Tuesday, August 2, 2011

When Announcers Stop Caring: Why Taz and Jerry Lawler Actively Hurt Their Products

"Not for nuttin' Tenay, but I ain't got
the slightest clue what's goin' on!"
Photo Credit: ImpactWrestling.com
I get why people don't like Michael Cole anymore. Trust me, I do, and I'm actually there myself. I hate that he talks over guys like Jim Ross or Josh Mathews who are passionate about trying to get the stories and the action in the ring over. He's entertaining at times, yes, but increasingly he's becoming more and more of a nuisance and a caricature rather than being the guy who tells the truth (which is really where heel color commentators excel... Bobby Heenan and Jesse Ventura ALWAYS told the truth, no matter how sordid it was).

That being said, I'll still take him over Jerry Lawler any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

I also get why people hate on Mike Tenay. I've been doing it ever since I started the blog (unless I was talking about his run in WCW as the knowledgeable foreign wrestling analyst, which was GREAT). A play-by-play announcer shouldn't have the level of knowledge that a regular mark fan does. It's okay to be surprised every once in awhile, but announcers are there to show a little bit of authority at least. Tenay doesn't show that. Plus I hate his tendencies to call moves by their abbreviation and then saying the words right after.

That being said, he's leagues better to me than his broadcast partner Taz. LEAGUES.

I can stomach bad announcing, even if it grates on me. Fine, you have annoying habits, or you call my favorite wrestler "boring". I can deal with that. But the one thing I really can't stand is not giving a shit. Seriously, how hard is it to be enthusiastic about selling the product you're calling? The announcer's job is to make sure things are conveyed and that there's a sense of excitement attached to the things happening in the ring. Generally speaking, if the guy who's there calling the action is apathetic, then why the hell should I feel anything other than malaise? Even worse, if the announcer can't be assed to pay attention to what's going on in the storylines, then why should I?

Big example of this occurred on Impact Thursday. Sting had told Immortal that he was a network executive just so he could cause some shenanigans during the telecast. Towards the end of the show, before the steel cage main event between Kurt Angle and Ken Anderson, Sting revealed that he lied about being an exec, causing a great bit of consternation amongst the main heel faction. There was a big deal made about it by Tenay and to an extent Taz. Minutes later, Taz made note that Sting made the match because he was a network exec. I can only imagine Tenay's off-camera facepalm was epic at the stunning lack of attention paid by Taz. The worst thing about it is that it happened on a taped show. They could have cut that audio out. Then again, it is Impact.

It's the same reason why I can enjoy Booker T even if he has obvious flaws. It doesn't take a critical analyst to tell that Booker really gets into calling the action, and even if his knowledge lacks sometimes, or he states the obvious or he doesn't have the snappy comeback to put Cole in his place, he has a joyful exuberance that makes him a million times better to listen to then even some technically "good" announcers. He makes me want to get into the match he calls.

Why can't WWE and Impact see that? I mean, Lawler is an iconic name, and Taz used to work for WWE, so obviously, he's gold in the eyes of Dixie and Co. But those are things that shouldn't determine who your broadcast team is. Diamond Dallas Page is also an iconic name, but he also seems to be a guy who'd jump at the chance to sit next to JR on RAW and call action. Booker's an iconic name, and he knows how to sell sizzle. Adam Pearce is an iconic name at the indie level, and when he got behind the mic in NWA Hollywood, he was perhaps the guy who did the best job out of anyone who called matches for them. It's not mutually exclusive to be a good broadcaster and a big name.

The broadcast booths of the mainstream wrestling companies need enemas. Even if a guy like Cole is kept, as irritating as he is, at least he gets behind his character. If he stayed and Lawler left, I'd be super happy. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be alone either.

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