In some ways the commentary teams tend to be overlooked by some fans, but keep in mind that you have to listen to them for several hours each week. A good commentary team can make or break a show, and much of that comes down to the chemistry they have together. WWE announced on WWE.com following the draft that the new teams have been set, and we are seeing a longtime commentary mainstay finally leave the table.
Noticeably absent from the list of new announce teams is Jerry “The King” Lawler. While Lawler was the perfect companion to the Attitude Era and the crazy Ruthless Aggression era, he has become increasingly stale and nonsensical as the years have gone on. With a recent suspension due to a domestic violence arrest, and a need to revitalize both brands, Lawler has finally been removed from the commentary booth.
The new announce team for the New Era of WWE are as follows:
Monday Night Raw: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton
SmackDown Live: Mauro Ranallo, JBL, and David Otunga
Raw gets the wonderful addition of the biggest commentary gem in the WWE today, Corey Graves. The former NXT Tag Team Champion and longtime commentator on NXT is finally getting his own call-up as he will take on the challenge of anchoring the announce team for the flagship show. He’ll be joined by Michael Cole and Byron Saxton, who have been mainstays on Raw for some time now.
As for SmackDown, the loss of Jerry Lawler is filled with JBL who has been shifted over from Raw. Mauro Ranallo remains and will help bring the “pure wrestling” feel to SmackDown Live as he is one of the best pure play-by-play commentators around today. Lastly, they are joined by David Otunga. Some fans may remember Otunga most for his time in the ring, but he’s continued to work backstage and do bits of commentary and analysis, now getting the nod to join the booth on SmackDown.
The secondary shows for WWE have also been given a facelift:
WWE Superstars: Tom Phillips and Corey Graves
WWE Main Event: Tom Phillips and David Otunga
While it hasn’t been officially mentioned, the specification of commentary teams seems to confirm that WWE Superstars will be the companion show to Monday Night Raw while WWE Main Event will be the companion show to SmackDown Live. This also is an opportunity for Tom Phillips, who has been anchoring the NXT announce team along with Corey Graves since early this year. The question as to whether or not Corey Graves will be replaced in the NXT booth has yet to be addressed.