Kevin Kelly thinks Kazuchika Okada should be the highest-paid wrestler in the business

Photo Courtesy: Lee South

Kevin Kelly touches on multiple subjects. 

Joining the Super J-Cast for episode #289 of their podcast was current AEW Collision and former NJPW commentator Kevin Kelly. Among the topics they touched on during the chat was the future of Kazuchika Okada. Kelly expressed his opinion that Okada should be the highest-paid wrestler in the business.

The conversation then turned over to the value of yen being low in Japan. Kelly said foreign talents were being paid in yen so when they would go to convert the money into the currency of their choice, the dollar amount would be low and less than their guarantee. 

Also, I think there is a part of that (Shohei) Ohtani factor, the number one star in Japan, in all of sports is Ohtani and he just got a record-setting contract, doubling the previous high or at least close to doubling and I think that (Kazuchika) Okada is in that same conversation with Ohtani. Should Okada be the highest-paid star in pro wrestling? I think yes. I don’t know who the highest-paid star in wrestling is now and I have no idea what that dollar figure is. But whoever is making the most, Okada should at least make one more dollar than him. 

The economics right now with Japan are a little bit of an issue because guys were getting paid in yen, the foreign wrestlers. So the wrestlers from the United States were getting paid in yen and then those yen converting to dollars and because the yen’s value to the dollar is less, they were getting a decrease in pay, less than their guarantee. So they had to adjust it and that’s just one of the realities that’s out there now. 

Switching over to a conversation about commentary, Kelly brought up Gino Gambino. He claims that NJPW did not see the value in having another English play-by-play commentator under contract at the time.

Kevin said Gino deserved to be paid a fair wage and he currently works in law enforcement in his home country of Australia. 

Gino’s role with the company (NJPW) is economic. Let’s be fair, the guy deserved to be paid and they didn’t see the value in having a second on a contract and paying him a fair wage so he’s doing his own thing. He works in law enforcement in Australia and that’s what he’s doing. He’s gonna come back here and there going forward. But yeah, he’s got a real job and a career… Well yes (Kelly responded to the sarcastic question of do commentators get paid), and that was the surprise when Gino would receive what we thought was a pittance and he would run at us wanting to hug and kiss and it’s like, ‘Why? What’s wrong?’ ‘Thank you so much Mr. Kevin for the generous money you’ve given me.’ I thought it was not enough, but he’s a good boy.

When it comes to doing commentary in Japan, Kevin said it’s not goodbye forever. He would like to return on May 6th for the event that nine Japanese promotions are putting together under the United Japan Pro Wrestling umbrella.

It’s not goodbye forever (to NJPW). It’s just for now and I’m sure I’ll be back. I’d like to be a part of that show coming up in May. The big super-show that the union is putting together or whatever it’s called. That would be a lot of fun and we’ll see what happens.

Alongside Tony Schiavone and Nigel McGuinness, Kevin was on the call for AEW Collision on December 23rd. POST Wrestling’s review of that show can be found here, courtesy of John Siino and Kate from Montreal

If the quotes in this article are used, please credit Super J-Cast with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.

About Andrew Thompson 8816 Articles
A Washington D.C. native and graduate of Norfolk State University, Andrew Thompson has been covering wrestling since 2017.