Former Los Angeles Lakers beat writer, future screenwriter, and currently enjoy writing about the amazing superstars & legends of the WWE!
Imagine working incredibly hard to achieve an ultimate dream of yours as you scratch and claw within a business where you have to prove your worth every single day. You're then on the cusp of living that ultimate dream, and it gets taken away from you due to circumstances beyond your control. That's a feeling I don't wish upon ANY human being in this world.
That feeling, unfortunately, was felt by Corey Graves.
The Savior of Misbehavior was doing his thing, climbing up the NXT ladder and showing the wrestling world what he was all about. However, a drastic decision had to be made after receiving multiple concussions while competing inside the squared circle. Corey had to walk away from being a professional wrestler and give up his goal of becoming a WWE Superstar. He had to walk away from the possibility of one day headlining the grand event of WrestleMania. He had to walk away from his ultimate dream...
When you're in that kind of predicament, you become unsure about what your next move is, what your distant future holds, or what you could possibly do to make this massive negative turn into a positive for yourself. Fortunately for Corey Graves though, his incredible will and determination to become an important commodity within the WWE caught the eye of a specific King of Kings, and was granted an opportunity of a lifetime.
More importantly, he was granted a second chance at a dream.
"Since I was little kid, like 3 years old, I used to watch wrestling with my dad. All I ever wanted to be was a WWE superstar. So I worked long and hard. I spent nine years on the independent circuit, traveling around the world, trying to get here--until a few years ago, WWE made my dream come true when they gave me a contract."
You would think that when you're training to become a WWE superstar, and you're giving blood, sweat, and tears into making that dream come true, getting that taken away would be a major blow to one's mental state. On the inside, maybe Corey was feeling that way for a short while. However, witnessing his transition into a color commentator was like the epitome of watching your child fall down off a bicycle, instantly getting back up, and start pedaling again like the fall didn't even phase them.
The respect that I have for Corey Graves for that is absolutely unparalleled. Although I'm obviously not 100% sure how he felt during the beginning stages of this change to his professional life, I'm sure that there's no doubt in his mind now that his journey towards the commentary desk has been a total and utter blessing.
Becoming a Prominent Color Commentator
When I personally first started to get to know Corey, it was when he became a panelist on the RAW pre-shows alongside Scott Stanford, Booker T, and David Otunga. Those guys were very entertaining to watch together, and the ongoing banter between them all completely reminded me of the Inside The NBA crew. I remember taking a liking to Corey and his eccentric "heel-like" personality. He brought a different flavor to the pre-show, which was the perfect ingredient needed to boost fans' excitement for RAW each week.
He then moved on from the pre-show and into THE show where he sat at the ultimate hot seat as the color commentator for Monday Night Raw. Now I'm not saying "hot seat" because of the allegedly frightening position of getting yelled at through the headset by the boss during live television. I'm saying it because Corey had to sit next to Michael Cole and Byron Saxton! I just KNOW how hard that was for Corey to start doing...
In all seriousness though, Graves was given the opportunity of a lifetime that not many in this world are able to have, and that's be a permanent color commentator on Monday Night Raw. When you think about all the great heel color commentators from over the years like Jerry "The King" Lawler, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, Jesse "The Body" Ventura, and John Bradshaw Layfield, knowing that you're among those WWE legends HAS to feel like an absolute honor.
Whether it's arguing with Cole about the ethics and morality of a superstar's antics, attempting to silence Saxton by screaming out the infamous "Shut up, Saxton!", or even telling a "small package" joke that makes Renee Young crack up laughing in front of the camera on live television, Graves has certainly provided the perfect kind of entertainment that a heel color commentator needs to exhibit while on the call.
Making His Mark and Doing It All.....(along with Mella and Pancake)
Over the years, Graves has delivered in whatever role the WWE has placed him into. Whether it be commentary, sit-down interviews with various superstars, giving him his own WWE Network show (Shout-out to Superstar Ink!), or even giving him the keys to say whatever he wants on a weekly WWE podcast called After The Bell, Corey ALWAYS seems to deliver. His passion for the WWE is crystal clear and he's done whatever it takes to make himself stand out as a prominent employee of the biggest wrestling company in the world.
He now even has a podcast with his better half, a.k.a the fabulous moon-walkin', trash-talkin', Princess of Staten Island herself, Carmella. The two lovebirds get to share advice with their loyal fans about dating and everyday life, and you could tell that they have such a good time doing it together. Between Mella's singing and Corey's eye-rolling while she sings, it's pure entertainment and they just make you really want to be friends with them.
I mean, what better way to spend a weekend than having a few beers with Corey while watching wrestling or a ball game, then sharing a bottle of Capo Cagna wine with Carmella while watching Friends and hanging with Pancake?
I think it's clearly safe to say that those two are easily the definition of couple goals.
Although this article won't be as perfect to Corey as an awe-inspiring Mandy Rose entrance, I hope it shows the respect I have for him to the point where he doesn't make me sit in the ever so controversial.....Electric Chair. (haha)
Corey is just a guy you want to have a beer with, make jokes and laugh with, and talk wrestling with. He's a down-to-earth dude who got to live out his ultimate dream of working for the WWE. Unfortunately, that dream currently doesn't include competing inside the ring, but I can honestly say that the WWE wouldn't be the same right now without the voice of Corey Graves calling the action at ringside. Leaving a legacy in the wrestling business is something that every man and woman who enter this business strives for, and there's zero doubt in my mind that Graves is leaving his right now.
Thank you, Corey, for the never-ending laughs on the commentary desk, for being the utmost professional on and off the camera, and for being an inspiration for those out there who truly want to believe in second chances. As the saying goes, "When one door closes, another one opens". You and your story are definitely a true testament of that. Good luck with everything you have going on right now, and everything else down the line!
© 2020 Steve Smith