Jim Ross and JBL: How Fill-in Announcers Have Kept Fans' Minds off Jerry Lawler

Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistOctober 23, 2012

Photo courtesy of WWE.com
Photo courtesy of WWE.com

When Jerry "The King" Lawler suffered a heart attack while commentating on Raw several weeks ago, it was one of the scariest moments in the WWE in recent memory. Luckily, Lawler has survived and thrived, and although fans can't wait to see him back at the announce table, Jim Ross and JBL have certainly filled in admirably.

That shouldn't come as a big surprise. Ross is perhaps the greatest wrestling announcer who ever lived, and JBL received rave reviews as a heel color commentator on SmackDown during his semi-retirement in 2007. Both Ross and JBL bring some great assets to the table, and they have been great during Lawler's absence.

The circumstances were obviously horrible, and every fan wishes that Lawler didn't have to go through such an ordeal, but you could argue that Lawler's leave has been good for the product. It had been quite some time since we heard either Ross or JBL on commentary for an extended period of time, so they have definitely freshened things up.

Ross and JBL have even managed to make Michael Cole much more bearable. Cole was slowly transitioning to the face announcer role prior to King's heart attack, but the incident pushed Cole over the top, and his announcing has been much better since. He works well with JR and plays off JBL's heel persona.

With that said, Lawler should obviously be given his spot at the table back as soon as he is ready, but that doesn't mean Ross and JBL should be phased out. Raw has used a three-man booth on a few occasions since Lawler's incident, with Cole, Ross and JBL, so there is no reason why Cole, Ross and Lawler wouldn't work, especially since it has been done a few times in the past.

Cole and Ross seem to have a pretty good rapport, while Lawler has worked with both Cole and Ross for many years, so there would be no transition period. Also, Lawler may not be able to be as loud and boisterous as usual upon returning, so having a buffer in the form of Ross to take up some of the dead air would be wise.

As for JBL, he has quietly made the move to SmackDown alongside Josh Matthews, and it seems as though that may be a permanent situation. Nothing has been announced as far as JBL's full-time employment goes, but it looks like Cole will now announce exclusively on Raw, with JBL taking his spot on SmackDown.

It is often said that great things can come out of a terrible situation, and that has been the case with Lawler's unfortunate heart attack. It is absolutely horrible that it had to happen, but the WWE has gained two excellent announcers out of it and will have another whenever Lawler is cleared to return by his doctors.

If the announcing quality had dropped off in a big way following Lawler's heart attack, then there would be a lot more pressure on Lawler to return as quickly as possible. Ross and JBL have both been able to hold down the fort, however, so King has been afforded the luxury of resting and taking his time rather than rushing back.

Most people would probably agree that the commentary was getting stale prior to Lawler's hiatus, but things are looking up. Ross and JBL both seem to be entrenched, while King should return rejuvenated and on top of his game. The WWE has done a really nice job of making the best of a bad situation, and I am extremely optimistic about the quality of announcing moving forward.


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