On a recent edition of “The Kurt Angle Show” podcast, WWE broadcaster Corey Graves discussed coming up with his ring name, his transition from wrestling to commentary, and more.
You can check out some highlights from the podcast below:
On how he came up with his ring name: “Funny enough, when we used to get signed to FCW, the standard protocol was unless you had a big name from outside of WWE, which very few people did, you would have to submit lists of names that would be approved, and you could be that character’s name. I remember having a really hard time with a first name because there was just nothing that came to mind that I felt fit. I submitted the last names, Ness and Graves. And Ness was from Mike Ness from Social Distortion, and Graves was the singer of The Misfits at the time. I thought, ‘Okay, I’ll borrow one of their names.’ Much like Seth Rollins, you know he borrowed that last name.
“Corey, ironically enough, came from Bray Wyatt. In practice one day, he was singing ‘Sunglasses at Night’ by Corey Hart. I don’t know why that song was being discussed. I’m sure there was a reason at the time, but he goes, ‘There’s your name, Corey Graves.’ Personally, I hated it, but I didn’t submit anything different in time, and one of the guys that worked in the office was like, ‘Well, the office approved Corey Graves,’ and I said, ‘All right, well, I guess I’m Corey Graves,’ so here I am.”
On the transition from FCW to NXT: “It was very exciting, but it was also very uncertain. FCW versus NXT were two completely different systems, basically different worlds. FCW, we were sort of the redheaded stepchildren on this island down in Tampa, hoping that maybe one of us someday would make a couple of bucks. No one was making much money, I think we were all making 500 or 600 bucks a week, which was standard at the time but not exactly a comfortable living. You train five days a week, and you do these live events in front of 10, 20, or 30 people four or five nights a week. I remember getting there and having a conversation with Seth Rollins, who I knew from the independents at the time. I was like, ‘Dude, is this WWE? My paycheck says WWE on it, but it just doesn’t feel anything like WWE.’ You know, I grew up watching it, and I’m thinking to myself, ‘I’m in England every few weeks wrestling in front of three or 4,000 people, and now there are 26 people for our TV tapings.’ It was absolutely not glamorous.
“I think the goal when making the NXT changeover was to really overhaul the entire system, and that was sort of Paul’s baby at the time. Triple H’s baby was developmental, and he wanted to give us the best tools in the world to succeed. And boy, did we ever. There were certain holdovers. Obviously, we still had Dusty Rhodes. We still had a lot of the same familiar faces from FCW coaching-wise. So, there was a level of comfort. I know that the facility, the Performance Center, just blew away a lot of us. The first time you stepped foot, ‘Wait a minute. We have a kitchen.’ In FCW, we had a microwave, and you’d have about eight guys standing around in a semicircle waiting to heat up their food, and just seeing the Performance Center and what it became. Then there was such an influx of talent where we saw a lot more of our friends from the independents coming in, whereas FCW there was a handful of us who were the quote-unquote ‘indie guys,’ but there were a lot of outsiders. Then NXT came and it was like, ‘Okay, everyone who we felt should be here was starting to get an opportunity.’ Not everybody stuck, but it was really cool to see all these different faces that were familiar and guys you knew wanted it and wanted to be there and cared about the business.”
On whether he was confident WWE would find a spot for him after being forced into in-ring retirement: “No. I wasn’t saying no to anything that was thrown my way at the time. So, while I was learning commentary, I was again learning all these different aspects of the business and TV production. I was like a sponge, and I would just sit down and I would ask people questions. Hell, I didn’t know. As far as I was concerned, I would have been lighting backstage as long as it meant I could stay in WWE. That was how I looked at this. It was almost desperation. As long as I have a paycheck to feed my kids, if I could do it under the WWE banner, that’d be even better.
“But as far as commentary goes, I never had any sort of confidence that I would ever make it to Raw or SmackDown. I remember getting actually to the point where in NXT, I was frustrated because I went, ‘This is as good as I’m going to get here. I need to work with a Michael Cole or a Jerry Lawler or whoever that may be’ because ask Kurt, the only way in this business you get better is to work with someone better than you are. And I felt like I was treading water. But again, at the end of the day I was still getting a paycheck so that was okay. And I remember thinking, ‘God, let me just give me a chance, give me a shot at Raw, let me do SmackDown once, let me fill in for somebody, I’ll set the world on fire.’ And it has since been relayed to me several years down the line that they knew I was ready back then, and they said they’d rather I’d be a little bit overprepared than to come up and underperform. Which now, I’m grateful for. At the time, I wanted to swing at anybody who told me no, but now I’m grateful it worked out that way.”
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Corey Graves, the popular WWE broadcaster, recently appeared on “The Kurt Angle Show” podcast to discuss various aspects of his career. In the podcast, Graves talked about how he came up with his ring name, his transition from wrestling to commentary, and his journey in WWE.
One interesting aspect that Graves discussed was how he came up with his ring name. He revealed that when he was signed to FCW (Florida Championship Wrestling), the standard protocol was to submit lists of names that would be approved by WWE. As Graves struggled to come up with a suitable first name, he submitted the last names “Ness” and “Graves.” The name “Ness” was inspired by Mike Ness from Social Distortion, and “Graves” was taken from the singer of The Misfits at the time. Graves also mentioned that his first name, Corey, was suggested by Bray Wyatt during a practice session. Although Graves initially disliked the name, he ended up sticking with it.
Graves also discussed his transition from FCW to NXT, which he described as exciting but uncertain. He explained that FCW was a smaller promotion where wrestlers trained and performed in front of small crowds. However, when NXT was introduced, it brought significant changes to the developmental system. The Performance Center, which provided state-of-the-art facilities, impressed Graves and his fellow wrestlers. The influx of talent from the independent circuit also made NXT an exciting place to be.
When asked if he was confident that WWE would find a spot for him after being forced into in-ring retirement due to injury, Graves admitted that he had no confidence at the time. He was willing to do anything to stay in WWE, even if it meant working backstage or doing other roles. However, Graves never expected to make it to Raw or SmackDown as a commentator. He expressed frustration in NXT because he felt he needed to work with someone more experienced to improve. Eventually, he got the opportunity and has since become a prominent commentator in WWE.
Graves’ journey from wrestler to commentator highlights the importance of adaptability and embracing new opportunities in the wrestling industry. Despite facing uncertainty and initial doubts, Graves persevered and found success in his new role. His story serves as an inspiration to aspiring wrestlers and commentators who may face similar challenges in their careers.
Overall, Corey Graves’ appearance on “The Kurt Angle Show” podcast provided valuable insights into his career and shed light on the behind-the-scenes aspects of WWE. It showcased the determination and resilience required to succeed in the ever-changing world of professional wrestling.