New Japan Pro Wrestling no longer airing on AXS TV

Originally published at

The relationship between AXS and New Japan Pro Wrestling has ended following the news Friday that the series will no longer be running on the network.

New Japan issued a statement that no more events, including Wrestle Kingdom 14, would be broadcast on AXS TV and encouraged viewers to join New Japan World.

In response to US fan queries

There are currently no plans for TV broadcast of NJPW events in 2020 (WK14 included) in the US.

Thank you for joining us on TV so far. We invite you to join @njpwworld for all the action in 2020, LIVE and in English!

— NJPW Global (@njpwglobal) December 27, 2019

AXS TV has confirmed to POST Wrestling that they will no longer be airing episodes of New Japan.

The die was cast in recent weeks following the purchase of majority control of AXS TV by Anthem Sports and Entertainment. The deal was followed by a drastically reduced presence for New Japan on its U.S. broadcaster.

It had been previously reported that the deal between the two sides was set to expire in January 2021.

The deal to bring New Japan onto AXS TV was largely the work of Adam Swift, who was let go by AXS after the purchase by Anthem. The initial incarnation of the series featured Mauro Ranallo and Josh Barnett providing English commentary. The matches were accompanied by subtitled interviews from the talent that added layers to the matches in their presentation.

After Ranallo joined WWE in 2015, he was replaced by Jim Ross, who would later be signed by WWE in 2017 and worked concurrently calling matches on AXS TV while under contract to WWE for a time.

AXS TV’s prime wrestling content is their weekly airing of Impact Wrestling on Tuesday nights and is continuing to run WOW: Women of Wrestling on the station.

This is really a roadblock on New Japan’s efforts to expand in the West.

Impact wanted to partner with NJPW, NJPW said no, Anthem which owns impact purchased the network NJPW airs in America puts Impact on and boots them off. I hope NJPW can find a new bigger home and Impact can die in irrelevance on AXS

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Guess I made the right decisions this year to not only subscribe to NJPW World, but also buy a Fire Stick to watch it (it’s been working better for me than my laptop did). I’m bummed that something like another G1 night in the U.S. airing live on TV may not happen for a while.

That’s really unfortunate. Some US network is going to get a really nice property out of this.

My main fear with Anthem buying AXS was that the New Japan partnership would go away and that fear is now realized

I’d really be curious to know how NJPW’s numbers on AXS compared with North American NJPW World subscriptions. Could just be my own internalized bias (cord-cutter, NJPW die-hard), but I get the sense that NJPW’s appeal lies more in hardcore wrestling fans and disillusioned WWE fans looking for an alternative rather than general channel flippers. I feel like platforms like YouTube and Twitter are better means of getting small samples of NJPW before deciding whether or not to pay for the full meal than the AXS shows. Don’t get me wrong, I loved how those shows were produced (and subtitled), but I feel like if you’re the sort of fan who’s gonna dig NJPW in the first place, taking a flyer on NJPW World at WK or G1 season and then seeing if you stick with it is more likely than AXS drawing in newcomers.