Jonathan Coachman discussed his return to WWE in 2016 and why it happened, how his commentary gig was a mistake and more during his interview with Chris Van Vliet. Coachman returned to WWE in March of 2016 with a special appearance and began working for WWE while also doing ESPN SportsCenter. In 2018 he re-signed with the company and joined the Raw commentary team. He stayed with it until September of that year and exited the commentary both, replaced by Renee Young. You can see highlights of the discussion and the full video below:
On why he returned to WWE in 2016: “I knew that if I wanted to be at the level of golf that I wanted to be, golf is probably a harder world to get into at the highest level than pro wrestling. It’s very cliquey. It’s — only a certain kind of people, until I came along — were doing it at the highest level. And I knew that it needed to change, I knew the sport needed to diversify. And I also knew that when your #1 player is a black golfer since 1996, but yet there are no black announcers other than one or two across all the major networks, that’s a problem. But it’s also an opportunity.
“So I looked at it as an opportunity. But for me, it was going to take three to five years to make enough money just doing golf if that’s what it took to be at the financial level I want to be at. So in order to bridge that gap, I knew I needed something else. And it just so happened they [WWE] called me. They knew I was leaving [ESPN], they wanted to bring me in.”
On doing commentary: “The mistake that I made, to be brutally honest with you? I never wanted to do commentary. I’d already signed my deal with golf, to be the voice of the World Long Drive Tour, to do PGA World Tour events. I knew I was going to have to miss five Raws that first year. Do you know in my ten years when I was there full-time, I missed one? So then in eight months I was gonna miss five? That felt like 50. And I knew Vince wasn’t going to be happy with it. And to be honest, I like Corey Graves as a person but I still don’t think he wanted a partner. I think now he’s better than he’s ever been because he doesn’t have to do a three-man booth. Nobody likes doing a three-man booth. It’s too many people, it’s too many guys trying to talk. I just don’t think he wanted me there. And that’s okay, because now he’s able to shine with just him and Michael Cole.
“So that was the mistake I made was accepting the role they wanted me to play. Because Vince, because of my days at ESPN, he didn’t want me to go back to heel Coach. That’s the Coach that I love. I love heel Coach. Heel Coach is fun. But he didn’t want me to lose the credibility that I gained in 10 years as a SportsCenter anchor. Which, at the time I agreed with. If I ever went back again now, which I would give it a 2% chance of me ever doing wrestling again. But if I did, it would have to be on my terms and doing it my way. Because when I was most popular, was when I was a heel and when I was a character. And now, I feel so good about the other things that I’m doing, and they know who I am, that I can do heel Coach and it would be okay.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Chris Van Vliet with a h/t to 411mania.com for the transcription.