One of New Japan Pro-Wrestling related podcasts on heavy rotation in my queue over the last few years, has been Keepin’ It Strong Style with Jeremy Donovan and “Young Boy” Joshua Smith. We’ve met up in multiple NJPW events around the country including the G1 Climax in Dallas Press Conference (July 2019), New Beginning USA in Tampa (January 2020) and NJPW Resurgence in Los Angeles (August 2021). They have built an exceptional podcast and community, of which, I am thankful to be a member.
Meeting at the Matsuri (2019)
Throughout my travels to wrestling shows, I’ve have the pleasure of making friends throughout the country, when I was in NYC for WrestleMania week in 2019, serendipity stepped in while I was at New Japan Matsuri. It was a chilly April morning, and the event staff asked a group of us waiting for the event to begin to be background fillers for a live Japanese TV segment that Jyushin Thunder Liger was recording for Asahi TV. I intentionally stood to the side and was relieved when Jeremy volunteered to give The Beast God himself a rundown of which matches he was excited to see at MSG. Jeremy gave an amazing rundown of all the matches he was excited to see, but it was the one match that was not mentioned in his enthusiasm, that caught Liger’s attention.
“He named every single match except mine…” Liger said to the camera in Japanese, wistfully feigning heartbreak.
Liger was scheduled to be in the 30-person Rumble opening the event MSG. When he said this, my lack of poker face got the best of me and his translator saw my reaction. Realizing that I had comprehended what Liger just said to the camera, he gestured toward me, saying “there’s a female fan, too.” I looked around wondering who he was speaking about, and then realized, I was the only one in Liger’s immediate proximity. I intentionally stood to the side so I wouldn’t be put on the spot, but it was for naught.
I should have replied in Japanese to completely shock everyone, but seeing the TV camera in my face, I completely froze, so I answered in English. “I am very excited to see (Liger-san) in the Rumble! I hope you enter at the beginning and win the whole thing!” Which was true. I love Liger-san and there was an undercurrent of finality with MSG coming because he had already announced his plans to retire earlier in the year. It lead
It would be nearly two months later when NJPW World released their behind the scenes special G1 SUPERCARD Madison Square Garden 〜Another Side〜, that I would wake up to find out that a clip of me giving Liger a high five opened the segment about New Japan Matsuri.
Liger: “THANK YOU VERY MUCH!”
Me: “YOU CAN DO IT!”
Liger: “THANK YOU VERY MUCH!! YEAAAAHHHHH!!!!”
Then he gave me a high five. What I love about this moment is that I am surrounded by people who would eventually become friends, including Jeremy and Josh. When I would see Liger-san several months later in PWX Legend, I had him sign a grainy print out of this photo for my office.
Happy 200th Episode, KISS!!
From April 2019, I have regularly listened to KISS and run into Jeremy and Josh at New Japan shows around the USA. I never imaged that I would be a repeat visitor on their podcast, let alone on an episode as special as their 200th episode. When the three of us get together, it’s always an ironman, triple threat match that we always lose track of time with. They are two of my favorite New Japan content creators to hang out with, and I am thankful and fortunate to call them friends.
- December 2020 Episode 15# World Tag League/BOSJ 2020 Review.
- November 2020 Episode 15# World Tag League/ BOSJ 2020 Preview.
Can’t wait to see where their journey takes them next. Here’s to 200 more, and hopefully returning before they clear 300!