Good Ole J.R. - A Dying Breed
June 14, 2005 by Christopher Guido
Wrestling, as any form of entertainment, must adjust to suit the needs of their audience. Without us they simply can't survive. I don't blame any promotion for doing what is in the best interests of their product by bowing to our desires, but there is one area I feel that they have let slide for too long. And in my opinion it's one of their best assets. There has been a void in the level of excitement in many of the matches I have watched over the past decade. That is the level of excitement compared to when I was younger when I could watch many contests from many promotions around the country. The asset overlooked is the tremendous advantage that the announcer can give to a match.
Some wrestlers can be made on the call of the announcer. His timbre, his emotion, his sincerity, his knowledge and his creativity can build a figure larger than the sum of his parts. An announcer can give the emphasis on a storyline that the match itself may not be able to completely convey. They can make the picture the wrestlers are painting more colorful. They can heighten the tension in the air and though I don't like to be force fed everything they can set the stage and raise my level of anticipation, playing me like a fiddle and all the while I am loving it.
I won't go into everyone I can remember but a few examples would be in order. One of my all time favorite announcers is Bobby The Brain Heenan, and I am sure no one is shocked by that statement. Diamond Dallas Page credits his success to Bobby for coming up with the name of his signature move, the "Diamond Cutter". Back in the day of the early Undertaker, I looked forward to his matches not just for his in-ring ability, but I loved to hear The Brain call out to Vince, "He's not human McMahon!" His humor brought a very real sense of fun. I wanted to watch so I could laugh along too.
Announcers that made me want to watch above and beyond the enjoyment of the match are the masters who deserve as much praise, fame and fortune as the wrestlers themselves. Gordon Solie had a tremendous amount of knowledge and I never felt he was acting like he knew more than I did. The simple fact is he did know more, a lot more, and I learned the names of moves, histories of certain rivalries and learned a pacing for a great match just by the way he called it. The timing of the moves along with his call made it a greater level of enjoyment by far.
Contemporarily speaking I loved Joey Styles. His excitement and passion made me feel each and every time like I was watching history. No matter the competitors and no matter the venue I always came away from a match thinking I will remember it forever. Reason being is that the guy calling the match sounds exhausted, is probably drenched in sweat and was outraged at all the right moments.
That brings me to Good Ole J.R. Jim is my favorite current announcer. Some people think his time is past. I am not one of that crowd. He still excites me and makes me feel a love for the sport. When they made fun of his call by using the character "Oklahoma" I found it made me like J.R. even more. Yes he screams, yes he gets angered and flabbergasted, yes it's always a "slobber-knocker" and yes he can turn his hate for a heel into a great love when that heal turns baby face but it feels real from him. I think he truly has devotion for the sport in his heart and he enjoys sharing it with the rest of us. His knowledge is of course wide spread from years and years in the business and I have a deep respect for the man for bringing me all these hours of entertainment..
Of course there are plenty others that I haven't mentioned and maybe plenty I never heard of from promotions I never got to see. If you have a favorite I would love to hear who it is. In a world of high spots where a twenty foot fall from a cage through a table is considered a "bump" I miss the old days where a man with a microphone could turn a hold that never hurt my friends in the backyard into a devastating submission too feared to be believed.
by Christopher Guido ..
Dev Hasan wrote:
Yes. Great column, I enjoyed reading it! I agree with everything you said...but unfortunately I am not in your crowd. I also believe J.R has passed it...
But when I mean he passed it, I mean he passed it on RAW. He no longer excites me on RAW. My idea would be to get Joey Styles and Joel Gertner to do commentary on RAW. That will be fantastic. I love Joey Styles epcially, he really puts an effort to his work and we need new faces.
They can move Jerry 'The King' Lawler to Smackdown! with Michael Cole like it used to be. Have Tazz there too. 3 annoucers WILL NEVER hurt. What's wrong with 3 annoucers"" Nothing at all. It will be fun to watch them argue and stuff.
As for J.R I think they need to get rid of Johnny Ace as everyone knows he is a FIRST CLASS assclown with making up all this rules about "dress codes" and grassing wrestlers up to the management if they are like 5 minutes late. I think they need to put Jim Ross back to Talent Relations where he belongs and do one and off commentarys on Raw or something but I think again Joey Styles and Joel Gertner are a PERFECT replacement.
That's my opinion anyway, everyone else is entitled to their own!
michael nader wrote:
A really good article chris. I give you praise because you not only stated jr's strengths but his weaknesses as well, which means you're not bull****ing anyone.
You know i used to feel jr was trying to patronize me. After the Hell in a cell match last year at bad blood he tried to get HBK and HHH to shake hands. At the mere suggestion of the thought the fans immediatly started booing. It was obviously what the fans didn't want to see. Then Kane came out and put HBK out for months (although i bet it really was because of the HIAC match). JR returned to his seat and said he was sure watching hbk and hhh shake hands WAS WHAT THE FANS WANTED TO SEE.
A couple of month later though I decided i was too hard on him when i saw this online petition to get michael cole fired. I'll admit i find Cole annoying (especially when he says "you hit the nell on the head there tazz") but to get him fired" That's too much.
These announcers are no different from kurt angle hbk or y2j in terms of doing what they are supposed to do. They're just doing their job. And even though i sometimes wish JR would shut up, i still think he's the best at what he does. I mean honestly, imagine wrestling without commentary. Would you still watch it"
nice article. for micheal nader who wrote "imagine wrestling w/o commentary.would you still watch it"" he has a point. although you dont tune in to wwe, tna, roh, and etc. to hear commentary (and if you do, idk if your so much a wrestling fan) it still plays a huge role in wrestling.tazz and the king are good commentators b/c they were wrestlers,hence, they can put you in the shoes of the wrestler's.micheal cole, yes he has some annoying moments but hes a good commentator, in a way hes sd! j.r.for example j.r hates heels w/ a passion, as does micheal cole, but as soon as they turn babyface they both love them!(i.e chris jericho on raw, and heidenreich on sd!) and if you guys truly say you'll love wrestling without commentary, well unless your at the actual event, without commentary wrestling would definitely be missing something huge. for example at unforgiven 2003, jr and the king fought al snow and coach, that was a match without commentary, now if you can watch wrestling like that for 2 ,3 hours then you truly dont want commentary, but im sure most of you would prefer it.
Billy Huffman wrote:
I agree 100% good ole J.R. is the best there is now. I have watch him since his days in the old UWF promotion of Cowboy Bill Watts. His days in the NWA/WCW. And now the WWE and really he is the only reason I still watch the WWE. He has true passion for the sport.
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