Many New Japan Pro Wrestling fans were surprised when Harold Meij was announced as the promotion’s new President and CEO in May 2018. He had been a successful Senior Vice President of Coca-Cola Japan and later President and CEO of toy company Takara Tomy, but the businessman had no experience in the pro wrestling industry. In addition, though Meij had moved to Japan from the Netherlands with his family as a child and worked there for decades, much was made of the fact that he was New Japan’s first non-Japanese president.
In his first interview with an English-language publication, Meij opens up about what he loves about pro wrestling, what he thinks makes NJPW unique, concerns that the promotion is Westernizing as an attempt to increase their international audience, and more. This conversation is below and has been edited for length and clarity.