Finding his voice: A decade with Justin Roberts
“When you shoot for the moon, you might hit a star.”
-WWE Hall of Famer Killer Kowalski
Such was the case for WWE Raw ring announcer Justin Roberts, whose first shot was fired 10 years ago. Last Monday night, as Roberts stepped inside the squared circle to ring announce Raw in Long Island, N.Y.’s Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, he chalked up his first decade of performing that important function for the WWE Universe - a function that gave him a proud feeling.
“It’s really cool have accomplished 10 years of ring announcing with WWE,” Roberts said. “I was a wrestling fan who lived for WWE. I didn’t watch any other sports; WWE was all I wanted to watch.”
Roberts’ desire to watch the WWE action eventually cultivated into a desire to announcing the action from the middle of the ring. “Looking back at my tryout, that did not go so well, but luckily I got hired,” he recalled. “Over time, I tried to watch all of my work and get better each time I went out there. And in 10 years, I’ve done some really cool stuff that I never in my life imagined I’d be able to do.”
It wasn’t all peaches and cream for Roberts at the start, nor was his inclination to take the “imitation is the greatest form of flattery” route as he embarked on his WWE career.
“When I started here, I had been listening to Howard Finkel. So when I previously announced at independent wrestling events, tough man contests, University of Arizona women’s softball games, basically anything I could announce … I was utilizing a bit of The Fink’s ‘cool announcer voice,’ ” he said. “I didn’t even realize that I was doing it.
“One day, Stephanie McMahon came up to me and said not to go out there and be Howard, but to be me. I didn’t understand it at first, and then it hit me. I went back, watched some of my work, and thought, ‘That that isn’t my voice, that’s not how I sound.’ Once she said that to me, the light went on and I just became me. So every introduction that I do has its own flavor. I don’t go out and give the same introduction to everybody.”
“Everybody” indeed. Roberts has announced countless classic bouts over the past decade involving some of the most memorable Superstars in history, so it seems to be a lay-up to ask him which match was the greatest that he’s been a part of, right? Not exactly.
“I get asked that a lot,” Roberts said, “and I can’t say that there’s just one match; there are way too many. For 10 years, I’ve been part of ECW, SmackDown and Raw, and in each brand there have been some really cool matches. There have also been a lot of matches that I’ve announced via live events, television and pay-per-view … It’s too hard to pick one.”
After 10 years of a career that has encompassed traveling around the world, ring announcing many of WWE’s big events, and rubbing elbows with Superstars and Legends alike, what’s the one thing that Justin Roberts still thinks he needs to follow through to fruition?
“I would love to have a Justin Roberts action figure.”
To learn more about Justin Roberts, check out his official profile by clicking here.