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January 19 UPDATE
Jim Ross is officially returning to U.S. television in March to call AXS TV’s New Japan shows.
AXS TV issued a press release on Tuesday confirming the deal.
Fox Sports initially reported the deal on Tuesday morning and Ross commented on the decision to return to U.S. television starting Friday, March 4.
“This opportunity to work with AXS TV is attractive on many fronts,” Ross said. “The travel won’t be weekly but approximately 8-10 trips to Los Angeles in a year’s time. While there, in a two-day, voice-over session, we will hammer out up to six shows. I’m happy OKC now has non-stop flights to LAX.”
One of the biggest keys to Ross returning to broadcasting was the travel schedule. After hammering out the fine points of the deal and production schedule with AXS TV, Ross’s camp was satisfied with the new venture.
Ross will replace Mauro Ranallo calling the New Japan shows with pro wrestler/MMA fighter Josh Barnett starting March 4.
Ross also commented to Fox Sports that he and AXS TV are “discussing other potential projects outside of NJPW.” AXS TV airs a variety of combat sports fight cards, including MMA.
“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,” Ross said of the shows he will be calling. “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.”
“It’s a dream to be able to sit next to the legendary Jim Ross and call the incredible wrestling action of New Japan Pro Wrestling,” said Barnett in AXS’s press release. “I’ve listened to his commentary throughout the years and I’m glad to have someone as distinguished as him to work with in the booth.”
“Jim Ross is unquestionably one of the best announcers in the history of professional wrestling. He is a true legend and we look forward to leveraging his unparalleled experience to continue to make New Jaoan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV the best wrestling show on television,” said AXS TV Fights CEO Andrew Simon.
Ross wrote further about the deal in a new blog at jrsbarbq.com, calling it a chance to “correct the self-perceived negative exit” from broadcasting when he left WWE.
“I am excited to get started and I’ve already begun my prep for our first voice over session which is in the second week of February in Los Angeles,” Ross wrote.
“I’m looking forward to teaming with Josh Barnett on these broadcasts and our goal is to be the best broadcast team in pro wrestling. End of story. We’re coming to kick ass and have fun and to continue to help build the NJPW brand on AXS. NJPW is a proud company that has long been one of the premier wrestling promotions in the world and I am honored to being the play by play voice of this company in North America.”
Jan. 17 UPDATE: Jim Ross detailed his talks with AXS TV to potentially replace Mauro Ranallo as lead announcer for the New Japan series in his latest blog at jrsbarbq.com.
– Ross said his side has been talking with AXS TV “over the last couple of months” and there is “mutual interest” in working together, but “we have yet to finalize our agreement.”
– The update on Saturday is that “lawyers are reviewing the revised points on the contract” following the latest discussions on specifics of the arrangement.
– Ross summarized his current standing with AXS TV: “If we can all get on the same page, of which I am optimistic that we can, then we can get every thing signed and move forward to another exciting chapter of my broadcasting career.”
Original Report Jan. 15
Jim Ross has made it known that he would like to return to wrestling announcing if the right opportunity came along and the schedule was manageable.
On Friday, the MLW podcast jumped the gun declaring that Ross has a deal with AXS TV to replace Mauro Ranallo as the lead announcer for AXS TV’s New Japan shows.
Ross said on Twitter that he “does not have a deal with anyone” at this point. And, a deal with AXS TV is “to be decided.”
Ross added in a Twitter exchange with PWTorch columnist Sean Radican that he is not saying he will not announce New Japan on AXS TV, but he simply does not have a deal in place.
The situation would be ideal for Ross recording voice-overs for several episodes at a time, limiting travel. Plus, Ross called the U.S. broadcast of last year’s “Wrestle Kingdom” Tokyo Dome Show. However, it appears that more details on an arrangement need to be worked out before a deal is set.