This week we learned that Adnan Virk's short and ill-fitting run as WWE Raw's lead play-by-play commentator had come to an end, as the announcer and the company had "mutually agreed to part ways". The question immediately became "who's next?", as fans pondered who could possibly rise from the shadow of Virk's monumental legacy at the WWE announce table and seize the microphone to lead Raw into the next post-Virk generation? Well, we actually got the answer pretty quickly, as WWE has announced that Jimmy Smith from the world of MMA (not Jimmy Smits from the world of Alderaan) will be Raw's new play-by-play man starting this Monday night.
So how will Jimmy Smith work better on the Raw commentary team than Adnan Virk? For starters, he has WWE experience as he has appeared several times on NXT as an analyst and pre-show personality. Now we all know that appearing on-screen and doing weekly commentary with Vince McMahon throwing a tantrum in your ears is apples and oranges, but hey, compared to Virk's zero point zero wrestling world experience prior to his landing the gig, this makes Smith look like Gordon Solie.
Also in Jimmy Smith's favor is his background in combat sports, specifically MMA and UFC. While of course there are very notable differences between WWE and MMA, there are more similarities in their presentations and this works well for commentators crossing over between the two worlds. Mauro Ranallo came from the MMA and boxing worlds and was a huge hit for NXT and WWE with fans. He naturally understood the pacing and big moments to emphasize that are present in both products and hopefully Smith can follow suit with those instincts as well. Of course, they'll have to keep JBL away from him, but that's something else to worry about.
WWE isn't leaving much up to chance this time, as Dave Meltzer has reported they have been having Smith work actively with Michael Cole and other members of WWE's announcing team to train and be prepared for his behind-the-desk debut this coming Monday. According to Meltzer's report, Cole has been very impressed with Smith and his versatility.
So will this all work out and we'll someday be mentioning Jimmy Smith alongside Jim Ross? Or will this be another backfire for WWE and they'll be forced back to the drawing board again? We shall see as the Jimmy Smith era of Raw will begin this coming Monday, as he'll take his spot on the announce team next to Corey Graves and Byron Saxton.