Tom Phillips breaks silence on his WWE release

Former WWE commentator Tom Phillips has opened up about his unexpected departure from the company.

Phillips, real name Tom Hannifan, worked for WWE in various broadcasting and backstage roles between 2012 and 2021. He recently received his release after being replaced by Adnan Virk as RAW’s lead commentator. Virk has since left the company, with former UFC announcer Jimmy Smith replacing him.

Speaking on the Sports Media Podcast with Richard Deitsch, Phillips admitted WWE releasing him came as a surprise.

“I can honestly say I was surprised,” Phillips said. “Adnan Virk was somebody that I had known, not to date him in any way, but he had a run on [ESPN show] SportsCenter when I was in college and then just right out of college, so I watched him for years. So when I hear, ‘Hey, Adnan Virk’s coming in to be lead announcer for Monday Night RAW,’ I was like, ‘Woah, that is a shift.’”

Tom Phillips commentated on RAW, SmackDown, NXT, NXT UK, Main Event, Superstars, and 205 Live during his nine years in WWE. In 2017, he became only the fifth person in WWE history to work as a lead announcer at WrestleMania.

Tom Phillips understands why WWE replaced him

Michael Cole (WWE
Michael Cole (WWE’s Vice President of Announcing) alongside Tom Phillips

Although Tom Phillips did not go into detail about his release, the former WWE commentator said he understands why the company replaced him with Adnan Virk.

The 32-year-old also spoke about his respect for Virk, 42, who has worked in broadcasting since 2003.

“But at the same time, I was like, ‘Man, I have all the respect in the world for this guy’s [Adnan Virk’s] ability,’” Phillips added.

“In terms of what the job for RAW and SmackDown requires, what everybody refers to commonly in play-by-play as traffic, getting from graphics to B-roll to an interview, etcetera, I was like, ‘Well, this guy did SportsCenter,’ which is just one-way traffic, and then he did college football half-time shows, so it’s like, ‘Yeah, this guy’s probably got the skill set to do this.’

“So I was definitely surprised [to be released] but, at the same time, to hear the name of somebody like Adnan Virk, I was like, ‘Okay, I get it.’”

Moving forward, Tom Phillips is open to pursuing commentary roles outside of wrestling. A keen follower of college football, he said he has no ego since leaving WWE and is prepared to start from the bottom.

Please credit the Sports Media Podcast with Richard Deitsch and give a H/T to Sportskeeda Wrestling for the transcription if you use quotes from the article.

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