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ESPN Star Reveals Big Career Move

ESPN Star Reveals Big Career Move

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WWE continues to reshape its presentation to mirror traditional sports, and part of this strategy includes adding renowned voices from the sports industry.

One significant addition is Joe Tessitore, a seasoned play-by-play commentator from ESPN. According to the New York Post‘s Ryan Glasspiegel, Tessitore will join WWE’s commentary team while maintaining his roles with ESPN and ABC, where he covers college football and Top Rank boxing.

The plan suggests Tessitore will work alongside color commentators Corey Graves and Wade Barrett, indicating he might feature prominently on SmackDown. However, this raises questions about potential scheduling conflicts with his college football duties on Fridays. Graves and Barrett currently call ScackDown, whereas Michael Cole and Pat McAfee have been the voices of Raw since January.

Tessitore’s hiring is part of WWE’s broader strategy under President Nick Khan, who has a background as a sports media agent. WWE’s shift towards a more sports-like presentation includes bringing in personalities like Pat McAfee, who not only commentates but occasionally wrestles, and former ESPN executive Lee Fitting, who oversees production. Additionally, TNT Sports NHL reporter Jackie Redmond serves as a backstage interviewer for Raw.

Significantly, Tessitore was Khan’s first sports media client in Khan’s previous career. This connection likely influenced Tessitore’s transition to WWE.

WWE’s new presentation has been well-received by fans, but not all sports world crossovers have been successful. For example, Adnan Virk, a former ESPN and current MLB Network and DAZN broadcaster, had a brief and not well-received stint as the lead commentator for Raw in 2021, lasting only six weeks.

After Virk’s departure, WWE brought in Jimmy Smith from UFC and Bellator to lead Raw. Smith stayed until October 2022, when he was replaced by Kevin Patrick, who was then succeeded by Michael Cole in August 2023.

These hires highlight WWE’s interest in commentators with sports backgrounds. Tessitore’s transition will be watched closely to see if he can navigate the differences between conventional sports broadcasting and pro wrestling more successfully than some of his predecessors. While pro wrestling shares many elements with sports, distinct nuances can challenge even the most experienced commentators.

Source: New York Post