The matchup between Kofi Kingston and Chris Jericho was the high-point of "Monday Night Raw." However the match commentators failed to call a move until the climax of the match. Some may say that the introduction of move names was the ultimate indication that the match was about to finish.
Is this the way forward in professional wrestling? Or is this starting to take wrestling too far away from its sporting roots?
Commentary in all sports, from the NFL to soccer, has been split into a play-by-play man and a colour commentator for the past 100 years. The idea even appears to have two origins. Baseball added a colour commentator in the 1920s to fill the time in-between innings. The BBC did the same for test cricket.
The system was essential to radio as the play-by-play commentator had to use his words to conjure the image of what was happening. The colour commentator could then theorise on why those things were happening.
With the invention of television, the play-by-play role changed. The play-by-play commentator still described what was happening, but his words were to enhance the image by giving the technical information rather than explaining the image. The transition for the colour commentator was a smoother transition, as he was still guessing why certain decisions were made.
"Raw" has effectively lost this setup and now uses two colour commentators.
Officially Michael Cole is the play-by-play commentator, but his job has changed. His primary objective is no longer to describe the technical skill of the match. Cole's job is to explain the history between the two men fighting or talk about a feud that involves one or both of the in-ring competitors.
This is not Cole's fault. This is a strategic move by the WWE management.
The idea is to clearly promote the rivalries between whoever the commentators are talking about. The theory behind the move is to make people care about the wrestlers involved, so they become more likely to put their hands in their pockets and pay for the next pay-per-view.
However this strategy does take a great deal of focus away from the wrestling.
Jericho and Kingston were putting on a great back-and-forth match. The chemistry between the two was firing and the moves on display were as technical as they come. However Kofi Kingston barely had his name mentioned. His efforts lost in the winds of the current WWE championship feud between Jericho and CM Punk.
This is not to say that the championship match at Extreme Rules is not important. However Jericho did a better job explaining the history and furthering the story in two short promos than the commentating team did in 15 minutes.
Had the match been the centre of focus, then this could have been the birth of a new player at the top of the WWE. Kingston stood toe-to-toe with Jericho and stole the show.
Last week the plaudits went to Daniel Bryan. The connection? His opponent was also Kofi Kingston. Yet this is another example of the commentators concentrating on an outside storyline rather than the match itself.
Wrestling does have to be a balance between story and action. It cannot rely on the action to motivate casual fans to watch a sport that is predetermined.
Presenting wrestling as a secondary part of the show is not the answer either. New fans need to understand why such a move is good or what technique the wrestler used. Otherwise the skill becomes lost and interest in the business will suffer.
Whether the current commentating team are capable of giving that information is another question entirely. Cole has been known to call finishing moves incorrectly. However that is a question for another time.
What is certain is "Raw" would benefit from a little more commentating and a little less exposition.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!