In Cole We Trust: How Michael Cole Became the Commentator Of The New Era

Benjamin BenyaCorrespondent IISeptember 18, 2010

I'm going to make one thing perfectly clear: I hate Michael Cole.

When he debuted with the World Wrestling Federation more than a decade ago, Cole was little more than a smarmy, excitable clone of Sean Mooney.

And whereas Mooney was appropriate for the time and always seemed to add his own touch to everything, Cole was something of a vanilla miss.

He didn't have the knowledge of the product fans were coming to expect in the Attitude era, and for a good while, he was interchangeable with announcers like Kevin Kelly.

Though Cole eventually caught a huge break when the expansion of wrestling on television hit Thursday nights, he was still without much flavor.

Bouncing around with announcing partners like Tazz and Jerry Lawler gave Cole a signature sound and voice, but little appeal.

It wouldn't be until Cole's later years, and his time spent on Monday Night Raw, that he would gain much attention from wrestling communities around the world.

When Michael Cole became the lead voice of RAW, he instantly became a target of purists worldwide since he was immediately replacing legendary announcer Jim Ross.

While Ross' RAW commentary had become somewhat stale and repetitive in the years leading up to the swap, Cole was still in unfriendly waters with the fans.

Though his typical repertoire of one-liners and move calls followed him to the flagship program, Cole was always missing the stylistic differences that could make him stick out.

Fast forward a couple of years, and 2010 has easily become the year of Michael Cole: Wrestling's Worst and Best Commentator.

While Cole had become an easily mimicked character to a sea of fans tired of the hackneyed "Oh My" and "Vintage" calls, Cole was simply playing a role that was WWE's own personal pat on the back to itself.

At the end of the day, shows and events were seemingly buried by outlandish claims that Cole would make regarding the WWE product.

Saying that Michael Cole's 2010 turnaround is amazing would be considered by many to be an overstatement. So instead, let's just say that this new Michael Cole is surprisingly refreshing.

It started simply, with a whimper rather than a bang. Michael Cole began commentating WWE's new NXT program, and immediately targeted fan favorite Daniel Bryan.

Bryan's track record had been so well documented that there wasn't really any need for creative to saddle him with a gimmick.

And while he should have been motivated simply to win the contest, WWE had other ideas, and incorporated Michael Cole to be the mouthpiece of utter disdain and cynicism.

Week after week, Cole performed his commentating duties with a new slant against the NXT rookie, going as far as to claim that he was one of the most undeserving performers in history.

What followed was a brief series of altercations between the two that helped, if only for the first time, give Michael Cole a personality we had been waiting to see for years.

Michael Cole turned full-fledged heel by the end of the first NXT, openly airing his grievances about Bryan and other top stars in the WWE stable.

Cole would roast crowd participation favorite R-Truth for his catchy, if not entirely repetitive theme song. He'd go on to put NXT Season 2 rookie Kaval under the microscope in an effort to shred his integrity.

Sure, Cole was no Bobby Heenan and he certainly couldn't compare to the original commentator Jerry Lawler had been, but he was about to make great strides along the way.

Hexing the faces is one thing, but becoming a "rah-rah" cheerleader for the heels is one of the best things announcers can do for their careers.

As the weeks go by, Cole is increasingly more vocal about his love of current bad boy The Miz as well as his protege, Alex Riley.

With Miz rising fast and furious towards an eventual WWE title run, Cole is the one-man hype machine fueling hatred from thousands within the WWE Universe.

Love him or hate him (and most will pick the latter), Cole's intentionally biased calls have become something of a highlight in an otherwise par-for-the-course world of pro wrestling.

His outbursts on Season 3 of WWE NXT serve as the latest evidence supporting the case that whatever it is Michael Cole is doing, it is working.