Friday on Smackdown, AJ, who is wonderfully bubbly even in a neck brace, came out for an interview in the ring with Michael Cole. During the segment, she called out Cole for being annoying and bringing nothing to the show. Basically, she was saying everything that we, the fans at home, have been saying since he turned heel and started going overboard with his criticisms of everyone he hated.
Now, there are people who don’t have to go by the script written for them. CM Punk is one, John Cena is another. They’re big stars with a lot of name cache. AJ however? Yeah, she’s got the opposite of that kind of pull. So when she comes out and says something, it’s from the writers’ pen to her mouth. So yeah, the writers and creative staff know that Cole is grating on people. Yet they continue to have him in the broadcast chair. Something about that seems wrong to me.
[adinserter block=”2″]It’s one thing to have an annoying character appear on the show as a manager or even wrestler. Vickie Guerrero irritates by design, but the difference between her and Cole is that we get Vickie maybe twice a show at most. Cole is there for the entire telecast, at least to the audience at home. In fact, I have a challenge to anyone who is so inclined. Go to a RAW telecast in your town. Set your DVR. Soak in the experience. Then, go home and watch the DVR playback. If you enjoy the experiences exactly the same, then I’ll be shocked. Odds are, the live experience will be myriad better, and not just because going to live wrestling rules. Most people find that Cole really brings down the show.
So, why is he still there? Unless this whole interview thing is a vehicle to get him out of the chair (the week before, he interviewed Daniel Bryan to the same effect), then this is the biggest sign of tone deafness in WWE than any stupid angle they’ve run in the last year. Heels are meant to make the crowds hate them, yes, but the announcers aren’t really characters per se.
They’re meant to get point of view over. Sometimes, that means getting an antagonistic point of view to light. Bobby Heenan and Jesse Ventura were the best at this. Once upon a time, Jerry Lawler was good at it. That being said, they weren’t trying to get the people to hate them. They were trying to get people either to hate the heels or for the contrarians out there, sympathize with the bad guys.
[adinserter block=”1″]Cole often times takes the fine line between using his talents as a conduit to enhance the action and flaming up in an attempt to get people to hate him and tramples on it. It wouldn’t be so bad if he were a manager, but at the same time, managers again only get on screen a couple of times. Cole is there all the time, being annoying, grating, taking away from what’s going on in the ring. That is not the good kind of annoying. At all.
Maybe this self-referential, self-aware kind of storytelling is a sign of things to come. Maybe Cole is on his way out of the broadcast booth and at ringside for some of the verbally deficient wrestlers on the roster. Until then though, Cole will continue to do more harm than good. WWE writers might think it’s funny to poke fun at that perception, but they do more to turn people away from weekly telecasts than to get them invested in the wrestlers Cole tools on.
Tom Holzerman is a lifelong wrestling fan and connoisseur of all things Chikara Pro, among other feds. When he’s not writing for the Camel Clutch Blog, you can find him on his own blog, The Wrestling Blog.