After a five year run, the relationship between AXS TV and New Japan Pro Wrestling is officially coming to an end.
The die was cast back in September when Anthem Sports and Entertainment, the majority stakeholder in Impact Wrestling since January 2017, purchased the television channel home of NJPW. Impact Wrestling began airing on AXS TV in October.
There was quite a bit of speculation about what this would mean for the future of the Japanese wrestling promotion on the network, and the logical conclusion was always that it would come to an end in short order.
That's what NJPW confirmed in a Twitter post on Saturday, writing:
In response to US fan queries There are currently no plans for TV broadcast of NJPW events in 2020 (WK14 included) in the US. Thank you for joining us on TV so far. We invite you to join @njpwworld for all the action in 2020, LIVE and in English! https://njpwworld.com
In response to US fan queries
There are currently no plans for TV broadcast of NJPW events in 2020 (WK14 included) in the US.December 27, 2019
It's an unfortunate end to a relationship that saw NJPW grow their North American fan base due to the exposure the television partnership brought them. When the shows began airing in January 2015, they were comprised of highlights of matches that were several months old. Due to television viewership being higher than expected, AXS signed a multi-year contract with the promotion and eventually started airing more recent footage, including same day coverage of WrestleKingdom just last year.
It would benefit the wrestling industry as a whole for NJPW to find a new North American television partner. In the meantime, fans can continue watching the product via the NJPW World streaming service.
What network do you think would be a good fit for NJPW moving forward? Let us know in the comments section below, and give me a follow on Twitter @ryandroste for all the latest in WWE, AEW, and NJPW.