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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Nothing Extreme About Joey Styles
April 14 by Freddy Sturguess


For years, current WWE RAW commentator Joey Styles was the "voice of ECW." His unique enthusiasm matched the very attitude of Extreme Championship Wrestling, and fit the action he was calling despite his Elvis Costello-like nerdy appearance. It could be said that Styles was the most extreme announcer in wrestling. But not anymore.

ECW was swallowed up in the Monday Night Wars and apparently, so was Joey Styles' pride. Styles' current situation can be summed up in his own words when RAW came back from a commercial break on April 3rd, the day after Wrestlemania 22 (for which I thank God that Jim Ross was there to call some action). Styles said "Welcome back to Monday Night RAW from Chicago... we are all sold out." And apparently, so are you Styles.

His entire persona has gone from a say-anything announcer with guts in his delivery to merely a guy needing a job. A habit of sucking up to wrestlers and forms of wrestling he would have denounced in his ECW days has crept into his commentating. But of course, when bashing someone, it's always proper to give examples.

During the triumphant ECW: One Night stand pay-per-view last June, Styles said that if you want to see body builders wrestle, then tune in on Monday nights. Are those the same "body builders" that you now call great athletes and suck up to every Monday night, Mr. Styles" Also, when the WWE's web site announced that Styles had accepted the job of announcer for RAW, it said, quote, that it was his "lifelong dream." Now, that may have been the WWE's own saying to build up their product... but if it was quoted from Styles, it makes him even more of a hypocrite and a sell-out.

During a March 13th broadcast of Monday Night RAW, Styles said "I've seen this before but I've never seen it live!" during a Texas Tornado cage match. Okay, so you called the action for one of the most out of control promotions in the history of wrestling, but you've never seen this" Right. (Though in all fairness it should be said that other commentators who have a long history in the sport seem to forget the great things they've seen... I'm quite surprised at the amount of things to which seasoned veteran Jerry Lawler says "I've never seen anything like that in my life!")

Jim Ross's exit from the Monday night announce team was a disheartening bring-down. Jerry Lawler's attempt to become a babyface announcer just isn't working to his strengths and seems so forced. He despises Triple H now, yet for years it seemed that Lawler thought the sun shined out of The Game's you-know-what. And as for Jonathan "The Coach" Coachman, his role as the heel commentator is overdone and downright annoying. Styles' conformity certainly doesn't help.

Where are you when we need you, J.R"

by Freddy Sturguess ..


James Watts wrote:
First of all, I think you're being just a tad unfair to Mr. Styles. He is an accomplished announcer, and if you actually listen to his announcing, he tends to list every single move that happens in the ring, instead of telling a story like WWE announcers are supposed to do. It's clear to me that Styles hasn't quite gotten out of his old ECW announcing style just yet. Another thing is that Joey Styles clearly likes some wrestlers over others. You can almost feel the enthusiasm pour out of him every time he announces Rob Van Dam's matches, yet he doesn't seem too enthusiastic when announcing John Cena or Triple H's matches (at least that's what it sounds like to me). Could that be his disdain for "seeing body builders wrestle"" I agree that when he said what he said when Shane O'Mac hit the Van Terminator was lame, but that's what he got paid to say, so he said it. As for "Good Ol' JR", he is actually teaching Joey Styles how to announce properly in the WWE, and he was at WrestleMania, but everyone has to go sometime, and JR went. Deal with it. Move on.
Daniel Kessler wrote:
Clearly you are a JR homer, which is fine. What you need to understand is that Vince runs WWE with an iron fist. Do you really think that it is good for business to have the announcer for your flagship show insulting your athletes. Probably not. When Joey Styles worked for ECW do you think he was able to feed his family one the money he got from announcing just a few TV tapings a month, no. Thats why he was working at an advertising firm. When ECW folded he continued to work at the firm until the WWE called him. Syles has not sold out, he just wants to be a part of the business. Did Paul Heyman sell out by taking a job with WWE, did RVD sell out by not quitting after his character was ruined, how about Stevie Richards, Nunzio, or Kid Kash" No. ECW is dead which means that its alumni have two options, stay at home and not give the fans any respect by not allowing them to see their talents, or they can "sell out" for the sake of their families and of their fans. Joey Styles is doing what each and every one of us would do if we had any love for the business, I applaud him for being able to take Vinces crap. On a JR note, it wasn't until the Mankind vs Undertaker Hell in a Cell match that JR showed anything close to the same intensity that Joey Styles had since the start of his career.
Zorack108 wrote:
First, Joey had a full time job making lots of money during and after his ECW days...do he doesn't "need" a job. Second, Jerry Lawler was a face his entire career, it wasn't until he came to WWE that he went heel.
Tyler DiPietrantonio wrote:
It seems that we once again have an ECW fanboy smearing someone in the history of the promotion as a "sellout". My advise to you is to get off Styles' ass. Calling anyone in the entertainment industry a "sellout" just displays your ignorance. Whether you like it or not, we live in a capitalist economy and the idea is to make money. I would hope that Joey Styles has enough on his plate to have to worry about pleasing a rabid fanboy of a promotion that declared Chapter 11 Bankruptcy 5 years ago.
Inhaler wrote:
I guess it's fair to say that this is a form of selling out if the mission is to not make any money and work in the indy circuit for the rest of your life. Joey's main goal was to say as many ridiculous things as possible in order to be heard. Finally, he was heard and received the greatest wrestling commentating job in professional wrestling. He did not sell out, but finally adapted to Vince McMahon's likings. It was either this or get fired. '
Drew Yamata wrote:
I can't much agree with anything in this entire column. Callin Joey Styles a sell-out would be like calling RVD a sell-out for going to WWE when he was in ECW...it just makes no sense. It is so easy to call a man a sell-out when he takes a giant pay check rather than stick to his pride and never join the ranks of the WWE, it is so easy to shout at him and say he is at fault, it is easy until you ask yourself what you would have done. If WWE offers you a huge pay check to commentate are you just going to push away a six figure pay check because you are too proud to do what practically everyone else in ECW did" Paul Heyman, RVD, Team 3-D (when they were there), Tajiri, Rey Mysterio, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Psicosis...should I continue with the list" Are any of these men sell-outs simply because they decided to continue doing what it is they do best and get a nice fat paycheck because of it" Of course not!

