New Japan Pro-Wrestling has shared the following statement on their website announcing that NJPW commentator Kevin Kelly is departing the company.
Kevin Kelly departs NJPW
Thank you for supporting New Japan Pro-Wrestling.
Kevin Kelly, who has been the English voice of New Japan broadcasts since King of Pro-Wrestling 2015, has departed NJPW to pursue outside opportunities.
Kevin was originally planning to join the English broadcast of Wrestle Kingdom 18 on January 4, but will be unable to attend due to family commitments.
New Japan Pro-Wrestling joins fans in their gratitude for the work Kevin has done to grow the English-speaking audience for NJPW and for countless memorable calls over the years. We wish Kevin the very best in his future.
Kelly worked as a backstage interviewer and commentator for WWE from 1996 until 2003 and briefly served as MLW’s commentator in 2004. He returned to pro wrestling in 2010, signing with Ring of Honor to be the official voice of the promotion. He worked in ROH until 2017 but also began calling the action for NJPW in 2015.
Kelly officially joined All Elite Wrestling this past summer, serving as one of the commentators for AEW Collision. He calls the action each Saturday night alongside Tony Schiavone, Nigel McGuiness and WWE Hall of Fame inductee Jim Ross. Likely, the “outside opportunity” mentioned in NJPW’s statement about Kelly’s departure concerns his ongoing work with AEW. With the frequency in which AEW and NJPW present crossover shows, it is very possible we have not heard the last of Kelly calling New Japan action.
AEW Full Gear takes place Saturday night on PPV at Collision’s standard time. So, AEW Collision will air this Friday night on TNT instead. With Collision airing at its usual time a day early, it sets up a head-to-head battle with WWE SmackDown, airing on Fox. WWE and AEW went head-to-head last month on a Tuesday night when Dynamite was bumped from its usual timeslot due to MLB playoffs. Both programs pulled out all the stops in an attempt to draw eyeballs, but ultimately, NXT won the night in viewership by more than 300,000 viewers.