First, I never met Mike but we worked for the same company back in 1996. For those of you that don’t know, Mike was the long-time host of the “American Gladiators” TV show that runs currently on ESPN Classic. After the TV show ended it’s run in the US, the producers made plans to begin a dinner theater show in Orlando. Similar to “Medieval Times”, fans would be able to eat chicken and watch the Gladiators compete against Contenders.
Mike was the host of the live event for the first two months before they hired me to take over. Everyone with Gladiators loved Mike and the work he did. I was there from January to June of 1996 before I started working for the WWE.
Two months into my hire with the WWE, I was called into Executive Producer Kevin Dunn’s office for a meeting. Both Kevin and Vince McMahon were there and I was told I was going to take Vince’s spot on Raw. Gulp!… How the hell could I be ready to replace a legend?
I knew I could rely on my vast wrestling knowledge to get me through… Boy, was I wrong! They wanted me to tell stories, not sell moves. I only knew how to get wrestlers over by accentuating what they did in wrestling matches, not by talking nonsense. But, slowly I started to get the picture but only long after I was pulled from the Raw gig.
Now, Mike Adamle gets thrown into ECW to replace Joey Styles, one of the few last vestiges of hope that former ECW fans clung to and one of the best PBP guys in the business for the past 15 years. Unlike me, Mike had no frame of wrestling reference to draw from and boy, does he suck! I was bad but he’s rotten! Nice guy but geez!
So, not only does he have no chance to get over with the fans for replacing Joey but he’s completely unprepared for what the WWE wants. Not only can he not call a wrestling match but he can’t tell stories either.
Now, Mike can be successful if he follows these guidelines. Since I know the stooge writers all read my columns, please print this and pass it along to Mike with my best wishes.
1.) Write!–Spend time writing descriptive phrases to get the talent over and instantly identified when they are on screen. JR is the best at this as he came up with “Texas Rattlesnake”, “Big Red Machine” and “Cerebral Assassin”.
2.) Give the match a reason–between introductions and the bell, tell the fans at home what the goal of this match is. Whether it’s “one team looks to move up the ranks” or “this match may finally settle things”, this mission statement allows you a central theme.
3.) Get to know the boys–Michael Cole finally earned respect when he started to get to know (and respect) the talent. When you know them (their characters), it allows you to zero in on key points of their personality.
4.) If you don’t know, ask!–You’ve got a great color man in Tazz sitting beside you. A great question to ask someone who’s been in the ring is “Why?” A question like “What does that feel like?” brings the viewer in and doesn’t insult their intelligence. You are instantly smarter for not knowing anything.
5.) Use the Studio in Stamford–Ask for time to practice and have your tapes reviewed by one of the producers, Joey Styles or JR. If your ego is too big to learn, you’ll continue to fail and be a laughing stock. For any young announcer outside the WWE, record yourself calling matches and get someone who knows the business to listen to them. I have mentored a few announcers and I think my feedback has helped.
Do these five things and Mike Adamle has a chance.
Do I think he will make it? Nope. Why?
Because he doesn’t have the business in his heart. Same goes for any athlete from any sport who decides they want to try wrestling after they leave their given sport. Unless you love wrestling and are truly passionate about it, you’ll never make it.
I am thankful for all the lessons I learned in my seven years in the WWE but the one thing I never gave up was my love of the business.
Best of luck, Mike. I hope it’s not too late.