Kevin Kelly AEW
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Kevin Kelly Goes In-Depth On His AEW Release, Issues With Ian Riccaboni

Kevin Kelly isn’t mixing words when it comes to Ian Riccaboni and his departure from All Elite Wrestling.

Former AEW Announcer Kevin Kelly recently took part in a virtual signing for K & S WrestleFest. During the signing, Kelly spoke about his past issues with Ian Riccaboni and how it all came to a head while he was overseas doing the G1, and the Ring of Honor announcer went off on him on a New Japan Discord server.

“I start doing this AEW thing, and Tony Khan told me, ‘I first wanted Ian Riccaboni to do Collision, but he couldn’t because of his day job.’ Okay. So, Ian recommended me. Great, cool,” Kevin Kelly said. “I go away — they knew this, I go away to do the G1, I’m gone five weeks, I come back, and it’s like, Ian’s hammered me on Discord on this New Japan message board about, you know, I did all these different things to him, over the years, which I never knew.

“I had no clue, and then, to top it all off, he accuses me of being some QAnon conspiracy theorist for supporting a movie that was against child trafficking. That’s neither here nor there. The part that bothers me so much is that I thought we were friends, and if he would have called me, we could have talked about it.”

A clash of styles on commentary

At this point, Kelly started having issues with AEW management and how they wanted him to change his style of commentary for Collision to be more like Dynamite. There was heavy criticism of Kelly’s commentary online at this time, as fans weren’t overly thrilled with the presentation of Saturday’s show.

“Then things started to change within AEW, and it was almost like hand in glove. It was never a good fit, me being there,” Kevin Kelly admitted. “I came from New Japan, where I was left alone, and I knew what I was doing. I was calling matches that were just like AEW. All of a sudden now, I’ve got all these people in my ear, and I’ve got all this format stuff, and it’s like, ‘Why do we have to do things the same way Dynamite is?’ is what I said.

Kelly believes commentary on Collision was supposed to be different than Dynamite

“‘Why do we have to be the same show? Don’t we want Collision to be different? Isn’t this a different thing?’ Whether it was split because of CM Punk and The (Young) Bucks, I have no idea. That was never even brought up. But it was a separate show, Saturday night, great. Let’s make it different; let’s do some different things. Why can’t we, as announcers, be different?

“Because I’m different than Taz and Excalibur and (Tony) Schiavone. The handwriting was on the wall, and it wasn’t gonna work. I was getting more and more pissed off, and I talked to the AEW office about it. I talked to them, and I told them that I was mentally getting really in a bad spot over this too, and I vented, and when I vented, that’s when they let me go… Again, no harm, no foul with AEW — no. Big blame. Big blame there, but I always wanted to straighten things out with Ian. I feel terrible that he was mad at me over something he never told me, and it led to a bunch of different problems.”

Kevin Kelly’s AEW release

Eventually, Kelly was released from the company and, based on his comments, holds ill will towards AEW and Mike Mansury for the way they handled his release.

“Of course (I have ill feelings towards AEW for how things ended). I wouldn’t treat my worst enemy like that,” Kevin Kelly said. “Mike Mansury (told me I was being let go). The Executive Producer and the new Vice President of Human Resources who I’d never met and spoken to ever before. I knocked the company on Twitter and vented on a voicemail to the H.R. lady that I had been working with.

“Problem was I never knew where — I brought up this whole thing with Ian (Riccaboni), and they said, ‘Yes, good. Thank you for bringing it up.’ ‘What’s going to happen?’ I said, ‘What’s the process?’ ‘Well, we’ll discuss it, we’ll let you know’ and apparently, the disciplinary got together — committee got together and made a decision.

“‘Okay, what was the decision?’ ‘Well, we can’t tell you because it’s private.’ ‘Wait a minute, I was the one who was the victim here. I need to know what happened so I could put this to bed in my mind.’ ‘Well, we just can’t tell you.’ ‘Okay, this is very upsetting for me. You have to understand this?’ ‘Nah, we really don’t understand, and we don’t care.’ So, whatever. They’ll get theirs.” [H/T: POST Wrestling]

READ MORE: Kevin Kelly Claims He’s Taking Legal Action After AEW Termination 

What do you make of Kevin Kelly’s comments? Did you enjoy his run as a commentator on AEW Collision? Let us know your thoughts by sounding off in the comments section below.