One of the most recognizable voices in WWE in the past decade, ring announcer Justin Roberts, was released from his WWE contract towards the end of 2014. No longer announcing wrestlers names, weight, and residence, Roberts took the time to reflect on his WWE days in an interview with Sports Illustrated.
At the beginning of 2014, Roberts was still the lead ring announcer, working all major house shows, live events, and pay-per-views. One event that stands out to the 35-year-old Chicago native was the Royal Rumble from last year. The event was met with criticism as beloved fan-favorite Daniel Bryan was not a part of the Royal Rumble match and the returning Batista was the victor.
Looking back, Roberts believes that it was a case of WWE showing off its power.
“The crowd tells you what they want. But again, Vince was doing what he wanted to do. And that hurt a guy like Rey and hurt Dave Bautista. Everything about it was wrong. I was hoping they would really do what’s best for business. But [the WWE] wants to show that they controlled the show, not the crowd.”
In recalling the events from that evening, Roberts recalls himself and fellow Chicago native and now former WWE superstar CM Punk being the last two guys in the locker room after the show ended. Despite their connection of Chicago and relationship over the years, Roberts claims that the two are not as close as people believe them to be.
“We were on a lot of the same roads for a long time, and I was very happy for his success. Punk loved the business, and went that extra mile to make house shows more exciting. We weren’t as close in the final year, but we were the last two guys in the locker room after the Royal Rumble. He wasn’t feeling well, and we didn’t say much. I saw him the next day in Cleveland, and that was the last time. Everyone thought we were best friends because we’re both from Chicago, but we were buddies over the years and have lost touch aside from an occasional text.”
Another prominent figure in WWE that Roberts gave an honest opinion on is WWE COO Triple H. The multiple-time World Heavyweight champion has been on the receiving end of a lot of praise for the work he’s done with the NXT brand, making it one of the hottest destinations in wrestling.
Yet, Roberts thinks that Triple H and the WWE share a common mindset of letting talent go only as far as they want them to, not as far as they can.
“Hunter started squashing stuff that really started getting over. If you notice, it’s all about the future, and the future is NXT. But focusing on the future shouldn’t mean ignoring the present. Zack Ryder got over huge to the point to the point where the crowd was cheering for him at Madison Square Garden while The Rock was standing in the ring. Dolph Ziggler got over. Primo and Epico [now known as Los Matadores] are fantastic wrestlers, but they get lost in the shuffle. There is a glass ceiling, and anybody they don’t want to get over is squashed despite the fans strongly getting behind them. Daniel Bryan is a rare exception, despite the company fighting it over and over.”
Finally, as he is no longer a part of a company that he spent a huge portion of his life with, Roberts is excited about what his future holds and the opportunities he is afforded because he was with WWE. But in his immediate future, Roberts reveals that is working on an autobiography.
“As much as I still love the business, I can honestly say I don’t miss WWE and the politics and the inhumane travel schedule,” Roberts. I’m glad that I got to do everything that I did, and I fulfilled my dream. Sure, there were some things that happened while I was there that weren’t fun, but I was this kid who chased an impossible dream—with no connections, whatsoever in professional wrestling—and not only did I get in the door, but I became the main announcer. I had a hell of a run, encountered a lot of great people, including fans from all over the world and people who worked for WWE, and figured I’d share my story. No matter how impossible your dream may seem, it’s possible.”
[Image via SportsKeeda]