Kevin Kelly joins Jim Ross on commentary at NJPW’s Fighting Spirit Unleashed in Long Beach

Wrestling Legend Jim Ross Reunites with Kevin Kelly to Call the Event Ringside from Long Beach, California (Credit: AXS TV)
Wrestling Legend Jim Ross Reunites with Kevin Kelly to Call the Event Ringside from Long Beach, California (Credit: AXS TV) /

Kevin Kelly will make his AXS TV debut, filling in for Josh Barnett, alongside Jim Ross at the commentators both for Fighting Spirit Unleashed in Long Beach.

On Friday afternoon, AXS TV announced it will air New Japan Pro Wrestling’s upcoming show, FIghting Spirit Unleashed, which will mark the organization’s return to America, on Friday, Oct. 5 at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT.

However, longtime English speaking NJPW World commentator Kevin Kelly will make his AXS TV debut as he fills in for Josh Barnett alongside former WWE commentator and Hall of Famer Jim Ross.

“I am excited to work with Jim Ross again and am happy to fill in for Josh,” Kelly said. “Fighting Spirit Unleashed, filled with title matches and rivals galore, is a must-see for every NJPW fan.”

“While I will miss working with my normal broadcast partner Josh Barnett, I am excited for the opportunity to work again with Kevin Kelly, whom I broadcast with for the first time 20 years ago,” Ross added. “Kevin has great knowledge from working on NJPW World, so he’ll bring another perspective to the broadcast, and as we all know, anything can and usually does happen. It should be a heck of a night.”

Barnett, a former UFC champion and Pride FC veteran, will be cornering one of his fighters in Japan, but is expected to return to the commentating table at future events.

Fighting Spirit Unleashed is set to take place on Sunday, Sept. 30 inside the Walter Pyramid at California State University, Long Beach. The entire card is expected to be headlined by a IWGP U.S. Heavyweight Championship bout between reigning champion Juice Robinson and Cody Rhodes.

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In their two previous events at the very same arena, wrestling fans witnessed Kenny Omega become the inaugural U.S. Champion champion in 2017 before joining up with Kota Ibushi to reform the Golden Lovers in order to challenge The Young Bucks in 2018.

AXS TV will also continue its coverage of the G1 CLIMAX 28 Tournament every Friday leading up to Fighting Spirit Unleashed, with the tournament finale premiering Sept. 28.