Next January’s Wrestle Kingdom 13 event is being pushed as an event headlined by a battle of core ideologies.
On one side, you have Hiroshi Tanahashi, who doesn’t believe that New Japan Pro Wrestling should sacrifice the very things that made them so unique. So Japanese.
The other side of the argument is fronted by The Elite’s Kenny Omega, representing an outsider who wants to help bring global recognition to the promotion by adapting its style into something new. Evolving it into something he deems suitable.
It’s been an engaging feud so far — one that flirts with real-life tensions that exist within the company over alleged concerns of rampant “Westernization” that dilutes the “Strong Style” nature of Japanese puroresu.
Now an important voice has just been added to this feud: Harold Meij.
“They’re Almost Two Extremes To Each Other”
Meij is the current NJPW CEO, and has been speculated to have caused upset within the locker room with his recent decisions to reshuffle high-ranking New Japan corporate officials.
Speaking to Uproxx about their January extravaganza, Meij ruminated on the ideological clash between Omega and Tanahashi, juxtaposing it with NJPW’s philosophical stance.
“We talked a little bit about the philosophy, and I think that’s one of the things that sets New Japan apart from a lot of other promotions, or other sports for that matter, is we emphasize more the philosophical part… Keeping that in mind, I have to say that the Tanahashi vs. Kenny is going to be something special. Because they’re almost – I almost want to say they’re almost opposites, they’re almost two extremes to each other.”
“He Is The Epitome, Really, Of The Tradition Of New Japan”
“[…] if you’ve seen any of the comments that both have given, I mean, Tanahashi, for example, on the one hand, he is the essence of New Japan. He’s almost Mr. New Japan. I mean, he started with New Japan, he was brought up as Young Lion, he was there during the bad times, he was there during the good times. I mean, he’s been taking a lot of initiatives to help the company as well. Not just inside the ring, of course, as a wrestler, but also outside the ring he did a lot of PR. He went to personally sell tickets during our darker times… he is the epitome, really, of the tradition of New Japan. It’s in his DNA…that’s who he is.”
“Now, Kenny on the other hand,” he continued, “[…] incredibly high-quality moves, incredible stamina and agility, but he’s almost self-taught. Almost. He didn’t go to the dojo, obviously, so he doesn’t have that part of him. He came from other experiences from the world. He’s wrestled and fought the world, really. So it’s almost, you know, two polar opposites. And yeah, I almost have to say that I almost don’t want to see the outcome of that.”