In a new interview with Sports Media with Richard Deitsch, Tom Phillips has opened up about his departure from WWE.
Phillips joined WWE in 2012, eventually going on to step into the announce booth on RAW, SmackDown, NXT UK, Main Event and NXT at various times during his run with the company. Phillips had been the play-by-play commentator on Monday Night RAW since early 2020 until he was replaced by Adnan Virk after WrestleMania 37.
The Philadelphia native remained with the company until May 27th when he was released shortly after Virk ended his own short-lived spell with WWE.
Reflecting on being replaced on RAW, Phillips said he was surprised, but as a fan of Virk, could understand WWE hiring him.
“I can honestly say I was surprised… Adnan Virk was somebody that I had known, not to date him in anyway, but he had a run on SportsCenter when I was in college and then right out of college. So I watched him for years, so when I hear that Adnan Virk is coming in to be the lead announcer for Monday Night RAW, I was like ‘whoa. That is a shift.’ But at the same time I was like ‘man I have all the respect in the world for this guys ability in terms of what the job of RAW and Smackdown requires, what everybody refers to commonly in play by play as ‘traffic.’ Getting from graphics to b-roll to an interview, ect.
“I was like ‘well this guy did SportsCenter, which is just one traffic. And then he did College Football halftime shows. So it was like ‘yeah, this guy probably has the skillset to do this.’ So I was definitely surprised, but at the same time to hear it was the name of somebody like Adnan Virk I was like ‘okay. I get it.”
Despite a strong background in sports broadcasting Virk left WWE just seven weeks into his tenure on RAW. At the time, WWE said that the two sides had “mutually agreed” to part ways, although it was later suggested that it was very much a company decision.
While Virk’s performances were criticised online, Phillips was still surprised to see him leave.
“I was, to be very honest,” Phillips said when asked if Virk’s departure shocked him. “Because I’ve seen so many different people come and go at different levels of the announce team, at different spots of the announce team. I won’t speak to necessarily in terms of what he was going through, cause that’s what his experience was. I can’t really speak to that. But it was fast. But that being said, he has so many other things that he does in conventional sportscasting, conventional sports, whatever you want to call it, where he’s so talented at. He’s going to be fine. I don’t need to say that, he knows that.”
Phillips went on to say that he was “hopeful” about transitioning into mainstream sports, highlighting college football in particular.
The play-by-play position on RAW is currently held by former UFC announcer Jimmy Smith.
H/t to Wrestling Inc for the transcription.