Sunday 14 October 2012

The Voice of SmackDown

Friday’s SmackDown was the first episode in a long time to not feature Michael Cole on commentary. Replacing ‘The Voice of WWE’ at the announce position was former WWE champion John ‘Bradshaw’ Layfield. Not only did he do a fantastic job but the dynamic between he and Josh Mathews worked far better than that that exists between Mathews and Cole.

I’m not going to bash Cole. His heel act has been toned down considerably over the last year and he’s been working as a babyface again since Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler’s heart attack last month. It’s a better way of using him. While it will take time for viewers to forget the nauseating amount of TV time Cole gobbled up during the height of his heel run in the long run I think he can be accepted as a replacement for Jim Ross.

That’s not to say he will ever be as good as Ross. Unfortunately for Cole he assumed the lead announcer duties too late to be able to prove that he can do anything but a mediocre job commentating a wrestling bout. The role he has now involved him pushing storylines, gimmicks and shilling for a variety of products WWE has chosen to associate itself with (such as Twitter and Tout).

When ‘Good Ol’ JR’ was at the desk in his late 90s prime he was pretty much left to his own devices as far as calling the action went. Occasionally he’d have to acknowledge a sponsor’s on-screen graphic but that’s about as far as it went.
Someone get this man a microphone, stat!
Even though Cole has become a lot more tolerable of late removing him from SmackDown was still the right move. It allowed Josh Mathews to do a little more with regards to commentating. He benefited from working alongside a clear heel too. He can come across as bland when working with Cole, whereas JBL brings some passion out in him.

I’d like to see this become a regular thing. Cole would benefit from working only RAW and new show Main Event (although I suspect he’ll get taken off of that when it inevitably turns into a job show): decreasing his profile lessens any lingering resentment viewers may hold towards him. It would be good for Josh Mathews too. WWE needs to get serious about preparing new commentators for their main shows and Mathews would be a perfect understudy for Cole. He needs to be allowed to develop his own style before that can happen though, which is going to be difficult while he’s paired with Cole.

Meanwhile using JBL for every SmackDown would be great for obvious reasons: he knows how to elevate talent while working as a heel commentator and he injects a good deal of knowledge into every broadcast he’s on. Having a former world champion at the announce desk doesn’t hurt credibility either.

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