As long as we can remember, wrestling has always had play by play men just like in other professional sports. We’ve seen many names that come to mind when the topic is being talked about. Names like Jim Ross, Gordon Solie, Tazz, Paul E. Dangerously/Paul Heyman, Joey Styles, Bobby Heenan, Jesse Ventura, Gorilla Monsoon, the list goes on and on. But announce teams play more of a vital role in how the product is viewed than most people would like to admit.
For a long time, one of the things that was a signature for the WWE was having a good announce team. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler were at the top of the mountain in that category. The two just clicked well together and never let a difference in opinion affect how they called match. They were as professional as it gets and are still the most recognized announce team to this day. Then the WWE decided to split them up and everything went to hell. Jim Ross was put with Tazz, Michael Cole was put with Jerry Lawler. JR was taken off TV and Cole was on both shows. Tazz walked away and so did Joey Styles and it got to where all you had was Cole, Lawler, Todd Grisham and Matt Striker. Then Josh Matthews was brought in and more recently Booker T. I think even at one point we had JBL and Mick Foley, not at the same time, but had them trying to do play by play, that didn’t work either.
Vince even seems in favor of a three person announce team. Can somebody tell me when that ever worked successfully? WCW did that on Nitro and on Thunder, never worked then either. For a long time they had Eric Bischoff as an announcer and boy did he suck. They got Tony Schiavone after Bischoff went heel with the NWO, and though he was a pro, Tony wasn’t the greatest at it, even with having either Steve McMichael, Bobby Heenan or Larry Zbysko helping him out. I think they even had Mark Madden do Thunder for a while during WCW’s dying stretch and we all know how that turned out. And currently in the WWE, they’re so busy making sure that Cole is in his heel character, it takes away from the match itself and has the announcers just arguing with each other.
That brings me to the point is that if the announcers don’t care enough to call the match going on and putting over the wrestlers in the match, why should the audience care about it? Over the last six months in the WWE, the fans have been distracted by what’s going on outside the ring at the announce table to give undivided attention to what is actually going on in the ring. The announcers are supposed to sell to the audience the product that is the superstars on the roster and the storylines being told in the ring and lately, thats just not happening. Instead of being focused on the wrestlers in the ring, fans endure having to focus periodically on a podium, laptop, guy reading emails and one announce table and a cubicle
If the WWE wants the fans to believe in their product, they need to know that the announcers believe in it enough to call the action thats going on. Otheriwse, they’ve become nothing short but those idiots in the theater that won’t shut up through the movie.
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