Ranking the Best Announcers in WWE and AEW Today

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistJune 8, 2021

Ranking the Best Announcers in WWE and AEW Today

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    Jimmy Smith has already proved to be a fine fit with the Raw commentary team.
    Jimmy Smith has already proved to be a fine fit with the Raw commentary team.Credit: WWE.com

    Wrestling announcing is no easy feat, especially when commentators come and go on the regular—more so in WWE than All Elite Wrestling.

    Raw in particular has seen a change at the announce table every few months for the last two years. Once Michael Cole returned to being the voice of SmackDown in October 2019, the red brand went through a lengthy transitional period where, other than Byron Saxton, no one seemed to last.

    Vic Joseph, Dio Maddin, Jerry Lawler, Tom Phillips, Samoa Joe and Adnan Virk were all behind the booth at one point or another on the flagship show before being phased out for whatever reason. Despite some of them finding their footing in the role, they apparently weren't what Vince McMahon was looking for. 

    Jimmy Smith was officially introduced as the play-by-play replacement for Virk on the May 31 edition of Raw. Thanks to his knowledge of the product and genuine enthusiasm for what he's calling, he's already off to a strong start and will hopefully have a bright future ahead of him if he can stay the course.

    On the other hand, AEW's turnover rate is nearly nonexistent as they've managed to maintain the same commentary team on Dynamite almost since the beginning. Jim Ross' announcing can be questionable at times but is still strong when it needs to be, while Tony Schiavone, Excalibur, Taz and Paul Wight all do an excellent job on various shows for the company.

    Fans may think quality commentators are hard to come by in today's wrestling landscape, but these seven announcers are arguably the best at their craft right now in their respective companies.

7. Corey Graves

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    It should come as no surprise that someone who was such a natural talker while wrestling has excelled as an announcer in WWE.

    Corey Graves was primed to be one of NXT's top stars before a series of concussions ended his career in 2014. However, he wasted no time in transitioning to an announcer role at TakeOver: R Evolution and showing promise on his debut.

    After a lengthy stint on the black-and-gold brand where he developed a real knack for commentating, he was called up to Raw just in time for the return of the brand extension in July 2016. He was the fresh voice the flagship show needed for WWE's "New Era," and he fit right in alongside Michael Cole and Byron Saxton.

    His work behind the booth and elsewhere on WWE's social media platforms was so well-received that he eventually pulled double duty between Raw and SmackDown in 2017. Although he morphed into a great heel commentator in the same vein as Jerry Lawler and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan (but not quite, of course), his overexposure on both brands ended up backfiring a bit and caused some fans to sour on him.

    Otherwise, the 37-year-old has been the ideal announcer for WWE over the last five years and has been with Raw exclusively since April. His tendency to be overbearing at times is why he is lower on this list, but he's good enough that the Raw booth would undoubtedly be worse off without him.

6. Excalibur

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    Excalibur isn't for everyone, but his vast knowledge of pro wrestling (likely more than everyone else on this list combined) makes him a must in the conversation for WWE and AEW's best commentators.

    Fans who are only familiar with him from his recent AEW stint may not know he was one of the original six founders of Pro Wrestling Guerrilla in 2003. He wrestled for a few years before becoming the lead play-by-play commentator for the promotion in 2007.

    After calling All In in September 2018, it was clear the 40-year-old would be the voice of AEW when it got up and running in early 2019. The company was a collection of some of the finest athletes from across the independent scene and no one knew their backgrounds better than Excalibur.

    It took some time for him to jell with Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone, but they've largely worked well together on Dynamite, with each of them bringing something different to the table. Excalibur tends to do most of the talking for the trio, knows the name of every move and is able to introduce viewers to certain wrestlers they aren't already aware of.

    Above all else, he's a fresh face and voice when it comes to major wrestling promotions. Jim Ross will forever be associated with his WWE work while Tony Schiavone made his name in Jim Crockett Promotions and WCW, making Excalibur an AEW "homegrown" talent so to speak.

    The company can always count on him being behind the booth long after good ole J.R. and Schiavone decide to call it a career, with his unmistakable mask helping him stand out among everyone else.

5. Wade Barrett

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    Wade Barrett being back in WWE as a commentator has been nothing but good news for fans.

    Following a decorated run with WWE that saw him hold the Intercontinental Championship on five separate occasions, he departed the company on his own terms in May 2016. Instead of wrestling for another promotion, he instead explored acting and other ventures before returning to the sports-entertainment industry as an on-air authority figure and later an announcer.

    His most notable commentating stint pre-NXT was with the National Wrestling Alliance, replacing Jim Cornette as its color commentator in December 2019. He was a breath of fresh air behind the booth and was one of the best parts of Powerrr before the NWA was forced to cease production due to the pandemic last year.

    Mauro Ranallo's departure from NXT last summer paved the way for the Briton to return to the show he debuted on in 2010. He and Vic Joseph had chemistry as a commentary duo straight out of the gate and were eventually joined by Beth Phoenix.

