AEW Star Reveals Reasons for NJPW Exit



by ATIA MUKHTAR

AEW Star Reveals Reasons for NJPW Exit
© AEW Logo/Wikimedia Commons

In a heartwarming revelation, Kevin Kelly, a prominent AEW talent and seasoned commentator, has opened up about his poignant decision to depart from New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW). His tenure with NJPW will conclude after Wrestle Kingdom 18 in January 2024.

Kelly, whose voice has become synonymous with the ringside action, has traversed through various organizations, including Ring of Honor and MLW. He is widely recognized for his WWE commentary from 1996 to 2003. During an intimate session on AEW Unrestricted, Kelly shared the touching personal reasons propelling his exit from NJPW—his family.

"It was my wife who said, 'I don't want to be alone anymore.' And that hit home," Kelly candidly expressed. Having been a steadfast partnership for over three decades, Kelly's decision underscores the sacrifices made in the wrestling world, where time away from loved ones is often the norm due to the demanding travel schedule.

Kelly's Family Sacrifice

Kelly elaborated on the toll his career has taken on family time, noting the significant occasions missed—from holidays to anniversaries. The opportunity with AEW presented a new path, one that AEW's head, Tony Khan, was willing to accommodate, ensuring Kelly could fulfil his remaining obligations with NJPW while transitioning smoothly into his role stateside.

After fruitful discussions with both AEW and NJPW, Kelly has committed to be closer to home, never more than a half day's travel away, a stark contrast to the extensive periods spent abroad in Japan. This shift not only brings Kelly peace of mind but also ensures his voice will continue to resonate with wrestling fans across North America.

Kevin Kelly's transition to AEW, which began with his signing in June 2023, was immediately felt as he brought his dynamic commentary to the inaugural episode of Collision alongside legends Jim Ross and Nigel McGuinness.

In light of Kelly's departure, NJPW has announced that Walker Stewart will step into the commentary booth, continuing the legacy of top-tier wrestling narration. The wrestling community has always been a tapestry of diverse narratives, and Kevin Kelly's choice to prioritize family adds a rich, relatable thread.

His story not only resonates with fans but also serves as a testament to the sacrifices and decisions behind the scenes that shape the industry. As Kelly finds a new balance between his professional and personal life, his legacy within the squared circle's storytelling continues to evolve.

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