Corey Graves retires from the ring, joins WWE NXT’s announce team
Usually, when an up-and-coming Superstar is forced into an early retirement, the discussion turns toward what might have been. Corey Graves is determined to not let that be the case for him. Though concussions have forced him out of the ring, the final chapter in “The Savior of Misbehavior’s” story has not been written. Starting with NXT TakeOver: R Evolution, Graves will join the broadcast team that calls the action every week on WWE Network.
“I’m really excited to start a new chapter of my career and life,” Graves told WWE.com before announcing his retirement on the TakeOver Pre-Show. “These last eight months have been up and down, emotionally, but I’m really looking forward to being part of the show again.”
Graves’ path to the announce booth traces back to WrestleMania Axxess, when he suffered a concussion during a match at the fan convention.
“I was bummed,” he said after being pulled from competition initially. “I felt like my Christmas got cancelled.”
Though he was not allowed to continue competing during WrestleMania weekend, Graves had every intention of getting back in the squared circle, working with WWE’s doctors and taking ImPACT and exertion tests to track his status. However, because of the frequency of Graves’ previous concussions, which built up over a decade on the independent circuit before coming to WWE, he was sent to see several specialists, who conferred with Dr. Joseph Maroon, WWE’s medical director. In Graves’ best interest, they recommended he step away from the ring.
“I saw Triple H in the [WWE Performance Center’s] gym,” Graves recalled. “I asked if he had any updates for me. His demeanor changed. He said something like, ‘I’m going to be honest with you. If I were you, I’d prepare for the worst.’ You could have told me a million things were going to happen to me that day, that wouldn’t be one of them.”
Faced with the end of his in-ring career, Graves was heartbroken.
“I remember just walking out of the gym in disbelief and going to the locker room, which was empty, and I fell apart,” he said. “I was this close and I had my fingers on the prize. It was like, ‘Oh my God, I wasted my life. What am I going to do?’ I have a family, my wife was eight months pregnant at the time. My world fell apart in that moment.”
Following his conversation with Triple H, Graves officially received the news that he could no longer compete, but that he would be given a chance to do anything else within the company.
“That night, I pulled Triple H aside and thanked him for the opportunities,” he said. “I looked him in the eyes and said, ‘I’m not done here.’ He gave me a smile and said, ‘I know you’re not.’”
Graves took the weekend to gather his thoughts, then returned to the Performance Center and jumped at the opportunity to help with whatever he could, whether it be production, promotion or giving advice to new arrivals to the Performance Center.
But “The Savior of Misbehavior” gravitated toward the microphone. At the behest of The Voice of WWE, Michael Cole, Graves tried his hand at announcing and showed an aptitude that surely comes from his days of talking trash in the ring.
“I got in the booth here with Rich Brennan every day, we really developed chemistry,” Graves told WWE.com. “Knowing the business and growing up watching it like I did, I feel like I took to it pretty quickly.”
While he’s not afraid to admit he’s still learning the ins and outs of play-by-play, Graves is ready for whatever the future holds.
“It’s taken some time to get there, but I’m very excited to try something new,” he said.
Most of all, he’s grateful for the opportunity to stay in the industry he loves.
“WWE could have very easily discarded me and said, ‘You’re not able to do what we hired you for any more, so good luck to you,’” Graves said. “I like to think that they saw value in me, not only in the ring, but in what I’ve been able to prove I can do in the months since then.”