Adnan Virk has opened up about his short-lived stint as the lead voice on Monday Night Raw, revealing he wasn’t trained ahead of appearing on television.
Virk landed the lead role at the RAW announce booth on April 12th, saying that he was “elated” to join the company. He debuted on the Raw after WrestleMania 37, replacing Tom Phillips.
However, while Virk has an extensive sports background having worked for ESPN and the MLB Network, the Canadian faced criticism for his performances with WWE.
The announcer left WWE just a month after arriving, as a result of what the company described as a “mutual decision.”
Adnan Virk has now opened up about his ill-fated run with the company, explaining that he was a wrestling fan as a child, but was very much out of the loop by the time that he joined WWE. Speaking to Peter Klein on Coach Potato Diary, Virk said he felt like he was playing catch-up.
“The biggest thing for me is, I loved wrestling as a kid but I didn’t watch as much as I got older. I got offered this opportunity to audition and why not, of course I’d love to do this. They sent me a few matches to look at and I’m kind of like an actor, so you give me a few scenes and I studied really hard and I nailed those three scenes, but then you actually have to do the whole play on Broadway. That’s a much different thing than doing a scene study of three scenes.
The biggest challenge for me is that, it’s hard to be really well-versed in the sport when you’re trying to catch a freight train that’s already going 100 miles an hour. I’m running alongside the train trying to catch up. It’s hard to make up for that gap in time,”
Expanding further, Virk discussed the differences between calling live sports as he had in the past compared to calling the action on Raw. The announcer admitted that he “wasn’t good enough” and missed the presence of researchers.
“One thing that helped is, unlike baseball or other sports, you don’t have to say, ‘Remember three years ago at WrestleMania and what happened,’ you actually never do that, which is very different from normal sports. When I was broadcasting on Raw, you’re only looking at what happened the previous week or two weeks. That’s it. It was never about six months ago. In that instance, you don’t really need to know the history of wrestling, but as a play-by-play guy, you have to know the moves and mechanics and I think, in all honesty, I struggled to adapt to that. Ultimately, I wasn’t good enough for that position,” he said.
“The big thing I missed with conventional sports is we have incredible researchers. In baseball and MLB Network, NHL, and ESPN, you have people who will hand you notes and there are five notes on each person and stats. In wrestling, you don’t have that. You just go there and you’re calling Charlotte Flair and it’s up to you to do your own research and all that stuff. In hindsight, maybe if I hired Peter Klein to say, ‘give me all the notes you have,’ I maybe would have had a better idea with storylines.”
Despite this, Virk said that he had no regrets about his time with WWE, praising his broadcast partners and Michael Cole for working with him to improve.
“Everyone there is awesome. Corey Graves is phenomenal, I think he’s a huge talent. Byron Saxton is a huge talent. You never want to be in a situation where you’re the weakest link and I knew I was. That’s never a good feeling. Those guys were such good teammates because it’s like a baseball team. ‘We know you need some help, we’re here to help you out. You’re new, just lean on us and we’re good to go,’ which was so generous of them.
Kevin Dunn is a great producer. Michael Cole was very very generous. Michael is not only the voice of SmackDown, he’s the on-air conglomerate and oversees the talent. He was so helpful every week. I would do the show, I would watch the show, I’d call Michael on Thursday and we’d go through stuff and go through notes. I would try to make as many notes as I could. Everybody there, I have such respect for because they work so hard. It’s a huge commitment. Vince McMahon is obviously a very demanding boss, he knows what he wants and is a super smart guy. He’s built up an enormous business, but they are hard workers.”
Virk went on to reveal that he didn’t speak with Vince McMahon during his first show, but did work alongside the WWE Chairman in the weeks that followed. The announcer also disclosed that he wasn’t trained ahead of appearing live on Raw.
It was great. I didn’t see him my first show. Here’s the thing, they didn’t give me any training, which some people point out was a little unfair. I don’t think you hire Jason Witten for Monday Night Football and don’t give him training. I recognize that’s the way WWE does things so no excuses, that’s my fault that I wasn’t good enough. It’s not like I met with Vince before my first show. I literally was just prepping on my own, doing my best, and Michael Cole was helping out.
The first time I met Vince. My first show was April 12, I didn’t meet Vince, I heard his voice in my ear at one point and he was giving direction. I met him after the second show. He summoned me in. I met him, he was very polite and very respectful and he basically gave really good feedback. He went through everything, very detailed. At the end, he said, “You’re doing a good job, best of luck.’
I met with him that time and he was at the meeting — we have a meeting on Raw at noon, oftentimes it would get pushed back. Vince would sometimes be there and sometimes wouldn’t If he was in the meeting, it had a different tenor. He’s an important guy, he has great presence, whatever he says people are going to do because he’s the boss. After the third show, he gave me feedback, ‘Don’t do this, don’t do this, do more of this.’ I really appreciate the fact that he was willing to meet with me and give me feedback.
Like I said, I wish I could have done better and been there longer, but it was definitely cool to meet him and I have a ton of respect for him. He’s a very smart guy and brilliant business man.”
After leaving WWE Adan Virk was replaced by former UFC commentator Jimmy Smith. The soundtrack to Raw is currently provided by Smith, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton.
H/t to Fightful for the transcription.