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What really grinds my gears? Episode 13 - Commentary Calamity

Rating: 7 votes, 4.43 average.
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Episode 13 - Commentary Calamity

OH MY GOD!! PUPPIES!! STONE COLD!! STONE COLD!! SHUT UP MCMAHON!!

Yes, this is about wrestling commentary. I am rather perplexed at the downfall of wrestling commentary, because it was such a big part of the shows. Can you imagine watching old school wrestling with no Jesse Ventura?? What about the Attitude Era without Jim Ross and (Heel) The King? Imagine ECW without Joey Styles???? Oh .... my .... God!

Nowadays, we have plunged into a blackhole of terrible commentary. Not just in WWE, even TNA has fallen on the commentary side. I will start with WWE commentary, just because it is clearly the worst.

Michael Cole

The Wrestling Observer Newsletter has voted him the worst announcer of the last four years, and I completely agree. Where do I start???

He is an absolute puppet. Really it's not even Cole commentating, it is Vince McMahon. Anything Vince wants said, Cole will say it. Also Cole doesn't know the names of most of the wrestling holds. He is often bashed by other commentators, and is absolutely annoying to the point he takes away from the product.

Since Cole took over as lead announcer, he has had nothing on Jim Ross. He can have his moments, but they are very few and far between. He continues to go through the motions, sounding fake, and never truly getting into what he is commentating on. Also a commentator like Cole should never be used as a heel, specially when he is "supposed" to be a lead announcer. I am sure many people got tired of his heel persona which is why they scrapped it.

He is meant to be a play-by-play announcer, but he never really calls the action. He will refer to someone as being "Vintage", or bury the Divas Division before becoming a better announcer. It's probably the biggest reason why Jim Ross stopped commentating, he didn't want to be a puppet like Cole.

Jerry Lawler

To be honest, Lawler was never one of the greatest announcers of all time. He has and always will be a wrestler before being an announcer. If he could wrestle full time at the highest level, he would be doing so. He is an announcer purely because he wanted to keep himself relevant going into his golden years. He was only amazing during the Attitude Era because he was the Yang to Jim Ross' Ying. The chemistry between the two was amazing for many years, and it is hard to imagine the Attitude Era without the duo.

Nowadays, he is a shell of his former self. He tries to be funny, he tries to be a good guy, but you can just tell that he doesn't really enjoy it anymore. A quote from the man himself ..

I still enjoy performing in the ring as much as I ever did. I didn't get into this business to be a commentator; I don't even really enjoy being a commentator. I just happen to be able to do it where people can stand to listen to me

I just can't understand why the WWE continue to have him at the announce table. He adds nothing of value to the product, and admits to his mistakes.
The last time I genuinely enjoyed WWE commentary, was when JBL, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler worked as a trio for one night in Cole's absence. Lawler upped his game next to them two, and you could tell all three were enjoying it.

Josh Matthews & Todd Grisham

Gone are the days where announcers like these were appreciated. These two were similar in that they were fresh, young, and doing their best to call the action. Even with guys like JBL trying to provoke reactions out of them, they would continue to call the action. Am I the only one who appreciated that?

I mean .. the commentators are not meant to be charismatic, they are there to do a simple job of announcing. When announcers can entertain, then that's a bonus, but telling us the action gets us to turn our heads away from facebook, video games, and anything else that may be grabbing our attention. You don't find many announcers like that now in the top companies, so I never really know when anything interesting is going on.

John Bradshaw Layfield

Bradshaw is probably the best colour commentator in the top two companies. He is not a legendary announcer, but he is good. He does genuinely try and work with whoever he is paired with, and puts over talent.

He does have small things which are a little annoying, like the Randy Orton thing (where he says that if you was to make your own superstar, it would be Randy Orton), and referencing events outside of wrestling that are relevant.

