The announce teams on WWE Raw and Smackdown are changing. There’s apparently going to be a new play by play announcer on Raw as of this Monday with Adnan Virk of MLB Network joining WWE. Virk previously worked for ESPN and I am very familiar with him from his days working for The Score (now Sportsnet) here in Canada. The report comes from WrestlingInc. Virk worked for ESPN from 2010 to 2019 and was fired for leaking private ESPN information to the media. Virk thought that what he did wasn’t a big deal, so he was shocked that ESPN fired him. Virk said: “I know the difference between important information and something trivial, and in my mind this was so trivial that it wasn’t a huge deal.”
After exiting ESPN, Virk was hired by DAZN working on their MLB coverage and then he got hired by MLB Network as well. Virk has not addressed the rumors publicly.
In addition to that, the Raw announce team is going to welcome back Corey Graves, who replaces Samoa Joe on Monday nights. This news comes from Andrew Zarian from the Mat Men Podcast.
I can confirm the report by @RajGiri_303 that Raw is getting a change-up for the announce team
Corey, Byron, and Adnan Virk are headed to Raw.
— Andrew Zarian (@AndrewZarian) April 10, 2021
Graves has been on Smackdown with Michael Cole since Smackdown moved to Fox in October 2019.
The new Raw announce team is going to be Adnan Virk on play-by-play with Corey Graves and Byron Saxton as the analyst.
It is assumed that Michael Cole will remain the main announcer on Smackdown, which is WWE’s most-watched weekly TV show in their Friday timeslot on Fox. What isn’t known right now is who will be joining Cole on Smackdown commentary. It could be Samoa Joe, but he may be returning to the ring since he’s still a wrestler.
Tom Phillips has been the lead announcer on Raw since January 2020 when he replaced Vic Joseph. It’s not known what role Phillips will have in WWE because he has been moved around on different shows for several years now. Phillips was not present at WrestleMania for the Raw brand matches because of some COVID protocol issues.
The NXT announce team is Vic Joseph, Beth Phoenix and Wade Barrett. It’s not known if that will be shaken up at all.
Another name to keep an eye on is former UFC and Bellator announcer Jimmy Smith, who auditioned for a WWE job during a Smackdown taping last month. Smith appeared on the NXT Takeover Stand & Deliver pre-show on Wednesday and Thursday earlier this week. It’s not known if he was hired by WWE officially.
TJR Thoughts: I’m very familiar with Adnan Virk because of his TV days here in Canada. He’s from Toronto and he’s 42 years old with a lot of sports broadcasting experience. I know a mutual friend of his that has said Adnan is a legit wrestling fan for a long time, so he probably knows the product well. I assume Adnan has tried out with WWE and they liked what they saw/heard from him, so that’s why he is getting the job. I wish him the best with it. Perhaps WWE will make it official on Monday before Raw.
I think Tom Phillips was pretty good as a WWE announcer, but for whatever reason, the bosses don’t seem to like him because he has been moved around so much between Smackdown, NXT and Raw over the last few years. Maybe Tom’s contract is up and he’s leaving? I don’t know if that’s the case, but that’s what it could be.
Moving Corey Graves from Smackdown to Raw is likely being done to have Corey there to help Virk out since Corey has a lot of experience. I wonder if it means Corey’s girlfriend Carmella will be moved to Raw as well.
I’m not sure if Samoa Joe will be the Smackdown analyst or if he’s going to go back in the ring. Joe has been an announcer for the last year because of concussion issues, but I know he has done interviews
My guess is WWE will announce something about the new commentary teams prior to Monday’s edition of Raw.