Justin Roberts Talks Creating Kenny Omega’s Ring Introduction

On a recent episode of the AEW Unrestricted podcast, Aubrey Edwards and Tony Schiavone sat down with ring announcer Justin Roberts. Throughout the podcast, Roberts discussed the "art" of ring announcing, and he recalled which moment in his career defines him as a ring announcer.

"I think people assume that I go out there and say names, that any ring announcer goes out there and and says names, that you got an easy job, you go out there and you just say people's names," Roberts said. "There's a real art to ring announcing. Sometimes it is about the art. Sometimes it is about just having a good voice or a good look. For me, it's never been about that. It's always been about the art. For me, with the art of ring announcing, I want to make people feel something with an introduction.

"The announcement that defines me more than anything as an announcer took place after Dynamite went off the air, pre-pandemic. We pulled two guys out of the crowd, a guy with the Scooby Doo costume and a guy dressed as Jesus. We're just messing around. The EVPs used to come out after the show, and we just do random stuff after Dynamite went off the air and it was fun. Every night, we never knew what was going to happen, nothing was ever planned, just roll with the punches. We have Jesus and Scooby Doo in the ring.

"We have QT [Marshall] and Brandon Cutler, who were both good guys at the time, and we had a match between the four of them, QT and Brandon against Scooby Doo and Jesus. I made the announcement of the match. I made QT and Brandon Cutler, who are good guys, out to be bad guys, with the tone of my voice. They never did anything wrong, but just with the tone of my voice, I was able to get the entire arena to boo them and to cheer these two fans who came out from the crowd. You got the crowd to go down and to come up and to boo and to cheer, and that's the magic of ring announcing. If you have the art, you're able to do that. Just with the inflection, you could lead them to cheer, lead them to boo, but that's the art of ring announcing."

Roberts is known for many iconic ring announcements, most notably for AEW World Champion Kenny Omega. Roberts discusses the process of working on the ring entrance.

"Kenny had come to me when we first started doing that, and he talked about making a North Carolina reference in there," Roberts revealed. "I don't remember what I said the first time we did it. As a kid from Chicago, I grew up watching the Chicago Bulls, and I had it in my head when they were doing the Bulls introductions for Michael Jordan and North Carolina. I didn't want to go back and watch Ray Clay do that because I didn't want to do it how he actually did it.

"I just wanted to have the idea of how I remembered him all these years later doing it and also make it my own, Kenny's own, for North Carolina for Kenny. I had that as the inspiration in the back of my mind, and then I just kind of took it a little bit too far, and got carried away and made it into a much bigger. North Carolina, it started getting over, so why not run with it? And I would just make references. There's a Rush Fitness. That's where I used to train when I would do shows in North Carolina. Kenny once went for something, the Rush Fitness and North Carolina (Roberts says it in his ring announcing inflection).

"If we're gonna say he's from Winnipeg, I couldn't sing, so I would just find a way to put North Carolina. Once, he once ate at the IHOP in North Carolina (Roberts sings that part). It just got more and more ridiculous. Alex Marvez, a wind beneath my wings, would come up with all of these facts about Kenny. It was a big collaboration. He would give me the facts. I would go through and kind of make it my own take from that, what I thought would give it a good flow, run it by Kenny, get Kenny's take on it and then off to the races."

If you use any quotes from this article, please credit AEW Unrestricted with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.