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Report: Announce Team Changes Expected for WWE Raw and Smackdown, Pete Dunne Moving to the US to Join NXT

There’s a lot of change going on in WWE these days with Smackdown moving to Fox on October 4. We have already reported on WWE wanting to go back to a more regular brand split and now there’s some speculation about what might happen with the announcers.

Wrestlevotes tweeted about what WWE had planned including a return to two-person announce teams.

Before I dive in on this, nothing is official and it was noted by Wrestlevotes that it is not set in stone, so things could end up being different. What is known is WWE wants to keep Raw and Smackdown separate, so the days of Corey Graves working both brands are likely over.

Michael Cole is the most experienced play by play man in WWE. He’s been there since 1997. Obviously, WWE values that 22 years of experience and they want to put him on Smackdown on Fox where it’s expected to have a bigger audience than what we see on Raw. For most of the 2000s, Cole was the voice of Smackdown and then he has been the main man to call the action on Raw this decade. In addition to that, Cole is also a producer for WWE in terms of working with the announce teams to call their respective shows.

Vic Joseph has done a very good job of being the lead play-by-play guy on 205 Live and NXT UK. He has done other things too, but those are his main shows. Recently, he filled in for about two hours of Raw as well.

The first tweet noted that there was going to be a “2 man booth,” which would mean somebody is out since WWE currently has Corey Graves on Raw and Smackdown, plus Renee Young on Raw and Byron Saxton on Smackdown. Graves will likely be on one show moving forward, so WWE can either choose to have Saxton or Young on the other show or they could bring in somebody new.

Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier has talked about possibly doing announcing work for WWE when Smackdown is on Fox, so it might be him if he’s ready for it.

It’s also expected that Renee Young is going to host at WWE studio show for Fox Sports 1 on Tuesdays, so Fox may want her to be a part of Smackdown. That doesn’t mean she will be paired with Cole. She could go back to being an interviewer. We don’t know yet.

All of this news wouldn’t be good for Tom Phillips, who has been the lead play-by-play announcer on Smackdown for over two years. I think he’s done a great job, but he might be passed over if these changes take place. Perhaps his contract is up soon and he’ll move on from WWE. I don’t know if that’s true. I’m just saying it’s happened before with other announcers.

As for NXT, it’s expected to remain a three-person team with Mauro Ranallo, Beth Phoenix and Nigel McGuinness. Since NXT is going to be live every Wednesday from Full Sail University, it’s going to be easier on the announcers in terms of travel.

Meanwhile, on 205 Live, we noted earlier today that Dio Maddin replaced Nigel McGuinness on the 205 Live announce team.

 

Pete Dunne is expected to move full time from WWE’s NXT UK brand to NXT in America according to a report from PWInsider. Dunne is 25 years old and recently became a father for the first time. He is from England and he’s in the process of moving to the United States. I assume he’ll move to Orlando where NXT/Performance Center is.

Dunne, who held the NXT UK Title for a record 685 days (nearly two years), is one of WWE’s rising stars who helped set the standard of great matches for the WWE NXT UK brand. It’s not a surprise to see him moving to regular NXT since he wasn’t in a match at the NXT UK Takeover Cardiff show although he did show up to hug his buddy Tyler Bate after a phenomenal match against Walter, who beat Dunne for the title back in April.

Moving Dunne to NXT full time makes a lot of sense. He was in the North American Title match at NXT Takeover Toronto last month and he came up short in winning the title, but he will likely be a contender for the title in the future.

The report from PWInsider also noted that Toni Storm will be featured more in WWE NXT as well as opposed to NXT UK.

Analysis: I’m a huge fan of Dunne. I love his style and his ability to have a great match with anybody. He’s still in his mid-20s, so putting him in NXT is a smart move and maybe by the middle of next decade he’ll be a featured guy on Raw or Smackdown. I think he’s definitely a future WWE Champion.