Harold Meij, the current CEO of NJPW did his first interview with an English-language publication. The publication was with Uproxx and he discussed the comments about NJPW being westernized and if he had a favorite match in the company. You can read highlights from the interview here:
That kind of connects to, there’s been kind of people talking about, if New Japan is trying to Westernize the product, or make it more, you could say quote-unquote mainstream, but not mainstream in Japan ? really just Westernize the product to increase the international expansion. How do you respond to things like that, or is there any truth to that?
“Well, first of all, I mean, what is the definition of Westernization? I mean, nobody’s ? everybody says, ‘Oh, you’re trying to do this or trying to do that,’ but what is that? What is the Westernization of wrestling? I don’t know. It’s for the fans to decide what that is. But I can tell you, if it’s the definition that I have, which might be very much different from yours or anyone else’s out there ? it’s their own definition, I think ? but if it’s my definition of what I think Westernization of wrestling is, then we’re trying to do the exact opposite.
“I am trying to bring the ? I believe that our difference, our uniqueness, is actually the Japanese part of wrestling, the Japanese way of wrestling. Now, it’s very difficult to define what that is too? and again, it’s up to the fans to decide, well, what is the Japanese-ness, then?? But I believe that it’s in our name. We are New Japan Pro Wrestling, so I’m trying to bring the Japanese way, the Japanese way of wrestling, to the global audience. And this has to do much more with the philosophy that we talked about earlier, but also our traditions. It has to do with the way we bring and educate, if you will, our wrestlers? We have great talent. We have great matches.
“But yes, if you’re saying, ‘Oh, you’re trying to Westernize it by bringing more English content,’ then yes, we are, because I believe that most of our interviews for example, or most of our videos that explain the match or explain the emotions of the wrestlers before a match, or even post-match comments, yes, most of that is in Japanese. So I am trying to bring more of that content in English, and together with the history, for example the history of the Bullet Club, for example, the history of Chaos, for example, the faction, is something that we will bring out in English, because I want to explain the richness of that history to an audience that may not have been exposed to it as much as Japanese fans. So yes, I’m trying to bring more English content, but I’m not trying to change anything within the ring. I’m actually trying to bring exactly that essence to the Western audience.
“And incidentally, you know, we do talk about American-type wrestling, Japanese-type wrestling we’ve been discussing, Mexican, maybe even British ? those four might be the big four, but as talent gets exchanged, or as talent moves between promotions and as we, of course, start wrestling overseas and some other promotions are wrestling in Japan, I think the differences between those will start to merge a little bit more so it will be less pointed, in that sense. More like a global standardization, if you will. But no, I’m trying to do the exact opposite, so, I’m trying to bring Japan as is.”
Do you have a favorite New Japan match?
“So before we get into which favorite match it is, I do want to mention this ? why people like wrestling matches to begin with, and then we can talk about the favorite one ? And in my case, I think this has to do ? this is a little bit philosophical, but I get it from a lot of the fans in Japan, who basically say the same thing ? and that is that as an individual, there are times in your life when you have to fight. And I don’t mean literally fight, but, you know, you have to fight for a cause or fight to protect your family, or yourself, or your opinions, or for your job or your work or whatever you’re doing, but you have to fight. That’s not physical, but more mental? But, when you really come to it, you often don’t have the courage or the guts to actually go through with it.
“But when I see people physically fighting and overcoming struggles, like a lot of the wrestlers have, they put a lot of time in it, they overcome a lot of injuries or personal sacrifices or personal, how do you say, struggles, within the wrestling world, and when you see them give it their everything in their match, it actually gives you as a spectator strength and courage to do more than what you might not have done in the past. And I get that from a lot of the fans, that they say the same thing. They say that’s one of the reasons why wrestling is so attractive to them.
“So based on that, when you say, ‘Well, what is your favorite match?’ You know, I have to say when I see something like that in the ring that gives me the energy, gives me the strength that I need in whatever I need to do, that would be a very good match. And the one that comes to mind quite recently is the November 3 one, Suzuki vs. Ishii.”
Harold Meij also discussed with Uproxx about his favorite wrestler as a kid, Wrestle Kingdom 13, and why he chose to work in the Pro Wrestling Industry. You can read the whole interview here.