Recently on The Jim Ross Report, WWE Hall Of Famer Jim Ross spoke with NJPW's English-language play-by-play commentator Kevin Kelly. Among many other things, Kelly talked about how he got the opportunity to step in for AXS TV's NJPW color commentator Josh Barnett and how he believes there should only be one NJPW English-language broadcast team. Additionally, Ross and Kelly discussed messing up the names of performers while on the air.
According to Kelly, Ross recommended Kelly for the spot on AXS TV's coverage of NJPW's Fighting Spirit Unleashed in Long Beach, California while regular color commentator Josh Barnett was away.
"It was [Ross'] recommendation that when Josh had the conflict with his fighter, [Ross was] asked, and rightfully so, 'hey, who would you like to work with?' and the story that I was told by [Ross] and by the staff at AXS was, well, [Ross] said me, so I can't thank [Ross] enough for that." Kelly continued, "and thank you for thinking highly of me that [Ross] and I have always thought that we are in this generation together. And for us to be able to call matches now in 2018, almost 20 years removed from our last time that we worked together in a different company, for an international brand, in the State Of California, broadcast live on the internet, and to be repurposed on a national cable television show five days later, to me, it's pretty remarkable."
In Kelly's view, NJPW should only have one English-language broadcast team instead of having separate teams for New Japan World and AXS TV.
"The reason [Ross was] hired by AXS is because [he] is talking to a different audience, a more casual audience with the New Japan brand." Kelly explained, "and Josh, with his MMA background, he's there because that's what AXS broadcasts. It's the right team for that channel. But with these sort of blended broadcasts live on [New Japan] World and tape delayed on AXS, it was a good chance for us to sort of blend our worlds. It's an avenue we should be exploring more because I think it's foolish that there [are] two separate teams. It should be just one big team. We're seeing that so much in the [pro] wrestling world now. Who cares what promotion? Everybody can work for everybody. If you want to work for New Japan, if you want to work for this company, that company, hey, let's do it! So I think that's kind of where we should be broadcaster-wise and I don't think it should be us versus them. It should be all of us together with one big broadcast."
Ross, who confused Roppongi 3K's Sho and Yoh at Fighting Spirit Unleashed and calls English pro wrestler and singer Marty Scurll 'Marty Shurll' from time to time, shared that his faux pas are not due to a lack of caring and is insulted by suggestions to the contrary.
"I think one time I confused Yoh and Sho. And, hey, look, if [Kelly] would've said to me, 'JR, hey, remember Sho is in gold and Yoh is in silver' or whatever, I would've said, 'thanks'. It wouldn't have bothered me. But [Kelly] didn't do that out of respect and I get that too and I appreciate that as well. So I mixed up Yoh and Sho once, and I don't know, Kevin, maybe it's just my Oklahoma drawl, I don't know if it's Bell's Palsy, I don't know if it's my lack on concentration. I don't have a damn clue. I can't find any excuses that make some damn sense, why I say 'Marty Shurll'. It's 'Scurll. Scurll!' And I'll tell you, this is no bulls--t, I practiced 'Scurll' in the afternoon just to myself. I thought I had it. I get on the air and I can't spit it out to save my soul, but those are just human errors. I don't think it has anything to do with senility or being unprepared. And the other thing that pisses me off and [Kelly] wouldn't tolerate it either, when they say, 'you don't care about the brand.'" Ross professed, "that's the biggest crock of horse s--t I've ever heard in my life."
While Ross confused The Tempura Boyz, Kelly used to mistake The American Wolves for each other while Eddie Edwards and Davey Richards were with ROH.
"I had the same problem in ROH with Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards who were a team and wrestled in single's matches too. I transposed their names all the damn time. Edwards would be in the ring and I would call him Richards and vice versa. It drove me crazy and it became a mental block." Kelly laughed, "when both guys left the territory, I was happy!"
If you use any of the quotes from this article, please credit The Jim Ross Report with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: The Jim Ross Report