Kevin Pantoja on Naito in 2017

Kevin Pantoja:

Nothing against Kenny Omega, because he’s been fantastic this year, but I think they HAVE TO give Naito his WK main event. He reinvented himself, is now insanely over, became one of, if not the top wrestler in NJPW, and got cheated out of that spot a few years ago. It all needs to come full circle. I really, really hope it does. Naito deserves it.

Tough to argue with that. I’ve greatly enjoyed Naito in 2017, and it makes loads of sense to have Naito vs Okada. But NJPW is a slower-burn show than most, and there’s plenty of juice left in Omega vs Okada too.

Four Things NJPW Can Do to Get Americans to Give Them Money

Colette Arrand:

NJPW is actively courting [US] viewers, hiring a full-time English language commentary team, running a best-of show on American cable TV, and promoting events in the United States for the first time. The company has found wild success—the already ubiquitous Bullet Club’s merchandise is now for sale at Hot Topic—and has wildly swung and missed guessing at what an American audience wants from its shows, as evidenced by the Long Beach, California crowd’s rejection of Billy Gunn’s IWGP Intercontinental Championship match with Hiroshi Tanahashi. The company’s expansion plans are generally hazy; while it’s clear there will be more American shows in the future, how quickly those will happen and how they’ll take shape.

All four are good points, and all four need to happen before the vaguely-defined “casual” wrestling fan will take notice. Being a fan of NJPW in America is still a bit like running Linux on the desktop.

Jim Ross on switching places with Mauro Ranallo

Brad Davis, recapping from Observer Radio:

Jim Ross now calls NJPW while former NJPW English announcer Mauro Ranallo calls WWE SmackDown. JR said,

“It’s coincidental isn’t it? It’s very ironic that’s how its worked out, but I think we’ve both got wins. Mauro’s living a dream of finally working in WWE, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, and so that’s good for him. He’s allowed to continue to do his MMA and boxing, so he came out on the other side really well. I think that I did as well. I think I found my gig, I found my home that I hope is in place for years to come.”

He added that he and Josh Barnett are hell-bent on building the NJPW brand in the United States. AXS TV’s upper management team loves the product and would get involved in a larger capacity if they could.

Whoever is in charge of AXS TV feels it’s a good idea to have a wrestling show on a network as an anchor. It’s one of those old TV standby beliefs that might just hold true. And if you’re going to have one, an hour of handpicked NJPW PPV matches contextualized by Jim Ross are tough to beat.