While New Japan’s first solo trip to the United States, the July 1 - 2 G1 Special shows from Long Beach, were widely considered a success, one area that’s come under fire from fans and even some of the promotion’s talent was the English language commentary.
Jim Ross and Josh Barnett seemed unprepared at times and confused some wrestlers (like brothers Jay and Mark Briscoe) while being unable to identify others.
The most public and pointed critique came from Bullet Club member and former IWGP tag champ Tama Tonga, who Tweeted this during the replay of night two on AXS this past Friday:
Commentating sucked at the #G1Special..at least @realkevinkelly knows the storylines and OUR F#CKING NAMES— 'Bad Boy' Tama Tonga (@Tama_Tonga) July 8, 2017
Ross, who is preparing to call the taping of WWE’s Mae Young Classic women’s tournament this weekend, responded to the general criticisms while appearing on the next episode of The Two Man Power Trip of Wrestling. The entire episode releases tomorrow, July 11, but you can hear a clip of JR on this topic above.
Here’s what the Hall of Famer said:
It is a real ambitious undertaking for the AXS TV folks who do MMA 40 days a year (40 weeks a year on Friday night) or something like that but they had never done pro wrestling. So we had a brand new crew that had no and most essentially no experience whatsoever in pro wrestling. I thought that we rallied together and came through with an excellent effort, the desire and the will to be good was there. I had some flub ups and was asking which one is Jay (of The Briscoe Brothers) and which one is which and God almighty the guy we asked was one of the ringside guys and Josh Barnett and I said which one is which and one of the guys said: "Well, ( I can't remember Mark or Jay) doesn't have any front teeth." I said (okay) that doesn't help me unless you are going to be shooting their smile, give me something. I got hammered on social media because I made that mistake and people forget that we are human and we are doing a live television show.
I wish we did not have those errors but I can tell you this. When I saw the Briscoe's on Sunday I apologized to both of them for screwing that up and I took complete responsibility for it even though I got bad information (you know) I own it. It is my deal and so I apologized to those guys because I have great respect for their work and I always have so I wish we had not done that. I don't live this product. Kevin Kelly and Don Callus are there, they live it all the time and they were there in the building doing some stuff but I think that people will see that our second show was much more cleaner and much smoother than was our first show. Of course the second show also was highlighted by the United States title tournament but I thought that the final match with Omega and Ishii was absolutely tremendous. The Young Bucks had a real good match on that second night with Roppongi Vice and it ended up being Roppongi Vice's apparent last match as a team. I was very and really happy that I had the chance to do two live shows and not in voice overs but actually sitting in the arena, sitting at ringside and being able to do what I enjoy doing more than anything or any other phase of the wrestling business and that is do live commentary.
Will that appease critics like Tonga and others? Ross and Barnett are set to continue on with AXS’ weekly New Japan Pro Wrestling series, but that Friday night broadcast features action from past events with the commentators recording their voices from a remote studio and, presumably, with more preparation.
Stay tuned (or subscribe to NJPW World and listen in Japanese).