I've heard certain peppers referred to as being "as hot as rocket fuel" and wasabi being "as hot as lit (burning) rocket fuel" - so, yeah, it can be amazing how people who grow up in locations with milder spices react to the really hot ones for the first time.
I love wasabi, as well as European horseradish, but I can't eat hot peppers. For me, horseradish creates a giant ZING!--and then the pain fades quickly, leaving me eager for another delicious bite. Hot peppers have no flavor to me. They just make my mouth, tongue and throat burn, and keep burning for hours, so I can't enjoy any other part of the meal.
Wasabi gives me a head rush, I called it a high. My face gets red, I hyperventilate, and my friends laugh, but boy does it feel GOOD in my head. Quite the rush. I love it.
In moderation, of course.