Kevin Kelly (announcer)

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Kevin Kelly
Kelly at a Ring of Honor show in 2011
Birth nameKevin Foote
Born (1967-05-09) May 9, 1967 (age 57)[1]
New York City, U.S.[2]
Alma materFlorida State University
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Kevin Kelly[3]
Billed height5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)[1]
Billed weight240 lb (110 kg)[1]

Kevin Foote[3][4] (born May 9, 1967) is an American sportscaster, radio host, and professional wrestling color commentator, executive, manager, pundit, and former ring announcer, better known by his ring name Kevin Kelly. He previously worked for WWE from 1996 to 2003, Major League Wrestling in 2004, Ring of Honor (ROH) from 2010 to 2017, New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) from 2015 to 2023 and All Elite Wrestling (AEW) from 2023 to 2024.

Early life[edit]

Kelly was born in New York City, New York, but his family relocated to Stuart, Florida, when he was ten. He graduated from Florida State University in January 1990.[4]

Broadcasting career[edit]


Kelly first became involved in broadcasting when he began working as a disc jockey, playing music from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.[5]

Kelly once hosted a segment named "Plan B" on the Voice of Wrestling Internet radio program. In August 2007, Kelly started his own show on the Wrestling Radio Network called The Kevin Kelly Show. Kelly also hosts The Big Picture audio show on In 2014, Kevin Kelly began hosting a wrestling and pop culture podcast, The Kevin Kelly Show, on Place to Be Nation.[6]

Professional wrestling[edit]

Independent circuit (1991–1996, 1999–2005, 2011, 2022–present)[edit]

Kelly debuted on the professional wrestling independent circuit in 1991. He originally worked as a ring announcer for Eddie Mansfield's Orlando, Florida-based International Wrestling Federation.[3][1]

In November 1999, Kelly debuted in the Delaware-based East Coast Wrestling Association as a manager, forming several heel stables. On April 7, 2001, in Wilmington, Delaware, Kelly defeated Cheetah Master for the ECWA Heavyweight Championship with the help of Billy Fives and Rick Fuller, members of Kelly's "Alliance of Defiance" stable. He was stripped of the title on May 5, 2001, with Scoot Andrews defeating Billy Fives for the vacant title.[7][8] On December 3, 2005, Kelly was inducted into the ECWA Hall of Fame.

From 2003 to 2004, he worked for the first incarnation of Major League Wrestling.

From May 28, 2011, to October 22, 2011, Kelly was an announcer for Lucha Libre USA Season 2.[9]

On November 13, 2022, Kevin Kelly announced that he would be starting his own wrestling promotion under the name "American eXcellence Wrestling". The promotion's first event was held on January 7, 2023 at the Hamburg Field House in Hamburg, Pennsylvania.[10]

World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment (1996–2003)[edit]

Kelly received a try-out with the World Wrestling Federation as a ring announcer due to the intervention of fellow IWF alumnus Billy Gunn.[3] He was hired by the WWF in June 1996, and began working as a backstage interviewer.[11] From August to October 1996, Kelly served as commentator for Raw is War, the flagship television program of the WWF, alongside Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. From December 1997 to March 1998, Kelly again served as a commentator for Raw is War, alongside Jim Ross and Michael Cole. Afterward, Kelly resumed serving as an interviewer on Raw is War and (upon its premiere) SmackDown!.[3]

As an interviewer, Kelly was involved in numerous angles. The most publicized was the controversial "Pillman's got a gun" angle, which took place on the November 4, 1996 episode of Monday Night Raw, which was filmed in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The angle was set against the backdrop of an ongoing feud between Brian Pillman and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Throughout the broadcast of Monday Night Raw, live footage was shown of Kelly interviewing Pillman in his home in Walton, Kentucky alongside Pillman's wife Melanie. After Dok Hendrix informed Monday Night Raw announcer Vince McMahon that Austin was supposedly traveling to Pillman's home, Pillman, upon being apprised of this development, produced and loaded a 9 mm pistol and stated that he would "blow [Austin's] sorry ass straight to hell!" A frightened Kelly delivered the line "Pillman's got a gun!"[12][13] In the course of the interview, Austin arrived at Pillman's home and, after fighting off several of Pillman's friends who had surrounded the house to protect him, broke into the house and advanced on Pillman. Pillman responded by pointing his pistol at Austin, with the live camera feed subsequently fading to black as Kelly and Melanie Pillman screamed. When the camera feed returned, Pillman was being restrained by his friends, and Kelly informed McMahon that there had been two explosions, but no-one had been injured. At that point, Austin re-entered the house, with Pillman's friends forcing him out again as Pillman pointed his pistol at Austin while screaming obscenities and threats. Kelly shouted for someone to "call the police" as Monday Night Raw color commentator Jerry Lawler instructed him to "get the gun". The broadcast ended with Austin being driven from the house as Melanie Pillman cried. The WWF and Pillman would later apologize for the segment.[12][13]

