On Tuesday, WWE announced that they and Adnan Virk had mutually parted ways, just over a month after Virk’s hiring as the play-by-play voice for Monday Night Raw. A day later, WWE officially announced (following a previous report from Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer) the hiring of Jimmy Smith as Virk’s replacement:
WWE makes it official. MMA’s own @jimmysmithmma is the new play-by-play voice of Monday Night Raw. Congrats Jimmy! pic.twitter.com/KxtNBbJ3tq
— Marc Raimondi (@marc_raimondi) May 26, 2021
Here’s Smith’s tweet on this:
Hey guys, well it’s been a busy day?. Apparently @WWE liked my work so far. I know I’m stepping into a new world (I WAS a Mr. Perfect and Bruiser Brody fanatic however) but know I’ll do everything I can to honor the athletes and fans. Watch Monday and judge my work for yourself
— Jimmy Smith (@jimmysmithmma) May 26, 2021
Smith is a former MMA fighter (he went 5-1 in pro bouts between 2003 and 2006) and a long-time TV commentator. He started as a host of Fight Quest on Discovery, then later worked as a host for American Ninja Warrior and as a commentator for Bellator MMA bouts, Premiere Boxing Champions, the UFC and more. As that release mentions, too, he’ll continue with his daily MMA show on SiriusXM.
And what seems particularly notable here is Smith’s work on NXT. As our Phillip Bupp wrote last month, part of the challenges with getting Virk over with the audience came from starting him on such a high-profile show. After that, it seems logical for WWE to look at someone who’s already known to at least a good portion of their audience. Calling play-by-play for Raw is still a big shift from hosting NXT pre-show panels, but Smith does have a fair bit of experience in combat sports generally, and a bit of experience in WWE specifically. We’ll see how he does.
[The Wrestling Observer; photo via TJR Wrestling]