Talent being released from their contracts is a regular occurrence in WWE, however, one man refused to take it lying down.
Kevin Kelly is best known to fans of the company for his onscreen role as a commentator and backstage interviewer from 1996-2003. However, he also had several other roles to play including hosting the web show, Byte This, and working as a talent scout.
Despite his many jobs, in 2001 Kelly was on the firing line for being released, but that just wasn’t going to work for him.
Kevin Kelly refused to accept being released from WWE
During an appearance on the Insider’s Edge Podcast, Kelly recalled that he was in the process of buying a house when Jim Ross approached him to let him go.
“I was in the process of buying a house. The closing was in a couple of weeks away. You can’t fire me, I’ve already told my landlord that I’m moving. I’m buying a house.
“‘Do you even know what I do, JR? Do you even know how many hats I wear? Who is going to do all the jobs that I do if you’re letting me go? We need to talk about this because it’s not going to work for me.’
“He said, ‘Okay.’ I was going to get fired, what’s the worst that could happen? He was going to shoot me with a gun? I didn’t call him an asshole or MFer, I just said, ‘Hey, no.'”
Kelly remained in WWE for another two years before finally being released. Although, he did make another stand, asking for, and receiving, an extra two months’ severance due to all the jobs he had done.
“Then, when they finally did fire me, I knew it was coming, but I was the last one to get cut. It was 03 and they were going department by department. You hear about it, people getting let go.
“I knew it was coming. I was in the last round. Everyone was very nice. They said, ‘You were here almost seven full years. We will treat that as eight years and give you four months of severance.’
“I said, ‘I did a lot of work while I was here. I had two or three jobs at a time, I would like six months severance please. I feel I deserve it.’ The lady said, ‘Okay.’
“Again, why not ask? What’s the worst that will happen? I didn’t ask for anything ridiculous. I asked for a couple extra months of severance.”
Since leaving WWE, Kevin Kelly briefly worked as an announcer for Major League Wrestling and later Ring Of Honor. Since 2015, he has been the lead play-by-play English announcer for New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Most recently, he lent his voice to SANADA’s IWGP World Heavyweight Championship victory over Kazuchika Okada.
H/T to Fightful for the above transcription.