FOXSports.com has a new article up on Tuesday, officially confirming that WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross will replace new WWE Smackdown announcer Mauro Ranallo as the lead announcer for New Japan on AXS TV alongside Josh Barnett.
Ross will begin recording commentary with Barnett in the next few weeks for future episodes of NJPW on AXS TV, which is the 1-hour World Pro Wrestling Returns show that airs in Japan, featuring clipped versions of New Japan matches and studio interviews with New Japan stars, with added in English commentary.
Ranallo had previously been the lead announcer of NJPW on AXS TV with Barnett prior to signing with WWE. Ranallo had recorded a number of episodes of NJPW on AXS prior to his WWE signing that will last through February 26 before the new commentary team of Ross and Barnett take over on March 4.
Ross said the following to FOX Sports about joining the NJPW on AXS commentary team:
“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, 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.”