WWE fans may not have known it, but over the past few weeks, they’ve been watching Joey Styles’ audition to become the full-time voice of Monday Night RAW – a job Styles has dreamed about for years. WWE management obviously liked what they saw, as this past Friday, the former voice of ECW had his dreams come true when he signed on to be RAW’s new play-by-play man.
WWE.com: Congratulations of the new contract, Joey. Now that you’re the official voice of RAW, what’s going through your head? Take us through your emotions right now.
WWE.com: Tell us about the specifics of the deal.
WWE.com: When did you first get the idea that being the play-by-play man for RAW could turn into a full-time job for you?
WWE.com: So is it safe to assume you gave your two-weeks notice to your employer in advertising?
Then in 2001 when ECW stopped operations in January, believe it or not, I was in conversations with Eric Bischoff about coming to work for WCW, which he was about to buy with the help of Brian Bedol, who was the gentleman that founded and built the Classic Sports Network and sold it to ESPN. It then became known as ESPN Classic. So I was going to be working for the newly-owned Eric Bischoff WCW. Then out of nowhere in March 2001, word came down that WWE was actually buying WCW because Time Warner decided they no longer wanted wrestling on their networks.
At that point, WWE was really the sole survivor of the wrestling world. I did speak with Kevin Dunn in late May 2001. I came in and did an audition. I was later offered a position, but we couldn’t come to terms on a full-time position. So I asked if I could work with the company on a part-time basis because I was still living five minutes from WWE Headquarters in Stamford at the time, which is my hometown. But at the time, WWE didn’t want any part-timers. So I just assumed my wrestling career was over. I went on to do very sporadic appearances. I only did events that involved wrestling legends or hall of famers. Other than that, I really didn’t want to do anything with wrestling. The only reason I did those was because I am such a fan of the legends that built this business.
Then after WWE bought the ECW assets, there was word that the company was going to do an ECW pay-per-view. To be honest, I never expected to get a phone call from WWE to participate in it. I understand that it was Paul Heyman that was actually pushing for me, and I thank him for that. I also thank him for giving me my break in this business and teaching me how to call wrestling matches in the beginning. Anyway, Kevin Dunn called me and it didn’t take very long for us to reach an agreement for me to call One Night Stand. Once that was over, I figured that was it. I signed a deal to be a part-timer, which basically meant I was the voice of ECW. That job entailed calling ECW pay-per-views once a year, hosting ECW DVDs and doing sporadic work for WWE 24/7.
Then for whatever reason, there was a change in the announcing on RAW, and I got another call from Kevin, which led to my audition.
WWE.com: What are your feelings on succeeding Jim Ross?
WWE.com: How do you think you’ve been received so far by Jerry Lawler, Jonathan Coachman and the RAW Superstars?
I didn’t really know how I was going to be received because I know Jerry “The King” Lawler, who by the way is a legend in this business. Some fans don’t realize this, but Jerry Lawler is a two-time World Heavyweight Champion, and I don’t think he gets enough credit. He main evented sold-out arenas for years and years. He started in 1970, so he’s been doing it for a long time. But I didn’t know how I was going to be received by The King because I know he’s very close with J.R., but he never blamed me for anything that happened with J.R.
As for the locker room area, I didn’t know how I was going to be received there either, because I had heard that sometimes ECW talents weren’t received well for whatever reason. But for some reason, I was made to feel very welcome by everybody from Day One. And of course, I did the right thing and I was very respectful to everybody I met in the WWE locker room, including and especially the veterans, who deserve to be respected. For me, it was just a thrill and an honor to meet many of the veterans in the locker room. So I have no complaints whatsoever with my experience with WWE thus far. And of course, I have to mention the catering. Had I known the food was so good, I would have signed on back in 1995.
WWE.com: Have you received any compliments or criticism about your work from WWE management?
WWE.com: Tell us about commentating Survivor Series. There’s a lot of talk on the Internet about the “shoot” comments that were thrown back and forth between the RAW and SmackDown announce teams.
When we got to the point where it was all five of us calling the Survivor Series Elimination Match, Michael Cole was assigned to do play-by-play. And I’m not a color man, so I basically only chimed in when I was upset when a RAW Superstar was eliminated or thrilled when a SmackDown Superstar was eliminated. But as far as getting in the middle of that, it wasn’t something I would have done anyway. Name calling is not my thing. There were certain points when some things were said and Michael Cole looked over at the table and just saw me just covering my face like “I can’t believe this is going on.” But I understand WWE management loved it.
I also had a blast calling the Trish Stratus vs. Melina match with Tazz. People don’t realize this, but the first time Tazz spoke on television was when he did color commentary with me in 1995 when he dropped the Tasmaniac character. That was 10 years ago and we have not been able to shut him up since. So you can blame Tazz on me.
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