Billionaire businessman and TV personality Mark Cuban spoke with Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated this week about his AXS TV channel’s commitment to New Japan Pro Wrestling.
The “Shark Tank” judge says AXS is looking to invest a lot more money in NJPW programming. “We’re looking to expand it on Friday nights,” Cuban said “We want to do more live, as opposed to the delay, and we’re talking to them about special events.”
AXS TV recently announced the network will air the top three title matches from NJPW’s upcoming Wrestle Kingdom 12 PPV on January 6th, just two days after the event takes place from the Tokyo Dome:
- IWGP heavyweight champion Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito
- IWGP Intercontinental champ Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Jay White
- IWGP US champion Kenny Omega vs. Chris Jericho
Cuban is a strong believer that NJPW is the best wrestling project in the world and did not think twice about purchasing the rights to air these matches on US television.
“We’re getting to know [the NJPW team] 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.”
As NJPW continues to grow, does Mark Cuban think Vince McMahon sees them as serious competition?
“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.”
To read the full exclusive interview with Mark Cuban, visit Sports Illustrated.