Tom Hannifan’s next step in professional wrestling began this month when he joined Impact Wrestling’s broadcast team at Hard to Kill. Before this, the former Tom Phillips was a Swiss army knife for WWE, as he did everything from backstage interviews to play-by-play commentary over his ten years there.

Speaking with Chris Van Vliet, Hannifan noted he learned a lot about pro wrestling commentary from Michael Cole.

“When I hear I’ve got 10 seconds, I’m like, ‘God, that’s an eternity.’ You know what I mean? Yeah, and it just — it took me a long time, and I learned so much from Michael Cole and I really respect his style because he is largely a minimalist,” Hannifan said. “He doesn’t say gigantic or artistic phrases or anything like that. He’s not trying to write a poem or anything, he is delivering information when it has to be delivered quickly and succinctly. So that comes back to that same mentality. So honestly, when I’m told in my ear, ‘You got 10 seconds,’ I’m like, ‘eh, that’s not that bad.’ That’s a nice runway, I’m really happy about that.”

Tom Hannifan admitted he was very impatient when he started doing commentary, but Cole would always guided him when he needed it.

“While I did not have a ton of patience, he was very patient with me, but it was just to be patient and to keep working,” Hannifan said. “To not get too frustrated and give up on a circumstance. Because there were a lot of things. I would get out on a show, I would get taken off a show, moved around. It was kind of a carousel there for a while. It was just where they needed me at the time, and I was so freaking young and I just kind of thought, ‘Oh, you know, I’m going to come in here and they’re going to do all this stuff.’ I had to learn a lot. So for him to be patient with me and then to teach me patience over the year, granted, I’m still not perfect, nobody is. But I think that would be my biggest takeaway.”

Much of Cole’s teachings have rubbed off on Tom Hannifan, and fans have noticed. The new voice of Impact Wrestling has received comparisons to Michael Cole over the years, which Hannifan says is always flattering.

“I appreciate that. And that was, that was the model I had to work off of. This is, as you mentioned, the modern-day play-by-play guy for WWE. So it was like, okay, yeah, follow that path and do a lot of the same things he was doing,” Hannifan said. “I fell into a lot of habits that he executes in a broadcast. So I’d get tweets all the time, ‘Oh, you sound exactly like Michael Cole.’ Like, A, that’s sort of a compliment. But B, I understand the core of that. Your mannerisms, your phrases, your delivery can sound similar, so it’s like, ‘Great, you need to separate yourself.’ I think that’s the beauty of this opportunity now, how you mentioned it before, I can separate from Tom Phillips and be Tom Hannifan and figure out who I am as a broadcaster, which is scary but it’s really exciting.”

If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Chris Van Vliet with an h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.

Dakota Cohen contributed to this article.

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