New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom 11 event did absolute gangbusters business for what is now pretty clearly the No. 2 wrestling promotion in the world. More people watched WK11 in North America and in English than any event NJPW has ever done before. So to capitalize on the runaway success of the past couple years of partially Bullet Club-fueled New Japan reputation (and regardless of whether Kenny Omega remains in the fold), plans have been announced to broadcast a whole buttload of live events in English this year.
While Jim Ross and Josh Barnett will continue to be the voices of New Japan rebroadcasts on AXS, the English commentary team for New Japan World live events will once again lean heavily on the company’s close working relationship with Ring of Honor. Kevin Kelly and Don Callis (also known as “Cyrus” from ECW and “The Jackal” in WWF’s short-lived Truth Commission) will be in the commentary booth for the following events, according to PWInsider:
2/4 – New Beginning in Sapporo
2/11 – New Beginning in Osaka
3/6- 45th Anniversary
3/20 – New Japan Cup 2017
4/9 – Sakura Genesis 2017
5/3 – Wrestling Dontaku
6/3 – Best of the Super Juniors 24 Finals
6/11 – Dominion 2017
7/1 – G1 Climax Special in Long Beach
7/2 – G1 Climax Special in Long Beach
7/17- G1 Climax Opening
8/11 -G1 Climax Finals
8/12 -G1 Climax Finals
8/13 – G1 Climax Finals
Callis replaces Steve Corino as Kevin Kelly’s longtime ROH color commentator, as Corino has signed with WWE as an NXT trainer and has reported to the Performance Center in Florida to begin his new gig.
This all coordinates with the big North American push New Japan has planned for this year, including their first two standalone New Japan events in the United States with the G1 Climax Specials in Southern California, and another of their co-branded War of the Worlds tours with Ring of Honor in May.
Basically, you’re about to get all the New Japan you can handle with English commentary. So if you’re a Japanese commentary purist hipster, get ready to really scoff at all the plebes who need the wrong announce team to enjoy something, because they’re not as refined as you are. For everyone else, happy listening!