With Smackdown moving to Fox, WWE has been making a lot of changes to their on screen product. With Brock facing Kofi Kingston for the WWE Championship on the season premier of Smackdown, and a “special” Smackdown Firefly Funhouse, it definitely appears WWE wants to put on the best show possible.
One of the ways WWE will shake things up is by changing up their commentary teams. Reports say Raw and Smackdown will be getting new commentary teams. Here are the changes being made, and a brief run down of all the new (and old) faces.
Vic Joseph – Vic Joseph joins the Raw commentary team. Joseph has been with the company since 2017. In that time he has served as commentator for 205 Live and for Main Event. Outside of WWE, Joseph was the announcer for House of Hardcore, and was even a network host for the Cleveland Browns.
Dio Maddin –Dio Maddin (real name Brennan Williams) is a former NFL offensive tackle, having done stints with the Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, and New England Patriots. After being released by the Patriots, Maddin started training to become a wrestler with Booker T. Maddin replaced Nigel McGuinness on the 205 Live commentary team when Nigel joined NXT UK.
Side note: NXT did some house shows here in Vegas a few years back and Dio was wrestling under this real name, Brennan Williams. Let me just say, the guy is incredible. He had this “King of Sit” gimmick that had the entire crowd popping and totally behind him. I’m kind of bummed he’s not wrestling anymore. But he is extremely charismatic.
Jerry “The King” Lawler – The King makes his return to regular WWE commentary. Lawyer was at one time apart of arguably the greatest wrestling commentary team along with “J.R.” Jim Ross. Lawler was taken off of TV back in 2016, and had only made special appearances for the company, such as Hall of Fame ceremonies, and the occasional “King’s Court”.
Mauro Ranallo – Mauro Ranallo will continue to headline the NXT broadcast team on USA. In my opinion, Ranallo is the best commentator WWE has. His passion and the way he delivers what he says is incredible. Not to mention his pop culture references are hilarious. Ranallo has been on NXT commentary since 2017, after a brief hiatus from the company following him leaving Smackdown Live.
Beth Phoenix – In 2019 during the Fastlane PPV, Beth was put on commentary to call the Women’s Tag Team Championship match. That appearance would lead to Beth joining forces with Natalya to compete for the Women’s Tag Team Championships. After their match at WrestleMania 35, Phoenix announced she will be joining the NXT Commentary team, replacing Percy Watson.
Nigel McGuinness – Remember when I said I thought Mauro was WWE’s best commentator? Well yeah, I have Nigel second on the list. A former ROH World Champion and a former ROH commentator, McGuinness signed with WWE in 2016. McGuinness was actually recommended to WWE by Michael Cole. Nigel immediately made an impression when he called the WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament. McGuinness would later be named a full time NXT commentator.
Michael Cole – Besides Lawler, Cole is the longest tenured commentator on the WWE commentating team. Cole started his WWE career as a backstage interviewer before becoming the voice of SmackDown when it first aired, with Tazz. Over the years Cole has made a name for himself in WWE, becoming the go to guy for special events and everything commentary. People tend to give Cole a lot of flack, but if you look at his work on the UK Championship Tournament in 2017, he’s actually really good when he doesn’t have a certain someone yelling in his ear every 5 minutes.
Corey Graves – Corey Graves is another former wrestler on the commentary team. Graves signed with WWE and wrestled for FCW in 2011. At NXT TakeOver: R Evolution, Graves officially announced his retirement after multiple concussions. Graves began as a commentator for NXT, before being moved to Raw during the draft. Graves eventually began doing commentary for both Raw and Smackdown. He joins Cole as Smackdown switches to a two man booth.
“Special Contributor” Renee Young – Renee Young will not really be a part of the Smackdown Commentary team, as she is listed as a “special contributor”. Reports around the wrestling world indicate she will be heading a new studio show with Booker T, which will be pre-taped once a week through Fox, not WWE. It’s also reported that Cathy Kelly will have a large role in the show.
So there you have it. Almost all new faces on Raw, the Raw team moving to Smackdown, and NXT staying the same. One of the biggest things I see is Smackdown going to a two-man booth. Three man booth’s are looked to be a downfall of WWE programming by some.
With Smackdown moving to a two man booth, it gives it more of a “real sport” feel as most NFL, MLB, and NBA games only feature two man booths, with special on-field commentators appearing every here and there. Here’s to hoping it’s all for the better!
Featured photo: WWE.com
For advertising and sponsorship opportunities with The Game Changer Sports Network please contact Jake at Info@GameChangerSportsNetwork.com