Since the WWE Brand Extension last summer, connoisseurs of WWE programming have witnessed an influx of new Superstars inside the ring. The same can be said for the landscape of WWE announcers. This week, we take a look at NXT ring announcer, host and Raw interviewer Mike Rome, and his unique path to sports-entertainment.
WWE.COM: It has been eight months since you first joined WWE as an announcer. How did this opportunity come about for you?
ROME: Honestly watching WWE as a kid, it’s one of those things where you go, “That’s awesome, I want to do that!” However, when I was older, I didn’t think it was actually an option, or even know where to start. My friend, [SmackDown LIVE ring announcer] Greg Hamilton, and I used to host together, and when they wanted to expand the NXT team, he opened the door for me to audition. After a video audition, a live audition, lots of communication, patience and roughly a year, I got the job! Patience and persistence was key.
WWE.COM: Who were some of your favorite WWE Superstars when you were growing up?
ROME: I was, and always will be, a big Ultimate Warrior fan. I also enjoyed watching Superstars like Jake “The Snake” Roberts, British Bulldog, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, Junkyard Dog, Dusty Rhodes and Jesse Ventura. Later on, it was guys like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Kane, The Rock, Big Show and Triple H. I enjoyed tag teams like The Rockers, The Hart Foundation and Too Cool. However, The Undertaker will always be at the top of that list. I remember being mesmerized by his first appearance. His entrance still gives me chills.
WWE.COM: I understand you had quite the extensive background in entertainment before joining WWE.
ROME: Well, I started in singing — I was in a boy band. [laughs] Then I stumbled into hosting, and was fortunate enough to work for Nickelodeon for a long time and learn from some amazing talent. I also got to work for the likes of Universal Studios and Disney…
WWE.COM: Wait a minute. Tell us more about the boy band!
ROME: I was part of a boy band for a couple of years, but that’s all I will say about that.[laughs] I also got to sing in shows at Universal Studios, which was a cool experience, especially when you get to do it as The Grinch.
WWE.COM: Tell us more about that experience and Disney.
ROME: Nickelodeon will always be special to me, because it was the first place I learned to host from the best. Also, I traveled and got to slime people! Universal was great; not only did I meet some amazing people, but I got to play characters like Beetlejuice, Frankenstein, Shaggy and Optimus Prime, [and] host Fear Factor and other special projects like the Harry Potter celebration. I played The Grinch at Christmas and had the chance to play around Halloween Horror Nights. Where else can you do all that?
At [Disney Hollywood Studios], I had [the] American Idol [Experience], where I met Greg Hamilton and also got to be a part of the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, which I watched as a child visiting the parks. I always thought I would retire with Nickelodeon, but I have since realized all of my experiences were preparing me for this.
WWE.COM: Describe walking into NXT for your first day.
ROME: The first day was intimidating for sure; it was a TV taping day and I didn’t really know anyone. I learned very quickly that NXT was a family, and a great one at that. Watching guys like Finn Bálor, Shinsuke Nakamura, Samoa Joe, Bayley, Asuka and Tye Dillinger work was great. Seeing all the hard work everyone poured into NXT was amazing, and I wanted to do the same.
I had been to tapings before, but feeling the energy of the audience there and knowing I was now a part of that was one of the coolest feelings ever. What they’re doing down at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando is special. There is nothing like NXT, and I’m beyond proud of being able to be a tiny part of it.
WWE.COM: What’s been the most enjoyable part about your job?
ROME: I love to travel and meet new people, and with this job, that’s what I get to do! I’ve met some really cool people in the process, and seen some really cool places already. Some of my favorite highlights include being a part of Goldberg’s walk to the ring, ring-announcing my first NXT TakeOver in Toronto, the Cruiserweight Classic and getting my Monday Night Raw call-up!
WWE.COM: On the topic of Raw, you’ve recently started doing interviews on Raw’s digital platforms. What has that experience been like?
ROME: I remember sitting in my living room and receiving the call that I was moving up to Raw. It’s definitely one of those feelings that’s hard to describe. If I went back in time and told the younger version of me about it, he wouldn’t believe me. But it’s been such a great experience working with WWE.com for Raw. It’s such a cool platform to be a part of, and the guys I get to work with are the best.
WWE.COM: How have your friends and family reacted to your latest career choice?
ROME: Everyone has been super-supportive and I couldn’t do it without them. Even though it was a year-long process, I really didn’t tell anyone about the audition. When I got hired, it came out of nowhere for everyone. It was also cool because my friend Scotty 2 Hotty [joined NXT] around the same time I did, as a trainer. It was like a dual celebration for us.
WWE.COM: What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened so far?
ROME: When I announced Wesley Blake as Wesley Murphy. That never happened again.
WWE.COM: Goals for the future?
ROME: Well, since I’m on the Raw brand, I definitely want to make my Raw TV debut one day. I would also like to do more on WWE Network, maybe even host my own show. I’d like to do some commentary, work a WrestleMania for the first time. Basically, I want to do anything and everything I can with WWE. Also, I’d like to go to more comic conventions. [laughs]