Calling wrestling matches is a lot harder than it seems. A good commentator has to entertain the fans, call the games, and sell the angles. It doesn’t help that WWE often literally catches Vince McMahon in their ears and tells them what to say. Some announcers, like Gordon Solie or Jim Ross, are amazing throughout their careers. Others might have low periods but bounce back like Tony Schiavone. Then there are those who were bad from the start and got worse than Mike Adamale.
It is often unfair to judge commentators by their early stuff as it takes some people time to learn the ropes and gelate as top announcers. However, it is interesting how some people have been very good commentators, but they have deteriorated over time.
10 WORSE: Josh Matthews
After finishing runner-up on MTV’s Tough Enough season one, Josh Matthews was put in a commentary and performed on Velocity before making a name for himself on ECW and SmackDown. His RAW work wasn’t bad considering he’d counter Michael Cole’s behavior and openly say, “Can we just call the match?” Matthews showed promise before leaving in 2014.
As soon as he hit TNA, Matthews made Cole sound like Jim Ross. That included “feuds” with Jeremey Borash, and one turn of his face actually made him worse. Fortunately for the Impact fans, Matthews left the place to mark another bad announcement.
9 BETTER: Corey Graves
He may have some missteps, but Corey Graves has grown into his role as a fun color commentator. He cut his teeth on 205 Live and NXT before balancing RAW and SmackDown. Tombs can be sharp while behind their heels offering some funny lines, often a few jokes about former WWE talent.
Sure, he has a few rough parts, but it’s fun to see how Graves really enjoy what he’s doing and trigger the rougher no-crowd shows this year. In many ways he’s a modern day Jesse Ventura as an idiot announcer. Fans love to hate but listen.
8th WORSE: Michael Cole
It was all too easy to beat Michael Cole. From its oversold of stuff to the “vintage” lines to a choppy take, few really enjoy it on RAW. However, in his early work on SmackDown, listening to Cole could be pretty fun.
His chemistry with Tazz, and later with JBL, was excellent as Cole could be wild for some games but was subdued enough to give good insight into other fights. He really stood up for Brock Lesnar’s early run, and the comment fit in with how great SmackDown was. Today’s Cole is a far cry from the harsh announcer he was in the 2000s.
7th BETTER: Joey Styles
It’s a lot harder calling up an entire wrestling show on your own than it sounds. Apart from Gordon Solie, no one has done it better than Joey Styles. He was clearly nervous in the early days of ECW and seemed lost on his own at times.
But Styles soon improved himself to a stunning player whose “Oh my god!” Screams highlighted the madness of the ECW. He could also easily name a technical classic and describe the insane conflicts fans could get into. His later WWE run wasn’t bad as Styles remains one of the most popular voices of all time.
6 WORSE: JBL
After hanging up as a regular in-ring competitor, JBL surprised many by becoming a great commentator. He and Michael Cole made a fantastic team called SmackDown, and JBL’s funny joke made him more respected than ever as a wrestler.
When he returned to comment in 2011, JBL seemed to have lost that nuance. He was too loud and often talked about other people and acted too much like a sports show host with a loud mouth. Throw in stories of bullying others, and JBL’s announcement talents were a real step back from its first run.
5 BETTER: Jerry Lawler
Age adds experience, and in the case of Jerry “The King” Lawler, that was a good thing. When he first started in WWE in 1993, Jerry Lawler was a disgusting idiot who stared at women, pressed his heels, and made bad jokes. He kept that up in the Attitude Era, but Lawler’s work slowly but surely matured over the years.
He could get more serious in matches and use his own wrestling knowledge for some insight. He got a lot of attention while recovering from a heart attack, and today the king is one of the most popular voices in wrestling that few could have expected.
4th WORSE: Mike Tenay
When he started at WCW, Mike Tenay was a great commentator. He was smart and offered excellent stories from the wrestlers, which made him “The Professor” to keep WCW sharp even when things went crazy.
Unfortunately, Tenay’s work got a lot worse when he came to TNA. He went too far selling dud matches as epic encounters, and his clear shilling for the bosses was annoying. It’s a shame because the guy was great once only to fall into one of the more annoying voices.
3 BETTER: Mauro Ranallo
After Mauro Ranallo recently left NXT, he managed to create a great place to be the voice of the brand. He started off a bit rough but soon went on to become a top notch player, adding clever insights into games.
His “Mamma Mia” screams in wild places became a highlight of the TakeOver shows and could bring an outstanding level of excitement for top matches. It may have looked a bit over the top towards the end, but Ranalless enhancement is one reason why NXT won’t be quite the same without it.
2 WORSE: Vince McMahon
Before taking over the reign of WWE, Vince McMahon Jr. cut his teeth as a show commentator. Check out the early years of WWE, and Vince wasn’t all that bad calling the action and even offering clever insights. But when he took over the company, Vince lost its subtlety.
He became famous for loud screaming, mostly oversold stuff (“baaaaaaaaaaack body drops!”) And even worse when he started calling PPVs. It was a relief to the fans when Vince dropped it to become Mr. McMahon as his match calling became incredibly annoying.
1 BETTER: Bobby Heenan
When “The Brain” started commenting, it was just a side appearance from his managerial jobs. But as he moved away from that, Bobby Heenan soon became an amazingly great player. His jokes with Gorilla Monsoon were excellent and the couple provided wonderful entertainment to fans.
Heenan also sparked WCW with its fun lines and clever insights that went beyond just leaving the heels behind. While his last couple of years at WCW have been tough, The Brain’s career as a commentator has been even better than that of a manager at getting fans going.
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About the author
(681 articles published)
A longtime pro wrestling fan with experience writing about it. Love lists with passion and enjoy the history of the business as well as soccer and baseball. Also an avid comics and action film fan who is more than looking forward to sharing my fun knowledge with others.
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