JRK discusses ICW, life as a colour commentator, & why he wears sunglasses indoors (Exclusive)
There are some people in the wrestling business that you just look at and think, "They're a star."
Now, hopefully, I won't sound too judgemental here, but "commentator" isn't usually the type of role that comes to mind following that statement, but one man who just well and truly looks - and sounds - like a major part of a promotion is Insane Championship wrestling's JRK.
JRK, also known as James R Kennedy, has been nothing short of 'Top Class' as one of the voices of ICW, and that's no mean feat! Being a major soundtrack to arguably the world's hottest - and definitely the most insane - promotion around right now definitely doesn't sound like an easy role.
JRK makes it seem easy.
In saying that, he does have all the right tools. A lifelong wrestling fan, an incredibly experienced writer, and a man who carved his path into the business almost a decade ago and has since worked with ICW and WCPW/Defiant - JRK knows the industry inside out - so I grasped at the opportunity to gather some insight from one of the best ccolorcommentators in the business with both hands when it came up.
So, first things first, I have to ask - I know you're incredibly passionate about wrestling, as is obvious for anyone who's heard you on commentary or simply follows you on Twitter, but what got you into wrestling as a fan?
The first thing I remember seeing is an old VHS a neighbor had on. I tagged along with my mum when she went over for a coffee with a friend, and her son was watching WrestleMania III. This would be around 1992 or so, so I was only young. I vividly recall standing there and (pretty awkwardly) gawking at the screen in their living room as this kid innocently tried to enjoy his tape.
Something about the atmosphere gripped me. The characters were colorful the crowd were loud and the whole thing just seemed like one big circus. To a little boy who loved cartoons and had quite the imagination, it seemed special. I had to know more, so obviously I pestered that family every day for the next year or so, borrowing a different VHS each time.
And of course, there's only one question I can ask next - what got you into wrestling, and particularly commentary, career-wise?
I was pretty cheeky! Cutting a long story short, I spotted ICW's Mark Dallas on Facebook in 2010, could see by his profile pic he was standing in a wrestling ring and messaged him looking to get involved as a manager. He directed me to Ross Watson/Kid Fite's training school and encouraged me to send in a promo. When I did fire through a nervy to-camera piece, he booked me on the spot, so I must've done something right.
By 2017, I was getting a bit tired of managing. If I'm being totally honest, I needed a new challenge, and I didn't feel particularly wanted as a manager anyway. That's an ongoing problem with managers. Some wrestlers just...don't want one.
Back then, WCPW (which would go on to become Defiant) were dabbling with Matt Striker in the color role, but he couldn't commit to every date. That's how I got the gig, and I'm forever thankful Dave Bradshaw on play-by-play was the first guy I worked with. He was never anything but patient, switched on and helpful.
NEXT: "I think it's important never to restrict yourself to just wrestling, wrestling, wrestling, if that makes sense."
COMING UP: "I get annoyed when I see some fans treat opinion pieces as gospel."