Building on the success of the AXS TV FIGHTS Friday night franchise, AXS TV has acquired a 13 episode series from Japan’s largest professional wrestling promotion, NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING (NJPW). Premiering Jan. 16, 2015, NJPW will air on Friday nights at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT leading into the network’s weekly live MMA, Muay Thai, and kickboxing broadcasts.
Airing for the first time ever in the U.S., the hour-long weekly series features the most exciting matches from NJPW’s Japanese broadcasts and pay-per-view events. Former UFC Heavyweight champion and NJPW veteran Josh Barnett and famed combat sports commentator Mauro Ranallo are providing English language commentary for the series.
Founded in 1972, NJPW has established itself as the premier wrestling organization in Japan and the second largest and fastest growing wrestling promotion in the world. In recent years, NJPW has gained international recognition, winning the Wrestling Observer Newsletter “Promotion of the Year” award two years running and boasting three-year reigning “Wrestler of the Year” Hiroshi Tanahashi.
The series premiere features Tanahashi defending the promotion’s prestigious IWGP Heavyweight Title against his long-time rival Kazuchika Okada in front of 29,000 fans at the Tokyo Dome.
“With this acquisition, AXS TV FIGHTS now offers one of the most diverse combat sports and sports entertainment programming line-ups on television,” said AXS TV FIGHTS CEO Andrew Simon. “There is a strong relationship and influence between professional wrestling and MMA, and with the addition of Josh Barnett and Mauro Ranallo as our commentators, we’re confident this new venture will be a crossover hit with wrestling and MMA fans alike.”
AXS TV’s NJPW episodes were produced by and purchased from TV ASAHI CORPORATION.