AXS TV is doing something a little different for their broadcast of the upcoming January 4, 2019, Wrestle Kingdom show. Unlike past years, the cable channel will air a two-hour cut of New Japan Pro Wrestling‘s biggest show of the year on the same day it airs in Japan. The show, headlined by Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kenny Omega for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and Chris Jericho vs. Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship, will air on AXS at 8 PM Eastern/5 PM Pacific. Right now, the channel is also set to air 2-hour broadcasts of Wrestle Kingdom 13 on January 11 and 18 as well.
In a press release, AXS TV CEO Andrew Simon stated that this broadcast signals a shift in how the channel airs its New Japan programming. “Same-day coverage of NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom 13 ushers in a new era of NJPW on AXS TV. Based on the tremendous growth of NJPW on AXS TV, we are making major changes to reward wrestling fans by delivering NJPW in primetime on Friday nights as close to when it takes place as possible.”
Wrestle Kingdom 13 will also be the AXS TV debut of the English commentary team of Kevin Kelly and Don Callis. With Jim Ross and Josh Barnett’s contracts up, it looks like the channel is going with the regular New Japan World announcers rather than find new talent.