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November 29, 2007

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:

BEST

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.

WORST

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.

Posted by Kevin Eck at 3:53 AM | | Comments (23)
        

Comments

Prime Time Wrestling hosted by Bobby and Gorilla was a classic. I enjoyed it more than Raw.And who can forget the spinoff " The Bobby Heenan Show"? The only drawback was Jason the sidekick. Where in the world did he come from?.

Did Monsoon coin the term
'three-peat' as in Demolition or whomever winning a belt three times?

Kevin,

I know its a little late now, but I really think David Crockett was more of a "color" guy than a play-by-play guy. I realize its hard to know that considering the fact that he would have been terrible as either one. He was paired with Tony Schiavone for so long on WCW Saturday Night that it seemed he was supposed to be there to provide commentary. Its amazing after all these years remembering that I thought Schiavone was a good announcer until Turner brought in Bobby Heenan. Heenan's stuff was still good but it fell flat because Schiavone had no personality at all. After years of working next to David Crockett, I suppose anyone might just mentally checkout and never come back.

RESPONSE FROM KEVIN ECK: When Schiavone and Crockett worked together it seemed like they did not have clearly defined roles. Sometimes Crockett added color and at other times he was calling the action.

My top color commentators are definitely the Brain and Jim Cornette. I always enjoyed his interviews when he managed the Midnight Express, even though I hated them because they were heels.

I've been hit or miss on Jerry Lawler. There were times when he was really funny, but other times when his act was dreadful. I wasn't a big fan of Tazz either, although there were times when I preferred him over Michael Cole.

Amen on your choices for best and worst color commentators. Bobby Heenan was a genius behind the announce desk from his time with Monsoon to his quick banter in WCW. He was the only thing that saved Nitro from being a disaster, especially considering their long line of horrible announcers such as "Mongo", Bischoff, Zbysko and (OMG!) Mark Madden.

I liked this post Kevin. Thank You for sharing with us your "ranking"
I was wondering...what do you think about the commentators from now a days? I mean Cole, Lawler, JBL... etc? Because it would be interesting to know your opinion about all of them (wwe and tna)
And also the announcers... what do you think about them? This guy who appeared in ECW at first and then was moved to Smackdown. I like him a bit more than Jillian.

Who could forget Pat Patterson's call of Jimmy Snuks's debut into the WWF and challenging Sgt Slaughter to break the cobra clutch!

Don West is so bad it makes me laugh sometimes. He's one of the reasons I just can't watch TNA. I try to watch every so often, but West or someone else ends up making a stupid comment that makes my head hurt.
I'm surprised that John Hennigan and Mike Mizanin didn't make the list of worst color commentators. Their terrible work on ECW a few weeks ago was so bad that they did owe everyone an apology. It's just too bad JBL didn't give them each a black eye for acting like twelve-year- olds.

Tony Schiavone is the worst and most over-rated announcers of all time. Watch all the replay of great early to mid-card matches at pay per views and Shiavone will not even be calling the play by play and instead talking about the "Greatest Main Event in Pay-Per View History Later Tonight." Hennan and Rhodes masked his awful announcing skills.

Good get on Piper! Underappreciated!

I agree with your lists completely, I would just add Brain to the top of the favorites.

Greatest Heenan line ever - Wrestlemania 8 I believe - right before the first match which was Tito Santana and Shawn Michaels - Heenan shouts out "It's Arriba McIntire!" after Reba McIntire sang the National Anthem.

How about on another blog you do your favorite angle and or promo? I still can't get out of my head the night on Nitro in 97 when the NWO made fun of the horseman with Sean Waltman dressed as Flair, Konnan as McMichael, Bagwell as Mr. Perfect and Nash as Arn Anderson, funny stuff.

this list is much better then the first one. Ventura, Piper, and Heenan, are all spectacular picks, and would put ANY color man in wrestling today to shame. ANYONE.

As far as the worst goes, WHERE IS MARK MADDEN???? This guy was the definition of bad commentating. I liked Bartlett and Mongo, for the simple reasons that they broguht new comments to the table. Because they had no wrestling backgrounds, they put new life into the color role. although neither lasted to long, they still had some freshness to them. I would rather see Don West or Bruno Sammartino in the worst list.


My favorite memory of Rob Bartlett is, on one of the first episodes of Monday Night Raw, probably the third or so, i remember becuase i taped it because there was a retirement match between Flair and Hennig on it. But anyway, I think it was during a Repo Man segment or something of that nature. Bartlett said something ridiculous (I havent seen the tape in at least 10 years, so I dont remember) but what I remember was Heenan sort of whispering to Vince, asking him "where did you find this guy???! Vince replied with something like............ well i dont know, we saw him on the subway and we got him. PURE COMEDY!!!

an't argue with your top 3, they were my favourites too.

