It’s the Monday after WrestleMania and for tonight’s episode of Raw, there will be a new announce team. We reported on the weekend that Adnan Virk of MLB Network, and formerly of ESPN and The Score in Canada, was going to join WWE as the lead announcer on Raw. Now it’s official. Tonight’s Raw is also the first episode where the ThunderDome will be at the Yuengling Center in Tampa, Florida. It’s the third different venue for WWE’s ThunderDome setup.
Here’s what WWE sent out this morning in a press release:
Adnan Virk Joins WWE Monday Night Raw
STAMFORD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– WWE® (NYSE: WWE) today announced that Adnan Virk will make his debut as the new play-by-play voice of Monday Night Raw tonight at 8/7c on USA Network.
“I’m elated to be joining the premier sports entertainment company in my new role with WWE,” said Adnan Virk. “As a kid who grew up idolizing WWE Hall of Famers like Bret Hart and Ric Flair, the opportunity to call modern legends like Drew McIntyre, Bobby Lashley, Randy Orton, Charlotte Flair and so many others alongside Corey Graves and Byron Saxton is truly humbling.”
In addition to becoming the voice of Monday Night Raw, Adnan Virk will continue his on-air host role across MLB Network’s programming this season. Additionally, he hosts The GM Shuffle podcast with Michael Lombardi on the Cadence 13 network and the popular movie podcast “Cinephile” with Meadowlark Media. Previously, Adnan worked at ESPN where he primarily covered college football and baseball. He was also a studio host for ESPN’s college football coverage and a play-by-play announcer and studio host for the network’s coverage of Major League Baseball. He has guest hosted SportsCenter, Outside the Lines, Olbermann, ESPN’s coverage of the College World Series, and Mike & Mike. Virk also hosted backstage Oscar’s coverage for ABC’s “The Oscars: All Access.”
Virk will be joined at ringside for every Monday Night Raw by analyst Corey Graves, who began his commentating career in 2014 and has distinguished himself with a unique style and opinionated insights, and analyst Byron Saxton, a veteran with more than a decade of experience behind the microphone.
Tom Phillips will become the new host of 205 Live and oversee special projects for WWE’s programming on Peacock and at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando. Phillips also remains in his role of Senior Manager, On Air Talent.
Samoa Joe remains part of the WWE talent roster.
Here’s the link to The Athletic (subscription required) article about Virk being hired by WWE. Richard Deitsch shared this excerpt on Twitter as well, which has information about the tryout process and more.
The WWE's @MichaelCole and @adnansvirk started talking in January about Virk joining @WWE as a broadcaster. Tonight, Virk will become the play by play voice of Raw. Here's how it happened.https://t.co/WPoEeKjLrY pic.twitter.com/ACXNRcsoCR
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) April 12, 2021
TJR Thoughts: I think Virk is a good broadcaster that I have been watching on TV since the mid-2000s here in Canada on The Score before he left for ESPN. We have some mutual friends too and I know he’s a huge wrestling fan, so I think his product knowledge will help.
Corey Graves moving back to Raw after being on Smackdown since October 2019 is interesting. I didn’t expect that. I wonder if his girlfriend Carmella will be moved to Raw too. Byron Saxton remaining on Raw is fine too because Graves is funny when he makes fun of Saxton.
There’s no word yet on who is replacing Corey Graves on Smackdown. They could go outside the company to bring somebody in, but maybe they go back to the well with John Bradshaw Layfield joining Michael Cole again. I’m not sure who it will be, but we will probably find out before Friday’s Smackdown broadcast.
I’m expecting Samoa Joe to return to the ring and possibly as soon as tonight. I was told a while ago that he was going to be an announcer through WrestleMania and after that, he wants to get back to wrestling. In a few years when Joe officially retires, he definitely has a future as an announcer.
I feel bad for Tom Phillips. I don’t mind him at all, but this feels like a pretty big demotion for him. Phillips has been moved around from Smackdown to NXT to Raw in recent years and now he’s onto 205 Live, which is barely on the radar of most fans.
Lastly, it’s weird how much WWE changes commentary teams. They never seem to be happy with what they have and there are always changes every year or two. More consistency would be nice.