Jimmy Smith has claimed that Corey Graves’ on air comment out Sasha Banks and Naomi was “toned down” while hitting back at fans blaming his colleague for the controversy.
Sasha Banks and Naomi had been due to compete in a six-pack challenge in the main event of the May 16th episode of Raw to determine a new number one contender for the Raw Women’s Championship. However, after reportedly being dissatisfied with creative, the pair left the arena.
While the show was in progress, WWE released a statement claiming that the pair weren’t comfortable in the ring with two of their opponents, and felt their Women’s Tag Team Titles were being disrespected. Meanwhile, Corey Graves slammed the pair as “unprofessional” on commentary.
Following the remark, Graves came in for significant criticism on social media with some believing that he personally went too far with the comment.
Speaking on Unlocking The Cage, Graves’ fellow announcer Jimmy Smith came to his defence. Smith said that Graves had actually “toned down” the comments fed to him to repeat, reiterating that he was simply doing what he was told.
“What I don’t get at all is the heat that my broadcast partner, Corey Graves, is getting. They gave him something to read and much like Michael Cole, he toned it down a little bit,” Jimmy Smith said. “But guys, Michael Cole and Corey Graves aren’t making this stuff up. People are getting mad at them like they’re freestyling this stuff. They’re not.”
Smith explained that while he understands fans being frustrated, Corey Graves and Michael Cole are simply acting as messengers.
“If Vince said, ‘Here, read this’, I would have done exactly what Michael Cole did. Graves is getting all this sh*t. Graves didn’t make up that statement. He’s a broadcaster and was told to read it and he read it. So I understand the ire of the fans, but the misdirection is weird.”
These comments come after Corey Graves’ wife Carmella also stuck up for the announcer, responding to a fan by underlining that the announcers are simply saying what they’ve been told to say.
After the walkout, WWE announced that Sasha Banks and Naomi had been “suspended indefinitely” and stripped of their Women’s Tag Team Championships.
Following the announcement, WWE removed all Sasha Banks and Naomi merchandise from their online store, as well as taking them out of the ‘Then. Now. Forever’ opening package.
While it has since been reported that WWE have “zero plans” for the pair to return.
H/t to WrestlingNews.co for the transcription.