There was a vacancy on the Smackdown commentary team following John Bradshaw Layfield’s announcement that he was stepping away from WWE to concentrate on his charity work. For the past few days, WWE fans speculated who it might be. It turns out that WWE picked somebody that was already doing commentary.
It was announced on Monday afternoon on Twitter that Raw announcer Corey Graves will be taking over JBL’s spot on Smackdown as well. Graves is likely staying on Raw as well because there’s been no indication that a change is coming there.
The tweet also noted that NXT’s Nigel McGuinness will take over Graves’ former roles as announcer on 205 Live and Main Event. Since 205 Live takes place after Smackdown, Graves was already attending Smackdown anyway, so his travel plans won’t change as a result of this move.
This means that the new announce team on Smackdown Live is Tom Phillips as the play-by-play man, Graves as one announcer and Byron Saxton, who they call the “insider” even though he’s really just another announcer. Graves has worked with both men before on different shows, so it should be a smooth transition for him. Graves clarified on Monday that he will not be leaving Raw, he will just be pulling double duty.
After JBL’s announcement last week, Graves and JBL had this pleasant exchange on Twitter with JBL calling him the future.
Graves was the right choice for the Smackdown job. I agree with JBL that Graves is the future and obviously WWE management agrees, because they have put him in position to call five hours of WWE programming per week. That’s a lot of content, but Graves is the best announcer in WWE in terms of getting the stories over while also having a heel edge to him. While Graves isn’t as much of a heel announcer as Bobby Heenan in the 1980s or Jerry Lawler in the 1990s, he still tends to favor the bad guys. That’s an important role on WWE programming.