NJPW President Harold Meij Talks Kenny Omega, AEW, More
On turning Wrestle Kingdom into a 2-night event this year:
Because 2020 is an Olympic year, so there’ll be more global eyes on the sports and culture of Japan, we thought well, we’re part of the culture of Japan as well. Particularly for the night-life. The planning for that was more than a year before that – trying to get the venue obviously, but also deciding whether we want to do it, because it’s a risk for us as well. Can we suddenly double the number of people coming? We want to keep the specialness of it, so I don’t foresee doing it every year.
On dealing with rumors about NJPW coming out in the media:
There’s a lot of information out there, but also a lot of misinformation out there, a lot of rumors, misunderstandings, and that’s all part of wrestling as well. That’s what makes it so attractive at the same time. The Japanese are very fact-oriented; this is probably because of the education system. They’re much less prone to rumors – of course, everybody is, but I’m talking about the degree of speculation and the degree of rumors, and Japan is much less than it is overseas. One of the reasons is that we don’t give out enough English content yet. We do therefore get a lot of conflicting reactions from fans overseas than we do in Japan. We take both on board, but a lot of that is based on the unfortunate lack of information that we’re giving out yet.
On the report NJPW made it difficult for Kenny Omega to enter Japan:
We couldn’t even do it if we wanted to. We would never – why? He was a great contributor to our company for many years. He was our top foreign wrestler, the heavyweight champion for crying out loud. He’s still growing in his own way in his new role, and we wish him all the best. We would never do something like that.
On NJPW America holding a bunch of small shows instead of a few large shows:
One of the biggest handicaps we have is the time difference. We can’t do a lot of live events on US prime time – if we do one at 6 or 7 o’clock at night, it’s 3 o’clock in the morning in the US, depending on where you are. You’re not going to wake up unless it’s a Wrestle Kingdom or something. It’s a sampling marketing strategy. By doing smaller-scale shows in a lot of places, people can physically see what our product is like, come to love it and then join into the streaming service or watch the TV broadcast.
On the possibility of NJPW working with AEW:
We’re very open to working with anyone, we don’t exclude anyone. But it does take time to create that trust between companies. At this stage, they still have different styles than we do, and that’s the only thing. We’re looking at what their brand positioning is and whether it complements ours.
Check out the full interview here.