Behind the Mic: WWE Steps Into the Ring on Friday Night With New Backstage Crew
Behind the Mic provides a roundup of recent news regarding on-air talent, including new deals, departures, and assignments compiled from press releases and reports around the industry. In this week’s edition, the WWE rolls out announcer names for Smackdown debut and Backstage on FS1, a former Pistons head coach nails a gig with Turner Sports, NBC Sports divulges list of NHL voices, and TSN re-ups with a familiar face.
SmackDown moves from Tuesdays to Fridays, but WWE fans can still get their Tuesday night fix with FS1’s WWE Backstage, television’s only studio show devoted to all things WWE.
The hour-long, weekly show offers viewers the latest WWE news every Tuesday at 11:00 PM ET/8:00 PM PT, beginning Tuesday, Nov. 5 on FS1.
Longtime WWE broadcaster Renee Young and WWE Hall of Famer Booker T weigh in on the biggest stories in WWE, and are joined by a rotating cast of guests and personalities, including current and former WWE Superstars.
Ahead of WWE Backstage’s Nov. 5 debut, Fox Sports offers a special preview of the show on Tuesday, Oct. 15, following the conclusion of the ALCS Game 3 on FS1. Young and Booker T are joined by special guests to reveal the WWE Backstage set at the Fox Studios Lot in Los Angeles, and to break in their brand-new ring.
A Toronto native, Young began her broadcast career with The Score in 2009, before making her WWE television debut in 2012. Since then, she rose quickly through the ranks, interviewing all the top stars in the WWE and co-hosting the post-SmackDown show Talking Smack on WWE Network. In 2018, she earned a full-time spot on the Monday Night Raw broadcast team, the first woman to ever achieve the honor. Young’s on-air roles continue to expand as one of WWE’s most prominent personalities.
“WWE Backstage is a wrestling show for wrestling fans. From hardcore fans to people new to wrestling, we’ll give them a little bit of everything,” said Young. “It’s going to be fun, it’s going to be loud, we’re going to give them a ton of opinions and I can’t wait to help spread the word about SmackDown coming to FOX.”
A two-time WWE Hall of Famer, Booker T is one of the most-decorated Superstars in history with 11 WCW Tag Team Championships, six World Championships and a victory in the 2006 King of the Ring Tournament. He made the transition from the broadcast booth in 2011, and has become a staple of WWE telecasts ever since.
“It’s awesome being part of the Fox family and part of this movement of Friday Night Smackdown to Fox,” said Booker T. “FOX Sports has always been the one-stop shop for sports and now it’s going to be that one-stop shop for sports and entertainment. I think this is going to be a tag team that’s going to last for a long time, and one that cannot lose. As I always say, now can you dig it, sucka?”…
…The stars align for the debut of Friday Night Smackdown on Fox, and they’re coming down the “blue carpet” outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles for the Friday Night Smackdown Kickoff Show tonight 7:30 PM ET/PT.
To usher in the new era of WWE on Fox, Friday’s kickoff show features a bevy of celebrities, athletes, WWE Superstars, and Legends walking the blue carpet ahead of the 20th anniversary of SmackDown.
Fox NFL Kickoff host and red carpet regular Charissa Thompson is on hand for arrivals and interviews outside the Staples Center, while WWE reporter Kayla Braxton provides exclusive backstage access to Superstars just moments before all the action.
Inside the arena, WWE Backstage host Young and studio analyst Booker T anchor the desk, welcoming special guests and offering insight and analysis on the upcoming matchups…
…Turner Sports has reached a multi-year agreement with Stan Van Gundy, with the veteran NBA head coach serving as a game analyst for NBA on TNT Tuesday night coverage, along with being an NBA TV studio analyst throughout the season. Van Gundy will be one of several commentators in new or expanded roles, with play-by-play broadcasters Ian Eagle and Brian Anderson and analyst Jim Jackson also contributing to TNT’s Tuesday night NBA coverage.
TNT will tip off its first of nine newly-formatted Tuesday night doubleheaders on January 28, featuring the defending Western Conference Champion Golden State Warriors visiting the Philadelphia 76ers at 7:30 p.m. ET, followed by the LA Clippers meeting the Los Angeles Lakers at 10 p.m.
Van Gundy has 12 years of NBA head coaching experience including a trip to the 2009 NBA Finals with the Orlando Magic. He has a 523-384 (.577) career record during stints with the Miami Heat (2003–’06), Magic (’07–’12) and Detroit Pistons (’14–’18). He served as an analyst for ESPN’s NBA coverage last season.
Eagle will be calling regular season games for the first time for TNT. He has called NBA Playoff games for TNT and NBA TV since 2010 and has spent more than two decades as the play-by-play voice of the Brooklyn Nets.
Anderson has handled play-by-play for a wide range of Turner Sports telecasts since 2008, including the MLB on TBS, NBA Playoffs and regular season on TNT, NCAA March Madness and the PGA Championship.
Jackson is a former National College Player of the Year, two-time All-American and two-time Big Ten Player of the Year at Ohio State. He was selected No. 4 overall by the Dallas Mavericks in the 1992 NBA Draft, before playing 14 seasons in the NBA…
…NBC Sports’ coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season will feature nearly 30 game and studio commentators this season, highlighted by seven-time Emmy Award-winner Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick, who returns for his 15th season as NBC Sports’ lead NHL play-by-play commentator.
NBC Sports will utilize nearly 20 play-by-play commentators and analysts throughout the 2019-20 season. Many commentators, such as Eddie Olczyk, Mike Milbury, and Keith Jones, will contribute to both game and studio coverage throughout the year.
Other notable names that will anchor this season’s coverage are:
- Kenny Albert
- Pierre McGuire
- John Forslund
- Brian Boucher
- Chris Cuthbert
- Gord Miller
- Joe Micheletti
- Brendan Burke
- AJ Mleczko
- John Walton
- Alex Faust
- Ray Ferraro
- Randy Hahn
- Jamie Baker
- Bret Hedican
- Kendall Coyne
Three-time Stanley Cup champion Patrick Sharp joins NBC Sports as a full-time studio analyst for the 2019-20 season, following his contributions as an analyst during the 2018-19 regular season and postseason.
Liam McHugh, Kathryn Tappen, and Paul Burmeister return as the hosts for NBC Sports’ studio coverage alongside, Milbury, Jones, Sharp, Jeremy Roenick, and Anson Carter. Roenick will also report from various game sites, including St. Louis for NBC Sports’ opening night NHL Faceoff coverage on Wed., Oct. 2.
NHL insiders Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger also reprise their roles for the 2019-20 season, joining the Wednesday Night Hockey studio team on NBCSN…
…TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie has signed a five-year contract extension that will see him continue to keep hockey fans informed across all TSN platforms through the 2024-25 season.
In the 2019-20 season, McKenzie will continue to do what he’s been doing for more than 30 years at TSN – being the most-trusted news and information voice in the hockey community, and a ubiquitous presence across TSN platforms.
Starting next season, McKenzie will evolve his role at Canada’s Sports Leader while continuing to focus his industry-leading analysis on TSN’s coverage of the World Juniors, TSN Draft Ranking specials, select Leafs on TSN games, and, of course, TradeCentre, Free Agent Frenzy, and more.