Last week the World Series of Fighting announced that their commentary team would consist of Michael "The Voice" Schiavello, Bas Rutten and Kurt Angle. Choosing Schiavello and Rutten made sense, both have had years of experience in the booth. But Angle's involvement was questionable.
Angle's only real contributions to MMA would either be his ongoing desire to step into the cage or his role as Koba in the movie Warrior. Apparently, due to contractual obligations with Viacom as a TNA wrestler, Angle will not be available to the World Series of Fighting, which airs on NBC Sports.
In his place? Renzo Gracie, as confirmed by Stephanie Daniels of Bloody Elbow.
Schiavello, without question, is a consummate professional. He's worked with some really awful partners on commentary and has all but carried full broadcasts. He's best known for his work with AXSTV where he mixes color commentary with analysis. Truly one of the best in the sport.
The problems; however, start with Rutten.
Let me preface this by saying that I think that Rutten's run as a commentator for PRIDE was one of the best in the sport.
However, Rutten hasn't really kept up on recent MMA news. Watch one episode of AXSTV's Inside MMA and it quickly becomes apparent that Rutten's best days as an analyst are behind him. He's more content to continue the "Bas Rutten - Street Fighting video" character than to actually educate himself.
Fortunately for Rutten, the times that he's teamed up with Schiavello in the past, he's been prevented from going "full Bas Rutten." In my opinion, it's more of a testament to Schiavello's ability to make anyone he works with look good than anything else.
Adding Gracie to an already crowded broadcast booth is risky to say the least. Heading in I know that Schiavello will yell out "THE BIG KIBOSH!" at a knockout. And I also know that Bas Rutten will probably say "dangada dangada dang!" during a replay of a slick combination. But with Gracie, I'm completely unfamiliar with his trademark phrase.
Gracie's lack of experience may be the wildcard needed to truly bring this team together.
Imagine this: Schiavello makes some very random pop culture reference as Josh Burkman goes crashing to the canvas, the recipient of a head kick. Instead of offering analysis, Rutten and Gracie are trading stories from their time as street fighters.
It's so crazy that it just might work.
And that's how I feel about this broadcast booth. They're literally overflowing with the crazy but that just may be the element that WSoF needs to truly break through.
I for one welcome this and hope that it works out. I would like to see more of a Schiavello/Rutten/Gracie team at future events.