As part of their expansion outside of Japan, New Japan Pro Wrestling had two huge events in California last weekend: the grand opening of their new L.A. dojo, and their sold-out Strong Style Evolved show at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach. Brandon Stroud and I did press at both of these, and you can read about our dojo adventures here.
Working at Strong Style Evolved went a little differently. Like I said in my Best and Worst column, we thought we’d be doing scrum interviews, maybe shoot, maybe not, with some of the wrestlers along with the other media types. We definitely didn’t expect to be part of the show or any of the NJPW World additional material at all.
Normally, New Japan shows don’t include a lot of promos or talking segments. However, most of the wrestlers cut promos or otherwise respond to the results and fallout of their matches backstage and these post-match comments go up (with subtitles) on NJPW World and the promotion’s youtube channel. If you’re unfamiliar, check out this typical example:
However, at Strong Style Evolved, wrestlers (mostly just those who won their matches) gave their comments at a table set up for a press conference, and then took questions from the press. Some didn’t stay to answer questions because they were too fired up, evil, or had just cut a promo with an abrupt ending. But we did get to talk to Kenny Omega, Rocky Romero and Roppongi 3K, David Finlay, Cody (with input from Brandi Rhodes,) Kazuchika Okada, Hiromu Takahashi, and Tetsuya Naito about their matches, Bullet Club drama, the power of cats, and more.
Here are some excerpts from our time in kayfabe in the basement of a blue pyramid. In the text quotes, all statements by Japanese wrestlers were relayed through a translator except when noted. In the videos, which for some reason are not yet available through NJPW (but thanks to Cageside Seats for setting up their cameras right next to the official ones), anytime you hear that mellifluous radio voice you’ve heard on the With Spandex podcast it’s Brandon, and any time you hear a female voice that has also turned up on the podcast twice, it’s me.