The Biggest Current Problem with WWE’s Product

I know. The WWE is not a sport. It is “entertainment” and not to be taken as a sport. But let’s take a look at the WWE as if it were a sport. Let‘s take a look at Al Michaels during a football game. Never once does he attempt to put himself as more important than the game he’s calling. If he dislikes Drew Brees, he doesn’t call him names, talk trash or say how much better the opponent is. You also don’t see this with Hubie Brown during a LeBron James game or Bob Costas during an Olympics event or Max Kellerman during a boxing fight or Mike Goldberg during a UFC PPV.

Unfortunately, the WWE does not have that same idea with their product. They have Michael Cole. He seems to give preference to certain wrestlers and trashes others. He isn’t the first announcer to be a heel. We had that with Jesse Ventura, Bobby Heenan, Jerry Lawler, even JBL. I even give props to John House of CZW for his announcing. Those guys did that, and they did it very well. But there’s one thing. Those guys were all color commentators, NOT the play-by-play guy. Michael Cole is the play-by-play guy, the voice of the WWE (and it hurts me to say that). He shouldn’t be in the heel role.

And I know. Michael Cole is Michael Cole and always will be. It’s not fair to compare him to others. But the play-by-play guy should be neutral, or at least try to be. There’s nothing wrong with Jim Ross saying, “I’m a Bret Hart fan, but this is too far.” Joey Styles can call somebody cocky if that is their character. And Eric Gargiulo can leave before an angle takes place because he feel it has no place in wrestling. But Cole is so annoying and takes his character to the extreme. He isn’t good heel heat. Miz, R-Truth, Ricardo Rodriguez, Vickie Guerrero, those are great heels and get the crowd hating them 100%. Then there’s “Get them off my tv” heat, affectionately known as “X-Pac Heat.” I know Shawn Waltman has done a lot to give back to the business in the past few years, but there was a time when X-Pac appeared on the tv, you saw what else was on. Eric Bischoff, Hulk Hogan, Vince Russo, Kevin Nash in 2011, Johnny Ace, David Otunga, Karen Jarrett, those are all examples for me of X-Pac heat in the current wrestling product of today. To me, Michael Cole is one of the people that embodies X-Pac Heat.

There have been many great play-by-play guys in history: Jim Ross, Gordon Solie, Lance Russell, Vince McMahon, Gorilla Monsoon, Joey Styles, Kevin Kelly, Eric Gargiulo. They did not take a wrestler’s side. Hell, even adequate ones like Tony Schiavone were never as biased as Michael Cole. It makes them look bush league and is a total detriment to their current wrestling product. The WWE has very nice production values, the best talent in the world hands-down and great marketing. But how can I care about Daniel Bryan when “The Voice of the WWE” calls him boring?

I do not hate Michael Cole the person. I have never met him, and I’m sure that if I had the chance to see him, he is still a human being. But I believe he was once good. His time with Taz was legendary. They shamed Ross & Lawler with how good they were. But this has got to be a creative decision. I’m not even saying to take him off tv entirely. Why don’t you give him to one of those upstarts in FCW you’re so high of as a mouthpiece? Why not keep him on as a color commentator and give Josh Matthews the ball as the new “Voice of the WWE?” WWE, your product is slowly deteriorating and you need to start finding a new voice.

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2 Responses to The Biggest Current Problem with WWE’s Product

  1. You’ve nailed it.

    Cole’s behavior is so over-the-top that he distracts from everything going on around him, and not in a fun way. That he’s clearly repeating what is fed to him for the majority of the time makes it even worse. Shouting the exact same line three, four, and five times in a row just sounds bad no matter what the line is. I remember when Cole was a very good play-by-play guy. Jesse, Heenan, and JBL were all, as you said, great color commentators, but no matter what they said, they put it in the context of what was happening in the ring. They added to the overall story instead of taking away from it.

    But what do I know? My favorite announcer of all time was Joey Styles, and I miss Matt Striker terribly.

  2. Eric James says:

    I remember fondly Cole’s time with Tazz on SmackDown. Those were actually some good times.

    I take it you’ve read the recent reports concerning Cole and the ratings? I wondered how long it would take the WWE to figure it out. When you’ve got Cole constantly burying guys like Ryder and Brian, of course the casual audience won’t watch them when they’re carrying the championships. As annoying as Michael Cole (the character) is, he’s the voice you hear and his “heel persona” opinions are being perpetuated, every Monday night, for eighteen months. Some people will internalize those beliefs, as unfortunate as that is.

    I do hope they make some changes, and I hope they make it fast before they start blaming the wrong people.

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