On the latest episode of Pro Wrestling 4 Life, two-time WWE Hall of Famer Sean “X-Pac” Waltman sat down with former Pancrase Openweight Champion Josh Barnett. Barnett is still active in the combat sports world as a fighter for Bellator and the promoter of Bloodsport.
Barnett previously served as color commentator for New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. Pro Wrestling 4 Life co-host and Wrestling Inc. Managing Editor Nick Hausman asked Barnett about the noticeable friction that he had with the Young Bucks.
“I don’t know what their deal is. I don’t know who riled them up into thinking that me and JR (Jim Ross) were burying them all the time because we weren’t,” Barnett noted. “One of the things that I think was a problem is they wanted to be cool, but I’m like, you’re heels. You’re constantly cheating, and breaking the rules and doing heel stuff, so we’re gonna say you’re despicable.
“We’re gonna say you’re terrible and horrible and you’re bad people. We didn’t say that you sucked. We just said that you’re bad guys because that was your job. Your job was to be bad guys, but it seems like no one wants to be an actual heel anymore. Everyone wants to be the cool anti-hero or cool bad guy. They want to sell all their merch. No, I’m sorry, if you’re a heel, be a heel.
“Stop trying to worry about whether the fans like you or not. You have a role to fill here, and if you want to run around telling people to ‘suck it’, then people should want to see you get your your teeth kicked in. That’s just the way it is, and nobody wants to be a heel and that’s a problem. And somebody riled up The Bucks. I don’t know how, whatever. They used to get into Twitter fights constantly anyways.”
Barnett continued as he spoke more on what his goal was on NJPW commentary.
“I’ve never actually had a discussion with them, and yet, I would constantly cover for them in their matches,” Barnett stated. “They go to hit their Meltzer Driver. They do all this crazy stuff that just gets them a two count. My thoughts are, ‘well, I don’t want this to seem like it was s**t,’ or it’s weak or it’s just a hope spot or it’s just getting their s**t in. I don’t want people to view that. I want to say, ‘well, okay, you can see that Matt, when he came off the ropes, he didn’t get the feet all the way on the help on that piledriver.’
“I don’t want to belittle what they’re doing. I want them to feel like, okay, if they had hit it perfectly, that match is over, but they’re tired. It’s tough. People are sweaty. Things are happening. This dude’s in air flipping to give the assisted tombstone. Okay, a lot of things can happen, can miss, and you get guys that always got to knock a dude out the ring. They always got to flip over it. Okay, fine, regardless if this has happened in every match leading up to this, but whatever, I’m not agenting things.
“I’m only dealing with what’s on television. So even then, I want to be like, ‘oh, you can see in the slow-mo, he only caught a piece of him and maybe that even caused him some injury too.’ I was always trying to find a way to say that nobody here is weak, nobody sucks. This is just what happens when you go to war. When you’re in combat, things don’t always work out how you want them to. You hit a 450 and boom, but you don’t get the three count. Maybe he just didn’t have the leg hooked enough. It’s not that you aren’t capable. It’s just one little thing, and that’s how close the margins should be between these competitors.”
Barnett began working for NJPW in his color commentary role in 2015. By the end of his tenure, he was working with Jim Ross, but he started out working with Mauro Ranallo. He compared what it was like to work with Ross and Ranallo on commentary.
“Josh I’m not just blowing smoke, one of my all-time favorite announce teams is you and Mauro,” Waltman revealed. “You guys were just phenomenal together.”
“We had a good time, and it was really great to work with someone I had known for so many years and I’d worked with before in different capacities at times but still worked with many a time,” Barnett expressed. “I knew him backstage, and to have that pro wrestling knowledge, especially from the MMA side of things, I loved having him as a commentator, but there are times we’re in the booth, we’ll just put a hand on the other because we got something going or we’ll pop someone and then we’ll jump in back and forth.
“It was different working with him vs. working with JR, but JR was great in that I could just pull and touch on him and boom, or he would line me up. He was also just such a wealth of information, and I had so much fun with both of them. It’s like when you’re with the boys, you’re with the boys, and that’s what it felt like.
“I was with a guy who had seen and heard more wrestling than I’ll ever forget, and it was incredible to be able to sit alongside him every single day and even to have a guy like Mauro, who people won’t really know this unless they’re super deep fans, who spent all this time in Stampede and all this Canadian wrestling as a manager, which also means he’s working in the back. He’s working on tickets. He’s working the whole entirety of the business, which means that insight isn’t limited to just playing a character. It’s knowing the biz, and that was awesome.”