AEW Name Explains Why They Walked Away From NJPW

AEW logo over contract

An AEW talent has revealed the heartwarming reason behind their decision to leave New Japan Pro-Wrestling.

Kevin Kelly will leave NJPW following Wrestle Kingdom 18 in January 2024. Kelly joined the company after spells with the likes of Ring of Honor and MLW, while he’s most well-known in the United States for his work with WWE between 1996 and 2003.

Appearing on AEW Unrestricted, Kelly revealed that he’s leaving NJPW so he can spend more time with his wife.

“Because my wife said, ‘I don’t want to be alone anymore.’ I’m not lying. We’ve been together 33 years, married 30. I told her, when the time is right, you tell me and I will stop going to Japan because I’ve been gone weeks at a time, months at a time. Come home briefly, go back weeks at a time. We’ve all missed birthdays and family vacations and those types of things, but when you’re missing Christmas and you’re missing New Years and you’re missing anniversaries and you’re missing everything, it just gets to be too much.

So, when this AEW opportunity came around, the first conversation that Tony and I had was about still keeping up on New Japan commitments and he said, ‘Yeah that’s fine, we’ll have Ian or somebody fill in.’ He and I figured it would probably be 12 dates a year and I talked to [my wife] about it, and she was like, I don’t want to be alone anymore. I was like, okay, say no more, that’s it.

I talked to New Japan, I talked with Tony. I got these two [shows] that I definitely have to do for New Japan, but after that, I’m just going to be here in the states, here in North America within a couple hours flight. I’ll be gone away from home as much as AEW needs me, but I’ll always be that close. I’ll never be more than half of a day away.”

When Did Kevin Kelly Join AEW?

Kevin Kelly signed with AEW in June 2023 and was featured on the first episode of Collision on June 17th, calling the action alongside Jim Ross and Nigel McGuinness. After Kelly announced that he would be leaving NJPW, it was announced that Walker Stewart would take his place.

H/t to Fightful