AXS TV Airing Omega vs Okada Wrestle Kingdom 11 Main Event In Full This Friday Feat. Commentary From Jim Ross & Josh Barnett (Early Review)

Mike Killam

The world is still buzzing about Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada’s once in a lifetime Wrestle Kingdom 11 main event, and this Friday AXS TV is bringing the Match of the Century candidate to U.S. television for the first time, featuring commentary from WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross and former UFC Heavyweight Champion Josh Barnett.

The match will be presented in full, with limited commercial interruption, on AXS TV this Friday night, January 13th, at 8:00 p.m. EST. Here’s the full breakdown of Wrestle Kingdom 11 matches coming to the network over the next few weeks:

January 13th

  • IWGP Heavyweight Championship – Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega

January 20th

  • IWGP Intercontinental Championship – Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tetsuya Naito
  • IWGP Tag Team Championship – Guerrillas of Destiny vs. Chaos vs. GBH

January 27th

  • NEVER Openweight 6-Man Championship – David Finlay, Ricochet & Satoshi Kojima vs. Los Ingobernable de Japon vs. Bullet Club vs. Chaos
  • NEVER Openweight Championship – Katsuyori Shibata vs. Hirooki Goto

February 3rd

  • Cody Rhodes vs. Juice Robinson
  • IWGP Jr. Tag Team Championship – The Young Bucks vs. Roppongi Vice
  • IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship – KUSHIDA vs. Hiromu Takahashi
Credit: NJPW/TV Asahi

Credit: NJPW/TV Asahi

I had the chance to watch this week’s episode of New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV a little early, so that I could write up a nice little blurb about how all our lovely readers should tune in and check out their show this Friday night. And while I appreciate the hook-up, this one speaks for itself.

Omega vs. Okada at the Tokyo Dome has generated so much chatter, so far and beyond our usually small, yet fierce collection of puro faithful, it has become easily the most talked-about topic of 2017. In a week where The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels returned to Monday Night Raw, where TNA held a pay-per-view and the WWE gears up for one of the biggest events of its year, Omega vs. Okada at the Tokyo Dome is what has been on everyone’s minds. My own father, who has never seen a match in his life, and who staunchly opposed my fandom as a young WCW fan, called me over the weekend to ask what “a Wrestle Kingdom” is, because a few of his co-workers (and we’re talking business class corporate America suits here) were talking about it around the water cooler.

If you haven’t seen this match yet, if you consider yourself a wrestling fan of any kind or flavor, you must go out of your way to find yourself sat in front of a television set tuned to AXS TV this Friday night at 8:00 p.m. EST. If you don’t have the channel, hang out at a friend’s house. Steal cable from your neighbors. Go to a bar and hijack their remote. Whatever you have to do, see this show.

Now, if you’re a fervent New Japan follower like me, and indeed like many of our readers that were converted in 2016, you’ve already seen Omega vs. Okada – and that’s okay! This was my fifth go-around with the match. I watched it live with English commentary from Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino, then a second time while doing my review. Out of curiosity, and because I genuinely enjoy the passion of the Japanese announcers, I have since seen it twice with the native commentary team. All four times I have considered it one of, if not the greatest wrestling match I have ever seen.

I don’t know that Jim Ross and Josh Barnett provide the “definitive” way to watch this instant classic, as that really comes down to the personal preference of the viewer, but there’s just something right about hearing good ole’ JR call a main event at this level, in a building like the Tokyo Dome. Many of us grew up listening to Jim Ross, and have heard him call so many of the greatest matches in WrestleMania history, and the moment his voice comes across the airwaves there’s just something inside that resonates with the wrestling fan in a very real, almost tangible way. It seems fitting to have him here, on this show, calling this match.

The one thing I appreciate beyond all else with JR and Josh is their laser focus on the in-ring competition. There are no rambling stories, no vaguely relevant tangents, no inside jokes or funny anecdotes here. Every time one of them opens their mouth, it is to pay respect to the wrestlers in the ring, to the moves they are performing, and to the story being told. About the only time they’ll deviate is to provide context to a part of the story, or for JR to ask his partner about his own experiences inside the Tokyo Dome; these things enhance the product, rather than take your concentration away from the ring. In that aspect you will not find a better English version of the Omega vs. Okada match, or to any of the other matches coming to AXS TV over the next four weeks.

Credit: NJPW/TV Asahi

Credit: NJPW/TV Asahi

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