At a time when the WWE product is a cluttered, over-booked mess, suggestions for improvement fly back and forth constantly and great uncertainly hangs over the future, there should be one thing everyone can agree on: After a lengthy run as a loud obnoxious bad guy, it's time for Michael Cole, WWE's lead announcer, to turn back babyface.
Of course, many will point out that his heel character has mellowed out in recent months, anyway.
Cole used to be smarmy and overbearing heel to the point it started detracting from the entire show. Now he's a lot more laid-back, only taking the occasional snide digs at the good guys and voicing his support of the heels in a more subtle manner. Overall, he's a lot more affable and relaxed.
However, he has yet to officially change his character direction and become a fully-fledged face commentator, like Jim Ross. This is a move WWE should make—the sooner the better.
One impetus for turning Cole face is surely how superbly he handled Jerry “The King” Lawler's heart attack on the Sept. 11 Raw.
While being visibly shocked and upset in the moments after an ailing and close-to-death Lawler collapsed at the announce desk and was subsequently rushed out by EMTs for live-saving treatment, Cole—a former war correspondent—managed to maintain his professionalism and calmly give fans crucial updates on his condition throughout the evening.
It was a terrific job in an extremely dire circumstance, and likely served to soften the attitudes of some fans (who've grown extremely tired of his annoying heel act) towards him.
It may also signal the moment Cole ceased being the company's resident bad guy announcer and become a wholly sympathetic good guy character. In addition to this, his live interview with the recovering Lawler (via satellite) on Raw last week was filled with jokes and friendly banter between the former on-screen foes. This once again established to viewers that Cole as an on-screen character has changed a great deal and is no longer the slimy, loathsome heel was once was.
It's also worth noting that Cole's heel character has, for all intents and purposes, run its course. After a near two-year run in which he was plastered all over Raw and feuded with everyone from Lawler to John Cena—even participating in a handful of matches on TV and pay-per-view—bad guy Cole truly has done it all.
Even taking out the questionable decision of putting over a commentator so much at the expense of your wrestlers, there is, at this point, nothing they can do with this version of the character that wouldn't feel tired and overdone. It's time for a change.
And even if the company did find something fresh for him to do as a bad guy, it remains to be seen whether Cole could even work as a heel any more. No doubt any fans, remembering his poignant and powerful performance on the Sept. 11 Raw, would surely struggle to boo him as voraciously as they once did.
Cole as a face also has a plethora of advantages. Cole could spend less time trying to play heel on commentary and more trying to get the product and wrestlers over, which is something the company desperately needs right now. It would also help establish Cole as the true voice of WWE—and former lead announcer Jim Ross' replacement—easing the adjustment going into the future.
Summarily, at this point, the astute thing for WWE to do would be turn Cole fully-fledged babyface, as well as giving him a lower profile on the show (new good guy Cole wouldn’t want to take time away from the wrestlers, after all). Examining the situation overall—especially how over-exposed the commentator is as heel—this makes perfect sense.
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