WWE shakes up announce teams with Corey Graves joining SmackDown Live
Graves will be pulling double duty on WWE's two biggest brands
WWE's top announcing teams are undergoing a bit of a facelift.
Two days after John "Bradshaw" Layfield announced he was stepping back from his weekly role as an analyst on SmackDown Live in order to focus full-time on his role working with children as a Beyond Sport Global Ambassador, WWE announced Monday that Corey Graves will take his spot.
Graves, 33, who is currently an color commentator on Raw, will pull double duty on WWE's two biggest brands. To help ease Graves' burden, WWE announced that NXT analyst Nigel McGuinness will replace him on both 205 Live and Main Event.
A native of Pittsburgh, Graves saw his in-ring career come to an end with NXT in 2014 due to multiple concussions. He soon moved behind the microphone and made an instant impact, rising from pre-show duties to NXT and then the main roster.
Graves' most memorable catchphrase as an announcer just might be the emotion he puts behind yelling former NXT champion Shinsuke Nakamura's finishing move, a running knee called Kinshasha. By moving to SmackDown, Graves will now get a second chance to reunite with the Japanese star.
Layfield, 50, known affectionately as JBL, plans to continue his 20-year relationship working with WWE but in a reduced role, focusing on big events like WrestleMania and Tribute to the Troops.
"After much consideration, I will be stepping back my weekly role as Smackdown announcer to dedicate more continuous time on the work I have done since 2010 with at risk kids and communities," Layfield said. "My new schedule will allow me to continue to be a part of the WWE family and also continue my work that I feel is the most important thing in my life."
A full-time resident of Bermuda, Layfield has spent most of his free time away from WWE in recent years working on his foundation, Beyond Rugby Bermuda, which helps at-risk teens find purpose through sports.
"I'm proud to say that in addition to being Smackdown's longest reigning WWE Champion, I inspired WWE's Tribute to the Troops over 10 years ago," Layfield said. "WWE has been my partner in all my philanthropic works and this new deal with WWE ensures that will continue. WWE has made my dreams come true and helped me become a global name. And now, WWE is helping me use that name to make a difference."
Layfield, who has been a public supporter of Graves through their work together on the WWE Network show "Bring it to the Table," tweeted out praise for his replacement.
Graves works with Michael Cole and Booker T. on Raw but will now also join incumbent announcers Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton on SmackDown.
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