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Wrestling / Corey Graves

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Matthew Polinsky (born February 24, 1984 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), is a color commentator and retired professional wrestler. He began competing on the indies under the name Sterling James Keenan before signing a contract with the WWE and changing his ring name to the better known Corey Graves.

During his stint in the indies, he achieved many accolades, some of which are 1x NWA East Tag Team Championship (with Mad Mike), 1x IWC World Heavyweight Champion, 2x IWC Super Indy Champion, 1x NWA East Heavyweight Champion, 1x AIW Absolute Champion, 1x NWA North American Tag Team Champion (with Brandon K) and 1x FCW Florida Tag Team Champion (with Jake Carter). On the WWE, he's 1x NXT Tag Team Champion (with Adrian Neville).

After retiring from in-ring competition in late 2014 due to a Career-Ending Injury, he moved to commentary, becoming a WWE pre-show panelist, as well as providing commentary for NXT. In 2016, he was drafted to Monday Night Raw, where he is a full-time commentator, as well as on Friday Night SmackDown, as of early 2019.

Tropes associated with Corey Graves:

  • Bald of Evil: His shaved head further adds color to his heel color commentary.
  • Berserk Button: Despite mostly playing the heel role on commentary, he cannot stand Elias (whether Elias is heel or face) and goes out of his way to put him down. This isn't helped by the fact that Michael Cole, normally a face, absolutely loves Elias.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Told to stop wrestling after receiving two serious concussions and now works as a color commentator. He revealed at NXT TakeOver: R Evolution that he is officially retiring from wrestling and joined the NXT Announce Team soon after, before moving to main-card commentary in 2016.
  • Catchphrase:
    • As a wrestler, "Stay down." It's tattooed on his knuckles.
    • On commentary, he has several, for different wrestlers' signature/finishing moves. He always punctuates The Shield's triple-powerbomb with the phrase "Summon the Cerberus!", and does the same for Samoa Joe's corner uranage with "Sit down!"
  • Combat Commentator: He became one of the members of the commentary team after his retirement as a wrestler..
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most notably since he joined the commentary team, though some in the know have known of his snarkery through Twitter for a lot longer.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: The presence of either Lacey Evans or Alexa Bliss tends to leave him starstruck, much to his commentary partners' annoyance, and if Mandy Rose even looks in his general direction, he absolutely melts. Considering that all three are blonde and are often portrayed as heels, it seems he may have a type.
  • Downer Ending: His last match involved him eating the pin. Worse is that Sami Zayn's Helluva Kick (at 0:59 in the linked video) gave him his second, career ending concussion.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Simply can't bring himself to pull for Elias, James Ellsworth, or Enzo Amore, even when they're heels like he is. He will also quickly condemn any given heel for taking things too far, or, in the case of Sasha Banks, who returned as a heel on the August 12, 2019, Raw, for her apparent real-life walkout over WWE's booking decisions that lasted over four months.
    • Rarely is a shameless career troll, snarker, and pot-stirrer like Graves rendered speechless, but - in a moment so stunningly vicious it made him forget his above criticism - he certainly was when Bayley turned on Sasha Banks on the 09/04/2020 episode of SmackDown by, seemingly, literally attempting to kill Sasha by breaking her neck with a chair.
    • After spending months defending Dominik Mysterio for his betrayal of his father to join The Judgment Day, Corey finally gives up after Dom throws a cup of water at his sister mid-match.
    • After Jimmy Uso costs his brother Jey the Undisputed WWE Universal Title match against Roman Reigns at SummerSlam 2023, Graves was so disgusted he deemed the former a piece of human garbage.
  • Exiled to the Couch: On the January 10th, 2020 episode of Friday Night SmackDown, Corey off-handedly mentioned that, regarding his off-screen personal life, he's now only allowed to say certain things about Mandy Rose; in his words, he was caught looking at her Instagram and subsequently forced to sleep on the couch.
  • Expy: Of CM Punk, or at least a more debauched version, anyway. His 2014 re-work of his gimmick takes pages from Paige (pun not intended) as a sort of anti-Superstar.
