AXS TV and New Japan Pro Wrestling announced on Jan. 4 that the promotions weekly TV show would be returning to AXS TV in January after a two-year absence.
According to a press release, NJPW’s presence on AXS will begin Jan. 20 as “classic” episodes of its previous run on the network will begin airing leading into the premier of all-new weekly episodes beginning Thursday, March 3, at 10 p.m. (eastern).
That time slot means that Impact Wrestling – airing at 8 p.m. (eastern) – will serve as the lead in to NJPW every Thursday. The news release stated that Anthem will also broadcast new and classic NJPW content on the Fight Network in Canada and Europe.
AXS TV will air six “classic” episodes of NJPW on AXS from Jan. 20 through Feb. 24, kicking things off with Wrestle Kingdom 12 airing Jan. 20.
The new episodes will begin airing March 3 and will be one-hour long with English commentary, with announcers being revealed at a later date. Originally, the AXS TV broadcast team featured Mauro Ranallo and Josh Barnett with Jim Ross joining Barnett later. Currently, Kevin Kelly and former NJPW star Alex Koslov are NJPW’s English commentators.
“NJPW was a major highlight for the AXS TV audience during its original broadcast from 2015 to 2019, and we knew the time was right to welcome them back as part of our premier Thursday night wrestling lineup,” Anthem Sports President Frank Tanki said. “For five decades, they have provided world-class content that has left an indelible mark on professional wrestling and given a global platform to some of the industry’s greatest figures. Now, AXS TV can further deliver that to our fans by sharing all the spectacle and action that NJPW is known for, when this new series debuts.”
Currently, NJPW airs its NJPW USA TV show “NJPW Strong” on FITE TV and NJPW World but those events are specifically taped in America and the AXS show will be a rebroadcast of recent TV tapings of NJPW’s TV Asashi series “NJPW World Pro Wrestling.”
NJPW’s original run on AXS TV ended in December 2019 following Anthem Sports and Entertainment’s purchase of AXS TV as it become the new home to Impact Wrestling, which is owned by Anthem.
While NJPW and Impact had major tensions – dating back to Jeff Jarrett’s days with the company – those tensions lessened in 2020 when the two promotions began to share talent again. According to the Wrestling Observer, NJPW and Anthem had been in talks about the longtime Japanese promotion returning to AXS TV since February of 2021.