On a recent episode of The Wrestling Inc. Daily, Wrestling Inc. Managing Editor Nick Hausman sat down with his fellow Warrior Wrestling commentator Rich Bocchini. Bocchini is a veteran wrestling broadcaster who was the lead announcer for SmackDown and NXT as Rich Brennan. Bocchini recalled his experience in WWE and revealed what the process is like for new announcers.
“It was interesting. There is a voiceover room where I spent hours, honestly, calling the same matches over and over and over and over and over and over again,” Bocchini revealed. “Me, Corey Graves, a lot of times, Matt Bloom and Byron [Saxton] would come in. We’d have the talent come in and call a couple matches just to kind of get a feel for it. Something as simple as ‘oh, wow, I can slow down because now you have to explain something here.’ It gives you a different perspective of it, but to say that there’s somebody there coaching you all day, it’s not like that.
“It’s set up, at least when I was there, Michael Cole was able to video call in, and he can produce you through the headset and kind of work with you, but he only has so many hours in the week as well. It’s not a constant thing. A lot of it is just trial and error, and then going out there, and doing it and hoping for the best, hoping you figure it out.”
Renee Paquette, in her appearance on The Wrestling Inc. Daily, also noted there is no formal training program for commentators. Hausman asked Bocchini how hands-on Triple H was during the process.
“Well, he wasn’t super hands-on, not when I was there,” Bocchini noted. “He wasn’t at the Performance Center a ton. He was there enough, but it’s not like he was coming in calling matches with me or anything like that. He’s got a million other things that he’s doing.”
Hausman then asked Bocchini if he was ready for his role as lead announcer for SmackDown when he was called up.
“No, and I wasn’t ready for NXT because I literally just moved to Florida three days before, so no, I was not ready,” Bocchini admitted. “When they moved me to SmackDown, I was not ready at all. I even remember saying to Cole, ‘You sure you want to do this? Because I don’t feel like I’m ready yet. I feel like I could be seasoned a little bit more.’ Now that said, if he had just thrown me into the fire at NXT, I wouldn’t have progressed as quickly as I did because I had done indies but I’d never done TV, and it’s completely different.
“There’s a million guys that can call wrestling matches, but to do TV, it’s a whole other skill set. It’s a whole other thing that you have to learn. Having not done a ton of TV, I had done hockey and stuff like that but very linear, simple straightforward stuff, not throwing to a million packages, graphics and all the things that wrestling is now. That’s the tough part. The tough parts not calling matches. The tough part is managing the traffic. That’s the tough part, and that’s what takes a long time to learn, especially for, I don’t want to say as complex as their shows are, but there’s a lot of moving parts in those shows. So to be the guy that’s trying to direct that but, a lot of times, they don’t even know what’s coming next.
“You walk out of the production meeting trying to figure out, ‘hold on, we went in there. I thought I had answers going in. Now, I have more questions when I come out of this goddamn production meeting than I did going into it,’ and then you gotta get stuff signed off from Vince. So it’s 5:30 by the time anybody gets an answer, and then you’re going out there and you don’t have time to look at the run sheet that’s been updated and you still think it’s something from four hours ago. So it’s difficult. It’s not an easy thing to do.”
Bocchini continued as he discussed now former RAW commentator Adnan Virk. Bocchini discussed Virk’s short time in WWE, and he used this former WWE play-by-play commentator as an example of someone that is really good at their job but had a hard time adjusting to “the traffic.”
“I feel so bad for the new guy, Adnan Virk,” Bocchini expressed. “I’ve had other people ask me, ‘Hey, what do you think about them bringing in a guy from ESPN?’ I think somebody like that who was maybe more of an anchor, believe it or not, might be a little more suited to that role. However, to just bring somebody in, and we’ve seen it before, you cannot just take somebody and drop them into that spot. It does not work in WWE. You might be able to get away with it somewhere else.
“It doesn’t work at WWE, and I’m not saying this because he replaced me on SmackDown. They brought Mauro [Ranallo] in. Mauro is a great play-by-play guy, but he had a hard time handling traffic, and they embarrassed the s**t out of him because they put Tom Phillips as the fourth guy at the desk, which was a bulls**t thing to do. But Mauro is a great announcer. He had trouble with the traffic. Now to bring somebody in who’s never done wrestling, and Mauro is a wrestling guy, you bring in a guy, he’s never done wrestling before and you’re going to stick him in that spot on a live show without giving him months of training.
“And I don’t know, maybe he did. Maybe he spent six months calling matches with somebody, being produced in the dark. I don’t know whether he did or whether he didn’t. I hope he did. From what I’m reading, that didn’t happen. I don’t know why they always think that they can do this. It doesn’t work. I’m sure he’ll get better. He seems like he’s competent. He worked at ESPN. He’s good at what he does. It just boggles my mind sometimes when they do stuff like this.”
Warrior Wrestling presents it’s first Stadium Series show of the summer on June 5th! For more information please visit www.WarriorWrestling.net. You can follow Rich on Twitter @RichBocchini. You can find the full audio and video from Rich’s interview below: