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Jun 25, 2012

Q&A With WWE's Justin Roberts, Part 2


Then & Now: A 12-year-old Roberts poses with WWE Superstar Shawn Michaels in 1992, and introduces the "Heartbreak Kid" for his match vs. the Undertaker at WrestleMania XXV in 2009. Do you have different types of introductions for the different superstars?

Roberts: Absolutely. I don’t give the same introduction to everybody. I try to give the introduction that goes best with that character. You drive your announcement one way if you know he’s going to get booed like crazy, and you make that introduction another way if it’s a guy who’s going to get cheered like crazy. Do you have a favorite superstar to introduce?

Roberts: Undertaker is one of my favorites. I grew up a big Undertaker fan and he’s one of those guys that, I think it’s safe to say, everybody likes. You know you’re going to get a crowd going crazy when you say his name, so you better give an introduction that goes along with that. What’s that feeling like, being in the middle of the ring and having an entire crowd watching you and hanging on your every word?

Roberts: It’s unbelievable. Sometimes I look around the ring and think, “How did I get here? How did I pull this off?” I was just a big wrestling fan. I used to buy tickets for shows and now I’m standing in the middle of the ring introducing superstars. It’s awesome. There’s nothing like it, to be able to speak to 80,000 people at one time and get complete silence in parts of my announcement, to get 70 or 80,000 people to cheer or get them to boo. It’s just incredible. There is nothing like it. The adrenaline just blows me away.

I have people ask me if I rehearse the introductions, but there really is no way to do that. With that adrenaline, whatever comes out, comes out. It’s all natural. You can’t rehearse it. How about WrestleMania XXVI in Glendale, out at the University of Phoenix Stadium? How special was that for you, being from the Valley?

Roberts: Really cool. I’ve lived in Arizona for 14 years now, the Phoenix area for 10. I love it out here. I tell everybody that I travel the world, but this is where I choose to live. I love Arizona and to be able to do WrestleMania – THE show – right here in my own town was awesome. I had friends there, I had family there and my Arizona neighbors, all 70,000 of them, were there. It was really cool. What are the best and worst parts of your job?

Roberts: The best part is that as a fan, I love wrestling and wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to be a ring announcer and I got here. At first I was like, “Cool, I’m a ring announcer! This is awesome, I love this.” But shortly after I started, I got to see the business from a different perspective. I got to see kids with disabilities, or even adults with disabilities… I got to see what happens when these people who have rough challenges in their lives get to come to a WWE event and see their superheroes. Their real life superheroes in front of them and get to meet them, or get a wristband from John Cena, an armband from Triple H. It’s awesome. There’s nothing else that can do that for these kids or adults. You can’t run into Superman at the airport, but you can run into John Cena or Randy Orton. It’s really incredible and I get to see it on a weekly basis. I get to see people light up. They might be sick and they might face extreme challenges every other day of the week, but on the day they come to WWE, they’re on top of the world and it’s awesome. Nothing tops that. Is the constant travel the most difficult part?

Roberts: There’s no doubt about it, our travel schedule is incredibly demanding. But that’s what it takes to get us to all these places where people adore what our company does. In order for the WWE to accommodate its fans, we have to go where they live. It’s not an easy schedule, but we enjoy what we do and we love every aspect of it. We bet you’ve been able to see some pretty amazing places, though.

Roberts: I remember sitting in class in sixth grade and learning about all these different places around the world. I remember thinking, “What do I need to learn all this for?” I was ignorant and I’m paying for it now. I never imagined visiting Russia, Poland, Scotland, England, France, Germany, the Middle East, Japan, Australia, South Africa... I have been to a lot of incredible places with the WWE, and I never expected that. Do you have an all-time favorite match that you’ve introduced?

Roberts: It was awesome doing Undertaker and Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania XXVI), and then Undertaker and Triple H (WrestleMania XXVII), and then Undertaker and Triple H again (WrestleMania XXVIII). Of course, announcing the Rock and Cena (WrestleMania XXVIII) was amazing, and the Cena-CM Punk match from “Money in the Bank” in Chicago last summer was a thrill. Introducing everyone for the Royal Rumble was a career highlight. There are so many great matches that I’ve been able to announce and watch at ringside, that it’s hard to choose one or even 10. We know you just finished working out. Have you ever wanted to rip off your jacket and jump into the ring yourself for a match?
Roberts: The superstars might make it look easy, but it’s not. It’s a lot of work and I wouldn’t want to go in there thinking “I can do this,” because I can’t. I wouldn’t want to disgrace anybody. I’m there to enhance the introductions. I enjoy that and the guys are out there to wrestle and do a hell of a job of it. You would have a big fan following, though. You’ve got more than 100,000 followers on Twitter (@JustinRoberts), after all! What’s it like being a celebrity yourself now?

Roberts: I wouldn’t call myself a celebrity. I just announce WWE matches and if people watch WWE then they might know who I am (laughs). Do you get a chance to talk to kids about pursuing your dreams?

Roberts: Absolutely. Anytime I get the chance, I tell kids that my dream job was to be a ring announcer for WWE, which is nearly impossible. There’s only one company of its kind and in that company there are just three slots for a ring announcer, so that’s impossible. I didn’t know anybody in the business, I started from scratch. But if I can get in and become a ring announcer for Monday Night RAW, anybody can do anything they want to do. I tell people all the time to follow their dreams no matter how impossible it seems. If you want something bad enough, get it. WWE is coming back to Phoenix this summer with the “Money in the Bank” pay-per-view. For those who have never seen a MITB match, how would you describe it?

Roberts: “Money in the Bank” is incredible! You’ve got a briefcase hanging above the ring, ladders surrounding the ring, and six to eight superstars trying to get to that briefcase to win a shot at the champion whenever they want, wherever they want, for a year. So “Money in the Bank” matches are extreme, to say the least. It’s cool because once that superstar becomes Mr. Money in the Bank, then it’s a year of wondering what he’s going to do with it, where he’s going to cash it in, and how he’s going to do it. Why should people buy tickets to come out and see this show live and in person?

Roberts: Like I said, that match is so exciting because the superstars involved are so hungry to win that match, that they’ll do anything to win it. So you’ll see incredible matches that night guaranteed. And then you never know what’s going to happen when they win “Money in the Bank.” Will the winner of the cash it in for a championship that night? That’s happened in the past. So if you’re in Phoenix, you have to come out. And if you’re not in Phoenix, you have to get the pay-per-view!