WWE.com caught up with Joey Styles to get his take on the WrestleMania announcing team from RAW and much more:
WWE.com: When WWE.com first spoke to you regarding your hiring, you said your biggest goal was to announce at WrestleMania. Now that WWE has chosen to go with Jim Ross at WrestleMania, how does that make you feel?
Joey Styles: My initial response when I was told on Monday when I arrived at the arena in Omaha was disappointment. That lasted about 30 minutes. I was told in person and I do appreciate that. Probably 30 minutes after that, my ego took over and I felt angry for about an hour. And then after real introspection, I realized I’m not where they need me to be in terms of what the position is. And I think what readers of WWE.com and fans watching at home don’t understand is what the position is: WWE doesn’t have play-by-play men. They may call it a play-by-play man, but what that position really is, is a “lead storyteller.” It’s a completely different animal than what I was trying to do.
The ironic part about this is that I was taught how to announce the play-by-play by Paul Heyman, who was taught by Jim Ross. And frankly, WWE has brought in Jim Ross himself, who is the best-ever at doing this, to train me so I can become as good as he is. And he told me that when he started with WWE, he had 20 years of play-by-play under his belt, and he had to be deprogrammed and start over again. He came in and called WrestleMania IX and then maybe another pay-per-view after that and then disappeared from television. He was calling, I believe, internationally syndicated TV working on not calling each and every move from a collar-and-elbow tie-up to a waist lock all the way through the end of the match and instead learning how to weave and tell the story. And I’m pretty much in the same situation he was in.
What I’m thankful for is that Jim has agreed to come in and in his words, “pass the torch,” so that I can learn to do what he does, hopefully, as well as he does, between him coaching me and me working as hard as I possibly can. I can tell you that in preparing for RAW this past Monday, I spent five hours with J.R. going over notes and how to set the premise of each match and the story of each segment and how it would lead into WrestleMania. And I learned more in five hours with Jim Ross than I have in my first five months here at WWE. And it was amazing.
And I have to say that WWE has been great with me. There have been times where I know Vince was extremely frustrated with what I was doing because he was expressing that frustration afterward. And despite what people may have read everywhere, he was never nasty with me or condescending or screaming or yelling. He was always very professional with me. But I could tell Kevin Dunn (Executive Producer) was frustrated because he couldn’t really show me how to build that bridge to storytelling and I didn’t know on my own how to do it. So, I don’t know how often J.R. is going to be available actually at the RAW events. And again some fans – the Internet fans – a lot of them think they know what “producing the announcers” means; they think it means feeding us every line, and that’s not the case. What a good producer does -and I thought J.R. did a wonderful job last night – probably the best job I’ve ever seen in someone producing me in terms of storytelling. He may have only given me five lines in a five-segment match. That’s it. But it was the right line at the right time. And it’s a very difficult balance to weave that story from the beginning of the segment to the end of the segment. And now with J.R., helping me, I see no reason that I’m not going to get there. I mean, with the best-ever teaching me and the fact that I’m going to work as tirelessly as possible to eventually be as good as he is – and I will not stop until I am, period.
There’s no “maybe” for me. There’s no “I hope I can be as good as J.R. is.” I don’t attack any goal that way. It’s going to be: “I’m going to be as good as J.R. is.” I don’t know how long that is going to take, but with him helping me, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t get there. Kevin Dunn told me that they are leaving me in the RAW lead announcer position because the only way I’m going to learn – the only way you can learn – is to do that show week after week.
I never understood why WWE worked so hard to not hire wrestling announcers and now I do. WWE announcers are storytellers and professional announcers need to be taught storytelling. The plus to hiring a professional wrestling announcer is we already have a passion for wrestling and we will learn the storytelling because there is nothing else in the world we’d rather do. I feel like I need to be de-programmed. When I sit at ringside it’s hard to not call every move. I feel like an addict getting the shakes with an uncontrollable urge to call the moves.
The other thing I want to do because of my relocation back to Connecticut, which will be complete the week after WrestleMania, is I’d actually like to – if they would let me – be the lead announcer on HEAT. I would actually like to come in and do lead announcing on HEAT every week with Coach and Grisham, who are currently the announcers, as color men for me, so I can continually practice the storyline premise of each match – even if we have to make up a story for each one of those matches because there’s not always a story for the HEAT match, and practice the give-and-take. That’s the problem with something like this; it’s not like learning how to shoot free throws in basketball. You can go in your driveway and practice all day. There’s no way to do this but to continually actually do it and practice it. And I can’t very well set up wrestling matches in my house and clone King and Coach to sit there and do it with me – not to mention who would do that to the world? Who would want to unleash two more of those men on the world?
So, as I said, the big picture of all of this is, I have what should be hopefully now with J.R. guiding me, not a difficult transition or lengthy transition to complete. Certainly, 12 months from now when it’s time for WrestleMania 23, I fully expect that I will by then have made the transition to quarterback the RAW announce team for WrestleMania 23. But, you know, as I said, initially like anybody else, I was very disappointed because calling WrestleMania has always been my lifelong dream. After that, my ego took over, so I was angry. But they’re sticking with me until I get this – and I’m going to get this – that I’ll call many, many WrestleManias in the future.