On a recent episode of Monday Night RAW, Corey Graves had some harsh words for Dana Brooke during her match with Shayna Baszler.
The RAW Commentator went on a rant about Brooke not living up to expectations. He said that at some point after waiting this long for her to break out, “you gotta cut your losses.” Brooke seemed to respond on her Instagram with a story that fired back at Graves’ commentary.
As a guest on the latest episode of the Out of Character Podcast with Ryan Satin, Graves addressed his commentary on RAW and stated that he sent a message to Brooke for saying what he said. The former NXT superstar said it was nothing personal between him and Dana, and he didn’t mean to harm her or anyone while he’s on commentary.
“99.9% of the time everybody realizes that it’s just me doing what I do and I love walking the line,” Graves said, in regard to whether or not he receives backlash from talent for his commentary. “I love being provocative, but I also make sure and try to take great care that I don’t ever harm anybody as far as from a character perspective, I always want to make people better. For the instance of the Dana Brooke issue, I actually sent her a text message the next morning saying ‘Hey, just so you know, no hard feelings, that was not personal.’ Full disclosure, I don’t know what is going to happen in these shows. I am reacting and that’s my choice.
“There have been times where I sat in the production meetings and I have an idea as to what’s what, I prefer to not know what’s happening because I like to think my reactions are a little more genuine, I get to use my whit a little better as opposed to saying hey I got this great line for so and so. William Regal actually used to instill in us back in the NXT days that commentators are a great tool for a superstar in that we can tell your story sometimes better than you can. Oftentimes if something goes wrong, I’m almost the last line of defense where I can clean things up sometimes or explain why something didn’t go so perfectly. Regal used to tell us all the time if you as a talent don’t utilize the commentators then you’re doing yourself a disservice.
“Regal would also be very open that if you don’t utilize us and you don’t talk to us and tell us what your character is attempting to accomplish in this instance, a lot of times we’re just flying blind and going to try to do what we want with it or sometimes you just try to entertain yourself. If you go out there and you don’t tell me anything and something goes wrong and maybe I’m having a bad day, maybe I just flew halfway across the earth and my brains are not as sharp as usual. Maybe I’m just in a bad mood, you never actually know what you’re going to get. There’s never any sort of malice because I would be doing myself a disservice because my job is ultimately to enhance everything. I do it in a very unique way as the “bad guy” on the show but I’m trying to achieve sympathy from the devil from the viewer’s perspective.”
Graves continued to talk about his role as a heel commentator and how many of the past heel commentators wouldn’t be able to work in today’s world. The host of the After the Bell Podcast said he falls back on what he knows as a fan and tries to be more villainous than most on commentary.
“A lot of people think in 2021 the days of the full blown heel commentator are passé and I definitely think to an extent it is,” Graves said. “Could you imagine Bobby Heenan? He wouldn’t exist in 2021. He would be fired, canceled, hard and feathered publicly just because that’s how the world has changed. I try to be a little more villainous leaning then full blown bad guy justify, always root for the bad guys, good guys are in the wrong. I try to adapt but again, I grew up on Bobby Heenan, Jesse Ventura. Some of the greatest of all time, so deep inside me that’s what I’m still a fan of. When it comes to do what I’m doing now and find myself in this role, I just fall back on what I was a fan of and maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t.”
Graves continued to talk about the criticism he receives on social media for comments he makes while on commentary, like the remarks about Dana Brooke. Graves said people think they can do his job but they really can’t, and fans don’t realize what else he has to do outside of just calling wrestling matches.
“Particularly for me, the issue I have is from an outside perspective, a lot of people think they can do my job,” Graves said. “My job is to be the snarky, smart aleck bad guy who talks about wrestling, who acts like an expert and acts like I know better than everybody else. A lot of people at home don’t realize that yes, just as much as anybody else on TV, I’m portraying a character. It’s me with the volume cranked up, but people go ‘Oh, I can be a sports commentator, I could do this, I could do that,’ you know why there’s only one Joe Buck? Because he’s the best and people can’t do what Joe Buck does across the board. There’s a lot more that goes into our jobs sitting at ringside than just talking about wrestling and being wrestling fans.”
Graves was also asked how much of his true self is in the role he plays on television each Monday. The WWE commentator spoke about how the things he says on air come from his own brain but that character on commentary isn’t who he truly is.
“I definitely think there’s an element of it,” Graves said. “I love comedy, when I try to insult something it’s never with malice. Even if it’s on television, it’s more to just get a laugh. I’m busting chops, that’s what I do. You can ask anybody that I’m friends with, that’s just my sense of humor and I like to joke around with people. Most of what I say on the air comes from my own brain and it’s in the moment.
“You’re getting a visceral reaction from time to time or even if it’s a joke, that’s what I’m thinking and sometimes it comes out and a lot of times I have to be careful to not let it come out because it can get us all in a whole bunch of trouble. I’m a lifelong fan and I’ve been in the ring and I do know most of the talent on RAW or SmackDown, I’ve come up with a lot of them and competed with a lot of them so there’s definitely an element of truth to what I do behind the character. In reality, I’m kind of introverted. I don’t like being in large crowds of people, I don’t like being the centre of attention, I’m not the show off and I’m not the one who shows up to the party and wants everyone talking about me. I’m the guy in the corner holding my drink waiting for somebody to make their way over and have some small talk. I think that’s the most drastic difference.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Out of Character with Ryan Satin with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.