WWE: 5 Greatest and Funniest Heel Color Commentators Ever
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Ask the WWE Universe who the most hated person in the WWE is and you will get many different answers. While those many different answers will show, it is almost a guarantee that one name will basically headline that list: Michael Cole.
Cole, who was largely an unnoticed play-by-play commentator for years, became a huge talking point in 2010 when he made one of the most surprising and affective turns in recent WWE history. It all began when WWE made one of the strangest and most painful decisions in the company's history and exchanged Cole for JR on the respective WWE brands.
Once Cole went live on Raw, he instantly drew venom. People hated him left and right for poor or annoying work, which slowly led to a heel turn based entirely on the fact that people could not stand Cole. Thanks to NXT and Daniel Bryan, coupled with the job of reading the emails of the Anonymous Raw GM, Cole went quickly from being the most hated commentator in WWE to embracing that hate.
To this day, people still hate Cole, but why do they hate him? The answer lies most simply in Cole's role. Cole is a play-by-play commentator. He is meant to simply put over the moves in the ring. When Cole began to fail to do this, it became increasingly more annoying.
On the other side, we have the color commentator who drives the flair of the contest. Simply put, the color commentator is there to add the emotion to the contest in their own way. This role is a much less defined role that usually lends itself to a character.
Typically, a heel commentator is a color commentator. Why? Because that works. You are allowed to be biased and emotionally persuasive as a character when you are adding color to the match. But as we see in Cole, it is hard to be a convincing heel play-by-play commentator. In fact, it may be impossible.
The reason why Cole comes off as so annoying is not because he is bad at what he does, but rather he simply is borrowing too many ideas from the heel color commentators. There is a reason for the separation. Just who is Cole borrowing from? Some of the best of all time.
The following may not all be inspirations for Cole's character, but they are the best of what he wants to be: a great heel color commentator. They are a testament to what Cole is not. These are the five greatest heel color commentators of all time.
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John Layfield was always a good competitor; however, once he came into his final gimmick as the rich tycoon heel, JBL's career reached another level. He was one of the best heels on the roster almost instantly. While never flashy in the ring, he was a good big man.
Not that that mattered because what really got JBL over was his ability with a microphone in his hands. JBL was charismatic. He could get anyone and everyone to hate him with a few swipes here or there as his only ammunition. The man was just perfect with his use of words, and that carried him over to the announce table.
When JBL had to take an extended break due to a buildup in injuries, he came back unsure about his future as a professional wrestler. Without the ability to wrestle, he decided to let his words do the talking, and he took a spot next to Michael Cole as a SmackDown commentator.
It was obvious immediately that JBL was a natural in the role. He fit perfectly. His smooth talking mixed with his still very much in-character words made for an entertaining time on every edition of SmackDown. Some of his put downs of Michael Cole had to be some of the most hilarious things to hear on television.
His stint as a commentator would end after a great year of work when he finally took his job back as a wrestler first.
While he didn't have the role for too long, his charisma and ideas shined through in the role, as he made for entertaining and engrossing television each week while still helping to get the emotion out of every match.
4. Paul Heyman
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Paul Heyman is a name known by almost every wrestling fan for a reason. The man was a genius who revolutionized the sport of pro wrestling. What made him such a powerful man wasn't just his brain or his power, but his ability to mince words.
Heyman was a master on the mic, working almost every role outside of being a wrestler to show off that mic ability. He was a great general manager. He was a cool manager. Also, he was a phenomenal color commentator.
Heyman had the shortest run of any of the men on this list, but his year in 2001 as a commentator replacing Jerry Lawler alongside Jim Ross was one of the greatest times for wrestling commentary ever.
Why? Well, because Heyman's antics and ego combined with the amazing Jim Ross is simply a force to be reckoned with. Heyman was possibly the greatest partner that JR ever had, even if the time was short.
What made Heyman so great? Knowledge. Heyman knew exactly what he was talking about every step of the way and more importantly, he could put it over with the ability to make everything sound important in his own blend of words.
When Heyman left the announce table, it was a sad day for WWE commentary, which has never quite reached that same level.
3. Jerry "The King" Lawler
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Jerry Lawler as a face commentator as we see him today is a bore. He is not a strong commentator in the style and never seems fully into what he is saying. However, that has nothing to do with the heel Lawler that once was one of the true greats at the commentary booth.
Lawler had it all. He had a character that was so completely into his own mind that he could make everything entertaining. He had the catchphrases and style that was relatable to him and him alone. And he had the ability. He could get himself and anybody else over on the mic.
You had to love listening to Lawler. His signature styling when he talked kept everything entertaining. More importantly, Lawler could put anybody down in the most brilliant and nonsensical of fashions.
JR and Vince McMahon can both attest to just how great a heel Lawler could be on the mic. In fact, JR's pairing with Lawler is one of the most renowned and legendary commentary pairings in history.
Where did it all go wrong? Well, the day that Lawler turned face was the day that he lost his swagger. Sure, even to this day, Lawler is quite the character, but his flair on the mic disappeared when he had to start putting more people over and less time putting them down.
Lawler is and will remain a legendary commentator, but his best days are behind him, as is his work as a heel color commentator.
2. Jesse Ventura
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Jesse Ventura was a riot. The man could do anything and everything on the mic, and nobody thought twice about it. Ventura was flash and flair, but most will agree that Ventura was at his best behind the announce table as a heel commentator.
Ventura was the essence of the heel commentator. He applauded the heels, ravenously put down the faces—especially those who cheated—and he made sure to work perfectly with the man at his side. In fact, two of Ventura's commentary pairings are still legendary to this day.
With Vince McMahon, Ventura had a great star to beat up on. McMahon was a pretty good commentator in his time, but his character was a mouse in comparison to the full-out charisma of Ventura. McMahon would put over every and any match, and Ventura would take that and evolve it into his own stories. The men were perfectly in sync, even when McMahon seemed too small in Ventura's shadow.
With Gorilla Monsoon, you may just have the greatest commentary team of all time, though, there is one other that could battle such a pairing. Monsoon and Ventura were opposites. They were conflicting personalities, but at the same time, they were impeccably close. There was a friendship between them that just made every little quip shine.
In the end, Ventura is simply one of the greatest commentators of all time in his niche as a heel color commentator. He knew every nook and cranny of the trade. In fact, Ventura basically re-invented and defined the role.
1. Bobby "The Brain" Heenan
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There is no one better.
JR and Gordon Solie were the greatest play-by-play commentators of all time, but no one can touch Bobby Heenan on color commentator. This man could make some of the craziest and wackiest remarks possible and make them seem like he was an absolute genius.
Heenan made everyone his object, his subject of interest, and crafted them to his will, whether they were a wrestler, announcer or even the partner at his side. Heenan could make you love or hate anyone through a few brief words. He was that incredible.
When Heenan found his partner in Monsoon, though, that was when he shined his brightest. Heenan was on fire whenever Monsoon was at his side because of their simply inherent chemistry. The two men were a riot together. Whether Monsoon was better with Ventura or Heenan is debatable, but he certainly helped both men shine even brighter.
By the end of Heenan's run, Heenan had defined what it meant to be a heel commentator tenfold and then some, and he will always be remembered for that because no one has matched him since.
This is quite simply the man that Cole wishes he could be with every fiber of his being because Heenan is the epitome of the heel commentator and part of the reason that being a heel play-by-play commentator simply does not work.
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