooki Goto lost the NEVER Openweight Championship. Ospreay lost the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship. Most damaging of all, Kazuchika Okada lost the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, starting the a quick descent for the company’s brightest star. Jay White was the sole champion left in CHAOS, at least for another month.
White lost the IWGP United States Championship in San Francisco, but where title losses had weakened other CHAOS members, White seemed to only grow more confident with the loss. Headed into the 2018 G1 Climax, White still had the swagger that had defined him since he returned to the company. As Kazuchika Okada descended into red-hair, balloons, and a dance-hall remix of his theme song, White was carrying himself like a king. White even started dressing entirely in red and black, which many felt was a subtle nod to previous CHAOS leader, Shinsuke Nakamura. Fissures were forming in the foundation of CHAOS.
Okada and White were set to do battle on the opening night of the 2018 G1 Climax. White said from the start that it would be a match to determine the leader of CHAOS. After 25-shenanigan-filled-minutes, Jay White stood victorious over the longest reigning IWGP Champion of all time. He then went on to defeat eventual tournament winner Hiroshi Tanahashi during block competition. Add those victories to his previous victory over Kenny Omega earlier in the year, and you have White beating 3 of the top 4 wrestlers in New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Had he beaten Tetsuya Naito in 2018, it’d have been a clean sweep of NJPW’s top talent. Despite not advancing to the finals, White was on top of the world.
At Destruction In Kobe, Hiroshi Tanahashi defended his IWGP Challenge Certificate against Kazuchika Okada, in Okada & Tanahashi’s third match of 2018. After the match, Jay White struck. Switchblade attacked Okada and Tanahashi, furious that Tanahashi had chosen Okada as his first challenge, and not Switchblade. Okada’s longtime friend and manager, Gedo, ran out to seemingly save The Rainmaker, but it was a set-up. Siding with White, Gedo empowered Switchblade to, Samson-like, smash the pillars that held up the temple that was CHAOS. The two men dismantled Tanahashi, Okada and even poor YOSHI-HASHI in a brutal beating. The attack was enough to goad Tanahashi into a match with White at King Of Pro-Wrestling.
Like their Wrestle Kingdom 12 match, Tanahashi bested Switchblade at the October event. Unlike the Wrestle Kingdom 12 match, White had a plan. After the match, Gedo and White struck again. In a stunning turn of events, Okada ran out to save his longtime rival. Gedo’s tag partner Jado came out to seemingly make peace. It was a trap. Jado struck Okada with a kendo stick. Then Bullet Club OGs came out to add to the attack. Jado, Gedo & White joined Bullet Club that night in Osaka. Gedo, the main creative force behind New Japan Pro-Wrestling, said that Jay White was ushering in a “New Era.”
As 2018 came to a close, constant attacks from this new version of Bullet Club led to CHAOS being saved on numerous occasions by members of the Main Unit of NJPW. Suddenly Hiroshi Tanahashi was teaming with Kazuchika Okada, Togi Makabe was defending his former-Most Violent Players partner Toru Yano, and CHAOS was fading into the mists of time, after nearly 9 years on top of New Japan.
Jay White spent much of the fall defeating the “dream team” of Okada and Tanahashi. Then in December, Tama Tonga announced that Jay White was officially the leader of Bullet Club, legitimizing White’s claim that the “Switchblade Era” was beginning. Switchblade is now in charge of the most valuable Intellectual Property that New Japan has in its possession. Jay White started 2018 by turning down Kenny Omega’s offer to join Bullet Club and now he is the leader of an Omega-less version of that same faction.
On top of the world, Jay White demanded a match against Kazuchika Okada at Wrestle Kingdom 13. New Japan Pro-Wrestling management did not hesitate to make the match. Jay White heads into his second Wrestle Kingdom match against an NJPW legend. While he lost at Wrestle Kingdom 12, he’s the heavy favorite headed into Wrestle Kingdom 13. White has the momentum, and the story, of someone poised to take 2019 by storm. Should Jay White defeat Okada, it puts him in a very interesting position.
At the top of this year’s Wrestle Kingdom is Kenny Omega defending the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Hiroshi Tanahashi. Both of these men have lost to Jay White in 2018. A victory for Jay White means that he’ll likely be in contention for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. If 2018 has been any indication, White will not sit back and wait for his opportunity. Expect Jay White to win at Wrestle Kingdom, and then use the full force of his new militia to take the IWGP Heavyweight Championship by hook or by crook.
CHAOS is dead, the body is cold, and the killer is ready for his crown. The Switchblade Era is nigh. Prepare for carnage.
Wrestle Kingdom 13 will take place on Jan. 4th, 2am EST. It will air LIVE on NJPWWorld.com.