Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!
Raise your hand if you miss Jim Ross.
Hmmm. I counted at least a few million hands, which really isn’t surprising given the fact that Ross is arguably the greatest announcer in wrestling history.
It’s pretty clear that, even though Good Ol’ JR hasn’t been a full-time announcer for a few years now, he’s still widely respected and missed by many.
This, of course, has a lot to do with Ross’ tremendous talents as a play-by-play man. But when you dig a little deeper, you’ll realize that it’s also probably because of something else: The struggles of Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler.
During the Attitude Era and into the 2000s, Ross and Lawler combined to form what many consider to be the best, or at least the second-best (behind Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan), announce duo in wrestling history.
Unfortunately, Ross and Lawler are no longer sitting at the announce table on Monday nights, and it’s resulted in one of the most dreadful announce combos I can ever recall seeing.
Though Lawler was once a fantastic heel commentator, the WWE machine has turned him into a watered-down babyface who adds virtually nothing to the WWE product.
Whether it’s Vince McMahon’s orders that are hurting Lawler’s performances isn’t the issue here. The issue is that Lawler has become downright insufferable.
He is as generic of a babyface as there is, which is bad enough in and of itself. But it only gets worse when face Lawler is portrayed to be a moron, which seems to be happening more and more lately.
I respect the heck out of Lawler, especially for his ability to still put on a decent match and be one of the most over babyfaces on the WWE roster.
But whenever I watch Raw, I legitimately wonder if he’s paying attention to the show or simply saying whatever he feels like saying.
I frequently find Lawler saying things that make absolutely no sense whatsoever, such as at SummerSlam when he said something along the lines of “Listen to this ovation Triple H is getting!” while the crowd chanted “You tapped out!” at him.
Whether this is by design or not, Lawler consistently ignores the fans in order to put over the babyfaces, and it’s become almost as annoying as Cole’s inept play-by-play.
If you watch NXT and listen to the commentary of Ross and William Regal, they actually—you know—call moves and put over the talent in the match.
Though Cole has toned down his heel act recently, he consistently buries talent, especially people like Zack Ryder or any of the WWE Divas.
What’s even worse about Cole, however, is his unfathomable lack of knowledge about pro wrestling moves and holds. Seriously, the guy has no idea what 90 percent of the moves are called.
Instead of calling a move an “inverted DDT” or a “Fisherman’s suplex,” he says idiotic things like, “Wow. Look at that!” or “What a move!”
It’s painful to watch someone with so little wrestling knowledge attempt to call wrestling moves, fail miserably at it and then spending the rest of his time burying the WWE superstars and Divas.
And when you combine Cole’s ridiculousness with what almost seems like indifference from Lawler, what results is an announce team that has absolutely zero chemistry.
Cole consistently fails to focus on what is going on inside the ring, while Lawler is simply off in his own little world. It seems like “The King” just doesn’t care anymore and only shows up on Monday nights to collect a paycheck.
A lot of Lawler’s struggles probably stem from the rumor that he doesn’t even watch SmackDown, which wouldn’t be surprising at all. Whenever a SmackDown star or stars are in the ring on Raw, it’s usually painfully evident that Lawler has little to no idea what that guy has been doing on the blue brand.
To Cole’s credit, he sort of takes control in these situations. But I still find it odd that these two are even still announcing together given all the storyline bad blood between them.
I mean, didn’t these guys just have a never-ending feud not too long ago that resulted in a WrestleMania match and Cole mocking Lawler for his mother’s real-life death?
And before, during and after that feud, they were sitting at the announce table? That’s crazy.
Here are two heated rivals working together every Monday night while they damn near tried to kill each other several times, and the WWE expects them to get along and the fans to forget about it.
I don’t see how that even happened, especially when it’s clear that the chemistry between the two has gotten even worse since their feud, if that’s even possible.
Sure seems like it is, though, as Cole’s struggles to call the action correctly and Lawler’s struggles to give a crap have turned the Raw announce team into an absolute mess.
Why Ross and Regal are stuck on an NXT show that doesn’t even air on TV in the United States while Cole and Lawler are the lead announce team on the WWE’s flagship show is beyond me.
We need one guy who can call the moves and bring excitement to matches, and we need another guy who can use his experiences as a wrestler to describe what it’s like to be in the situations that the WWE Superstars are in.
Ross and Regal do it. Lawler and Cole don’t.
And unless something happens that makes the latter change, then Raw’s announce team will remain one of the weakest parts of the show and the entire WWE.