RAW announcer Jimmy Smith addresses the situation with Sasha Banks and Naomi walking out
As previously reported, women’s tag team champions Sasha Banks and Naomi reportedly walked out of WWE RAW due to creative issues with Vince McMahon.
During his Unlocking The Cage podcast, RAW announcer Jimmy Smith addressed the situation…
“We, on-air, had no idea that the main event that I called at the beginning, I’m standing in front of the cage saying — It was a six-woman tag team match including Naomi and Sasha Banks. I announced it as the main event, we showed the graphics, all this stuff. We sit down at the desk and a few minutes later it’s, ‘Scratch that, that’s not happening, it’s Asuka versus Becky Lynch.’ Okay, I want to tell everybody here, and I mean this, when you listen to this show, which is Unlocking The Cage, I don’t kayfabe here. You’ve noticed that. If there is an angle that I can’t talk about, I just won’t talk about it. I’ll never tell you something is real that is part of an angle or a gimmick or a work. I won’t do that on this show. This show is not about that. It’s about the workings of pro wrestling. Sometimes we do cover pro wrestling, but I don’t kayfabe here. I won’t tell you a WWE angle as if it is real on this show if it’s a gimmick. I won’t do that to you. If it’s something I can’t talk about, I just won’t talk about it. What I’m saying is that when I talk about the WWE on the show, you can trust me. I will not push an angle. I will not push a gimmick.”
“This is not a work. This really actually happened. From everything — I wasn’t there, I was calling the show — I’ve been told, everything the WWE is saying happened. Now obviously there are many sides to a story. I don’t know why Naomi and Sasha Banks walked out. I’ve heard rumors, but I’m not gonna repeat them just because it’s innuendo. I don’t know. But my point is, a lot of people when this was first released on Instagram, half the comments were, ‘Ah, this is a work.’ It’s not. This legitimately happened. One thing that you will see in the WWE, generally, in the time I’ve been there, is when they say this is our main event, something goofy may happen in that event, something goofy may change or there might be slight differences. They’re not going to say this is our main event and pull the rug out from under you. They will not advertise a main event and pull it out from under you. They want to know that you as an audience member will generally get the match that you thought you were gonna get. You stuck around till 10:45 to watch this match, that’s what you’re gonna see. What’s upsetting to the people behind the scenes on this one is they advertised the main event. I got up there on a microphone and Corey Graves to my left said, ‘Tonight, six-woman tag team match,’ and then we sat down and we, meaning the WWE, all of us, couldn’t deliver that main event. Not happy about that. I believe, Kelly, please give me your opinion because you’re a pro wrestling fan. This statement is seething with that, ‘We promised the main event and because of these people we couldn’t deliver.’ You can almost feel that like, ‘Hey, we don’t like that we promised something we couldn’t deliver our fans.’ Is that a fair way to look at it?”
“I didn’t know about this statement that the WWE had sent out until I was backstage. I assumed as an athlete, that something physical happened during a warmup. That they were getting ready for the match and Naomi pulled her hamstring… That’s what I thought it was. I had no idea that them walking out, which is what we said on air really happened. I didn’t know that until after the match was over. Not until the whole frickin show was over. I can’t tell you why. I can’t tell you the thought process. I can tell you what we know from that statement, which is they were upset for some reason and walked out. I can tell you the WWE was completely unprepared for it. I can tell you the broadcast team, myself included, were completely unprepared for it. Becky Lynch and Asuka, I thought, had a great match to fill in that main event spot. They deserve a lot of credit for that… These two ladies are unbelievable professionals. So they really filled in well. All I can tell you from my point is this is 100% genuine. You may doubt it, but it’s 100% genuine.”
“So where does that leave them? It’s hard when something like this becomes so public… I don’t know Vince McMahon personally. I’m in meetings with him every week, but I don’t know the man personally. I know what you know, which is, ‘Get the events that we promised the fans then we will deal with anything else no matter how difficult, no matter how dramatic the problem is… Get the main event that we promised out there for the people.’ That didn’t happen last night. So when you look at it that way, how do Sasha Banks and Naomi come back from this? I don’t know because this is not — If this were inside baseball, If the WWE had never released a statement about this, I would not be talking about it right now. Wouldn’t be a public issue. You know, like, that’s behind the scenes. I generally don’t talk about behind-the-scenes stuff. I don’t give away angles, any of that. This is now incredibly public in an almost unprecedented way.” (quotes courtesy of Fightful.com)