Over the weekend, John Bradshaw Layfield broke the news that he would no longer be the color commentator for SmackDown Live. Naturally, the first question being asked by fans learning of the news was who exactly would be taking the veteran’s place. Could Mauro Ranallo return to Tuesday nights from NXT? Maybe the reinstatement of David Otunga? Many fans lobbied for Renee Young to be given a chance. WWE decided against all of those options, allowing Corey Graves to take the gig while also working Raw as well. Graves is arguably the best thing about WWE’s announcing right now. From his time in NXT to his work on the main roster, he has taken to commentary like a duck to water. Here are just five reasons as to why the Savior of Misbehavior is a great fit for WWE’s blue brand going forward.
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5. Fresh But Proven
Let’s be honest here, many have been clamoring for the SmackDown Live announce team to be freshened up ever since JBL allegedly forced out Mauro Ranallo with his constant berating of the now NXT lead announcer. There were points where crowds were chanting for the former WWE Champion to be fired. Wel,l now Bradshaw has stepped back from announcing duties giving WWE the chance to freshen up the soundtrack to Tuesday nights. Slotting Corey Graves into that position is the perfect way to do that. SmackDown Live will now sound different and fresh, yet WWE will be running no risk as it’s a man they already have a lot of faith in.
4. Nigel McGuinness Can Progress In The Company
Corey filling the void left by JBL on SmackDown Live is not the only change that WWE has made to their announce teams this week. Another man has benefited from the small reshuffle, and that man is Nigel McGuinness. The British announcer never had the chance to wrestle for WWE, but they certainly think highly of his commentary. It was only in January of this year that McGuinness made his announcing debut in WWE, partnering Michael Cole to call the action in the United Kingdom Championship tournament. Since then, he found himself a permanent home, and now that Graves will be on SmackDown Live, McGuinness will pick up the roles he leaves behind on 205 Live and Main Event.
3. Received High Praise From Paul Heyman
Someone who knows a thing or two about the business of professional wrestling is Paul Heyman. A couple of years ago, The Advocate was interviewed by Sam Roberts as a part of a live show and was asked who he admires from NXT. Heyman’s response was that if he were putting a roster together, Corey Graves would be his number one draft pick. Heyman described Graves as being the best color commentator in professional wrestling today and that he considers him the “Joe Rogan of WWE.” Keep in mind these comments were made two years ago. Since then, Graves graduated from the NXT announce desk and has become synonymous with the soundtrack for Raw, so chances are Heyman only thinks even more of him at this point.
2. He Doesn’t Sound Corporate
There is no doubt in many people’s minds that Michael Cole has an absolute wealth of experience when it comes to announcing in WWE. He has been honing his craft since the ’90s and has learned from some of the best in the business. One flaw Cole does have though is how corporate he can sound the majority of the time. For the most part, it isn’t his fault since he constantly has Vince McMahon in his ear telling him what to say. With Graves, however, that corporate edge isn’t so apparent. Graves will also have Vince in his ear, but he somehow makes it work. Plus the former NXT announcer does a lot of stuff for WWE Network where he doesn’t have the boss dictating orders through his head set and has built up a more laid back personality for himself in those shows.
1. He Is A Former Wrestler
The final, and perhaps most important, reason as to why Corey Graves is the best choice to be color commentator on SmackDown Live is that he is a former wrestler. Historically, former wrestlers make the best color commentators. Names like Jerry Lawler, The Macho Man, and Tazz, worked great while the man calling the play-by-play is usually someone without that in-ring experience. Grave’s role at that announce desk is to a add color—hence the job title—to what the lead announcer is saying, and it’s hard to do that if you don’t know what it’s like to perform inside the squared circle. Other front runners Mauro Ranallo and Renee Young do not have that going for them on their resumes.
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