After Adnan Virk’s departure was announced yesterday (May 25), attention turned who would replace him as the play-by-play voice of Raw.
There was much speculation and hope Tom Phillips would be summoned back from limbo (aka 205 Live) to rejoin the team on Monday nights. But multiple reports now say it will not be Phillips, but former MMA color commentator Jimmy Smith. PWInsider was among the first with the story.
Smith, best known as a member of the Bellator announce team from 2010 - 2017, has been working with NXT of late. He was the host of the TakeOver: Stand & Deliver pre-shows, and worked on the Finn Bálor/Karrion Kross “Prime Target” segment that hyped their rematch on last night’s episode.
A former pro fighter himself, this will be Smith’s first stint as a play-by-play person. Wrestling Observer reports he’s been training with Michael Cole, who’s advocated for him internally, particularly praising his versatility.
Personally, I was a big fan of Smith’s work with Bellator & UFC (he’s also worked on NBC’s American Ninja Warrior franchise), and thought he handled himself well in NXT.
We won’t have to wait long to see how he does on Raw. Word is he’ll join Corey Graves & Byron Saxton next Monday (May 31).
UPDATE: WWE made it official, and Smith’s commented on the news.
Hey guys, well it’s been a busy day . Apparently @WWE liked my work so far. I know I’m stepping into a new world (I WAS a Mr. Perfect and Bruiser Brody fanatic however) but know I’ll do everything I can to honor the athletes and fans. Watch Monday and judge my work for yourself— Jimmy Smith (@jimmysmithmma) May 26, 2021