New Japan's future on AXS TV continues to look strong with a proponent at the very top.
Sports Illustrated spoke to Mark Cuban, chairman of AXS. He gave nothing but praise for the promotion, citing its growing audience on Friday nights.
“At AXS TV, we understand how incredible NJPW is,” said Cuban. “And the response has been amazing. Our audiences keep growing week to week.”
“It takes time to grow a promotion in the states,” he further added. “But when you have such an incredible spectacle of amazing athletes, it’s worth investing the time and money to give the best wrestling fans in the world, NJPW fans, a night to call their own. That’s what Friday nights on AXS are all about.”
The turnaround between New Japan airing the show live and being broadcasted on AXS TV has shortened rapidly over the last year. Jim Ross illustrates this further.
“Hours after Wrestle Kingdom ended, we were in the voiceover room kicking ass,” said Ross. “I absolutely didn’t watch any of the matches ahead of time until I saw them there and began narrating. The only thing better would be to be there for Wrestle Kingdom, but I don’t know if that’s ever going to happen. That’s the only thing bigger than what we’re doing right now.”
Josh Barnett is also a part of the broadcasting team. He likes to call wrestling as if it were a real sport, which can be a problem when wrestlers such as the Young Bucks have a more liberal take on the genre.
“The Young Bucks operate from the perspective that it’s all fake,” said Barnett. “I don’t think they treat wrestling as if it’s real. I think they look at it from a different perspective; that everybody knows it’s a work. There is a lot of winking and finger-pointing to the audience.It’s just a philosophical difference. The Young Bucks are definitely highly talented individuals, and very charismatic and smart, with lots of physical gifts. But they would walk through a match to the media, which to me is sacrilege. Antonio Inoki would have kicked the sh-- out of me over something like that, and that’s how I was brought up "
Regardless of the philosophical differences, Jim Ross can't think of a better partner to call New Japan action than Barnett, because they focus on the in ring work, not establishing a brand.
"Josh is the perfect partner for me with this brand,” said Ross. “We’re not here to do comedy. We’re not here to plug next week or discuss what’s trending. We don’t have a pay per view or live event to sell. We focus on the match and call the action, that’s what we do."
Jim Ross recently signed a new contract to continue doing work for AXS and New Japan for the time being.