But in the bottom 3 I would have to find somewhere for Billy Graham. His call at Wrestlemania was embarrassingly amatuerish and bad, and even having Monsoon alongside couldn't save him. I've never seen a commentator be so at loss for words and keep repeating the same ridiculous lines. Worst wrestlemania broadcast ever.

as i think these announcers do not play their role so clearly... they always make some players so much angry on each other...
i don't know why but they always enjoy player's fighting during their interviews. which should not be done.

I don't know if any of these guys come close to being true announcers. It takes a great voice and an outgoing personality as well as the desire to entertain to be a good announcer. I think that Troy Hobza is probally the best I have ever heard. He announces for a small independent circuit in Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska. If you haven't seen him perform you should. He is from Columbus Nebraska and he definately puts Tony Chimmel to shame. He is kind of a cross between Justin Roberts and Tony Chimmel.

I don't know if I would go that far! I saw him last night in Onawa Iowa. He does sound great with a mic, but he didn't seem as relaxed and comfortable as the pros. Great sound, good look, just needs to keep the show rolling.

I was at that show also and I thought he was great. He gave it a wwe atmosphere. I think he's got major talent and that we need to keep a close eye on this guy. He is definately destined to go somewhere with this if he sticks to it.

for best announcer ever where is the Gorilla? especially on PPV's he always made you feel like your were watching something great and magical. I would dare say that his commentary on The first Wrestlemania's was just as important as the matches themselves unlike today where lets say a Smackdown match is called with them same enthusiasm as Wrestlemania. Thats why I say and you can see that announcing standard in WWE is The gorilla & The Brain and even JR said when he first got to WWE Vince had a problem and took him off the air because he was not him. as far as the worse it has to be McMicheal with that dumb dog. as far as Schovione i think he was good with david Crockett on NWA World Wide,mediocre with him on WCW SN, ok with Gorilla on Prime Time but he was horrible with the Brain on Nitro because he just doesn't get comedy and killed Bobby. perfect was great on Color too!

I am going to agree with you Jacob. I saw Troy Hobza perform and he is definately someone who should not be taken lightly. He is a very talented individual and I think he is more than destined for the big leagues someday like WWE, TNA, etc. He gives the show an awesome look and feel by providing the fans both at home, and live, an exciting atmosphere. I spoke with him after a show in Missouri and he said that he just recently started with MWA as their announcer. He really wanted to work with WLW but I guess he was looking for an indy organization that ran closer to home. If I were an announcer or commentator in the sport I would beware of this guy. He is going places fast. He was really getting popular in the North Platte and Grand Island areas and then suddenly did a small show with the MWA. What was that all about?

I know it looks bad on his part. He was doing a few shows back in 2003 through 2006 but then disappeared.I think he went to school or something. But now he suddenly reappeared out of nowhere. I heard he was practically begging MWA to take him. He needs to come back down and try out at FCW. We would love to have him. Last I knew he finished college and has a full-time job now. I don't know what his deal is but someone needs to snag him off the market and make it permanent because he is major talented.

Troy did a small show for us here in Pukwana with MWA Professional Wrestling. He is great. He is really becomming the Face of the MWA. He had everyone eating out of his hand. We love him out here!!!!! Go Troy!

I met this guy in person! He is going to be doing a show in Minnisota for Lenny Lane I guess sometime in December. He is really making a name for himself fast!

Im appauled at this string. If it were not for my boss I would not have found this. Look guys, wether you love me or you hate me, I do what I do for the love of the business. Wether I remain an announcer, commentator, producer of the show, become a promoter someday, or even step into the ring as a wrestler someday, you all need to understand that business is business. If it weren't for us new guys, the sport would eventually dies off 50 years from now. For those of you who said good thing about me, thank you all. For those of you who dislike me, I do not understand why? I am simply an announcer. Alot of you who want to criticise me, don't realize what I actually bring to the plate for my organization and will continue to do so for many years to come. Get used to me. Im not going anywhere.

@Troy Hobza

What is there to be appauled (sic) by? Looks like you were mentioned in 3 comments, all saying good things.

Stop Googling yourself dude.

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About Kevin Eck
The Baltimore Sun's Kevin Eck blogs about professional wrestling.
E-mail Kevin.
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