New Zealand’s Jay White faces the biggest challenge of his career tonight in the form of Japanese legend Naomichi Marufuji.
The two meet in a featured bout on the New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) Lion’s Gate Project 2 card.
White has asserted himself as one of NJPW’s top rookie competitors in 2016, with multiple wins over David Finlay. As such, the young lion is starting to gain a following in Japan to rival the support he has in Europe and New Zealand.
While it’s somewhat cliché to say, he has never faced anyone quite like Marufuji.
Naomichi Marufuji is a former three-time GHC Heavyweight Champion and has won junior heavyweight titles in all three of Japan’s major promotions. He holds Tokyo Sports awards for “Match of the Year” in 2006 and 2008.
Yet for all his achievements, it could be argued Marufuji’s best days are behind him. White, meanwhile, is on his way up. Have their career trajectories overlapped?
Lion’s Gate Project 2 is made for matches of this nature and has drawn comparisons to WWE NXT with the opportunities it affords up-and-coming stars on the NJPW roster.
The first Lion’s Gate Project event, held earlier this year, drew favourable reviews around the globe. 411mania.com’s Larry Csonka described the event as “a rock-solid show, and a fun watch, especially if you’re into watching the careers of some of these younger performers from their early stages”.
NJPW Lion’s Gate Project 2 airs live tonight, May 19, from 10pm NZST on NJPW World.