WWE Hall of Fame broadcaster Jim Ross and champion fighter Josh Barnett will return as AXS TV’s New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) broadcast team in 2018, announced AXS TV FIGHTS CEO Andrew Simon.
The acclaimed commentary duo kick off the new year with AXS TV’s Wrestle Kingdom 12 special on Saturday, Jan. 6 at 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT.
AXS TV’s award-winning weekly NJPW series returns to Friday nights on Jan. 12 at 8 ET/ 5 PT, with additional coverage from Wrestle Kingdom 12. Rounding out the network’s first quarter schedule will be matches from New Beginning Sapporo, New Beginning Osaka and more.
One of the most recognizable figures in pro wrestling, Ross has called thousands of televised events in his 30-plus-year career and has lent his iconic voice to NJPW on AXS TV since 2016. Along with his beloved catchphrases, Ross is widely regarded for his influence on the wrestling industry, as evidenced by his induction into the WWE, NWA and National Wrestling Halls of Fame. Ross continues to share his love of wrestling in his popular podcast “The Ross Report” and his new memoir “Slobberknocker: My Life in Wrestling.”
A former UFC Heavyweight Champion and veteran wrestler, Barnett has provided expert analysis for NJPW on AXS TV since the series debuted in 2015. Barnett’s storied combat sports career is highlighted by multiple headlining and title fights in the UFC, Strikeforce, PRIDE and Pancrase. His wrestling background includes competing for heavyweight belts in NJPW, Inoki Genome Federation (IGF) and TNA. He has also trained extensively with some of NJPW’s biggest stars and currently coaches his own team of pro wrestlers and MMA fighters in Los Angeles.
“Together, Jim Ross and Josh Barnett form one of the strongest and most unique commentary teams in pro wrestling,” Simon said in a release. “J.R.’s experience is second to none and his iconic voice provides a captivating soundtrack for NJPW, while Josh’s career in both pro wrestling and combat sports allows him to add compelling depth and combatant’s perspective to the action.”
Ross added: “I'm excited to be returning to AXS TV, and with my partner Josh Barnett we look forward to another exciting year with AXS TV and their NJPW programming. NJPW has some of the finest athletes in the world performing for them and it's an honor to be able to add a narrative to their bouts.”
Barnett noted: “I love being a part of the growing New Japan Pro Wrestling expansion into the U.S., and with more shows to come, I am ready to roll up my sleeves, bust out a few hundred squats, and get to calling the best wrestling action in the world."
AXS TV produces the English language version of New Japan Pro Wrestling in association with TV ASAHI CORPORATION, the distributor of NJPW.
Press release provided by AXS TV
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