WWE commentator Corey Graves was a recent guest on Lilian Garcia’s Chasing Glory podcast where the former NXT tag champion opened up about no longer being able to compete as an in-ring competitor. Graves admits that the moment he found out he could no longer wrestle was one of the worst of his life, but it did give him the luxury of spending a lot of time with the late Dusty Rhodes during classes at the Performance Center.
It was like the whole world came crashing down on me. I couldn’t breathe, I felt like I was gonna burst into tears. I didn’t wanna cry in front of anybody else, so I made a beeline out of the gym up to the locker room. And William Regal was in there. He was standing there, and I walked in and broke down. I told him and all he did, he just stood there and hugged me. It wasn’t like there was anything he could tell me that was gonna make [it better]. Essentially, my dream just came crashing down at a moment’s notice. And he was there for me, and consoled me the best that he could. And by that point, I was panicked. Because I had worked my whole life to get to this point. Now I can’t do it anymore. What the hell am I gonna do? I have a family to support, I’ve sacrificed everything in my life to be here. I’m right here at the cusp and now it’s gone. And that’s a lot to fathom in one moment.
Luckily I had a lot of people — friends and coaches that were around that tried. I remember Bill DeMott was the coach that said, ‘Hey, do you wanna go home, do you want to take some time off?’ And I said, the last thing I need is time off. So I just jumped into everything. So a few weeks went by, we had some conversations about what I was gonna do. They weren’t gonna just release me, it wasn’t like I did something wrong. It was just a crappy situation. Essentially, they gave me the keys to the kingdom and said, ‘Hey, figure something out.’ So I went and tried everything and anything. I started running the music at NXT live events, learning the production end of things. I was helping out Dusty with promo class, which turned out to be one of the best blessings in disguise. I got taken out of the ring, but for the better part of a year I basically stood side by side with Dusty Rhodes all the time. So I got to spend countless hours with him and get to know him and learn. I probably learned more after getting shut down from wrestling about the business and characters and just life.
Graves also reveals that it was Triple H who broke the news to him when he approached the COO during a workout.
I will never forget. I would argue it was the worst moment of my life. We were at the Performance Center, and Triple H who is the boss, he was there. And I had been on the shelf for a few weeks, and I was just like ‘Man, I don’t know what’s taking so long.’ And I’m talking to the doctors and saying ‘Hey, when can I get back in?’ And they’re just saying, ‘Well, we’re just waiting to see some things, we’re waiting on some tests.’ So I couldn’t get a straight answer from anybody. So I walked up to Hunter, and he was in the middle of a workout. I was passing through the gym and I said, ‘Hey boss, do you have any updates for anything?’ And I don’t think he was prepared at that moment to tell me, but he didn’t want to sugarcoat anything, and he just kind of blurted it out in a way that — I think I caught him off-guard, so he didn’t have a gentle way of telling me. He was just like, ‘You know, I would expect the worst.’ And he tried to justify it, but you could tell he wasn’t ready for that in the moment. He didn’t want to lie to me, so I respect that.
You can listen to Graves’ full interview here.