Tom Phillips is feeling a little blue.
We mean that in a good way, though. The workhorse voice of NXT and WWE Main Event is getting his big primetime break as the third man in SmackDown’s announce booth, joining the Michael Cole-JBL tandem that has provided the voice of the blue brand over the last couple of years. Phillips made his debut this past Tuesday at the tapings in Phoenix, Ariz., and by all accounts was a rousing success.
“It was incredible to do that in front of the WWE Universe here in Phoenix,” Phillips told WWE.com after the taping had concluded. “They are loud, they are having a blast. Sitting out there with Michael Cole and JBL, they’re pretty intense, but it was fun, man. I was a little nervous, but it was fun.”
According to Cole, the promotion of Phillips — previously a standout on the commentary teams ofWWE NXT (a job he says he “loved”) and WWE Main Event on WWE Network — wasn’t just a reward for the prolific play-by-play man, but part of an ongoing youth movement to carry WWE commentary into the next generation.
“Over the years, you’ve had Vince and Jesse and Gorilla and Bobby and J.R. and King and John and I. You need to put your announce teams together to get us into the next decade. We’re not going to do this for the rest of our lives. It’s just real important to get the young kids going,” said Cole. “Tom works hard, he’s got a great work ethic, he’s dedicated to the product and to the business, and he’s doing really well. He’s really earned this opportunity.”
Cole went on to explain that he and JBL will take on the roles of analysts while Phillips will act as the “host,” providing play-by-play and what Cole refers to as the “nuts and bolts” of the commentary job.
“It’ll be his show,” said Cole.
That’s a tall order for the young announcer to fill, and he’ll certainly need to be on his game to hang with the Type-A personalities currently populating the booth.
“[Cole and JBL are] two very intense personalities, two guys that have been in this business forever,” said Phillips. “I’ve learned a ton from Michael Cole over the two years that I’ve been here, and I wouldn’t be here without his influence and his support and his help over the two years. To work with him and JBL was a big step up, and I’ve got to step my game up to work with these guys.”
For Cole’s part, he isn’t particularly worried about the young man who could one day become the next “Voice of WWE.”
“He’s got the fundamentals down, and it’s time for a change.”