And what about all of the WCW talent that went to WWE" Would they also be considered sell-outs or does your critera for a sell-out ONLY apply to commentators"

Every man needs to put food on the table and make a descent living even if it means having to swallow your pride and do what the McMahons tell you to. In my book it took a ton of guts for Joey Style to accept his job in WWE and to be honest he has done a wonderful job of enlighting fans as to what certain wrestling moves are called rather than just oogle and make refrences to barn yard animals or try to win over fans by making jokes. Joey Styles is a WRESTLING commentator...period.
Derek Watson wrote:
I'm not really sure why you wrote an article bashing Joey Styles. Sure the man was the "extreme announcer" back in the day..but that was back in the day when ECW was actually still around. ECW is dead and has been for quite some time. That sucks, but it's time to move on people... The comments during One Night Stand about tuning in monday nights to see bodybuilders was only to build the storyline of WWE vs ECW which they ran with the entire show. On a side note One Night Stand was in fact not an ECW event but rather an ECW flavored WWE event...i would not go as far as to call One Night Stand triumphant since all it proved was that Vince still knows how to make some money... Getting back on track here, i don't think Styles sold out in the slightest. Let's be honest here, the man is an amazing announcer and he needed a job. I'm happy that he signed with WWE and is finally getting the money he deserves..who else could hire him and pay him fairly for what he does so well"
Mziemba wrote:
Reading over Mr. Sturguess article I am filled with a sence of anger that an individual would be permitted to write an article like that and have it published on OWW.

There are several things that Mr. Sturguess omits in his article which are rather relevant to presenting the entire story.

1. Joey Styles, up until he joined the WWE, was NEVER a full time announcer for any promotion. As an announcer for ECW, MLW, and XPW (which was for only one show), Styles worked for an Ad Agency in Stamford Conn. as his main source of income. He called wrestling shows on his days off and during vacation time. The WWE is his first FULL TIME wrestling announcing gig. I'd say it would be his "lifelong dream" to do what he's been doing for almost 10 years as a part timer and not have to worry about getting up at 9 AM on monday for the carpool to work in a cubicle.

2. According to Mick Foley's "Have a Nice Day" AND the movie "Beyond the Mat" almost all of ECW's video editing and audio work was done in a suburban New York house basement of ECW"s cameraman . Foley said quote:

" Much of the time, Joey Styles 'live at the ECW Arena' was acctually Joey Styles in front of a banner hiding on old washer and dryer"

So him saying that "I've seen this before, but I've never seen it live!" is entirely truthful.

I mean sure we've seen Joey at the Arena to do the introduction to the show in the ring, possibly be interupted by a wrestler, Joel Gertner and/or Cyrus (during the TNN days) then leave the ring.

