WWE Raw: Ranking the Best Announcing Teams in Raw's History
What would have Monday Night Raw been like without the voices of Jim Ross or Vince McMahon? Wrestlers can tell a story in the ring, but it's often at the announce table where it becomes something bigger, something special.
Over its 19 years of existence, WWE Raw has hosted a variety of combinations of men to provide commentary.
Some of these pairings ended too quickly and some were the foundation for Raw. From episode one to episode 1,000, who were the best teams under the headsets?
10. Vince McMahon and Shawn Michaels
Vince McMahon served as one of WWE's major voices until his Mr. McMahon character had him move from behind the announce table to in front of the camera.
Some of his shtick and some of his catchphrases like "What a maneuver" seem out of date and kitschy now. But there has always been a genuine enthusiasm in his voice that helped make the wrestling exciting, whether it was a five-star match or a jobber getting creamed.
You could hear him being thrilled as his voice rose.
McMahon had a multitude of partners over the years, and Shawn Michaels earns his place here with good timing and by knowing when to let the action breathe.
McMahon was certainly the alpha male between these two, and Michaels embraced the second banana role well.
9. Vince McMahon and Jim Cornette
For a brief period in 1995, Jim Cornette took the ever-changing seat next to Vince McMahon.
Cornette's voice can get in the nails-on-chalkboard range at times, but he is one of the smartest and funniest men in the business. He told the in-ring stories passionately and believably.
His partnership with McMahon was one where McMahon carried the heavier load on microphone which allowed to Cornette to interject his zealous energy and witty remarks at key moments.
8. Michael Cole, Jim Ross and Booker T
Jim Ross could announce on his own or alongside a hissing cockroach and still take wrestling storytelling to its highest level. The only wrestling commentator one could compare Ross' greatness with is Gordon Solie, whose career was way before Raw's inception.
With this particular combination, Michael Cole had the majority of the play-by-play duties, Ross furthered the story and Booker T chimed in with his hilarious wackiness from time to time.
When Cole is not forcing his heeldom down our throats, he's a more-than-capable announcer. He can be a legitimate sports broadcaster who elevates a match by letting the action take center stage.
Unfortunately, Cole was asked too often to play an annoying buffoon, ruining matches along the way. We didn't see this trio long enough, as Ross was in and out of the WWE at this time, his career winding down.
7. Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and CM Punk
Near the end of 2010, CM Punk joined the Raw broadcast team. This turned out to be a brilliant move on WWE's part.
Punk's quick wit and dry humor is a perfect fit for the announce table. When he's done in the ring, he’ll surely have a place as a commentator.
With Michael Cole handling the play by play, Jerry Lawler threw in jokes and color commentary while Punk added an element of fun.
His "diet soda" line remains funny.
Lawler is like Cole in that he’s extremely talented on the mic, but he's often asked to ham it up, and his character can get in the way of the wrestling we’re watching. The older and wiser version of Lawler is toned down and far more precise.
6. Joey Styles, Jerry Lawler and Jonathan Coachman
Take Raw mainstay Jerry Lawler and add ECW fan favorite Joey Styles, as well as the underrated Jonathan Coachman, and you have a formidable announce team.
For much of 2006, these three men combined to deliver a smooth and invigorating performance on commentary.
Coachman was equal parts funny and self-depricating, with a slick delivery and fervent emotion.
Styles is often reduced in memory to being the "Aw my gawd!" guy, but he is much more than that. Styles is a dynamic commentator, able to give an electric feel to any match or moment.
5. Jim Ross and Paul Heyman
Paul Heyman's commentary is a bit of an acquired taste. His fire and passion for the sport can come off as overwhelming and irritating.
It's preferable, though, for a commentator to go a bit overboard while maintaining a throbbing energy during episodes of Raw. Pairing him with Jim Ross allowed Ross to be the No. 1 guy and have Heyman spill his guts from time to time.
This team lasted for most of 2001, watching over and electrifying several classic matches, including the Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho vs. Steve Austin and Triple H tag-team match and the Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit cage match.
4. Vince McMahon and Bobby Heenan
Bobby Heenan is the funniest man associated with wrestling ever. The sport is lucky to have his charisma, sharp wit and knowledge of the business.
In search of a lighter schedule and more family time, Heenan left the Raw broadcast team in December 1993. WCW wisely called him soon after.
He worked well with Vince McMahon, but their chemistry was nowhere near as good as his and Gorilla Monsoon's.
Heenan was a heel-favoring announcer who wasn't overbearing. Raw would have benefited greatly from having him stick around.
3. Vince McMahon, Bobby Heenan and Randy Savage
What's better than Vince McMahon's confidence on the mic and Bobby Heenan's hilarity? The answer is the addition of Randy Savage.
Not as great a commentator as he was a wrestler, Savage still offered passion and humor that completed this trio. His memorable, gravely voice helped kick off Raw's first year.
Savage let McMahon and Heenan be the stars while he was the role player, adding emphasis and fun to the broadcast.
2. Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler and Jonathan Coachman
ESPN obviously saw something special in Jonathan Coachman when they hired him away from WWE. His balance of a cool demeanor and an excitable personality made him an enjoyable part of Raw in 2005 and 2006.
He joined a pair of surefire Hall of Famers from June to October in '05.
Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross had fantastic chemistry. Coachman was a solid addition without getting in the way. No fault of his own, though, they didn't need him.
1. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler
Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross was the perfect pairing. They provided so many classic lines during the crux of the Attitude Era and beyond.
Ross and Lawler became synonymous with Raw.
Lawler, as I've said, is a solid announcer when he turns down the weaselness. He may be a poor man's Bobby Heenan when it comes to one-liners, but he has had his share of funny moments.
Jim Ross elevated everything he announced.
The Mike Tyson and Steve Austin showdown was big, but Jim Ross made it monumental. The chaos and rumbling energy of the late '90s and early 2000s received a touch of majesty in Ross' hands.
He and Lawler gelled together superbly over the years, and Raw wouldn't have been the same without them.