Think back to the best wrestling announcer you have ever heard calling a match can you remember his name? I can probably guess that the name of the announcer is either Jim Ross, Gordon Solie, Lance Russell, Heenan, Styles, Ventura, etc. These people were good at their jobs not because they screamed and cheered when something big happened, but because they knew exactly how to put the talent over and make them seem like they are worth a million bucks or worth nothing depending on if the wrestler was a face or heel. Think about it of these announcers how many times did you hear the background of the talent and the fact that it included in most cases some sort of college sport mostly football. Now think about if you felt any emotions when you found out that you went/are attending: Kent State University like Dolph Ziggler or Florida State University like Ron Simmons or University of Oklahoma like Jack Briscoe the list goes on and on with names of known talent that attended a variety of colleges all over the country. Does having this knowledge help you develop extra attachment or emotional investment in the talent? Now my question is how many of you knew this?
Over the years the wrestling announcer has either been a strength or weakness for the wrestling show. Most people go back to how much of a success and a great addition that Jim Ross was for WCW/Jim Crockett Promotions, and how then a lot of people go to how Michael Cole isn’t the best wrestling announcer. Most modern fans don’t know of the past, because a lot of current fans are either causal fans or just too young to know about history. But if you went back to the year 2000 the “original Michael Cole” was the announcer every Monday Night on Nitro. That is correct Tony Schivone in many ways is the original Michael Cole because much like Cole, Tony has his good night but also had his really bad nights and also seemed to be more fit to be a sports entertainment/WWE over an announcer for company that valued wrestling.
The importance announcer has to a wrestling show is very hard to explain especially to someone who is unwilling to believe the announcer is just as important as the wrestlers. Every so often business just comes to almost a standstill or halt sort of and changes are needed to give the product new life. This happened with WWE as they have been making changes to the announce team on and off since January of 2015. The most recent changes came when they added “newbie” Mauro Ranallo to the Smackdown announce team when Smackdown debuted on USA Network in early January. Also since Jerry Lawler turned heel they also changed the PPV announce team having Byron Saxton replace Jerry thus not having two heels on one team. Speaking of changing things TNA also changed their announce team last year adding D’ Angelo Dinero to the team with Josh Mathews replacing long time announcer Mike Tenay.
Changing the broadcast team could give the programming a fresh look and sound and make the fans think they are watching a different show. WWE did it for Smackdown when it moved from SY-FY to USA and TNA did it after a few months of being on Destination America, but WCW didn’t; that alone should tell you one of many problems that the company had in its later years as that couldn’t recognize that this needed to be fixed.
Copyright Charleston Newspapers Apr 9, 2000