AXS TV issued the following press release on Wednesday to announce that they will broadcast the New Japan Pro Wrestling “Strong Style Evolved” event live on March 25.
By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AXS TV—the exclusive U.S. television home for New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW)—will partner with NJPW and TV ASAHI to broadcast NJPW’s second U.S. event STRONG STYLE EVOLVED live on Sunday, March 25 at 8pE/5pP from California State University Long Beach’s (CSULB) Walter Pyramid.
The cable network’s acclaimed commentary team, Wrestling Hall of Famer Jim Ross and former UFC Heavyweight Champion and NJPW veteran Josh Barnett, will call the live action ringside at STRONG STYLE EVOLVED. The broadcast is expected to feature NJPW’s biggest stars including Kazuchika Okada, Kenny Omega, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Tetsuya Naito among others in matches to be announced.
“New Japan Pro Wrestling’s popularity and ratings in the U.S. are at an all-time high,” said AXS TV FIGHTS CEO Andrew Simon. “The G1 Special last summer sold out in a few hours, while STRONG STYLE EVOLVED, in an arena twice the size, sold out in less than 10 minutes. This second U.S. event is a great opportunity to further our relationship with NJPW and TV Asahi and we are looking forward to growing their strong style brand of wrestling in the states.”
AXS TV previously televised NJPW’s first stateside event—G1 Special in USA—live in July 2017 and also took over production of the Friday night series from distribution partner TV Asahi to air the Japanese events closer to the original air date. Continuing this trend, AXS TV aired a special presentation of NJPW’s biggest annual event—Wrestle Kingdom 12—on Jan. 6, 2018 just two days after it took place in Japan, which became the most watched broadcast in series history.
AXS TV wraps up its final night of Wrestle Kingdom 12 coverage on Feb. 9 at 8pE/5pP. Then, the network will showcase the best matches from NJPW’s winter events including “New Year Dash” (Feb. 16), three hours from “The New Beginning in Sapporo” (Feb. 23-March 9) and more to be announced leading up to STRONG STYLE EVOLVED.
AXS TV’s upcoming NJPW schedule is as follows (subject to change):
Feb. 9 – Wrestle Kingdom 12 Finale – Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito
Feb. 16 – New Year Dash – NJPW’s top wrestlers face off in a series of tag team matches and establish new rivalries for 2018.
Feb. 23 – The New Beginning in Sapporo – Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Minoru Suzuki
March 2 – The New Beginning in Sapporo – The Young Bucks vs. Roppongi 3K
March 9 – The New Beginning in Sapporo – Kenny Omega vs. Jay White
Powell’s POV: The news of AXS doing another live broadcast this year is not surprising, but it’s good that it’s been made official. It’s also not surprising to see Ross and Barnett on the call given that they are the AXS broadcast team. There was some grumbling last year that the New Japan World team of Kevin Kelly and Don Callis were not on the call, but it’s logical for AXS to be consistent by going with their own broadcast team.
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