WWE has a new play by play broadcaster for Raw, and it’s a name our readers should be quite familiar with.
Adnan Virk, formerly of ESPN and currently of MLB Network, is that new broadcaster. WWE announced the news on Monday, along with the note that Virk would be starting his new gig this Monday night.
WWE’s statement notes that Virk will continue his work at MLB Network. Last week, Virk’s Cinephile podcast joined the Meadowlark Media venture. He also hosts a podcast with Michael Lombardi called The GM Shuffle.
Here’s a statement from Virk, via WWE.
“I’m elated to be joining the premier sports-entertainment company in my new role with WWE,” said Adnan Virk. “As a kid who grew up idolizing WWE Hall of Famers like Bret Hart and Ric Flair, the opportunity to call modern legends like Drew McIntyre, Bobby Lashley, Randy Orton, Charlotte Flair and so many others alongside Corey Graves and Byron Saxton is truly humbling.”
Corey Graves and Byron Saxton will work alongside Virk as analysts. Tom Phillips, the former voice of Raw, will now host 205 Live and will “oversee special projects for WWE’s programming on Peacock and at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando.”
In an interview with The Athletic, Virk revealed that long-time WWE broadcaster Michael Cole reached out with interest, and that he had a tryout with Cole and WWE in February.
“Matt called me and said, ‘Do you know who Michael Cole is?’” Virk recalled in an interview with The Athletic. “I said, ‘Of course, voice of SmackDown.’ I was like, ‘These guys actually know my work?’ I was very intrigued by what they saw in me. I mean, if I could relate this conversation to a 10-year-old Adnan Virk, he would be screaming with glee.”
Cole called Virk in January to talk. That led to a Feb. 4 audition at the WWE ThunderDome at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. The process included calling two previous matches that aired on “Raw” and one “SmackDown” match off a monitor from a locker room. Virk also did in-person interviews with performers Big E and Seth Rollins. Part of the audition process included Cole tossing to Virk, who had to interview the performers with no script. WWE also interviewed a handful of other broadcasters.
I have no idea if Virk will be a good fit for this role (and I have no idea where the bar has been set in recent years for WWE), but this doesn’t appear to be a short-term thing: The Athletic’s article notes that Virk got a multi-year deal from WWE. Throwing someone from outside the pro wrestling world into the deep end with the Raw play by play gig is a bold move, and one that can pay long-term dividends if WWE lets Virk grow into the role. Here’s hoping the company doesn’t have a quick trigger finger.