  • Has a Type: Given how he usually acts upon seeing Lacey Evans, Alexa Bliss, and especially Mandy Rose, he might have a thing for blonde bombshells that are primarily Alpha Bitches
    • Considering his wife, yeah, this tracks.
  • Heel: For most of his career. He also serves this role as a colour commentator on WWE's NXT, RAW and Smackdown announcer teams. (At present he's just on the latter two, though; Nigel McGuinness has taken his place on NXT.)
  • Hypocrite: As you'd expect from a heel commentator, just to make you despise him that much more.
    • If you're a heel he has a hundred and one excuses for every damn thing you do, most of them deliberately terrible; if you're a face, he second-guesses your actions and motives therefor constantly, often trying to do to you what JJJ does to Spider-Man, and treats any act that's even vaguely ambiguous as a Felony Misdemeanor.
    • If a face does something incriminating or suffers something embarrassing, he'll never let it drop. If another commentator points out something similar for a heel he likes, he'll accuse them of living in the past.
  • Jack of All Trades: As an in-ring competitor, he possessed a wide variety of moves. He was capable of brawling, high-flying, and technical wrestling; also, his finisher was a submission hold.
  • Jerkass: Part and parcel of being a heel. On commentary he is all too happy to throw insults around, especially towards Byron Saxton.
  • Jerkass to One: Being a heel commentator, there are many people Corey doesn't like; however, he seems to have an unreasonable and unrelenting hatred for the following people:
    • Sasha Banks, no matter if she's a fellow heel or a babyface. His favorite comment about her is "if you've got a back, Sasha's got a knife", never mind that she's hardly a bigger backstabber than say, Kevin Owens or Charlotte Flair.
    • Elias. Graves has flat-out admitted that his dislike for the Drifter has nothing to do with his character or in-ring ability and everything to do with his conviction that Elias is a Dreadful Musician. Ironically, he'd later take Michael Cole's place as the commentary team's resident Elias Fanboy following his transfer to Smackdown, which just made this look even more petty.
  • Knuckle Tattoos: That say "Stay Down", which also served as his in-ring Catchphrase.
  • The Nicknamer: He tends to give wrestlers and teams elaborate monikers. He was the first to use "Hounds of Justice" for The Shield, "God's Greatest Creation" for Mandy Rose, and he's also coined "Sons of Odin" for The Viking Raiders.
  • Precision F-Strike: On the July 1 episode of Raw, Braun Strowman smashed Bobby Lashley through the stage's LED board, creating a shower of sparks and plunging the entire arena into darkness. After a long pause while everything sunk in, Graves reacted with a clear, audible, uncensored "Holy shit!"
  • Purple Prose: Has just about mastered it. Graves is capable of using his verbal eloquence to make any moment even more epic than it already is.
  • Red Baron: "The Savior of Misbehavior".
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: On the WWE commentary team, he's typically the Manly Man opposite the likes of Michael Cole, Byron Saxton and Tom Philips as the Sensitive Guy in his capacity as the woman-gazing, decency-hating, insult-throwing heel commentator.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: His vocabulary is seemingly endless, and he uses words, phrases, and references that you won't hear from any other commentator on either show's team.
  • Shout-Out: His name in the indies, Sterling James Keenan, references professional American football player Sterling Sharpe and tool's singer Maynard James Keenan.
  • Speaks in Shout-Outs: Loves dropping pop-culture references. He's especially fond of Mean Girls.
  • Wild Card:
    • His face turn wasn't really marked by any particular change in character; the only difference was that instead of picking a fight with Seth Rollins (a face at that time), he was picking fights with The Wyatt Family. Likewise, his heel turn after that was marked principally by attacking his tag team partner at the time.
    • Also fulfills this role as a color commentator. While he does usually take the heel role to root for them and people willing to do anything to win matches, he will show respect to the faces that manage to win on their own terms and prove him wrong.
  • Wrestling Family: Is the son of professional wrestling promoter Dan Polinsky and has a younger brother who wrestles in the independents as Sam Adonis.