In fact, I totally appreciate when JBL mentions old legends like Hackenschmidt, Lou Thesz, Killer Kowalski and all those names that Cole and Lawler would never mention. WWE do not do enough to reference the past. Jim Ross used to do it frequently, and it made you feel more prestige within the company.

Also I really appreciated when JBL mentioned Ronnie O'Sullivan winning the World Snooker Championship, because I watched and really enjoyed it, as did many other people across the world.However Cole shot down his comment, telling him how it was completely irrelevant, which just tells me that either Vince didn't appreciate it, or Cole has no clue what goes on in sports across the world.JBL has great knowledge of the UK, and as I am English, I feel like I could really relate to JBL if I ever met him, which is just one reason why I feel he is the best commentator in the WWE right now.

Sometimes he does mention certain events I have absolutely no clue about, and I can see how it can confuse people, but to some, they could totally relate to it.

So what can they do about it?

If the world was a fantasy land where I could just come in and pick the commentary team, it would be Joey Styles for Raw (with guests), and JBL/Regal on Smackdown. Joey Styles is more than capable of doing Coles and Lawlers job, so long as he doesn't need to plug the Twitter stuff every two minutes.

Smackdown would be great for the likes of two former wrestlers like JBL and Regal, with Regal being the play-by-play. It would just depend on the chemistry between the two, but I personally feel it would work really well til I was able to find two fresh (and talented) and announcers to replace them.
In reality, that would never happen. They really do need to find new faces on commentary instead of relying on the same names that have been around since the 90s.

Until then, I will hope they have nights were commentary is cut off, so I can just enjoy the matches.That has happened a few times, and it was so peaceful. So many times the commentators babble on to the point I can't even focus on the match, I just tune into the babble and can't shake it. At the moment, no commentary > commentary in the WWE for me personally. I know that sounds silly, but really, just the sound of the wrestlers bumping and the crowd reacting is a very calming feeling.So .. onto TNA Wrestling.

Insipid Taz Commentary

Anyone who has watched Botchamania knows this segment really well. It is a point in the youtube video where we get to here Taz ramble on about something that makes absolutely no sense.

Why does Taz ramble like this? I don't remember him doing that in the WWE? In fact I used to really like the Cole/Taz pairing for Smackdown, it worked extremely well. Since Taz really settled into TNA, his commentary has steadily gone downhill.

He was at a point where it felt like he really didn't care about the product. He would rip on Tenay a bit, make some jokes, then ramble on about absolutely nothing til Tenay would respond, in a way you can tell he is just cringing.

When he turned heel and joined Aces and Eights, his commentary became more entertaining, but only in the short term. Once again, just like Michael Coles heel turn, it fizzled out to the point it has become more annoying then entertaining. We all know that Taz is going to fully support Aces and Eights at all times, even when a specific match has absolutely nothing to do with Aces and Eights.It has become predictable, and again he will go into babble mode, referencing things we have no clue about.

TNA has changed its announce team lately, trying to keep it fresh. Bringing in Todd Kennely, then having half a show with Todd/Borash, then the last half with Taz/Tenay. Then Todd joined Tenay and Taz so they could work as a trio. To be honest I felt that combination was decent, however TNA decided Todd wasn't totally up to the job, and soon reverted back to Tenay/Taz.

Even more recently, they took Taz off the show once so Tenay/Borash could commentate, then the next show, they had Taz/Borash. To be honest, I missed Tenay a lot more then I missed Taz. Why?? Because Tenay actually calls the action!

Mike Tenay was voted by the Wrestling Observer as the best announcer five times (Once in WCW, Four times in a row in TNA from 2002-2005) and has never been voted the worst. He is the only announcer outside WWE or UFC to be praised for his work. However I also feel like Tenay is not as good as he once was.

I think partly it is down to the chemistry with Taz, and the TNA product itself. Notice how Tenay was voted best announcer during TNAs Golden Age, where the likes of AJ Styles, Samoa Joe and the X-Division reigned supreme? Give Tenay something he can be passionate on, and he will up his game.

