RADICAN’S New Japan Big Match Spotlight: NEVER Openweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahshi vs. Jay White from Wrestling Dontaku 2021: Night 1

By Sean Radican, PWTorch Columnist (Twitter: @SR_Torch)


SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

RADICAN’S NEW JAPAN BIG MATCH SPOTLIGHT
NEVER OPENWEIGHT CHAMPION HIROSHI TANAHASHI vs. JAY WHITE
WRESTLING DONTAKU 2021 NIGHT 1
MAY 3, 2021
FUKUOKO, JAPAN
AVAILABLE ON DEMAND ON NJPW WORLD

HIROSHI TANAHASHI vs. JAY WHITE (W/GEDO) – NEVER Openweight Title match

Tanahashi had the upper hand early, but White cut him off and slammed both of his legs into the ring apron several times. White continued to work over Tanahashi’s legs for a long period of time. Tanahashi finally fired back and cut White off with a dragon screw. Tanahashi caught White with a dropkick to the leg. He went to go up top, but White tripped him and slammed his knee into the ringpost.

White got up on the apron, but Tanahashi caught him with a dragon screw. Tanahashi went up top and Tanahashi hit Aces High to the floor! The fans fired up with both men down on the outside. Tanahashi got up and rolled White into the ring. White avoided multiple Slingblade attempts. He eventually sent Tanahashi down to the mat and followed up with a deadlift German. White set up for the Kiwi Crusher, but Tanahashi turned it into a Twist and Shout. He held on and hit a second Twist and Shout. Tanahashi held on, but White collapsed to the mat. Tanahashi slid around White and hit an inverted dragon screw. He then hit White with another Twist and Shout. Tanahashi bounced off the ropes for a Slingblade, but White caught him and hit a big uranagi and both men were down.

White lifted Tanahashi up and dumped him at a bad angle with a sleeper suplex. White set up for a Blade Runner, but instead hit an inverted dragon screw. White got the Cloverleaf Hold and the fans tried to rally behind Tanahashi. White hit a chop block a short time later. Tanahashi blocked a sleeper suplex and nailed White with a big slap to the face. Tanahashi hit a straightjacket German a short time later for a nearfall and the fans fired up with claps. Tanahashi finally hit a Slingblade for the first time in the match. Gedo got up on the apron and Tanahashi knocked him to the floor.

Tanahashi went up top for Aces High, but White caught him and eventually got the TTO. Tanahashi struggled for a long period of time before rolling into the ropes to break the hold. Tanahashi hit a dragon screw to surprise White. White fired back and hit a dragon screw of his own. Tanahashi and White went back and forth. White went for a TTO, but Tanahshi blocked it and hit an inverted dragon screw. Both men crawled around and grabbed at each other’s legs. Both men got tangled up and agreed to back off. White backed off and then crawled back to Tanahashi. They began trading blows from their knees.

White got the upper hand and went after Tanahasi’s knee once again. He hit a big dragon screw and Tanahashi moaned in pain on the mat. The fans tried to clap in support of Tanahashi. The 30 minute mark came and went. White wiped out Tanahashi with a big running forearm in the corner and he went down to the mat. White mocked Tanahashi as he staggered to get to his feet and Tanahashi surprised him with a big lariat and both men were down. Tanahashi hit a dragon screw in the corner a short time later as the 35 minute mark came and went. White tried to surprise Tanahashi with a Blade Runner, but he countered it into a Slingblade. Tanahashi hit another Slingblade for a two count. Tanahashi went up top and hit Aces High.

Tanahashit went up top again and the fans fired up big time. Tanahashi hit a High Fly Flow to White’s legs. Tanahashi smiled as the fans fired up. Tanahashi applied the Cloverleaf Hold. He dragged White away from the ropes and fully applied it. Gedo got up on the apron and White began tapping out furiously. Tanahashi let go of the hold and hit a dragon screw on Gedo around the ropes. He went for the Cloverleaf Hold again, but White rolled him up for a two count.

Kelly wondered if White tapped out to get Tanahashi to let go of the hold. White got a backslide and put his feet on the ropes, but Tanahashi managed to kick out. This was how Ibushi got beaten by White for the G1 briefcase last year. They went back and forth near the ropes and White pulled Tanahashi into the Blade Runner for the win.

WINNER: Jay White at 39:01 to become the new Never Openweight Champion. (****)

(Radican’s Analysis: This was a really good technical, but at 39:01 for it all to come down to Gedo’s interference was a bitter pill to swallow given that most of the match had been contested cleanly between White and Tanahashi.

It was never clear during the build to this match and during this match whether or not White was actually tapping out because of pain from Tanahashi’s Cloverleaf Hold or to use the tapout to his advantage as a ploy to trick Tanahshi during the built and to get him to release the hold during this match.

There’s still a thread left in the Tanahashi vs. White feud, but hopefully the next time they wrestle it’s a more concise match that answers the unanswered questions about whether or not Tanahashi can tap out White with the Cloverleaf Hold.)

White got on the mic after the match. He told the fans to keep their claps to themselves. He said the belt has nothing to do with him anymore. He said that makes Tanahashi a quitter because he lost. He said Tanahashi says to never quit. White said it’s time. He said Tanahashi didn’t want to admit. White said it’s for Tanahashi to quit. White said he did what he said he did what he was going to do, so he could quit now.

White said speaking of the NEVER Openweight Championship, the fans should cherish the moment. He said life is made up of moments. He said he had made history as the first man to hold the IWGP U.S. Hvt. Championship, the IWGP IC Championship, the IWGP Hvt. Championship, and the IWGP NEVER Openweight Championship. He said that makes him the one. He said if anyone wants to dispute that, they know where to find him. White said he’s the first ever quadruple crown champion in New Japan. White said it is still his era.

Contact Sean at radicansean@pwtorch.com. Follow him on Twitter @SR_Torch

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