WWE SmackDown: Corey Graves Replaced as Lead Announcer Following New ESPN Hire

Graves will pivot back to being a color commentator.

WWE's broadcast booth continues to evolve. The global leader in sports-entertainment currently has three two-man booths across its three weekly in-ring shows, those being the pair of Michael Cole and Pat McAfee on WWE Monday Night Raw, Corey Graves and Wade Barrett on WWE SmackDown, and Vic Joseph and Booker T on WWE NXT. All six of those commentators have been within the WWE system for multiple years and have been cycled throughout the three shows, as every aforementioned name has experience on at least two of WWE's three products. The most recent pivot within the system was Graves shifting from color commentary to play-by-play, as he took over lead announcing duties on the blue brand this past January.

WWE SmackDown Broadcast Team Shifts Again

(Photo: WWE)

Just six months later, the WWE SmackDown announce table is playing musical chairs once again.

As announced in a press release, WWE has hired veteran broadcaster Joe Tessitore as a play-by-play announcer. Tessitore currently also works for ESPN and ABC where he has called ESPN Monday Night Football, the College Football Playoff, and World Championship boxing matches of Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, and Terence Crawford. 

"Whether it's a world title fight that's got the globe buzzing or a college football rivalry that's grabbed the nation's attention, Joe's voice provides that big event feel each time he is behind the microphone," WWE Chief Content Officer Paul "Triple H" Levesque said. "We're excited for Joe to join legendary WWE broadcaster Michael Cole and our esteemed announce team, bringing his signature energy and meticulous preparation to our WWE telecasts each week."

Tessitore is slated to "work alongside analysts Wade Barrett and Corey Graves." Given that he has been hired to be a play-by-play announcer, this indicates that Graves will pivot back to being a color commentator and WWE SmackDown will once again be a three-man booth. The WWE Monday Night Raw booth of Michael Cole and Pat McAfee remains unchanged.

"It's an honor to be a part of WWE.  The recent success and trajectory are undeniable," Tessitore said. "Being there at WrestleMania XL, one could feel it – from Cody, Seth, Roman and The Rock, to creative and production, these are some of the very best storytellers in TV.  Corey and Wade are absolute stars and it is my privilege to join their team. Pat and Cole are just magical together and Cole is the greatest to ever sit in that chair.  As a lifelong viewer, I'm humbled to join this team and to serve our fans."

Tessitore is set to begin with WWE later this summer.