Tom Hannifan is enjoying life in the IMPACT Zone.
On January 8, 2022, Hannifan was unveiled as the new voice of IMPACT Wrestling, taking over the position previously held by Matt Striker. Best known for his nearly nine-year run with WWE as Tom Phillips, Hannifan worked on everything from Raw to NXT and everything in-between.
Appearing on a recent edition of Busted Open, Hannifan reflected on his brief time with IMPACT and his ability to say words such as 'wrestler' and 'belt' on the air.
“No, it’s been great, dude. I think one of the first tapings I did, I kept saying the word ‘Superstar.’ You guys were like, ‘You don’t have to say that, man. You can say wrestler. You can say whatever you want.’ Even Scott D’Amore being like, ‘You can say belt. You can say that for the title.’ It’s just a lot of things that I’ve had to – habits that, yeah, that’s the way WWE likes to do things, so it’s like, okay, I had to do that for nine years and I’m unlearning a lot of things. All of you at IMPACT Wrestling have been extremely patient with me," he said.
Allowed and encouraged to show his personality and excitement during IMPACT's shows, Hannifan credits WWE SmackDown's Pat McAfee for loosening up everybody on commentary in professional wrestling. McAfee's exuberant style frequently sees him jumping out of his seat and even dancing on the commentary desk.
"But you talk about getting excited about stuff, the Styles Clash in the middle of Alexander and Moose, I jumped out of my freaking chair. I’m sure the spycam, if they record it, still has that footage. I was on my feet when Josh won the title. It’s just, you feel this stuff. I think the beauty of Pat McAfee is that he made it okay for commentators to jump up and down and literally get on the desk. I mean, Cole’s not doing anything like that, but we all feel that emotion. If anything, it’s just kind of loosened everybody up in commentary in all of professional wrestling,” Hannifan said.
Later in the interview, he would elaborate on the differences between working for WWE and IMPACT, saying that aside from the verbiage the biggest change is being responsible for telling stories that extended across the wrestling world.
“Tommy [Dreamer] hit on it a little bit in terms of just certain things in terms of verbiage that are marketing tools that WWE likes to use in terms of how they brand their product, their stars. So, obviously, moving on from those things because I’m no longer beholden to them. I’d say the biggest thing is that in IMPACT I’m dealing with AAA stories, New Japan stories, Ring of Honor stories, IMPACT stories, WWE stories, AEW stories. It can be mind-boggling at certain times. People with moves that they haven’t used in forever but they brought it up in this promotion. Eddie Edwards just went back to using the Die Hard Driver from back in the day in Ring of Honor. So there’s little things here and there that within WWE, and I think it really drives some fans nuts that, ‘Why aren’t you acknowledging this thing in NXT, and now the guy is on the main roster.’ Well, there’s a simplicity in that for a lot of the viewers that are new and don’t know a certain talent, so you understand it, you might not agree with it. But for me in IMPACT, I can talk about anything. We’re encouraged to talk about anything because we’re bringing all these stories forward. So it requires Rehwoldt and I on a regular basis to chat, get with talent, get with agents, get with people like Dreamer to kind of help us out and be like, ‘Hey, we can’t watch everything, so fill us in on this story. How do we bring this forward? How do we be true to this story, this character, this championship, etc., and not insult the viewer in any way because we know we have a nice die-hard audience and we want to respect that,’” Hannifan explained.
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