AXS TV G1 Special marred by Ross, Barnett

The New Japan Pro Wrestling version of Kenny Omega-Cody at Saturday’s G1 Special was light-years ahead of what Ring of Honor offered back in April.

One thing AXS TV won’t be able to overcome anytime soon is its continued struggles in presentation, which are most noticeable in its announce team.

Jim Ross is a Hall of Fame play-by-play man, but his lack of preparation and general enthusiasm for the product is obvious in his work on AXS TV broadcasts of NJPW events.

Ross, and color commentator Josh Barnett, don’t even know the names of top guys’ moves, a minor detail that doesn’t help at all in terms of getting the product over with casual fans.

Limited familiarity with storylines is also a drawback, most noticeable last night when you saw Ross flubbing the fault lines in the Bullet Club saga that has been the company’s biggest story for the past year.

Ross, clearly, was there for a paycheck, signing off the show by proclaiming, loudly, that he was headed back home to Oklahoma, after complaining about the extended go-home portion of the show, which was where we saw the Bullet Club reunite following the attack by Tama Tonga, Tonga Loa and Haku.

Yeah, pretty important stuff there, but, hey, it’s late, time to get out of here, was the message from ol’ JR, who Mark Cuban insists on having as his New Japan guy, replacing the company’s English commentary team of Kevin Kelly and Don Callis, who know the product, actually enjoy watching and calling it, and are in no hurry to get home.

We saw one title change, with Juice Robinson scoring the upset win over IWGP U.S. champ Jay White, in a match that saw a dust-up involving the commentary team. White suplexed Robinson on the floor into the broadcast table sitting at ringside, knocking Ross out of his chair, and prompting Barnett to leave the table to go into the ring after White.

The sequence at first seemed like a shoot, with Barnett and Ross both cursing on the live broadcast making it all seem real, and Ross complaining, again, about the chaotic scene, but Ross and Barnett settled too easily back into commentary for it to have not been a work.

At least Ross read his show notes, as he actually said on the air, for the tag match involving Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay, Tetsuya Naito and Bushi, emphasizing the talking point that it is expected that the upcoming G1 Climax tournament will see Okada and Naito advance to the final, so, hey, there’s why we had this tag match.

Maybe don’t tell us that they told you to say that next time, but at least that point got over.

Barnett seemed to tone down his hate for the Young Bucks, who successfully defended their tag titles against former champs Evil and Sanada.

The squawkers didn’t help us get through what was a pretty good Omega-Cody match, with Ross expressing his displeasure with the match becoming a de facto tables, ladders and chairs match, odd for a guy who helped book numerous TLC matches in his years in WWE, but, that was WWE, right?

Sort of the point here. Cuban, who says he is a huge fan of New Japan, insists on using a guy who doesn’t want to get the company over because it isn’t the company he made his name for, as part of his otherwise laudable effort to bring the New Japan product to the American public.

It’s not working, Mark.

Column by Chris Graham

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