During New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom 15 broadcast this morning (Jan. 4), this brief commercial played:
#njpw #njwk15 pic.twitter.com/RqFHBhPyUu— NJPW Global (@njpwglobal) January 4, 2021
The day before, Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer reported the following:
“... The promotion is very close to an English-language television deal. The deal is close enough that an announcement could come at any time.”
New Japan Pro-Wrestling has been without a U.S. television presence since Impact Wrestling’s parent company Anthem bought AXS TV back in 2019. Since August of last year, New Japan’s U.S. arm has produced a weekly show with English-language commentary called NJPW Strong. That airs exclusively on the company’s streaming service, NJPW World.
Obviously, the biggest question is what channel or channels New Japan will air on. Analysis of the ratings for the wrestling which is currently available on U.S. television varies, but no one disputes the notion that live programming is still in demand. It’s unlikely NJPW will be offering a live show, however, and certainly not one with its biggest stars - almost all of whom operate out of Japan, 14 hours ahead of Eastern time.
Which raises the issue of what the show will consist of. The AXS series featured angles and matches which has already aired in Japan and on NJPW World. It filled a need for fans in a pre-AEW landscape, but I’m not sure how much it will do to expand their audience with Dynamite and NXT as easily accessible options.
And that makes me wonder if this news is a precursor to any partnership updates. Would Sinclair put New Japan’s show on as part of a wrestling block with Ring of Honor? Has Karl Anderson helped convince NJPW brass to give Impact another shot, and could that mean a return to AXS? What effect, if anywhere, does being on TV in the States have on potential collaboration with AEW?
We’ll see if we get any answers to those questions when New Japan and/or reporting gives us something more than a vague “coming soon” teaser. Until then, weigh in with your questions, and answers, below.