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WRESTLING COLUMNS

The Worst Announcer Ever
May 4, 2006 by Clifford Piraino


Say what you will about the WWE. Say that their storylines make you wonder if their writers are purposely writing bad material. Criticize who they push towards the spotlight. Speak out against the politics of the locker room. You can point out all of the WWE's faults until you're blue in the face. There is one thing that you can not disparage, though. That is the WWE announcers.

Michael Cole and Tazz are a good team. Jonathon Coachman, although he is no Bobby Heenan, still makes you hate him enough to be a good heel commentator. Jerry Lawler is the undisputed "king" of comic relief. Jim Ross rightly holds his position as the face of the WWE announcing team, even though he is working on a part time basis now. Joey Styles was a much more exciting announcer when he worked for ECW (I wish he would say "Oh my God!" every once in a while), but he still knows how to call a match. And despite popular belief, the absolute best broadcast team in WWE history was Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse "The Body" Ventura. Their chemistry was unmatched and added to the excitement and emotion of the early WWE pay-per-views.

TNA is a different story. Mike Tenay has done a good job as the lead announcer, filling in the role that his partner Tony Schiavone once held in WCW. I feel bad for him, though. He probably lies in bed at night wishing he was back on Nitro with Schiavone every time he looks at the man who now sits at the right of him during TNA broadcasts, Don West.

Before his TNA gig, Don West worked for a Home Shopping Network type channel, and it shows; he is as equally annoying as one of those people who try to sell you those porcelain dolls or samurai swords. He gets the job done. He speaks highly of the promotion during the broadcasts and serves as a contrast to the "professor" role of Mike Tenay. He doesn't take a breath, though! The man must have never learned what a period between sentences was. During a recent match between Rhino and Abyss on Impact, West was babbling about something (I don't know what because he speaks at 100 miles per hour), and then, without pause, noticing that Abyss was approaching Rhino to set him up for some move, manages to get out before he passes out from lack of oxygen, "And there's the monster Abyss!" Well, of course he's there! You didn't have to tell us! He was in the ring the whole time! The camera has been on him while you were acting like you had to get out your last words before you died!

West also has the irritating talent of repeating what Tenay says right after he says it. On the first Impact after February's Against All Odds pay-per-view, something to the effect of this exchange took place between Tenay and his good pal, "D.W." (I'm doing my best to work from memory here, this is not anywhere near an official transcript the broadcast, but the information is factual. Just check out the results):

Tenay: Jay Lethal must be excited. After coming off of that win at Against All Odds in that 4-Way, he now has a spot on the team for the World X Cup later this year.

West: I know Mike. How exciting must it be for Jay Lethal to win that 4-Way, and now he has a spot on American team for World X Cup...

You see what I mean" Just because you try to sound smart, doesn't mean you are smart.

West reminds me of another annoying announcer. This man actually announced for the WWE in the 90's. His name was Vince McMahon. McMahon had the same faculty for over exaggerating his excitement. His most memorable repeated phrase as an announcer was the following: "He's got him covered, 1-2-3! He did it! He did it! Oh wait, he kicked out before 3." McMahon still had a good broadcasting voice, though, when he wasn't screaming, always played the role of the righteous broadcaster well (so much for that). West is a one dimensional lunatic who means well, he just doesn't do well.

What West needs is a tranquilizer and maybe a ball to toss around in his hands to help distract him and reign in his excitement during TNA broadcasts so that possibly, he can observe something without treating it like the fall of the Berlin Wall. Or, maybe he just needs his old job back. He was perfect for it.

by Clifford Piraino ..


brandon albright wrote:
My pick for worst announcer goes to Coach hands down. There is not one thing I like about this man as a announcer. Sometimes I think he has no clue as to what is going on in the ring and has no clue as to what most of the wrestling moves are that he is calling in the match. I was very upset when they used Coach to replace good ol' J.R. Coach needs to stick to being a backstage interviewer like he did in the past or maybe try to be a manager. I miss the good ol' days when Gorilla Monsoon, Bobby Heenan and Jesse "The Body" Ventura called the matches.
Brian Folan wrote:
Wow, tough break for DW. I'm no Don West fan, but to say he is any worse than Coach or Michael Cole is unfair. The Coach is absolutely brutal, stumbles over his words, has zero personality and he "makes you hate him" because he just sucks and you wish he would go away. That is not being a heel announcer, that is being an incompetent announcer. Heenan and Jesse The Body were funny and clever, and got legit heat for their anti-face announcing. It's the difference between being someone you "love to hate" and someone you just wish would go away. The prospect of the Coach trying to carry that role on RAW in the future is truly frightening.

