Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Jim Ross is a downgrade for NJPW on AXS

Image credit: Fox Sports.
I am not a regular viewer of New Japan's year old English broadcasts on AXS mostly because I do not have a cable subscription so therefore I have no access to AXS. (Yes, I am proud of that pun.) But I have caught a few episodes whether at a family member's house or during my post-neck surgery hospital stay last summer. And Josh Barnett is far from the reason the commentary on the show is compelling. Mauro Ranallo was the sole reason it is worth listening to the action as much as it is watching it.

Of course, Ranallo is now the voice of Smackdown and in two weeks, he has already added a great sport-centric feel to that program. Personally, I think he has already upped the game of both Byron Saxton and Jerry Lawler as well in just that short period of time. And when AXS needed a replacement, they tapped a man that last called a wrestling match at New Japan's Wrestle Kingdom 9 just over a year ago.

But fans that watched that program know that "Good Ol' J.R." was not at his best. He couldn't keep up with the pace of the show, nor did he seem comfortable back in his old role. Color commentator Matt Striker ended up carrying most of the program, which probably is the reason he continues to travel to Japan to call major NJPW events on their NJPW World international broadcasts.

Of course, the AXS tapings have the advantage of being recorded months ahead of time (which is why Ranallo will continue to appear on broadcasts until the end of February.) Ross will have multiple takes to get his recording right and can go back and fix some of the moves he misses. But even so, I cannot imagine him calling with the power Ranallo did during his broadcasts with Barnett. Ranallo has a knack for making sport broadcasting look easy, whether it is boxing, MMA or professional wrestling.

That is not to say Jim Ross as part of NJPW on AXS will hurt the program. I highly doubt that as the action he's calling is already some of the best in the world. While he may be a bit past his prime compared to the man he is replacing, J.R. still has plenty of good years ahead of him. At least he now has someplace to broadcast his play by play once again.

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