WWE has made its first major change since shaking up the commentary booths for Raw, Smackdown, and NXT last fall. Starting this Monday, Michael Cole will be returning to Raw, as announced today by Variety. He will be joined by his current Smackdown commentating partner, Wade Barrett. Meanwhile, current Raw commentators Corey Graves and Kevin Patrick will move over to Smackdown, with Cole staying on Friday nights to round out the commentary trio.
According to the report, part of the reason the change is being made is to pair Cole up with Patrick, for whom the company reportedly sees big things ahead. The belief is that putting the two together will help further develop Patrick as a commentator.
Cole is obviously no stranger to viewers of Raw. From November 2010 until September 2019, Cole had a permanent place at the commentary booth, calling countless matches alongside fellow broadcasters and quite a few performers. Before and after his time on Raw, Cole was most closely associated with Smackdown, where he began as a play-by-play commentator in 1999.
Before joining WWE, Cole was a journalist who covered major events such as the Oklahoma City bombing and the Waco, Texas standoff, even spending nine months in Bosnia and Herzegovina doing war coverage. He was hired by WWE in 1997, starting off as a backstage interviewer before eventually taking his talents to the commentary table.
Over the years, Cole has been involved in a number of onscreen storylines, from the more recent playful feud with Bayley to his time as the spokesman for Raw’s anonymous general manager. Though fans have sometimes been critical of Cole throughout his career as a commentator, that criticism has softened a great deal over the last year, with some claiming they can hear a difference in Cole’s performance without Vince McMahon speaking in his headset.