I would rather an individual get all the information and tell it poorly than see what Mr. Sturguess has done and told a good story without all the information.
Colm Kearns wrote:
I disagree with you, Joey Styles has not sold out he is just doing a job for another company. When Styles knocked WCW and WWF(E) in his ECW days he did it because he worked for ECW and knocking the competition made them seem like extreme rebels. Now he praises WWE guys because thats his job, putting over the talent. Wrestling announcers are not like sports pundits they are not there to give their opinion they are there to call the match and help the wrestlers and the angles get over. If you are an advertiser for Pepsi and you make ad campaigns saying its the best cola in the world and then you get a job with coke so you make out that it is the best drink in the world, does it make you a sell out" No you are doing your job not betraying your principals. Does the advertiser really believe that Pepsi is the best" No of course not but its his job to say so. Likewise does Styles really believe that all the WWE roster are amazing atheletes" No but does he truly believe they are talentless bodybuilders either" Again no. Don't expect his commentary in ECW or WWE to be the gospel truth because he has a job to do.
Justin Louviere wrote:
Although I agree with you to a certain point, I don't think Styles "sold out". I think he knows that he just needs a job, and he knows that his role has been reduced. I think he simply needs a job, and he can only do what he does best - call matches. And if you can, do it for a bigger paycheck - WWE.
Brad H. wrote:
Freddy, pardon me for saying so, but you are totally full of it. You made some ok points about the need for JR to come back and for Lawler to stop being a babyface announcer (which is def the biggest problem they are having right now as far as I'm concerned). Lawler is awful in this role. However, going off on Joey Styles is ludicrous. First of all, quoting that interview is dumb. There is no chance that most of those WWE.com interviews actually happen in the first place and aren't just written by somebody else with the person's permission. Second of all, you can' t tell me that you wouldn't do the same thing if you were in his position. He desperately wants to be the lead announcer on RAW, as would any true wrestling fan. God knows I would. So you're saying if Vince called you and said they had you in mind for the profitable lead anchor position on RAW, but that you had to do it his way, you would say, "no, I don't wanna be a 'sellout'. Thanks but no thanks." Please. I don't think so. And if you actually believe that, you're more full of it than I thought.
Langdon Beck wrote:
Yeah ... like you wouldn't "sell out" and join WWE if they offered you a job. I'm sure Joey Styles lies awake every night holding his substantially-larger-than-his-non-wrestling-job pay cheque, crying about how he's seen and heard by millions of people every week.
Smartmak11 wrote:
i think that in many respects that Joey styles is very similar to Jim Ross, he has enthusiasm and passion, he says what he thinks, and did what he had to do to stay in the business. don't get me wrong, i am a die-hard jr fan since I was 6 in 1997, but jr is not as accomplished as styles as far as calling wrestling moves and instead uses similes and really hasn't changed his routine. Don't get me wrong, jr is tight, but joey styles is much like ross and is a smooth and easy transition. Honestly, would you rather stay away from what you love or swallow your pride and do what you love just with instruction" And the paycheck wouldn't hurt either.
Billy Boy wrote:
If wrestlers or commentators did not 'sell out' from companys that are know longer existent or do only one pay per view a year, the existing products of today wouldnt be half the companies they are. Take Tna for example, there roster has some big names from other companies including Sting who has worked for WCW only. The wwe would not be half the product it is today without the wrestlers it has from ECW and WCW. Some of its main wrestlers are from them, for example Rvd, Rey mysterio, Booker t. So if you dont want to see the talent anymore when they have much more to give, call them sell outs, but you will be the one missing out on the wrestling.
Mike Mike wrote:
If you can call Joey Style's a sell-out, wouldn't the same be true for Tazz" He's been putting over wrestlers on Smackdown for years. He even went as far as to say that Kurt Angle isn't someone who'd he'd want to met in the ring, despite the fact that his WWE debut was against Kurt Angle and he swiftly beat Angle's undefeated streak. Have you seen One Night Stand" The ECW fans are still as rabid as ever and not only did they send Paul Heyman into tears, but Joey Styles as well. Tazz wrestled that night for the first time in years. Tell me that they don't still live and breath ECW. They've just had to adapt to a new style. The same way many independent wrestlers do as they go from town to town gaining name recognition only hoping for a shot at the "Big Time." Just read what Joey Styles' said about Terry Funk in his interview on ecw.com. Tell me that's not hardcore. You can say whatever you want about a wrestler selling out, but it means nothing in professional wrestling. You adapt, otherwise you're never going to be able to support yourself, much less a family. Leave ECW in the past. It was the apex of wrestling greatness because of how ground-breaking it was. But those days are long over. If you can't stand Joey Styles announcing a WWE event, then don't watch. Personally, I'm more than elated. He's given me a reason to tune in on Monday night.
Hector Vasquez wrote:
I just wanted to ad that the comments in this column are a bit, exaggerated, considering the biz that we so much love.

We all need to realize that the nature of commercial wrestling implies that we are not to believe everything we hear on the air, or read in websites or even see on each match. As far as Joey Styles i am still getting comfortable with him and i have to say, that i like him. However, if he may have sound like a 'hypocrite' by calling some wrestlers 'body builders' is not something to be judged on. He was trying to sell a product and make it more appealing, more dramatic and entertaining.

People in wrestling say one thing now and an hour later do the complete opposite and the next day they say something else. it is just how things are and makes it special because it ads that unpredictability factor.
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