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Kelly would frequently be mocked by The Rock during interviews, with The Rock labeling him an "ugly hermaphrodite" and nicknaming him "Hermie".[1][14] At Unforgiven on September 24, 2000, Kelly was attacked by the returning Stone Cold Steve Austin while attempting to interview him.[15]

Kelly would later begin hosting the weekly WWF webcast Byte This!.[16] In addition to his on-screen roles, Kelly served as a WWF talent scout, monitoring wrestlers in the Heartland Wrestling Association, Memphis Championship Wrestling, Ohio Valley Wrestling, and Urban Wrestling Alliance developmental territories.[3] Kelly was responsible for watching and evaluating tapes of matches sent to the WWF by prospective employees.[17][18] Kelly also had a minor degree of influence on the creative direction of the WWF, and was the creator of the storyline that saw Stephanie McMahon marry Triple H, creating the McMahon-Helmsley Faction.[14] In addition, Kelly produced WWE Confidential.[14]

On March 21, 2003, Kelly was released by World Wrestling Entertainment as part of a series of budget cuts.[14][19] Since his release, Kelly has criticized the corporate policies and creative direction of his former employer.[14][20][21]

Major League Wrestling (2004)[edit]

In 2004, Kevin Kelly would replace Joey Styles as the announcer for Major League Wrestling, but the promotion would cease operations shortly thereafter.

Ring of Honor (2010–2017)[edit]

On March 2, 2010, Jim Cornette announced that Kelly had signed an agreement to be the voice of Ring of Honor on Internet pay-per-view[22] Between 2011 and 2017, Kelly served as main play-by-play announcer for Ring of Honor television tapings and pay-per-views.

On February 2, 2017, it was reported that Kelly had given his notice to ROH and left his position as the company's head play-by-play announcer.[23][24] Kelly remained with ROH in a part-time role until July 11, when he announced he was no longer working for the company, although he will still call ROH matches held as part of New Japan Pro-Wrestling events as he is associated with the Japanese promotion as their English language play-by-play announcer.[25]

New Japan Pro-Wrestling (2015–2023)[edit]

On October 12, Kelly and Matt Striker served as the English language commentators for New Japan Pro-Wrestling's King of Pro-Wrestling on NJPW World.[26]

Kelly returned to NJPW English commentary at Wrestle Kingdom 10 in Tokyo Dome on January 4, 2016, again working alongside Matt Striker as well as NJPW wrestler Yoshitatsu.[27] He returned as part of NJPW English commentary at Invasion Attack 2016 alongside Steve Corino, who filled in Matt Striker's position. In January 2017, Corino was replaced by Don Callis.[28]

On September 5, 2023, Kelly announced that he would be leaving NJPW in 2024.[29] Kelly would leave the company on November 14 instead, he was replaced by Game Changer Wrestling commentator Walker Stewart on English commentary.[30][31]

All Elite Wrestling (2023–2024)[edit]