    Being a former wrestler, Barrett brings a wealth of in-ring experience to his announcing. He's also genuinely invested in the product and sounds excited every time he's heard behind the booth.

    A return to the ring at some point, if only for a one-off, would be fun, but Barrett has found his calling as a commentator and should stick with it for the long term.

4. Pat McAfee

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    Considering he's been involved with broadcasting for the better part of the last decade, Pat McAfee eventually becoming a commentator for WWE when he originally signed on as an analyst in 2018 should have been a no-brainer.

    The former NFL All-Pro punter wrapped up his football career in 2016 and, with his unparalleled charisma and boisterous personality, found immediate success as a broadcaster and podcaster. He's hosted The Pat McAfee Show across DAZN, Westwood One and Sirius XM radio, all while working for Fox Sports and ESPN as an analyst.

    The WWE Universe was initially introduced to the 34-year-old in 2018 when he was a regular member of the pre-show panel for NXT TakeOver events. He ended up wrestling for the brand briefly in the second half of 2020 before being named color commentator for SmackDown alongside Michael Cole after WrestleMania 37.

    In one night, McAfee proved the announcers' table was where he belonged. Cole's commentary can be polarizing at times, but his new analyst has done a delightful job of bringing the best out of him and adding some additional energy to the blue brand.

    It's only been two months since he joined the commentary team on Friday nights, so there's still time for him to be even better than he is now. That said, he's exceeded all expectations so far and has been a breath of fresh air.

3. Taz

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    Taz has been a staple behind the booth for almost two decades and continues to be a blast to listen to every week on AEW programming.

    After quietly retiring from in-ring competition in the early 2000s, Taz transitioned into an announcer role and called many memorable moments on SmackDown from 2002-06. He spent some time on the revamped ECW and again on the blue brand before leaving WWE when his contract expired in 2009.

    Taz's commentary work in TNA (now Impact) for the next six years was largely uninspiring, likely due to the content he was calling and his lack of chemistry with Mike Tenay.

    The former ECW champion flew under the radar following his departure from the company and didn't appear to be considered for a commentary position on Dynamite until making a few appearances for Dark in late 2019. He hit it off with Excalibur right away and eventually landed a full-time on-air position with AEW.

    Taz has been an excellent asset to AEW as a commentator and as a manager for Team Taz. He's always been a talented talker, and when motivated with the right partner (such as Excalibur or anyone else on the Dynamite team), he's fantastic at being entertaining, insightful and intense when he needs to be.

2. Nigel McGuinness

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    Nigel McGuinness isn't acknowledged as often as he should be when fans debate who is among WWE and AEW's greatest commentators at the moment, likely because he's never been featured on a major platform such as Raw and SmackDown.

    Instead, since signing with WWE at the end of 2016, the 45-year-old has only appeared on NXT, NXT UK, 205 Live and Main Event as a play-by-play commentator. He's been excellent everywhere he's been and is the best announcer the company has under contract.

    His in-ring career came to an end in December 2011 due to health reasons, and he became a broadcaster for Ring of Honor soon after. He spent the next five years honing his craft as a commentator and as an on-air authority figure, earning him an opportunity to call WWE action just in time for the United Kingdom Championship Tournament at the onset of 2017.

    Similar to Wade Barrett and others on this list, McGuinness' enthusiastic tone on commentary takes every match he calls to the next level and gets viewers that much more invested. As a student of the game for over two decades, he's able to bring a unique perspective to his work and jell with just about anyone sitting alongside him.

    These days, he can be heard every Thursday on NXT UK, and his call of WALTER's recent title defenses against Ilja Dragunov and Rampage Brown have been nothing short of sensational.

    In theory, WWE's strongest announcer should be on Raw or SmackDown, but with how overproduced and micromanaged those commentators tend to be, perhaps it's best he stays right where he is for the rest of his career so he can continue to maintain the high standard he has set.

1. Tony Schiavone

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    Even two decades removed from his last stint as a regular commentator for a major wrestling promotion, Tony Schiavone is still the best in the game today.

    The 63-year-old was best known for his work in WCW as well as Jim Crockett Promotions. When WCW closed its doors in 2001, he didn't make the move to WWE and instead left the business all together (save for a one-off appearance in TNA in 2003).

    The famed broadcaster got back into the business via Major League Wrestling in 2017 before being recruited by AEW in 2019. He proved to be a fantastic fit right out of the gate and was appointed a play-by-play commentary for Dynamite upon its debut on TNT later that year.

    Schiavone wears many hats in AEW. In addition to enhancing the commentary team on both Dynamite and Dark: Elevation alongside Paul Wight, he's also the main in-ring interviewer for talent between the matches and in backstage settings from time to time.

    He hasn't missed a beat since returning to the announcers' table and has helped make the AEW commentary team the most elite anywhere in wrestling.

              

    Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.

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