And Michael Cole is almost as worthless. Cole is boring and doesn't seem to know much about actual wrestling. He is supposed to be the play-by-play man, but most of the time it is Taz who describes the moves being used in the ring. Cole goes off on tangents, completely ignores under-card matches to talk about the bigger storylines, and doesn't seem to know an arm bar from a candy bar. The only thing he does to try to generate excitement is raise his voice, usually as they go to commercial. The match will be going along, nearing commercial, then there will be a high spot or a big bump, which Cole will miss because he is too busy talking about how much Rey loves Eddie or why JBL is a jerk for firing Jillian, and only once the wrestlers are on the ground awaiting the fade to commercial, Cole will just randomly scream "CAN CHRIS BENOIT COME BACK AGAINST BOOKER T"" Cole reminds me of the scene from "Anchorman" where they are having an argument, and Steve Carrel's character doesn't know what's going on, so he just stands up and yells "LOUD NOISES!"
Redneck38715 wrote:
I don't agree that Don West is the worst I think that goes to coach hands down. But I agree 1000% about Jesse" The Body" Ventura and Gorilla Monsoon as the greatest announce team. Not only did they put a lot of emotion and excitement into the matches they were hysterical. One conversation jumps to mind. At one of the first few Wrestlemanias they talked for a few minutes about hot dogs and Jesse was saying that Gorilla ate all these hot dogs and Gorilla said " would you stop it" that was the funniest line he said and he said it often . definitely the best announce team
Al Fucsko wrote:
I have to agree with you, Clifford. Don West brings NOTHING to the table for TNA. West just shrieks and thinks it comes off as intensity, when in reality, it is not pleasing to listen to at all. Since TNA is basically copying WCW, why not try to get Fat Tony or Ferarra on board, since they'll never work for WWE again. Don West has only supplied me with one shred of entertainment: during a beatdown, Don just screams, "DISRESPEEEEECT!!!!!" Oh man, hilarious! Don is the worst announcer ever!

That being said, the Coach is right up there for poor commentating; he would probably be good as a manager or jobber, but on the mike during matches, he is not worth a damn. Ditto, Michael Cole. Cole knows no holds and adds nothing to the show. Tazz has to do color and analysis, what's Cole there for!"!" I was hoping that Tazz would get Joey Styles for a new partner, they would rock, but I guess that's not to be for now.

As for best duo on the mike, it has to be Gorilla Monsoon with either Heenan or Ventura. I am leaning toward Jesse and Gorilla, in that, Jesse would not take it so seriously, while Gorilla BELIEVED in the product so much (almost to a fault) that they made a fantastic team.

Something Don West and Mike Tenay will never achieve.
John Nelson wrote:
I don't think I'm in the minority when I say Michael Cole sucks majorly. He oversells every storyline, doesn't know the names of holds very well and doesn't even have a good announcing voice. Every Undertaker match he will say "vintage Undertaker" at least twice and every Rey Misterio Match we'll hear "619 connecting!" Cole needs to bug off and let someone else take over. Can WWE get Al Snow back" Al ruled on Heat as an announcer. Geez as bad as Cole is, Coach may be obnoxious but I can tolerate him since he at least plays a heel announcer type character and plays the coward when confronted very well. Tazz I have no complaints about, he sells the heels without getting annoying. Lawler doens't get on my nerves anymore now that he doesn't have his nose up Triple H's butt anymore, he can stop seeling us on the idea that Candace Michelle looks good though again go home daddy. I miss JR though I hate seeing that sad sack look on his face whenever he gets beat up or humiliated in the ring. Joey, I'm assuming he's going to the new ECW brand wasn't too bad either especailly now that he's calmed down. I've heard a lot of those old ECW matches where he damn near spazzes out on us. I haven't heard enough of TNA to make an opinion on those guys.
Jacob L. wrote:
I have to agree with this article whole-heartedly. I just started watching a little NWA TNA (I found some Joe, Styles, and Daniels videos on YouTube) and I hate that guy. Personally, I don't think Tenay is much better, but I HATE this West guy. There were times--especially during the Sabu-Abyss barbed wire match. This guy really makes me not want to start watching TNA, so I'm glad someone else shares my opinion.
Jeb Real wrote:
This column is crap. To take those gripes youve listed and anoint Don West the worst announcer ever" Give me a break. If everyone wasnt so busy marking out for the King and JR, they would realize that people like Styles and West bring something different to the table, and that wrestling announcers dont have to be carbon copies of RAW circa 1998 in order to be good. Even Coach (who was so bad when he started i ws convinced it was a work) was improving, and outshining King when he ws pulled for the RAW announce team. Again, not King and JR, not good enough.

