Daytona brought sites, smells to me

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Leaning against the railing just outside of the Hard Rock Hotel in Daytona Beach, Fla., I let the Atlantic sea-salty air fill my lungs.

This was the first time I had seen, if memory serves, the Atlantic Ocean up close and personal.

Last weekend, a small group of my friends and myself traveled to Daytona Beach for a New Japan Pro Wrestling show at the famous Ocean Center on June 29.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

We spent one night at the beach side town and came right back home on Saturday.

We ventured down through the Florida landscape the day of the show, getting in Daytona ahead of time so we can see the sites.

After a good meal and a rousing few games of pool, we set off for the show, which was called CEO’s When Worlds Collide. At the same time, a video-gaming conference was being held at the Ocean Center. The CEO gaming company fitted the bill for the NJPW wrestlers to come and perform.

The show itself was really good.

As I sat there watching each athlete do his best, I couldn’t help but think that this has everything I like in a production — comedy, action, drama and physicality.

These guys put their lives on the line during each and every show, and that should be noted.

During the show, I was anxious for the main event because it put The Golden Lovers — Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi — against Tetsuya Naito and Hiromu Takahashi in a tag match.

I have seen these athletes perform before. Just about four weeks ago, I stayed up and watched all during NJPW’s Dominion 6.9 on June 9. Now, that was a show I’ll never forget.

When the final match began, I was at the edge of my seat with excitement.

The match, overall, was great and all did well doing their different roles.

The best, and funniest, part of the match was between Ibushi and Takahashi’s stuffed animal.

Yes, I said stuffed animal.

For just about a minute or so, Ibushi focused on the animal at the center of the ring with a focus that never wavered. At one point, I thought he was going to engage the animal, but Takahashi saved his friend.

I laughed, as did the rest of the crowd before the match continued in earnest.

When the match ended, all was right and well in the world of wrestling. After last weekend, the wrestlers probably traveled to San Francisco, Calif. for the start of the NJPW G1 tournament — a month-long tournament featuring the promotion’s top stars.

Now, that’s going to be a lot of wrestling and it’s sure not going to disappoint.