Appearing on Oral Sessions with Renee Paquette recently, NXT commentator Beth Phoenix talked about working as a color commentator for WWE’s yellow brand. Phoenix recently tweeted out about how much fun she’s having at the booth and explained the reasoning behind the tweet.
“I mean that statement in that I feel super excited to have found the two co-workers that I jive with really well,” Phoenix said. “This is not taking away from anyone else I ever worked with. Mauro (Ranallo), Nigel (McGuinness), Tom Phillips, I have great experiences and learned so much from everybody. Including you Renee, we had lots of fun. I learned so much. And what I know is wrestling. I liken this a lot to wrestling. And I feel like, when you’re wrestling in the beginning, you take a little something from each opponent. Like ‘oh I like the way they did that.’ Or ‘I learned a lot from that moment and having to think on my feet.’ So I’ve taken so much from getting to work with the best of the best. So being at the point now where also I feel I know the product so well, which is huge for me. Coming into NXT, it’s such a fast paced product. And I’m a kid of the 80’s and 90’s and I’m watching slower paced matches, slower paced style. When I started, I came home to Adam and I was crying. I was like ‘man I can’t keep up. I’m too old for this. I can’t do it.’ And he was like ‘you just don’t know it. And they don’t know you.’ And also all the feedback was so toxically bad. And like, you know ‘you suck.’
“I had to block it out. I remember texting you about it too at times and being like ‘I can’t do this.’ And if you don’t believe in yourself, then you definitely can’t do it. Sometimes when the whole world doesn’t believe in you, you’ve got to be the one who does, to keep going forward. I think that Michael Cole, I’ll give him the credit on this, he said ‘what you need was reps.’ When the feedback was ‘you suck’, I would just tell myself ‘Cole says you just need reps. Reps, reps, reps.’ So every time I was going to work, I was looking at it like when I was putting time in the gym. ‘Beth, you’re not going to get a body overnight. You’re not going to break your bench press overnight. You’ve got to put in your reps.’ And so like, that’s how I had to look at it when I wanted to cry and wanted to quit. I was believing all the hate! I had to be like ‘you go in there, you do your workout and you’re going to break your bench press record.’ And I put out that tweet the other day because I just had fun at the desk. And I told Vic this and I told Stu this. I had fun and I’ve been waiting for that. I’ve been waiting for the moment where I can sit down and the red light’s on and I’m not a deer in the headlights and terrified about what I’m going to say. I just had fun because I felt safe with two people that elevate me and I have great people on the headset that elevate me. We just had fun.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic Phoenix provided color commentary remotely from her home. Part of that was because she lived in a state under lockdown (North Carolina), but according to Phoenix there were several other factors involved. She also detailed how her commentary was done on delay, and praised the announcers she worked with for their work with her.
“It was a village of people. It was a village,” Phoenix said. “So what happened was over the summer, Adam had the Greatest Wrestling Match ever. And my mom has a heard condition, she had a triple heart bypass, she’s like super high risk. And the news is saying the world is ending and we’re like ‘what is going on?’ So we had discussions, I think they were working and talking with all talent and like ‘who’s comfortable with doing what?’ And in my situation I was like ‘I’m stuck guys. Adam’s hurt, he just had his surgery. My kids aren’t in school, my kids are remote schooling. And I can’t get COVID because my mom lives alone and I help her.’ So I was like, I was in a situation where I was like ‘maybe I have to quit.’ I said to them, I said ‘if you have to replace me I completely understand but I’m stock. I need to take care of my husband. He needs my help, my kids need me and my mom needs me. And Michael Cole and Hunter said ‘we’re going to come up with something.’ They got with tech and tech got with me. And you know me, I can barely operate a cell phone. It’s magic that I can click a link to get on Zoom.
“And somehow with an army of WWE masterminds, we were able to set up a remote commentary station, and they did so for Mauro as well. Because of travel restrictions. And North Carolina was locked down, I couldn’t even get there if I wanted to. And then we did this progressively throughout the rest of the summer and the fall through Christmas. And we were able to get my mother vaccinated in that time, before I went back to work. She was in the first or second high risk group. We got her vaccinated and Adam was healed, so he didn’t need my help anymore. And my kids returned to school. So my life, I was in a position where I could travel again and expose myself to risk, because all my personal ducks were back in a row. I’ve said this to everybody individually, but I have absolute gratitude and loyalty to NXT, to Hunter, to Cole, to everybody that made that made that happen and how hard it was to work with me. Because they had to put the other commentators on delay. I was about .8’s of a second, in order to match me, because it was done through Wi-Fi. So they would be one, two, three in the ring, you know how fast everything moves, one, two three! They’d have to call it and then see it on the screen half a second later. Replays, everything was off. To the guys who were sitting at the desk, they were so good that they were working on a delay, to operate in synch with me. It was unbelievable.”
Going away from commentary, Paquette asked Phoenix what she’d like to see from women’s wrestling going forward. Phoenix echoed a similar sentiment to that of former WWE star Mickie James.
“I feel like something that I hear often from fans, and the chatter amongst the women, I feel there is room now and the chatter amongst the women, I think there is room now, and we’ve educated our audiences to see the women as stars, you might be able to do a weekly women’s show,” Phoenix said. “And no offense to GLOW or previous all women’s shows, but it wouldn’t be so much gimmick, it would be wrestling. And I think you could have characters and interactions and personality, but you wouldn’t have to have entirely gimmicky, flowery angles and a cam cam line at the end. You could have entertainment and wrestling.
“We have a need for content, a hunger and thirst for content like never before. We have wrestling every day of the week, between Impact, AEW and us. There’s so much wrestling, I feel like a women’s show would be successful because consumers are asking for it. I don’t know what that looks like, I don’t know what side of the pond would be willing to do something like that, but I think that would open up a lot of doors, also for women who aren’t working for one of the big TV companies. They could have a place like ‘hey I can come in and have a match with one of our big stars.’ You can get some newer faces featured and get more opportunities.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Oral Sessions with Renee Paquette and provide a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription