Billionaire (and owner of AXS TV) Mark Cuban recently spoke with Sports Illustrated about his thoughts on New Japan Pro Wrestling, which airs on AXS.
“We’re looking to expand it on Friday nights. We want to do more live and we’re talking about special events.” Despite a foray into the wrestling business, Cuban does not believe that WWE CEO Vince McMahon is threatened by the working relationship between AXS and New Japan. “No, he thinks we’re just little sh—,” said Cuban. “We’re not a threat because of the language. That’s the biggest challenge, the language. But if you’re a purist for wrestling, and you like the action, it’s the best promotion by far. People here aren’t going to connect as directly, but if you really love wrestling, then it’s a no-brainer.”
Cuban is an advocate for those fans thirsting for more New Japan. He purchased the rights to air the top three title matches from New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom 12–IWGP heavyweight champion Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito, IWGP Intercontinental champ Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Jay White, and IWGP US champion Kenny Omega vs. Chris Jericho–in prime time on Saturday, January 6, only two days after the event takes place at the Tokyo Dome. Despite the high price to air Wrestle Kingdom on AXS, Cuban did not balk at the cost.
“We’re getting to know them better,” said Cuban. “We went from a delay to a short delay to live, so we’re going to get smarter about it. The numbers keep on going up. Other TVs are declining, and ours are going up. That’s a good sign. There are some nights when it beats MMA, it’s doing that well.”