AS I SEE IT: Make Us Tune Into SmackDown Again
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
Last week, fans got the news that the English speaking voice of New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV, the voice of SHOWTIME boxing, GLORY, and yes, even the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight for foreign markets…Mauro Ranallo will be the new play-by-play voice of WWE Smackdown starting with the New Year as they debut on USA Network.
First, congratulations, Mauro.
Now…a personal request, and I know I’m not the only one. PLEASE be the commentator we’ve seen and loved. Watching you call Hiroshi Tanahashi-Kazuchika Okada, and hearing you get over Shinsuke Nakamura, was a privilege. A lot of us fear you’ll become just another mouthpiece for Vince McMahon’s words, like the current group seems to do all too often.You’ve already addressed that in some interviews, by claiming you’re “working as Mauro Ranallo”, and bringing up that they want you to be “a cross between Jim Ross and Michael Cole”. Well, first…we know he’s sort of your new boss (or at least mentor)…but it’s the style of Michael Cole, or rather the style imposed by Vince McMahon that we’re hoping to see changed.
Second, you’re already calling it “sports entertainment”. Once and for all, it’s WRESTLING. The company’s not called “World Sports Entertainment Entertainment”.
You know all too well that a large part of getting over any wrestling product is getting over wrestlers by explaining what they’re doing (yes, that means saying what a wrestling move is called…correctly) the wrestler’s backstories, and storylines… and mixing it with your incredible enthusiasm (and yes, humor) which you do so well. Same is true for boxing and MMA. Somehow I have a feeling you could get over two kids fighting over a toy in a sandbox.
If WWE wants a lot of fans who’ve turned off their TV product to turn on Smackdown on a regular basis…we’ll have to hear something very different from you than we’ve been hearing. It HAS to be different.
Mauro, we know it’s not going to be New Japan. No one expects that or has a right to expect it out of you or them. But a lot of fans have turned off WWE TV because of the storylines (which everyone knows isn’t your department), and the constant shilling of revenue streams and social media.
Worst is WWE’s constant non-storyline ridiculing of fans. Yes, FANS…not a “Universe” (talking about universes is Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s job) by JBL and others for something as simple as continuing to buy PPVs, rather than deal with the buffering issues of PPVs on WWE Network, which continue…and were an issue on WWE Tables, Ladders, and Chairs and on NXT: Takeover-London. In any other business, ridiculing customers gets you fired. In other entertainment businesses, they’re HAPPY to call fans exactly that and respect the time and money put into consuming the product. That respect results in even more loyalty to the product…and as a result, fans spending more money.
As much as WWE will let you…please do what you’ve done in the past. Please make us WANT to watch again. Make us WANT to give WWE our money…and maybe more of it. Get fans interested in a product many of us are losing interest in.
— Bob Magee