Dec 7 – Announcers and Title Unification
Dec 7 - Announcers and Title Unification
It’s a real shame how bad the announcing has been recently on WWE programming. While I’ve never expected anyone to match the perfect symbiotic relationship of Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura (the best duo ever), they’ve fallen so far off the track that it’s going to take major restructuring to get back there.
I used to think it was rather harmless to hire standard sports announcers, and then train or mold them into sports entertainment announcers. Sadly, I’m quickly and suddenly changing my mind. Michael Cole is never going to be considered one of the all-time greats, yet somehow he’s become the best announcer in mainstream wrestling. That’s fucking sad.
I understand why Vince seems to want Michael performing the way he does. He’s not actually a play-by-play announcer, but almost like a news reporter. And on that side of things, he’s actually doing an amazing job. When it comes to breaking down the storylines and characters, Cole, and whoever he’s working with, tend to do a great job. It’s very subtle. In fact, a sign that they are doing it well is that it’s not noticeable. When Matt Striker was at the booth, you could tell how hard he was working to fit in rather than just do his job. Some loved what Matt did, some were turned off by it (myself included), but the fact we noticed the extreme difference he brought to the table was actually a bad thing. It was a distraction from what announcers are supposed to do. Same for Bobby Heenan. I know this part won’t be popular, but as entertaining and funny as he was in the booth, he was actually a pretty shitty color commentator. He was downright hilarious, but he didn’t add much to the action in the ring. That’s a terrible detriment, and it’s one that is apparent today.
This is where Cole lacks. If you watch a match from 1989, you’ll notice that the crowd reacts much more often during a match. I’m not saying they chanted louder, but the reactions were stronger to the actual match. I think a big reason was that in 1989, the announcers were putting over the action more. It’s all fine and good to watch a tag match, and cheer for a hot tag in 2013. But how often do you hear Cole say that the face in peril desperately needs to tag his/her partner in? I know it happens, but a lot less often than during matches from yesteryear. It goes even further than that, though. When was the last time an announcer broke down how tag teams benefit from quick tags, or used the term “cutting the ring in half?”
There’s a lot of old school in ring psychology that goes untouched by the announcers, and I strongly believe that because today’s fans aren’t made aware of it that it leaves many portions of a match go without a live reaction. I can understand that Vince feels that having JBL breakdown why a resthold works several parts of the body is a detriment to the storytelling, but at this point no one understands how a rear chinlock from Randy Orton is so effective. These subtle touches are all the more noticeable when viewing wrestling from about 20 years ago.
Possibly an even bigger issue is the age. In an era where they are reaching out to kids with a PG program, capitalizing on a borderline excessive amount of social media presence to cater to the younger market, and various other youth orientated business direction, why are they dependent on middle age announcers to pass on the message? While I’m not inspired to download the WWE app much at all, is Jerry Lawler’s step-by-step instructions going to increase downloads? Especially because listening to him try to tell me to go to the Samsung Play Store shows how he was obviously taught minutes before the camera swung to him how to turn his defibrillator down enough to not drown out his voice, as well as operate anything but a Paul E Dangerously brick cell phone. Could the WWE announcers seem more out of touch while aiming at a demographic they are ripe to be grandparents for?
This isn’t a call for all of them to be removed from the booth. But when you have 3 men talking every Monday, at least one of them should be conveying messages that the others do not. JBL’s heel tactics have decreased significantly recently, and what has Lawler added in recent years to commentary that he wasn’t adding over a decade ago when he returned to take his spot from Paul Heyman?
I really think something needs to change. The NXT system is going to be able to develop announcers, but it will be a slow process. William Regal has the character to pull off being included in a booth, but he’s still too dry. Fake or not, No current announcer lacks excitement for what they are doing. Renee Young needs a lot of seasoning, but also shows a lot of potential to reach the audience no one is currently talking to. Alex Riley has his share of detractors, but I don’t find him too bad. Also needs work, and I would suggest using his heel character more to be able to stand out.
My idea is to use WWE talents who aren’t doing anything in NXT, and allow them to be the third person in the booth more often. Guys like Curt Hawkins, JTG, or David Otunga should be getting an opportunity to not only expand their skills, but to develop their characters further. Al Snow did a decent job rejuvenating his career by not only doing announcing and color commentary, but by being a trainer on Tough Enough. Allowing talents that seem directionless to fill roles like 3rd commentator might could result in one of 3 things: a future WWE announcer, an open door for a wrestling based push, or confirmation that they should be released.
It’s a tough spot to fill. Anyone who’s read my work since my earliest days knows that I went to broadcasting school with the hopes of becoming a WWE broadcaster. I ended up moving away from that dream as my skills as a comedian and music knowledge found me work as a standard radio host quicker than in the sports department. I’ve since moved on from broadcasting altogether, but if I felt I knew the right path to try again to get hired by Vince and HHH, I would. Sadly, I’m clueless as to what I could do to get back in a very tough profession, and feel that my internet wrestling knowledge would actually be held against me, even though I’m not the standard indy wrestling fan.
But when I see the announce booth so dreadful, I can’t help but feel that I would turn that booth upside if I had the chance… And I can’t be the only one. So why are the stale geezers still explaining Twitter to me?
I am quite perplexed by the recent move to possibly unify the WWE Championship with the World Heavyweight Title. I can’t flat out say it’s a good or bad idea, because there are pros and cons to the move. On top of that, the build up has been interesting in not really being concrete. “There will be one champion,” but as has been pointed out by many others, HHH never said it will be Orton or Cena. It might not be a big deal, but it does feel like a subtle hint that something drastic will take place at TLC.
I personally have no problems with choosing Orton and Cena to make this match happen. While I do have wrestlers I prefer, there’s solid logic in using the top 2 stars over the last decade to settle the championship dispute. No matter the result of this match, there will need to be a new challenger to this newly combined title, most likely just in time for Wrestlemania. This leaves the door open for someone like Daniel Bryan or CM Punk to be the top challenger. Will it happen? It’s way too early to tell, but even if they aren’t, they are on a hot streak that won’t be ignored. They’ll have a prominent place at Wrestlemania. I set my watch and warrant on it.
Predictions? I don’t have any. Thankfully, there are a lot of decent options. Sadly, there are a lot of shitty ones too. I just don’t think WWE has it in them to completely ruin momentum at this time of year. With CM Punk opening the door to taking on HHH down the line, and Daniel Bryan still being mentioned in the main event picture (by Cena on Monday, and tune in on Friday for more), I am still quite confident that they will be part of an elite group to compete over this Unified Title along with Cena, Orton, and most likely HHH. Sheamus and Undertaker are other names to be considered as we take the Road to Wrestlemania. There aren’t too many combinations out of all these stars that would sour my excitement. So I can’t predict, or pick my best way to get there. I just hope that by the end of Wrestlemani, CM Punk and/or Daniel Bryan have soundly defeated the Unified Champion, HHH, or Brock Lesnar. Thankfully, it won’t be hard to reach any of these expectations.
And on that note, Peace out
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