On the latest episode of After The Bell, Corey Graves welcomed Johnny Gargano and comedian Ron Funches. Graves talked with Funches about the popularity of wrestling and how it has become more acceptable like comic books.
"It's crazy how wrestling brings people of all walks of life together. I think we're starting to see it more from our generation because you can argue in the late '90s, early 2000s when the business was as hot as it has ever been, everyone was a fan. It became pop culture, Americana. You had Stone Cold, The Rock and The Attitude Era, and now we've all kind of grown," Graves said. "We've all kind of carved out our own paths in life whatever that may be, but I find that wrestling has become a lot more acceptable and relatable much like comic books or anything that was maybe frowned upon at any point in your life. Now it's very common. I've got friends in so many industries that have nothing to do with pro wrestling other than being fans. Whether it be guys in bands or comics. It's funny how it's become more acceptable. For everyone in our generation, it doesn't look abnormal anymore. It's just kind of that thing that we do."
Funches talked about going to the Tokyo Dome for Wrestle Kingdom 14 to see Jushin "Thunder" Liger's last matches. Corey recalled Liger's match at NXT Takeover in Brooklyn against Tyler Breeze and how surreal it was for him.
"The reverence they have for the sport because it's a sport over there. It's still looked at as a sport more than anything. I was lucky enough to do a tour over there. I did some death matches over there many moons ago which was not in the Tokyo Dome and was not in front of 40,000 people, but the culture itself, I had a crazy appreciation for it. I definitely fell in love with it," Graves said. "But to your point about Liger, that's another one I remember him and Brian Pillman and his whole run in WCW. When Liger did Takeover in Brooklyn a few years ago, I got to call it, and I remember sitting ringside thinking, 'what the hell has happened to my life. I'm in Brooklyn, NY calling a Jushin 'Thunder' Liger match, and he's wrestling my friend Tyler Breeze.' It was that weird 'what the hell is happening' moments, but it was really cool."
Funches and Graves talked about how it is important to take a step back and realize what you're doing. Graves talked about how he felt like a fan again when Stone Cold made his return to WWE at Madison Square Garden.
"It's important to take note of what you get to accomplish. I get that still from time to time like when I get to call an Undertaker match or even Goldberg," Graves said. "I wasn't even a huge Goldberg fan as a kid but just knowing what he meant to that time period, it really solidified my fandom. I still get those goosebumps thinking about it. There's nothing cooler when the glass broke in Madison Square Garden, and Stone Cold came walking out and I, all of a sudden, was 12 years old again. It was crazy."
Graves also talked to Johnny Gargano about working with HBK and the differences between WWE main roster and NXT. You can listen to the podcast by clicking here. If you use any quotes from this article, please credit After The Bell with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.