Ahead of SmackDown and Raw's season premieres, WWE has announced a major shakeup to its commentary teams.
It was announced via Variety on Thursday that new WWE commentary teams will take effect starting with this Friday's season premiere episode of SmackDown. The teams are as follows:
- SmackDown: Michael Cole and Wade Barrett
- Raw: Kevin Patrick and Corey Graves
- NXT: Vic Joseph and Booker T
- PPVs: Michael Cole and Corey Graves
WWE's announcement states that Pat McAfee "will return to the WWE announce booth following his commitments to ESPN's College GameDay." Last month, McAfee revealed that his role commentating SmackDown was on hold due to joining College GameDay. McAfee said he would still remain part of the WWE family.
Wade Barrett is moving to SmackDown after having done color commentary for NXT since August 2020.
Kevin Patrick signed with WWE in March 2021 and has previously done commentary for Main Event, been a backstage interviewer, and hosted WWE post-shows.
After the shakeup was announced, Jimmy Smith posted a tweet confirming that his time with WWE has come to an end. Smith joined WWE as the play-by-play announcer for Raw in May 2021.
"Just wanted to say, now that the story is officially out, that my time with the WWE is officially done," Smith tweeted. "Had a lot of fun and met some great people. Really and truly blown away by the acceptance from the WWE fans! You folks make it work every week and your enthusiasm was amazing!"
Cathy Kelley, who had departed WWE in February 2020, is returning to the company as a backstage interviewer for Raw. Byron Saxton will also conduct backstage interviews on Raw. Saxton had been part of the show's commentary team prior to Thursday's shakeup.
Kayla Braxton and Megan Morant will be SmackDown's backstage interviewers. McKenzie Mitchell will be the backstage interviewer for NXT.
Samantha Irvin (SmackDown), Mike Rome (Raw), and Alicia Taylor (NXT) will remain in their ring announcing roles.