More of the best and worst wrestling announcers
Before I get to my thoughts on color commentators, I wanted to thank everyone who posted a comment or sent me an e-mail on their favorite and least favorite wrestling announcers.
One announcer who was mentioned by several people as a favorite was the late Gorilla Monsoon. He’s an interesting case. A lot of people have fond memories of him from the 1980s boom period in WWE, especially his work with Bobby Heenan. The “smart” fans, however, always hated Monsoon as an announcer. He was voted Worst Television Announcer six times by the readers of The Wrestling Observer.
Personally, I liked Monsoon. Had I made a top five list of favorites, he certainly would have been on it. The things about him that irritated newsletter readers – making comments such as “The fans are literally hanging from the rafters,” and repeating clichés such as “He doesn’t know a wristlock from a wristwatch” and “A pat on the back is just 18 inches from a kick in the butt” – are what made him fun to listen to in my opinion. In addition to being entertaining, he sold the angles well and got the characters over. But I digress.
Here’s the list of my favorite and least favorite color commentators. As I said yesterday, this is not meant to be a definitive list, just my personal opinion:
1. Jesse Ventura: As a wrestler, Ventura’s gift of gab exceeded his skills in the ring, so it wasn’t surprising that “The Body” became such a fantastic commentator. With his deep, distinctive voice and boorish persona, Ventura set a new standard for heel announcers when he was in WWE. He worked well with Monsoon, but he was even more entertaining when playing the adversary of play-by-play man Vince McMahon.
2. Roddy Piper: The first heel commentator that I ever saw was Piper when he worked alongside Gordon Solie on Georgia Championship Wrestling on TBS in 1981. One of the most entertaining talkers of all time, he sometimes would be over-the-top in insulting the babyfaces, and at other times he would be subtler and actually make some keen observations. Even though Piper was a heel and Solie favored the babyfaces, the two were not adversarial and Piper treated Solie with respect. One of my favorite angles was when Magnificent Muraco attacked Solie, and Piper turned babyface and came to his rescue.
3. Bobby Heenan: His quick wit and weasel-like persona had fans hating him and laughing at the same time. “The Brain” had tremendous chemistry with Monsoon, and much of their hilarious banter was ad-libbed.
1. Steve McMichael: The former Chicago Bears star was supposed to be a babyface commentator on WCW Monday Nitro, but his obnoxious personality made him ill-suited for the role. Everything about him was annoying, even the Chihuahua named Pepe that he brought with him to the broadcasts. The only thing worse than McMichael the commentator was McMichael the wrestler.
2. Rob Bartlett: Several years before the failed Dennis Miller experiment on Monday Night Football, WWE brought in Bartlett, a comedian, to be part of the original broadcasting team on Monday Night Raw along with McMahon and Randy Savage. Like Miller, Bartlett wasn’t funny and he added nothing to the broadcast. He was dropped from the show after just two months.
3. Don West: His constant yelling on TNA broadcasts gets old quickly. He should stick to shilling baseball cards.