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ESPN’s Joe Tessitore to Debut on WWE’s Smackdown

Known for his top-notch play-by-play commentary in college football, ESPN’s Joe Tessitore has been hired by WWE as a leading voice for one of its broadcast teams. Tessitore will join Corey Graves and Wade Barrett on “Smackdown” on Friday nights, while Michael Cole and Pat McAfee will handle “Raw” on Monday nights.

“I think Corey and Wade are absolute stars in the making,” Tessitore told ESPN. “I’ve watched Michael Cole throughout his career, and he deserves to be mentioned among the great mainstream network broadcasters of our generation. I’m truly honored to be by their side.”

Tessitore’s addition as the play-by-play commentator allows Graves to return to his familiar role as a color commentator. Graves had stepped into the play-by-play position for “Smackdown” in January after WWE parted ways with Kevin Patrick.

A lifelong wrestling fan, Tessitore has experience in wrestling broadcasting, having led ESPN’s coverage of “WrestleMania” on “SportsCenter” for the past three years.

“WWE is the most unique TV show there is,” Tessitore added. “It’s live theatrical-level entertainment while being a network-level sports event. That takes a unique skill set to call. There’s no down and distance, no scoreboard. You have to have the eye to build anticipation.

During his time with ESPN and ABC, Tessitore has covered major moments in college football and boxing. He has called several championship boxing matches featuring stars like Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, and Terence Crawford. Tessitore has also been part of ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” broadcasts, the NFL Pro Bowl, and wild-card playoff games on ABC.

Tessitore’s start date hasn’t been announced, but he will begin his new role sometime this summer.