Jimmy Smith recaps his time with WWE.
Earlier today, WWE confirmed changes and additions to their broadcast teams for Raw, NXT and SmackDown. Jimmy Smith is no longer the head announcer for Monday Night Raw and that three-person team is transitioning into a two-person booth with Kevin Patrick and Corey Graves.
Jimmy Smith would later go on to announce that he is no longer with WWE. Smith went live on SiriusXM for his ‘Unlocking the Cage’ show and spoke about his time with WWE. He shared that this past Monday before Raw, it was hinted to him that he would no longer be calling the action for the company.
After Smith went to chat with Matt Riddle about the forthcoming Fight Pit match, he approached Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque about a line he heard from Riddle that they could use on TV. Levesque told Smith to pass the note to Michael Cole. Smith would have been calling the Fight Pit as a member of the Raw commentary team and quickly put two and two together that he would likely not be calling the match or be with WWE. It was confirmed today that Cole and Graves are the duo for major live events.
Triple H accidentally told me before the show Monday. He screwed up and told me [about the commentary changes]. He didn’t mean to. I’ll explain in a second. What happened was I was doing my prep for the show and we had a production meeting and on-air, Seth Rollins had cut a promo saying, ‘Hey, D.C. hates Riddle just as much as I do’ and so everybody in the production meeting turns to me and goes, ‘What did he mean? Do they have some kind of personal problem?’ Because I’m the MMA guy, right? And I said, ‘Well, Riddle’s been critical of fighter pay of the UFC and Daniel Cormier’s kind of considered a company guy’ so I go, ‘That could be what he’s talking about. That’s the only thing I could think of’ and so anyway, before the show, I go up to Riddle and I go, ‘Do you and D.C. have any kind of beef or problem?’ And he goes, ‘No, no, no! We’re cool.’ He goes, ‘He might be upset that I out-wrestled Jon Jones and he couldn’t,’ meaning he beat — the famous photo of Riddle first place on the podium at State and whatever place Jon Jones was. He beat Jon Jones wrestling twice in New York, whatever. So he goes, ‘Hey, he might be mad I out-wrestled Jon Jones twice.’ I go, ‘Oh man, that’s a good line. Gotta use that.’ So I go to Triple H. Triple H standing there, I go, ‘Hey, I just talked to Riddle and he gave me this line about how he out-wrestled Jon Jones twice’ and Triple H goes, ‘Okay, cool. Give that note to Cole’ and I went, why would I have to give that note to Cole if I’m calling the match on Saturday? Oh. I’m not calling the match on Saturday. Oh, I’m probably fired. In about two seconds, my brain went, that’s so — okay… and I was like, all right. So I knew basically the whole show on Monday night that I wasn’t coming back so when I got the call Tuesday, I was not particularly surprised.
He went on to speak about the differences between his exit from WWE and leaving UFC in 2018. Smith said the UFC departure was devastating because he was not sure if he’d find work in the same space again.
With his WWE departure, he is still employed by SiriusXM and ESPN and said he is not in the same position he was in when he departed UFC.
The few things that are different from the UFC, leaving the UFC was existentially devastating. I had no idea if I’d work again, I didn’t know if there were any jobs out there for me. It was financially crushing for me, I lost almost everything I owned and all this stuff and blah, blah, blah. You’re listening to my voice which means, you know, I still work for SiriusXM, I still work for ESPN. I lost one out of my three jobs. Was it a big job? Yes. But I’m not in the position I was in 2018 when I had to face professional ruin. I didn’t expect to be doing this.
Earlier in the show, Jimmy shared that he was formally told about the commentary changes on Tuesday. He discussed what it was like for him to deal with the feeling of knowing all week and then seeing the public’s reaction to it. He said he’s received an abundance of messages and phone calls and he appreciates them all.
I’m laughing about our opening segment being about me which is weird. I have never gotten used to articles about myself or anything like that. I’m not that kind of famous. So it’s always weird when it’s a news story and it’s about me, it’s kind of surreal. I am no longer with the WWE. It was broken by Variety today. I knew about it Tuesday, right before the show actually, ironically enough but I carried through, got through the show… I’m not gonna be doing Extreme Rules this Saturday, I will not be on Raw ever again. My time with the WWE is up… So I’m in a weird position where I have to comment about myself. Like I said, I knew Tuesday and the story broke today and it’s always weird because it’s the second time I’ve kind of been in this position. Obviously, the UFC and then with WWE and there’s always that second wave of you find something out, however you find it out, something happens and then the story breaks and it’s like, oh my and then you get everybody’s reaction to it because obviously I’m not gonna spill the beans until the story comes out. I’m not gonna do that. Just not that kind of person. Anyway, so today, I’m dealing with the fallout so my phone is just constantly going off in a good way. People going, ‘I really appreciate you dude. You were great.’ Some of the wrestlers I made connections with while working, I’ve spoken to them today and it’s just been an interesting day.
Although he is no longer with the company, Smith stated that he feels fine. He expressed that he never expected to be in WWE and everything came out of the blue much like his departure.
He talked about diving back into wrestling after not watching it consistently since 1990. When Smith looks back on the ride, he said it feels like a dream and reiterated that he did not expect to be there at all.
The number one question I’m getting is, ‘How are you doing? Oh my God, are you okay? Is everything all right? Are you freaking out?’ A few things that I wanna lay out, number one, had a great time doing the WWE. It was a ton of fun, it was once again, working for the circus. It was bizarre, it was weird, I learned a lot in a very unique way in the most stressful environment possible. I’d done play-by-play for the first time which I’d never really done before I had done it at TITAN [FC] here in Miami but, you know, local show’s pretty easy.
Here I am doing it in an environment that is completely absurd and insane, absurd. They kept things surprises so I’m sitting out there and suddenly somebody comes out and I’m going, okay, wow. This isn’t anywhere. No one told me this and you got to deal with all kinds of stuff and everything’s last minute and it’s bizarre and weird and people destroy your commentary table and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It was like the most chaotic possible environment to learn and pick up a new skill which is play-by-play and then picking up the history of the last 30 years of professional wrestling. I stopped watching when Hulk Hogan took on The Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania, what was that? Five? Five? Six? I don’t remember. Anyway, my point is I stopped watching this stuff when I was 12. I didn’t watch it again ‘till last year so, it was this idea of catching up and doing all this stuff and it was crazy and frenetic and now I’m not doing it anymore. So, when people say, ‘Is everything okay? Are you all right?’ I didn’t expect to do this at all, at all. I had no idea that I would be doing professional wrestling at all. This call came out of the blue, the audition came out of the blue, getting on Raw came out of the blue and me leaving is out of the blue. So, I didn’t expect any of this so to then lose it and everybody’s asking, I’m fine. I didn’t expect to be there at all. This is all kind of a goof. It all feels almost like a dream when I look back on it. Like did I call WrestleMania? That’s weird. Yeah, I did, I did. I called WrestleMania. That’s insane.
The new broadcast teams go into effect beginning on 10/7 which is the season premiere of Friday Night SmackDown. Wade Barrett is moving from NXT to SmackDown to commentate alongside Michael Cole.
If the quotes in this article are used, please credit ‘Unlocking the Cage’ with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.