TNA has definite room for improvement, and I think if Taz was replaced, people would accept it. Tenay is "the voice" of TNA, just like Jim Ross was, and although to some he may not be charismatic, you know when you hear his voice, TNA is on, and you know he is going to call the matches, and actually knows the moves!

Jeremy Borash

Borash is not too bad actually, however I just don't feel he should be on commentary. If Tenay ever retires then he could easily be the play-by-play, but personally I think JB is great at the backstage segments, and announcing the Main Events. If he ever does end up on commentary full time, Taz is not the right guy to partner with him.

Conclusion

So at the end of this, you can take away that commentary really does grind my gears in the wrestling business today, and is just one problem of many that takes away from the products. The chemistry between announcers are often poor and feels forced. Whenever two announcers with real chemistry come together, they will create magic and make the worst of shows sound amazing.

Just like a Ziggler can sell moves to make his opponent look awesome, the commentary team needs to be top notch, so creative errors will be masked by the awesomeness of said team. At the moment, these announcers take away from the good matches, and make the bad matches even worse.

Until next time. Peace.

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Updated 08-17-2013 at 07:01 PM by kylos

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Comments

  1. Pearl River Plunge's Avatar
    Totally Completely 100% agree. I loved JR / Heel King in AE and Vinnie Mac / Jessie Ventura from the good ole days. Cole is just plain terrible and needs to go. JBL rocks over there, and is really the only saving grace at the announce table right now.
  2. sexyboy14's Avatar
    It must really suck being a vision impaired member of the WWE or TNA Universe. I've always had the view that the play by play announcer explains what is happening in the ring, and the colour announcer explains why the particular moves are so effective. No Twitter trending, tout or WWE app garbage. Michael Cole would be fine if he just called the action. Nothing more, nothing less.
  3. Beard of Knowledge's Avatar
    Gone are the truly entertaining days of commentary. Unfortunately no current combination of commentators is even worthy of warming up the announce table seats for the greatest (and by far, the most entertaining) commentating duo of all time IMO - Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby "the Brain" Heenan. JR and the King were phenomenal (IMO, 2nd best of all time) during the Attitude Era, but their passion and commentary content was clearly disingenuous as the produce waned toward the end of the Ruthless Aggression Era.

    To make the produce truly more entertaining for the fans, both WWE and TNA have to restructure their flagship announcers. Boot Cole and King, and Taz and Tenay. WWE would be well advised to bring back some of the best talkers in history - e.g. Ric Flair, Roddy Piper, Goldust and William Regal - whom WWE is fortunate enough to still have at their disposal. For TNA, Jeremy Borash is the best of the crop, and IMO would be extremely entertaining paired with a heel wrestler commentator such as Matt Morgan (bring him back!) or Robert Roode (who's both one of the best wrestlers and best talkers in the world).

    If wrestling truly considers itself part of the the entertainment industry, why not give the fans the most witty, knowledgable and intriguing announce teams comprised of the best talkers available, instead of prepackaged gruel from the current crop of "company men" (or in Taz's case, based purely on past experience without any merit) who are being shoved down our throats by both organizations week after week?
  4. Rebel Lion's Avatar
    Gordon Solie: the G.O.A.T.!!
  5. Ace Lancaster's Avatar
    Very good blog sir! I do like the idea of Regal as a commentator but I think he'd be best used as a GM. When he was the RAW GM he was incredibly entertaining. Oh you missed Booker T but I guess he was only doing it temporarily but either way he was horrible. When Punk was out with an injury I really enjoyed his commentating work. Very very entertaining.
  6. Ozzy Mandias's Avatar
    Semi-relevant side note - what about the standard of ring announcing? Hemme or Borash? Roberts or Garcia?
  7. weems's Avatar
    Anyone remember when Stevie Ray was announcing for WCW? Just abysmal. Thank goodness he never made it to the commentary table for WWE or TNA.

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