Sometimes, you need to listen to the past of professional wrestling to understand just how things stand with the present of professional wrestling.
While watching Raw last week, former professional wrestler announcer Scott Hudson struck up a conversation with some of his followers about the lack of effort the announce team of Michael Cole, JBL and Byron Saxton were putting in to get the fans watching at home excited about what they saw on screen.
It’s nothing new for the viewers, but Hudson – who has as much right to criticize anyone for the lackluster performance of three men being paid to “sell” WWE to the audience – hit the nail right on the head.
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He said on a Facebook post: "Honestly, could the Raw announcers have any less passion or fire?! My God, men! You had one job - put over the product. And you three just sat there. It might be horribly written drivel (it IS horribly written drivel, actually), but you are paid more than I ever dreamed of to put it over...so...PUT IT OVER!"
Someone exhaled and spewed gold.
When I was younger, I was entranced with how Gordon Solie made you feel like you were in the Sportatorium in Tampa when Dory Funk, Jr. was defending the Florida Heavyweight Title against Jimmy Garvin or Mike Graham or Dusty Rhodes. Those days are gone forever. Those days made professional wrestling real.
You cannot relive those memories and you certainly cannot find a commentator on a roster who can do the same thing that was golden 35 years ago. The idea is to let the action in the ring do the talking, where three men with three headsets just add a few words, a few opinions, and Vince McMahon thinks he has perfection.
Even when McMahon himself was on the mic for his father in the late 1970s and early 1980s, his words created magic – a gift that everyone looked forward to as it added to the drama in the ring. There isn’t drama, there isn’t magic. And no one can carry a candle to the deadpan style Solie created by making himself part of the action in the ring and at the announce desk.
Somewhere between Hulkamania and the end of the Attitude Era, WWE forgot how to tell a story. It forgot to find depth amongst the men at the table and somehow, JBL lost his way of being the objective heel announcer. While Jerry Lawler has been replaced by a younger, rather drab Saxton, Cole is supposed to be the one to carry it all off and present objectivity to tell something exciting.
Well, don’t worry – the wrestlers try to do it on their own with long vignettes and creative ways to entice the crowds (welcome to the world of Bray Wyatt). Having a mouthpiece like Paul Heyman doesn’t either.
If WWE wants to get some of its mojo back, it should relive some of the past. Lance Russell, Solie, Bob Caudill, and everyone’s favorite Jim Ross. They made us part of the action because they were part of the action. It’s a simple recipe that could mean a richer product.
The only question is will the company be willing to stir the pot a bit for a better product, or will it continue to allow it to remain stale.
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