News: WWE Hiring MMA Announcer and NXT Analyst Jimmy Smith for Raw Commentary Team

It was reported today that MMA announcer Jimmy Smith has been hired by WWE to be a part of the Monday Night Raw commentary team.

Here’s the report from Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer:

With the departure of Adnan Virk announced Tuesday, the new WWE Raw announcing team, will consist of former UFC and Bellator commentator Jimmy Smith, working with Corey Graves (Matt Polinksy) and Byron Saxton (Bryan Kelly). Their first show together will be on Monday, May 31st.

Smith, 43, best known for his 2010 to 2017 run with Bellator, has been working with Michael Cole and WWE staff of late to train for a possible announcing role. According to sources within the company, Cole has praised him heavily and found him to be very versatile.

It was also reported by PWInsider that Smith will be in the Raw commentary role and that he has been putting in a lot of work to prepare for WWE broadcasting assignments. As Meltzer noted, Michael Cole (who oversees the WWE commentary team) must have been impressed with Smith.

Shortly after these reports came out, WWE confirmed the news on their website in the late afternoon:

STAMFORD, Conn., May 26, 2021 – WWE today announced that Jimmy Smith will debut as the play-by-play voice for Monday Night Raw starting this Monday, May 31 at 8/7c on USA Network.

Recently, Smith served as an analyst for NXT, where he hosted NXT TakeOver pre-show panels and worked on special projects for the black-and-gold brand. He is also the daily host of SiriusXM’s “Unlocking the Cage” and was the host of “American Ninja Warrior” on G4.

Smith will be joined at ringside for every Monday Night Raw by analysts Corey Graves and Byron Saxton.

Smith recently appeared on WWE NXT’s Prime Target video building up the Karrion Kross/Finn Balor match that aired last night. Smith was also part of the NXT Takeover Stand & Deliver pre-show last month during WrestleMania week.

It is expected that Smith will take over the play-by-play role that Adnan Virk was in. During his role covering UFC and Bellator, he has been an analyst.

It was also noted by Meltzer that Smith is also the host of SiriusXM’s Unlocking the Cage (weekdays from 2-5 PM Eastern) in addition to ESPN International’s UFC Fight Camp show.

Back in early March, WrestlingInc reported that Smith received a WWE announcer tryout.

Meltzer revealed more info about Smith as well. The 43-year-old Smith is a former professional MMA fighter that had a record of 5-1 as a welterweight on smaller shows in California from 2003 to 2006. Smith is also a Brazilian Jiu-Jutsu black belt. After his fighting career ended, Smith hosted a Discovery Channel show called Fight Quest. He also hosted two seasons of American Ninja Warrior. Smith also worked for Bellator and UFC in his career.

Smith commented on Twitter.

TJR Thoughts: Smith is the second guy in a row that WWE is hiring that doesn’t have any experience as a play-by-play wrestling announcer. Why not let him get his feet wet so to speak doing matches on Main Event for a month or two? Instead, they are throwing him into the fire and hoping it works out. Good luck, Jimmy.