Interview with ROH’s own Kevin Kelly

Recently, as part of the pro wrestling crew for Ultimate Sports Talk, I got to take part in submitting questions for an interview with Former WWE announcer/current ROH announcer as well as a writer for wrestlezone and somebody who I have a tremendous amount of respect for in Kevin Kelly.  Here’s how it went down:

THE SHARK: The re-debut for ROH on TV is coming up. What was your reaction when you heard about the new deal with Sinclair Broadcasting?

KEVIN KELLY: I had many different reactions when I heard about the sale. First, I felt happy for Cary Silkin, who had sacrificed so much for so long. I also felt happy for all the long-timers who had carried the ball for so long. Now they can finally get some help and recognition. ROH has been a company that was able to exist because everyone sacrificed to put forth the best wrestling possible. Now, with Sinclair Broadcast Group in control, that same level of sacrifice and dedication will produce some spectacular results.

THE SHARK: The Broadcast teams in the other two are not what they used to be, especially WWE. What do you see as the biggest problems with the announcers on both WWE and TNA and who you believe is the worst of the two?

KEVIN KELLY: TNA’s problem is not the announcing. Nor is it the caliber of athletes they contract with to compete there. With the WWE, their announcing situation is quite simple. No one except Jim Ross has ever been good enough to replace Vince McMahon and Vince won’t let JR have the chair because he views the look of the announcer more important than the quality of his work. WWE has the best announcer in the industry on the payroll but barely lets him work. I say that’s worse than anything because of how stupid it is.

THE SHARK: What was your overall reaction when you found out that Nigel McGuinness was coming back home to Ring of Honor?

KEVIN KELLY: I was so excited to hear I’d be working with Nigel because of his championship-level experience and I knew he would bring a lot to the table. He and I have known each other for over 10 years and I look forward to see where we can go as a team. Nigel poured his heart, soul and body into being the best in the ring and I look for that level of dedication from him as an announcer.

THE SHARK: Looking back at your tenure when you were part of the WWE, is there some moments from those days that you miss or at least stand out the most?

KEVIN KELLY: There isn’t anything that I experienced in the WWE that I don’t also enjoy at Ring of Honor. While I miss people I work with in the WWE, the fellowship and bond with my ROH friends and the rush from the crowd as you make you way to ringside are the best feelings on earth. I called thousands of hours of WWE programming but nothing equals being inside the barricades for a ROH event.

THE SHARK: In the last few years, we saw Kevin Steen and El Generico battle for a year. Before that, we saw Nigel McGuinness hold the belt for nearly a year, nearly tying with Samoa Joe. Why do you think that both rivalries and title reigns don’t last as long as they do these days in wrestling? Or at least in the case of title reigns, ones that still maintain themselves as being meaningful?

KEVIN KELLY: I think matchmakers who have ADD and think audiences need title defenses and other special matches all the time are the reasons why long feuds and title reigns end prematurely. The rivalry between El Generico and his former, long-time tag team partner simmered all summer long and culminated in their incredible Fight Without Honor at Final Battle 2010. Nigel fought off worthy challengers and injuries to make the ROH World Championship the most hard-fought title in the world.

THE SHARK: In your time with Ring of Honor, what would you say would be your top 3 favorite matches that you have been privileged to see and why?

KEVIN KELLY: Only 3? Haas and Benjamin’s ROH debut at DBD XIII was a goosebump-inducer. Their match with the Kings of Wrestling in Atlanta was outstanding. Same for the bloodbath with the Briscoes vs the All Night Express from Honor Takes Center Stage. Davey’s win over Eddie Edwards at Best in the World where Richards finally captured the ROH World Championship moved many of us to tears and set the stage for a remarkable run as champion, as Ring of Honor Wrestling begins the journey on the Sinclair Broadcast Group network.

THE SHARK: What is it like to work with Jim Cornette?

KEVIN KELLY: Jim Cornette is the smartest guy in the room but isn’t smug and never plays games. What you see is what you get and that straight-forward approach wins points with me. JC is an incredible teacher who patiently reviews the basics and he rarely gets credit for his preparedness and due-diligence leading up to an event. We share a belief that there is a great audience for professional wrestling and Ring of Honor Wrestling will be the program fans have asked for.

THE SHARK: We’ve seen a lot of names come and go and some even come back to ROH. Names like Nigel McGuinness and Homicide are a few of them. Who is somebody that you would like to see come back to ROH who is not on the roster now?

KEVIN KELLY: I would love to see Tyler Black return to Ring of Honor. Same for Bryan Danielson and CM Punk… but it’s frustrating to not see Tyler on television for the WWE. I know he is working hard for an opportunity but with a deep well of athletes there, it’s hard to stand out.

THE SHARK: Being no stranger to being an announcer for wrestling, what do you feel is the secret to being a good to great wrestling announcer?

KEVIN KELLY: Find your voice and then never be afraid to let silence be your friend. It’s like the third man in the booth… The silence between the notes can be the most important in a composition. Tell the stories of the athletes as I believe fans want to know who is competing, not just what they do.

THE SHARK: Do you personally feel that having a “Heel” announcer doesn’t work like it used to in the days of Bobby Heenan or Jesse Ventura?

KEVIN KELLY: As great as Bobby and Jesse were, that act is tired. An ideal analyst today will draw upon their in-ring experience to help the audience know the “how and why”. Life experience gives credibility to a message and the messenger.

A great deal of thanks to Jason McDowell and the crew at Ultimate Sports Talk for making this possible and a tremendous thank you to Kevin Kelly for answering the questions and being a major inspiration that made The Shark of Wrestling here what he is today and playing a part in helping yours truly here find his voice.


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