Corey Graves is busy being the voice of WWE, but he’ll worry about competing in the ring if the right opportunity comes along.
Corey Graves spoke with WrestleZone’s Dominic DeAngelo at a WrestleMania 38 media event about his WWE career and how it has evolved in the ten-plus years he’s been with the company. Graves spoke about commentary initially being a vehicle to keep him under the WWE banner after he was forced to retire, but he feels like he’s grown into the role and also shared some of the people that have influenced his work.
“When I first started doing commentary, I never envisioned in a million years that I’d be at the level that I’m at now and find the success that I have. I did everything that I did as a survival mechanism because I was like, ‘how do I stay here? I want to stay in WWE, that’s my ticket.’ So, all I could draw from, initially, is from those that I was a big fan of when I was growing up, [Bobby] Heenan and [Jesse] Ventura…even ‘The King’ [Jerry Lawler] in my older years. So, when I started in NXT, I kind of had those in my back pocket but I was still finding my own footing, so, like, there’d be glimpses of that,” Graves said. “Not because I was trying to emulate them, but that was the wrestling commentary that I knew and liked.
“Since then, I’ve sort of grown and evolved and adapted to the partner I was working with and I feel like I’m a lot more diverse now and not just cracking jokes now, I just know the story a little bit better. But Heenan and Ventura were my influences and I think I’m kind of growing into my own role and I’m really a color commentator, that’s my job and that’s what I enjoy but in certain circumstances,” Graves noted, “it’s necessitated that I’ve taken on a little bit more of a play-by-play role at times. I know I’m not the best at it but the goal, at the end of the day is to avoid the ship hitting the iceberg.”
Corey Graves has been a regular on commentary for the past seven years but recently got the news that he was cleared for an in-ring return. Graves has spoken in recent months about not having a plan to wrestle, but just knowing he could is enough for him now. He’s grown into his role as a broadcaster (and has hinted in the past about possibly moonlighting on occasion ala Jerry Lawler), but reflected on being forced to retire, building off of that and now, potentially stepping back into the ring.
“I think it’s just a testament on how much life changes. That broke my soul, that was the worst news that I’ve ever been given in my life, up to that point, that I wasn’t going to be able to wrestle anymore. I dove headfirst into the commentary role and different avenues and facets of WWE, just as a commentator and there’s so many different roles that people play, everyone wears six hats here. If you’d given me the news that I was cleared just like a year later or two years later, I’m sure I would’ve been ecstatic, I would’ve been through the roof,” Graves said, “but this was something where I got bored…and I don’t mean that in a negative way. I’m just a creative person, I always like to have a new project or something else that I’m working toward or a new goal.
“I went ‘well, I’ve called all these WrestleManias, I’ve done this, I’ve called every show we have, I’ve called every Superstar’s match that can still compete… what now?’ So, it was actually after WrestleMania, last year, I got the itch a little bit, especially after seeing guys come back with injuries like Edge, Christian, even Daniel Bryan a few years prior, it was always in the back of my mind, like, ‘I gotta at least give it a shot.’ I honestly didn’t have any expectations, I figured they would say, ‘Yeah, you’re still kind of a mess’…and I got cleared. It took a few days to set in that, ‘Oh, I could do that if I wanted…’ but I’m so comfortable in this professional role as a commentator, that now it’s a matter of, the circumstances have to be right.”
Graves said that he wants his in-ring return to benefit someone besides Corey Graves, adding that he’s busy doing his current on-air job, but he’ll deal with wrestling again when the right opportunity comes along.
“Would I love to be Intercontinental Champion someday? Absolutely, that was always my dream. But realistically speaking, if I could go out there and have some new up-and-coming star kick the hell out of me, or if Brock Lesnar needs to F-5 somebody because he’s on a rampage,” Graves noted, “[Michael] Cole’s kind of outgrown that and I’m ready to step into that role. So, I’m just gonna let the chips fall where they do and it’s nice to know I have that ability should the opportunity arise, but I’m so busy doing what I’m doing right now every day, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”
Check out more of our WrestleMania week interviews below: