This week on the Intelligent Wrestling Conversation podcast, Rich Bocchini - the commentator formerly known as Rich Brennan - had an extensive discussion with Billy Donnelly on his time as the voice of NXT and later SmackDown. They sent us these highlights:
"I don't necessarily know that I felt ready to jump in and do SmackDown. I think I would have preferred a little more time to kinda hone my craft a bit more at NXT. But when they give you the opportunity, what're you going to do? Say no? So I went and I did it… I'm thankful, I'm grateful I got to do it. There's very few people that can say they got to call SmackDown, and I'm one of them. It's not lost on me how many people would kill for that opportunity."
Which NXT talents he thought were underappreciated and underutilized upon their main roster call-ups:
"You can probably look at a handful of guys. You can argue about the Ascension all day. That was a team that was obviously presented as this dominant force in NXT and then you debut them and you spend whatever - 3 weeks or a month or whatever it is -doing these vignettes that the Ascension's coming. And then you put them out there and you immediately sh*t on them. I don't know what the point of that is. Why would you spend all this time building these guys up only to send them out there and make fun of them? I don't understand that… Tyler Breeze I thought they could have done more with. I guess he's doing something with Fandango now. But he's a kid… he's amazing. We saw some of the matches that he was able to pull out in NXT. He had some amazing matches. But then again, does an amazing match translate to the main roster? And a lot of times it doesn't. It's more about the character stuff up there."
The Tom Phillips tweets his wife sent out following his release from the WWE:
"I'll address that real quick. That tweet was sent to her by somebody. And to be honest with you, that was more in reference to someone else at the Performance Center than it was to me, or than it was with me… you know, if you want to say giving people a hard time or making it difficult for somebody to get ahead. There was somebody else who was at the Performance Center who was basically handcuffed from doing anything that the announcers were supposed to do at the PC, because… you know what…? To hell with it.
"Tom [Phillips] made it difficult for a friend of mine who was there. Quite honestly, my friend Alex [Del Barrio] who was hired, who was there. Now, at that point, I wasn't at the PC on a day-to-day basis but I know Alex and I know he works hard and I know he's enthusiastic and into the product and whatever. But there were certain things… for instance, when I got to the PC that I was allowed to do and that I was told to do because that was part of the learning process that, now that this guy is there, my friend is there, and he's supposed to be going through that whole process, except he's being told, 'No, you can't do this, this, this, this and this.' Then what is he supposed to do? So that had more to do with that than it did with me. But politics... that's part of it. Do I blame Tom and some of the other people involved? They wanted their guy. I wanted my guy. He won, so there you go."
In our hour-long chat, Bocchini also had a lot to say on the differences between calling action for NXT and WWE, his chemistry and relationship with Corey Graves, working with JBL, his work with FEST Wrestling and WrestleCircus and his future as a wrestling announcer, among other things.
Intelligent Wrestling Conversation can be found here on SoundCloud as well as on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Blubrry and TuneIn.