I for one thoroughly enjoy Don West's commentary. I find the fact that he sounds like he's having a heart attack every time he says something endearing. As far as the face/face dynamic, I feel he's the perfect partner for Mike Tenay. He always catches flack for doing little more than pointing out the obvious, i must protest again. Do any of us watch wrestling" That's what sports entertainment storytellers do. As insightful into the deep nuances of a fued as "puppies! puppies!!!" is" perhaps not, but Don West does his job and does it well.
Kevin Graham wrote:
I agree about Don West. He tends to be a little over excited about every little thing it seems like. Plus the fact that every time they cut to him and Tenay he looks like he's gonna eat Tenay. I also agree with Brian about Michael Cole. Cole also seems to be real over excited and goes off the deep end to make everything sound amazing. Like at Wrestlemania when Mark Henry climbed to the second rope and Undertaker powerbombed him Cole's reaction was OH MY GOD UNDERTAKER HIT THE LAST RIDE.LAST RIDE LAST RIDE. And Tazz kept telling him that he didn't get all of it (which he didn't) and that it was just a powerbomb but Cole kept yelling Last Ride. An I also think that people don't give The Coach the credit he should get. He might not be a Bobby Heenan but he is pretty good at what he does.
Scott Stone wrote:
I have to agree that nothing compares to Gorilla w/ either Heenan, Ventura, or even Pat Patterson in the early days. I even liked McMahon back in the day before he became overtlly power hungry. I like J.R. too, but he's never really had a strong compliment (with all due respect to Lawler). I'll let former pro wrestlers slide on this, as A) they're really no worse than a lot of former pro athletes out there that call football, basketball, or baseball games, and B) in most cases, they're doing a job that they haven't been formally trained to do, so they're learning on the fly. I can't comment on West, as I don't watch TNA, so I'd have to say that Cole is by far and away the worst that I've heard recently. I wouldn't even hire Cole to call matches for the old GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling) promotion from the late 80's and early 90's. (Those of you who know what the hell I'm talking about will laugh at that, I'm sure.) I also don't see what the big deal with Joey Styles is. I didn't like him from the second he came to WWE and was quite pleased that I didn't have to listen to him call Wrestlemania. In my opinion, Styles is what David Crockett would have been if he had called matches on crack. I only regret that Lawler didn't give Styles the Andy Kaufman treatment as a going away present.

All this being said...the absolute worst announcing performance ever: Susan St. James at Wrestlemania 2. If you've heard it, there's no explanation necessary.
Justin Geist wrote:
I agree that Don West is absolutely horrible and needs to go back to selling knives on the home shopping network. If TNA wants to be taken seriously they desperately need a new color commentator. I think Jim Cornette would be great in this role as I always enjoyed when he did this years ago in the WWF and NWA. However from what I've read he is already being brought in as the "new face of TNA management." I personally don't see this as being a good idea as Cornette would obviously be the face counterpart to Larry Zybysko and this would seem like more of the imitation WCW that Impact has become recently. Cornette has always been much better as a heel and would be great at putting over talent as a commentator. Perhaps he could also manage The Naturals and rejuvenate them as heels or better yet manage Austin Aries and Roderick Strong as a modern day version of the Midnight Express known as Generation Next as they are called in Ring of Honor. Shane Douglas would also be a vast improvement over Don West as the color commentator and would bring more legitimacy to the product since he was a main eventer in ECW.

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