Jim Ross is back! Legendary voice to call New Japan Pro Wrestling matches on AXS TV
Good God almighty, legendary voice Jim Ross is back in business.
The WWE Hall of Famer will be doing play-by-play for "New Japan Pro Wrestling" on AXS TV, it was learned on Tuesday. Ross will work alongside NJPW veteran and UFC star Josh Barnett beginning March 4. The show is broadcast at 9 p.m. ET.
"New Japan Pro Wrestling" will feature the matches from Wrestling Dontaku 2015. Ross will do the voice-over calls from Los Angeles.
"This opportunity to work with AXS TV is attractive on many fronts," Ross said. "The travel won’t be weekly but approximately 8-10 trips to Los Angeles in a year’s time. While there, in a two-day, voice-over session, we will hammer out up to six shows. I’m happy OKC now has non-stop flights to LAX."
Ross was the voice of WWE for two decades. He was part of the first English language, live broadcast of NJPW in 2015 when he worked Wrestle Kingdom 9.
"I’m a big fan of the New Japan product as they have been one if the most highly regarded brands within the genre for decades," Ross said. "New Japan has a unique opportunity with AXS TV to grow their brand in North America. The more fans sample the athleticism, physicality, no-nonsense presentation of NJPW the more they’re going to like it.
"For me, the New Japan Pro Wrestling business philosophy reminds me of my earlier years in wrestling. I’ve had numerous other offers, some serious and others just flirting to return to TV Wrestling broadcasting but none have had the appeal that AXS TV offered me. We think my style will fit the NJPW in-ring presentation well. We’ll know that conclusively in early March. Plus, AXS TV and I discussed other potential projects outside NJPW."
NJPW’s season features episodes highlighting matches from the 2015 New Japan Cup, Invasion Attack, HINOKUNI, Best of the Super Juniors 22, Dominion 7.5, G1 Climax 25 and more throughout the year.
"It’s a dream to be able to sit next to the legendary Jim Ross and call the incredible wrestling action of New Japan Pro Wrestling," Barnett said. "I’ve listened to his commentary throughout the years and I’m glad to have someone as distinguished as him to work with in the booth."
Ross and Barnett will be calling matches that are action-packed.
"NJPW has some studs on their roster and they do a great job of offering a strong, physical style that highlights stiff strikes, heavy kicks and high level air skills," Ross said. "Hiroshi Tanahashi is their ace — NJPW’s version of John Cena as it relates to carrying his company’s brand during challenging business times. Kazuchika Okada is the heir apparent to Tanahashi and is one of the most dynamic performers anywhere in the world.
"I’m hopeful that my partner . . . and I can continue to introduce many new fans to more of these amazing, proud athletes. The NJPW roster is loaded with many young, talented, highly trained men that all hungry to fight their way into main events."
Did Ross, who is a contributor to FOXSports.com, miss calling the action?
"I think I only missed it when I heard others doing it on television," Ross said with a a laugh. "I’ve never missed it while sitting in an airport or checking into another hotel. Broadcasting has been in my DNA for over 40 years so it’s here to stay. Broadcasting was always my favorite facet of being in the TV wrestling business.
"I’m very excited about this opportunity to get off the bench and get back in the game," he added. "My tank is far from empty. The social-media feedback, especially on Twitter, regarding the possibility that I might get back behind the mic for some pro wrestling has been nothing short of spectacular. I’ve been touched by the genuine outpouring of support from fans who have been supporters of mine for years.
"It’s my job to not let these folks down, and I won’t."
Jim Ross on Twitter @JRsBBQ, listen to him on the Ross Report Podcast, and see him live at RINGSIDE: An Evening with Jim Ross. JR’s products are also available online at wweshop.com,americansoda.co.uk and beyondtheropes.co.uk