Corey Graves recently spoke with Newsweek to promote Wednesday's premiere of his new WWE podcast, After The Bell. Graves will be joined by several top stars for the premiere - Triple H, WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair, SmackDown Women's Champion Bayley, and WWE Universal Champion Seth Rollins.
Graves talked to Newsweek about how WWE approached him for the podcast. He said he made sure that this wouldn't be another "fluff piece" for the company. Graves said he was assured he would be allowed to "rock the boat" a little.
"WWE reached out to me," he revealed. "I heard mumblings of a podcast partnership for the last year or so, and this place is so big that you can't believe anything until you see it. So I got a call about a month, maybe two months ago, asking if I'd be interested in hosting the WWE flagship podcast. For me that's a great compliment because it's a big undertaking and the company is putting a lot of effort into this, so I was flattered to be the first one asked to do this and be entrusted with the keys to the castle.
"The first question I asked when they approached me about the podcast was, 'is this going to be a WWE fluff piece?' And they assured me that it wouldn't because I said 'if you want me to go on and talk about how great everything is and put my head in the sand and not talk about things that most podcasts cover then I wasn't interested.' They assured me that I am allowed to rock the boat a little bit. That to me was very exciting."
Graves also talked about the format of the show. As we've noted, the podcasts will be recorded on Tuesdays and released on Wednesdays. He revealed that he's already talked to WWE NXT North American Champion Roderick Strong.
"That's the beauty of it," Graves said. "It's going to be on a case-by-case basis. I'm going to be covering pertinent issues from RAW, SmackDown and NXT. We're going to talk about the show, if something was really cool, or if something got traction for the wrong reasons, we'll chat about that. Whoever my guest is at the time maybe we'll talk about a match they just had from a personal perspective. I got to talk to Roderick Strong about his clashes with Velveteen Dream. It was pretty cool because you have Roderick Strong the man, not the WWE character. I want to give the world a little more of that.
"I don't know how many guests I'm going to have every week. I may have one or four. I know this week we are starting off big. We have Triple H, Seth Rollins, Bayley and the 'Nature Boy' Ric Flair. So I imagine I'll have more than an hour to cover. I'm just going to go ahead and make my editor do all the work and see what we use and don't. Like I said, we'll live through either bonus episodes in the future or digitally. We'll find out."
Graves talked more about the freedom he has with the show, and was asked about WWE oversight and if he's allowed to curse.
"Obviously anything under the WWE banner is going to have a certain set of parameters to operate under," he said. "You're not going to hear me out there dropping f-bombs and stringing together offensive quotes or things like that on the podcast. WWE holds everything to a higher standard in terms of production and marketing and what we let out there. It's more of a quality-control issue than a content issue. WWE wants to make sure that, if it sees the light of day, it's clean, produced well and suitable for mass consumption. But with that said, I've been told without question that I have a large amount of freedom. Like I said, I had no interest in doing this podcast if I have to play nice all the time."
Graves said Triple H was important for the first episode, but the one person he really wants to interview is the WWE Chairman, Vince McMahon. Graves said chances of Vince appearing on the show are slim to none.
"Just the fan in me, the guy who loved this business his entire life, my new "white whale" has to be Vince [McMahon]," Graves said. "The likelihood of that happening I'd say is pretty slim to none, but if we're setting our goals high, I would love to have The Boss and I would love to talk to Stephanie [McMahon]. Although, she's always in public and bedeviled on television and you see her out there doing her brand work. But as far as Stephanie is as a person, she's pretty fascinating. I've been lucky enough to have sit down conversations with her, not on camera, and she would be the perfect person to set the record [straight] on who she is as opposed to what the public misconception is."