Longtime UFC veteran Josh Barnett has gravitated towards pro wrestling in recent years and is a commentator on AXS TV for their New Japan broadcasts. Many fans have called out Barnett for his criticisms of The Young Bucks in New Japan and he spoke to Wrestling Inc. on our WINCLY podcast to defend his commentary.
"If I've ever done anything while commentating The Bucks, I didn't deride their style," stated Barnett. "When they were heels, I derided them for cheating, breaking the rules, attacking referees, being cocky and insulting their opponents, because they were heels and that's what you're supposed to do.
"I realize that a lot of the fan base that follow them over there just thinks of them as cool, edgy bros. That's fine, but they're not just cool, edgy bros in New Japan, they're here part of the Bullet Club. They're heels… They're doing a job in that role and our jobs as commentators are to commentate on what we see."
Barnett says that all of his critiques of The Bucks come in the form of wrestling such as when he called their complex arsenal of wrestling moves "mistakes" because they didn't result in a pin.
"The only other element that I could see is saying they made a mistake in the ring when they try some contrived, complex scenario and it doesn't work out in that they don't get the pin or get countered," said Barnett. "That is not to deride their wrestling style – I'm not watching wrestling matches for somebody's style.
"I have no interest to talk about wrestling and breaking the fourth wall in terms of what they do and their in-ring product. If they hit a big, crazy Meltzer Driver of some sort, and it doesn't get them the three count, what I wanna do is give them the excuse [for it not working]…. It wasn't because they're not capable of doing it with that move. It's because either that opponent is super-tough or because it's combat and things happen. If every punch thrown was a knockout, then fantastic, but most punches don't end up in knockouts and most submissions don't end up being the one to finish the match.
"It's an ode to the reality of being in a fight."
Barnett says the notion that he makes it a point to bury The Bucks on commentary is simply not true.
"I know there's this idea going around that I bury The Young Bucks on commentary but that's never been the case," stated Barnett. "If anything, I've only treated them harshly as heels. That's it. When they started turning around from being a heel to a face, it's a whole different story. That's simply a matter of how I see commentary as opposed to beef.
"It doesn't matter what moves you do. It doesn't matter if you want to jump off or leap from this. None of that matters. It only matters how you put it together and whether or not you have the intention that you're really trying to win, I think."
Barnett did say that The Bucks have a certain way that they want wrestling to be and it's up to the fans to decide if they think that's a good thing or a bad thing.
"They have a certain way of wrestling and they don't like it being done any other way," said Barnett. "That means they want gimmick commentators. They want everyone to wink with them as you're watching them. The Young Bucks do a good amount of winking at their audience and you can argue whether that's good or bad. But, I'm not going to do that as much. I like to have fun out there but I'm not going to tear down the fourth wall.
"I want the wrestlers to seem as strong and confident as possible. I want the storylines to have the most amount of effectiveness. I want people to lose themselves in a match and believe what happens out there matters. So, that's my perspective."
GCW presents Josh Barnett's Bloodsport goes down April 4th from White Eagles Hall in Jersey City, NJ. It will be streamed via FITE.tv and tickets are available by clicking HERE
Josh's full WINCLY interview can be heard in the embedded audio player below. In it he previews Bloodsport, talks working with GCW, how Ronda Rousey has transitioned to pro wrestling, Daniel Cormier teasing a leap to pro wrestling and more. You can check out past episodes of the WINCLY here.