Last week, AXS TV aired New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Fighting Spirit Unleashed, a pay-per-view sized event featuring many of the biggest names in independent wrestling.
The show was the newest iteration of New Japan’s United States outreach. That show, along with several others like it over the past year, was aired during the wrestling promotion’s fourth year being broadcast on AXS TV.
The exposure that massive US based shows like that bring, along with the weekly episodes hailing from Japan, have undoubtedly played a part in catapulting New Japan stars like Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, and Kazuchika Okada into the kind of world renown fame that helped those competitors to sell out the Sears Centre last month for All In.
That kind of impact is why New Japan’s partnership with AXS TV has been such a game changer for professional wrestling.
Since New Japan partnered with AXS TV in 2014, the promotion’s streaming service has seen a massive increase in foreign subscribers. On top of that, it’s no secret that the Bullet Club has quickly become one of most popular and recognizable wrestling factions in the country.
While those developments are most certainly not solely the result of one TV deal, it’s undeniable that the increased ability of American audiences to easily view New Japan has helped those advancements along.
Personally, I can attest to the effect that New Japan's partnership with AXS TV has had.
AXS TV's broadcasts are how I was first introduced to stars like Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada. Without AXS TV, I don't know if I ever would have been been able to be as invested in New Japan as I am right now. It goes without saying that I highly doubt my case is unique either.
With Impact Wrestling in varying states of volatility in recent years, its been hard to find any true televised competitors to WWE for wrestling fans to invest time in. Additionally, any other independent promotions, like Ring Of Honor for example, always seemed to have fleeting TV contracts or were simply being aired by a provider that wasn't carried in the Chicagoland area.
AXS TV on the other hand provided, and is continuing to provide, a true and reliable alternative to WWE programming. With great commentating by Josh Barnett and WWE legend Jim Ross along with impressive production quality, its now safe to say that New Japan on AXS TV has all the pieces in place to establish itself as one of WWE's first true contenders for wrestling fan's TV screens in years.