Kelly officially joined All Elite Wrestling on June 17, 2023, where he debuted as part of the commentary team for the inaugural episode of AEW Collision alongside Nigel McGuinness and Jim Ross.[32] He was fired on March 8, 2024, after taking to social media the week before and accusing Ring of Honor and fellow AEW announcer Ian Riccaboni of libel and attempted career sabotage.[33]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Kevin Kelly". Retrieved July 26, 2007.
  2. ^ "Profil von Kevin Kelly". March 4, 2007. Retrieved July 26, 2007.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Kevin Kelly". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved July 26, 2007.
  4. ^ a b "Interview with Kevin Kelly". December 11, 2006. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved July 26, 2007.
  5. ^ Thatcher, L.; Young, D. (April 8, 2007). "Kevin Kelly interview". Retrieved July 26, 2007.
  6. ^ "Place to Be Wrestling Network".
  7. ^ Gerweck, S. (May 30, 2001). "Jim Kettner". Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved July 26, 2007.
  8. ^ a b Dupree, J. (2005). "ECWA - East Coast Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Title History". Retrieved July 26, 2007.
  9. ^ Roberts, Alex (May 30, 2011). "5/28 Lucha Libre USA TV taping: Spoiler results for Season 2 episodes of MTV2 show - Lethal debuts, Petey, new commentators, double-turns". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved May 30, 2011.
  10. ^ Jeremy Thomas (November 13, 2022). "Kevin Kelly Announces Launch Of New Wrestling Promotion". Retrieved March 29, 2024.
  11. ^ Lyon, S. (June 17, 2006). "Stephen Lyon looks at 10 years ago this week in the Wrestling Observer". Retrieved July 26, 2007.
  12. ^ a b Burkholder, D. (October 7, 2004). "1996: Brian Pillman Whips It Out". Archived from the original on October 3, 2011. Retrieved July 26, 2007.
  13. ^ a b Lyon, S. (November 4, 2006). "Pillman & Austin Gun Angle..." Retrieved July 26, 2007.
  14. ^ a b c d e "Kevin Kelly interview about backstage in WWE". September 22, 2003. Retrieved July 26, 2007.
  15. ^ Powell, J. (September 25, 2000). "Austin culprit unrevealed at Unforgiven". Canadian Online Explorer. Archived from the original on May 19, 2015. Retrieved July 26, 2007.
  16. ^ WWE Byte This! at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  17. ^ Oliver, G. (June 1, 2001). "The Alberta WWF tryout experience". Canadian Online Explorer. Archived from the original on January 15, 2013. Retrieved July 26, 2007.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  18. ^ LaCroix, C. (September 30, 2006). "The WWE tryout experience". Canadian Online Explorer. Archived from the original on July 25, 2017. Retrieved July 26, 2007.
  19. ^ Baines, T. (March 30, 2003). "WWE to welcome Goldberg tonight?". Ottawa Sun. Archived from the original on January 15, 2013. Retrieved July 26, 2007.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  20. ^ Fritz, B. (June 18, 2003). "Kevin Kelly on his WWE years". Canadian Online Explorer. Archived from the original on January 15, 2013. Retrieved July 26, 2007.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  21. ^ Stein, T.; et al. (October 28, 2003). "Jimmy Valiant, Bill Eadie and Kevin Kelly interviews on state of wrestling business". Retrieved July 26, 2007.
  22. ^ Who's Slamming Who (March 2, 2010). "Who's Slamming Who". Retrieved March 2, 2010.
  23. ^ Johnson, Mike (February 2, 2017). "Voice of Ring of Honor Kevin Kelly leaves promotion". Pro Wrestling Insider. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  24. ^ Meltzer, Dave (February 2, 2017). "Kevin Kelly leaving full-time position with Ring of Honor". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved July 12, 2017.
  25. ^ Scherer, Dave (July 11, 2017). "Kevin Kelly leaves Ring of Honor". Pro Wrestling Insider. Retrieved July 12, 2017.
  26. ^ Meltzer, Dave (October 2, 2015). "Fri update: John Cena taking time off, Johnny Hendricks hospitalized". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
  27. ^ Velten, Dan (December 18, 2015). "Late news updates from Friday 12/18: Taven injury, weight issues, Tokyo-Dome, NXT". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved January 6, 2016.
  28. ^ Currier, Joseph (January 17, 2017). "NJPW World finds its new lead English color commentary voice". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
  29. ^ Lambert, Jeremy (September 5, 2023). "Kevin Kelly Says He Is Leaving NJPW 'At Some Point Soon'". Fightful. Retrieved October 5, 2023.
  30. ^ Renner, Ethan (November 13, 2023). "NJPW announces Kevin Kelly's departure". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved November 14, 2023.
  31. ^ Carey, Ian (October 4, 2023). "Walker Stewart confirmed as new NJPW English-language commentator". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved November 14, 2023.
  32. ^ Atkins, Jack (June 19, 2023). "Latest On Kevin Kelly's Status With AEW & NJPW Following Collision Debut". Cultaholic. Retrieved October 18, 2023.
  33. ^ "Kevin Kelly, announcer since the launch of Collision last summer, fired by AEW". Pro Wrestling Torch. 8 March 2024. Retrieved 8 March 2024.
  34. ^ "ECW A Hall of Fame". ECWA. Archived from the original on 2013-06-20. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
  35. ^ "BONUS SHOW: Wrestling Observer Newsletter Awards". Post Wrestling. March 17, 2019. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
  36. ^ Jaymond P (February 24, 2023). "2022 Wrestling Observer Awards Results". WrestlePurists. Archived from the original on February 28, 2023. Retrieved March 4, 2023.
  37. ^ Meltzer, Dave (February 2023). "February 2023 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Results of the 2022 Wrestling Observer Newsletter Awards". Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
  38. ^ "Daily Update: Coronavirus notes, NOAH, WrestleMania". 29 March 2020.

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