Harold Meij isn't trying to "Westernize" NJPW.
In an interview with UPROXX, Meij was asked about NJPW and their movement to feature more English content and wrestlers. A recent criticism of NJPW has been their reliance on foreign wrestlers as three of their top singles titles are held by North American wrestlers. When asked about the "Westernization" of NJPW, Meij explained how NJPW is trying to add more English content, but are not changing the in-ring product.
"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," stated Meij. "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," said Meij. "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."
Meij continued, "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."
Meij concluded by saying, "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."
Fans have likely noticed more NJPW English content on their YouTube page, including the aforementioned History of Bullet Club and CHAOS videos.
NJPW continues to have success in America, although their July show was criticized by company Ace Hiroshi Tanahasi and Kazuchika Okada for feeling "too American." The G1 Special in San Francisco was headlined by Kenny Omega against Cody, a bout that had already taken place in ROH earlier this year. Tanahashi and Okada both believed NJPW should be presenting NJPW shows in America, not altering who they are when they come stateside and presenting main events that fans can see elsewhere.