WWE’S BIGGEST PROBLEM…
…is Michael Cole’s announcing. By far.
I’m not blaming Cole the man. Anything he says that’s damaging is doubtless fed to him by VKM via headset. I’m blaming Cole the “character.”
First off, play-by-play announcers shouldn’t be characters. They are there to “tell stories” (argh), further the action via description, fill in storyline gaps and emphasize important developments in storyline advancement. Color commentators are meant to be characters, and even that has limits.
VKM thinks Cole’s “character” is different, and therefore revolutionary. It is different. Cole defecating on top of the WWE announce table would be different, too. And it would be only slightly less damaging than most of his word-drool.
When I did color at WCW, I heeled on the babyfaces. Sometimes I made them sound ridiculous. That was wrong. Good heel color commentators express frustration with a babyface’s greatness. Bobby Heenan, when sober, was excellent at that: “I hate Hulk Hogan! Nobody can beat him! How do you beat a man like that?” In divorce court, it turns out.
Cole takes my sins and multiplies them by a million. At VKM’s behest.
Whenever a heel cheats and succeeds by it, Cole points out how intelligent that was. That’s OK, as long as you confirm that it’s taking a shortcut. As long as you point out that the heels can’t win fairly. Cole doesn’t do that. He makes the babyfaces seem like schmucks, not victims. He dilutes the heat incredibly.
Cole constantly points out that half the fans boo John Cena. It would be better if that went away, right? That has no chance of happening when Cole validates it.
Cole constantly points out that Daniel Bryan is a third-rater. He does that with C.M. Punk, too, albeit to a lesser degree lately. Why would an announcer denigrate a world champion, WWE’s standard-bearer at that moment? What’s the upside?
The upside is, it gets VKM’s rocks off. VKM wants ROH fans to watch WWE, but he also feels compelled to remind them that “their guy” is a bum. Cole’s constant evisceration of Bryan defines Bryan more than a shiny gold belt ever could.
VKM doesn’t really believe in Punk. But VKM wants to play to the #hashtag crowd. Done. But Cole makes sure Punk pays for not being a WWE stereotype.
A big problem with Cole’s announcing is the grains of truth that get sprinkled in. Bryan does look like a geek. To most people, being vegan IS weird. Not owning a television IS weird. Bryan does look like an indy guy. He WAS an indy guy. Cole points out legitimate flaws in Bryan, and the audience isn’t so stupid that they don’t know they’re legitimate.
The amazing thing is, WWE has THE BEST PLAY-BY-PLAY ANNOUNCER IN THE HISTORY OF THE BIZ available – a guy who does nothing BUT sell the product – and they won’t use him. If Jim Ross replaced Cole, WWE’s televised product would seem so much better. And perception = reality. With Cole, that’s a negative. With Ross, it’s a positive.
PWTorch.com’s Bruce Mitchell, an unpaid co-conspirator on many of my columns (emphasis: UNPAID), hit the nail right on the head regarding WWE’s character confusion: “They’re trying to tell good-guy/bad-guy stories through the eyes of a guy with no ethics whatsoever [VKM].” JACKPOT!
ONE DAY IN…ER, WITH CHYNA
Chyna was in Pittsburgh recently, stripping at Blush gentleman’s club and hawking her porn DVD (Vivid Video’s Backdoor To Chyna). She dropped by my radio studio and spent about 30 minutes on-air. Among the developments:
*She was clean. No sign of impairment whatsoever.
*Those implants come at you like Joe Frazier’s left hook.
*She LOVES TO TALK. I only got through about half my planned questions. Chyna just goes on RANTS, some more coherent than others.
No major news got broken, and Chyna’s memory was somewhat delusional. She did the schtick about setting up folding chairs in high school gyms when WWE wasn’t big, and I cut in, “You sure about that?” Chyna: “I was THERE!” Me: “You sure about THAT?” Chyna joined WWE in 1997, long after the promotion's “high school gym” stage. The nWo hurt WWE’s business a bit, but not that much.
The interview was nonetheless enjoyable, and I’ve got to admit, in a weird way, Chyna is HOT. If just for the standing 69 in “Backdoor To Chyna.” She should have reversed it into a tombstone.
Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM, Pittsburgh, PA (105.9). Check out his web page at WXDX.com. Contact Mark by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. MARK ON TWITTER: @MARKMADDENX