Tom Hannifan speaks about his past WrestleMania experiences and transitioning to IMPACT.
For several months now, Tom Hannifan has been the lead commentator for IMPACT Wrestling. He began his duties with the company at the Hard To Kill event after nine years of working for WWE.
Hannifan, formerly known as ‘Tom Phillips’, was replaced on the Monday Night Raw commentary team in 2021 by Adnan Virk. The switch took place the night after WrestleMania 37. Hannifan was supposed to be on the call for that WrestleMania, but it was first reported by Wrestling Inc. that he was pulled due to “COVID protocols”.
During Hannifan’s appearance on the ‘Notsam Wrestling’ podcast, he confirmed that he tested positive for COVID the night before.
Yeah, the night before [WrestleMania 37, I tested positive for COVID-19]. Heartbreaking. That sucked, because then I —
Yeah, it was the right precaution at the moment and… awful and that happened to a lot of people. Not just… not just WrestleMania but different pay-per-views and such where it was like last minute and be like, so and so in a major match can’t go.
It was terrible because obviously, we saw where things went with the Raw team so I was like, ‘Okay, well maybe I’ll get this chance to finish things strong with Byron and Joe’ who I love and respect and really enjoy working with and that’s just not what happened so um, yeah, that really sucked.
The year prior, Hannifan was on the call for WrestleMania 36 which took place at the Performance Center. Hannifan shared that he was not thrilled with his performance during Edge and Randy Orton’s Last Man Standing match. He recalled social media not reacting positively to it and he takes responsibility for that.
Weird. Really weird [Hannifan said about being on commentary in the empty Performance Center]. Like you mentioned, soundtracks where I wasn’t really happy with it; Edge and Randy Orton at WrestleMania, wasn’t thrilled with my call and nor was the internet, so I’ll take full responsibility for that. But, it was like, all right, this is an empty building and it’s like you’re trying to lay out so you hear the guys talking and saying all the things and all the points of contact and they’re bashing into things so like, it’s just a guessing game at first and then you slowly get used to it and you understand you’ve got to ramp things up.
On night two of WrestleMania 36 on the Kickoff show, Liv Morgan went one-on-one with Natalya. Tom stated that he called that match from his home.
He explained that he wanted to put his health and the health of everyone else around him first.
Technically, the year before, I sort of did [commentate WrestleMania from my home]. Pickup lines and then the — what was it? The Kickoff show match for WrestleMania — oh God. The one that was in the PC, WrestleMania PC. I think it was Liv Morgan versus Natalya. I called it solo but I called it in my house.
When that came up, I was like, ‘All right. My health and my safety comes first’ and same thing with everybody else around me so, easy [decision].
Transitioning over to his time in IMPACT Wrestling, he spoke about the adjustment from doing WWE’s style of commentary to now having more elbow room. He recalled continuously referring to talents as ‘superstars’ and being told by IMPACT that it is fine if he calls the talent ‘wrestlers’.
It’s been an adjustment for a number of ways [WWE to IMPACT Wrestling commentary]. The funniest thing man was this past taping. We just did one in Fort Lauderdale so all those shows are gonna start rolling out. ‘No Surrender’ is February 19th in New Orleans and I was calling a match and I kept saying ‘superstar’, and I’m getting it in my ear, they’re like, ‘You don’t have to say that. You don’t have to say competitor, performer, you know, superstar. You can say wrestler’ and it’s not even like — and they’re like, ‘It’s fine, we promise.’ It’s just muscle memory at this point so I’m breaking some habits that I no longer have to adhere to and it’s discovering, ‘Okay, Tom Phillips was a –’ not actually this big character but a character on a TV show and it’s like who am I now as a performer and a broadcaster so, it’s a brave, new world.
Hannifan started off alongside D’Lo Brown, but the IMPACT commentary team currently consists of Hannifan and Matt Rehwoldt. IMPACT is moving towards their Rebellion pay-per-view which is scheduled for April 23rd.
If the quotes in this article are used, please credit Notsam Wrestling with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.