The WWE's core pair of small-screen offerings are celebrating new seasons this month, although SmackDown and Monday Night Raw airing year-round blurs those lines a little. No matter, the two shows will get to shake things up with the premieres just like traditional TV shows do, as the WWE is making big moves within its commentary teams for both series. Expect to see some different faces behind the table if you’re headed to an upcoming WWE event in the near future, as departures and in-house shuffling led to the latest broadcast teams coming together.
Monday Night Raw has featured a three-man commentary time for quite some time now, but it appears that era will come to an end as the current season ends. Variety reported that while Corey Graves will retain his position on the commentary team, he will be joined by frequent Raw Talk and backstage correspondent Kevin Patrick. Meanwhile, Byron Saxton will shift away from the commentary team and to the backstage correspondence team, where he’ll be joined by returning WWE presenter Cathy Kelley, while Mike Rome will serve as the ring announcer.
As for fellow now-former Raw commentator Jimmy Smith, the former Raw commentator confirmed via Twitter his time on the program is at an end:
Just wanted to say, now that the story is officially out, that my time with the WWE is officially done. Had a lot of fun and met some great people. Really and truly blown away by the acceptance from the WWE fans! You folks make it work every week and your enthusiasm was amazing!October 6, 2022
SmackDown fans won’t have to worry about Michael Cole going anywhere, but the veteran commentator will officially have a new partner to take the place of Pat McAfee while he’s away working on College GameDay. NXT commentator Wade Barrett, once known on the main roster as Bad News Barrett during his wrestling days, will be the official co-host on SmackDown. Kayla Braxton and Megan Morant will make up the backstage correspondence team, and Samantha Irvin will be ring announcer.
With Wade Barrett making the jump to SmackDown, Vic Joseph and legendary '90’s wrestler Booker T are now the head commentary team as NXT heads into the new season. Of course, WWE fans may wonder just how long Barrett will keep that role, and when Pat McAfee will return to the commentary team. For now, McAfee is committed to College GameDay, though it was mentioned when he stepped away that he’d be welcomed back to WWE. It’s possible Barrett will just head back to NXT when that day comes, though maybe he could be set up as in a third seat for SmackDown?
The commentary shakeup is just one of many changes to the WWE product as of late, many of which are being well-received by fans. Commentary teams always take a little time to find their groove and admittedly, some commentators just end up not working out. It’ll be interesting to see how the television viewers feel about these new pairings, and if they’ll miss faces like Byron Saxton behind the commentary table. I certainly will, though I do like the idea of him potentially pestering talent backstage once again.
Monday Night Raw airs on USA Network on Mondays at 8:00 p.m. ET, and SmackDown can be viewed on Fridays on Fox at the same time. Be sure to double-check that Peacock premium subscription is up to date ahead of Saturday’s Extreme Rules pay-per-view, especially with an appearance by the mysterious White Rabbit potentially on the table.
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Mick Joest is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend with his hand in an eclectic mix of television goodness. Star Trek is his main jam, but he also regularly reports on happenings in the world of Star Trek, WWE, Doctor Who, 90 Day Fiancé, Quantum Leap, and Big Brother. He graduated from the University of Southern Indiana with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Radio and Television. He's great at hosting panels and appearing on podcasts if given the chance as well.