Corey Graves at an NXT event.

Corey Graves Leaving NXT, Nigel McGuinness To Replace Him

Corey Graves, former professional wrestler and current color commentator for NXT and Monday Night Raw, will be stepping away from the developmental brand. He will be replaced by retired English professional wrestler Nigel McGuinness, who joined the WWE as a commentator for their United Kingdom Championship Tournament. WWE confirmed this in a tweet.

Graves joined NXT’s commentary team at Takeover: R Evolution back in December 2014. On NXT he would do color commentary alongside Tom Phillips, the play-by-play announcer, and more recently Percy Watson, a former NXT superstar who was recently added to the table. Phillips also does commentary for SmackDown Live! so it is unclear as well just how much longer Phillips will remain in NXT.

The most likely explanation for the switch is that Graves is also currently a commentator for Monday Night Raw alongside Michael Cole and Byron Saxton, where he does color commentary with Saxton, while Cole does play-by-play duties. Graves joined Cole and Saxton in July last year as part of the Brand Split. Since he is expected to be on the road for live broadcasts, it is no longer practical to have Graves fly to Florida for NXT tapings held in Full Sail University. Takeover: San Antonio is to be Graves’ last broadcast with the NXT team.

His replacement, Nigel McGuinness, is a former professional wrestler who has wrestled for Pro Wrestling NOAH, Ring of Honor, and Total Nonstop Action. He returned to Ring of Honor to work as a color commentator until he signed with WWE to commentate for their United Kingdom Championship Tournament.

Nigel McGuinness in an interview
Nigel McGuinness gives an interview about the WWEUKCT. [Image by WWE]

The event saw wrestlers Mark Andrews, Tyler Bate, Danny Burch, Joseph Conners, Jordan Devlin, James Drake, Pete Dunne, H.C. Dyer, Sam Gradwell, Saxon Huxley, Roy Johnson, Dan Moloney, Trent Seven, Tucker, Tyson T-Bone, and Wolfgang compete in a single elimination tournament to crown the inaugural WWE United Kingdom Champion. Tyler Bate would defeat Pete Dunne in the finals to become the first-ever WWE United Kingdom Champion. McGuinness was part of the broadcast team for this event, with Michael Cole as a play-by-play announcer. Other notable WWE superstars were at the event, such as William Regal and former WWE Universal Champion Finn Balor.

The United Kingdom Championship Tournament was held last January 14 to much critical acclaim, just five months after WWE held another acclaimed tournament back in July 2016 called the Cruiserweight Classic, which would pit 32 cruiserweights (wrestlers who weighed 205 lb. and under) against each other in a single elimination tournament to become Cruiserweight Champion. The eventual winner was TJ Perkins, who is currently a part of Monday Night Raw‘s roster.

Takeover: San Antonio, which is currently underway, has a stacked card that will see NXT Women’s Champion Asuka defend her title in a fatal four-way against Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, and Nikki Cross, while NXT Tag Team Champions D.I.Y. will defend their title against the Authors of Pain. Japanese wrestler Shinsuke Nakamura, who jumped ship from New Japan Pro Wrestling to WWE back in April of 2016, will defend the NXT Championship against challenger Bobby Roode in the main event.

Bobby Roode in the ring
Bobby Roode at a NXT event. [Image by WWE]

Takeover: San Antonio takes place just a day before the 30th Royal Rumble, where the Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, and Goldberg will compete in the eponymous match; Roman Reigns will fight Kevin Owens in a No Disqualification Match for the WWE Universal Championship; and John Cena will take on AJ Styles for the WWE Championship.

[Featured Image by WWE]