It wasn’t long ago that Michael Cole was getting bombarded with criticism from just about every WWE fan who ever gets on the Internet.
He was labeled as annoying, horrible, unbearable and just about any other derogatory adjective you can think of, as fans blasted him for his lack of wrestling knowledge, his inability to remain objective and anything else that they could rip him for.
But that all seems to have changed. The fans haven’t been criticizing Cole nearly as much as they once did, a result of an unfortunate incident that occurred just a few weeks back on Monday Night Raw.
Ever since Jerry Lawler suffered that nearly fatal heart attack last month, Cole has toned down his over-the-top heel persona that drew him so much heat over the last couple of years. No, scratch that—he’s dropped it altogether.
In essence, Lawler’s heart attack proved to also be a babyface turn for Cole, who hasn’t sided with heels as he calls matches or ridiculed his fellow broadcast partners since that unfortunate incident.
Though this was clearly an instance of Cole turning face by default rather than by design, it’s been perhaps one of the most refreshing things to happen in recent pro wrestling history.
For roughly a couple of years now, the quality of both the Raw and SmackDown announce teams has been very low, in large part because Cole’s heel persona took the spotlight off of the wrestlers and put it on himself. He ruthlessly buried babyface superstars, constantly bickered with any and all of his fellow announcers and hardly ever actually called any moves.
And while it’s a shame that it took Lawler’s near-death experience for the WWE to drop Cole’s tiresome heel act, that’s exactly what happened, and it’s worked out gloriously so far.
Though we’re not even a month into the “Cole as a face” experiment, he’s already made tremendous strides as he’s transitioned back into his old role as a neutral and objective announcer.
He hasn’t been ripping babyfaces (like Zack Ryder) during his matches, he hasn’t mocked Jim Ross in front of the live audience, and he hasn’t professed his love for The Miz. Rather, he’s done exactly what he should do at all times: Remain unbiased.
Cole prides himself on being a journalist and a former war correspondent, so he, of course, should know that any news reporter should remain objective and report the news rather than become it.
He didn’t do that as a heel. More often than not, he was at the center of the story rather than being an unbiased part of it.
What grade would you give Cole's announcing since Lawler's heart attack?
In turn, this destroyed the quality of both Raw and SmackDown. It hurt the chemistry of the announce team, resulted in illogical gaps in storylines and took the spotlight away from the wrestlers, which is obviously where it belongs.
Now, however, Cole has become much more tolerable than he has been at any point in recent memory.
Is he the greatest announcer of all time? Of course not. But Lawler’s heart attack essentially forced Cole to become a neutral announcer, and it’s worked wonders for him so far.
Heck, I even heard Cole call Ryback’s finisher by its actual name, “Shell Shocked,” on Raw last week rather than saying “Ohhhh, look at that!” like he usually does. That’s what we call progress, folks.
Cole isn’t the same annoying heel he once was. He’s calling things down the middle like he always should have, and it’s showed just how good of an announcer he can actually be.
He’s not JR, and he’s not Gorilla Monsoon. But he’s not the head of the “Coleminers” anymore, either.
He’s Michael Cole, and he’s better now than he has been in about three years.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!