Friday, December 4, 1998
SLAM! Wrestling Guest Column
A sorry state of commentary
Is anybody else sick of three hours of Tony Schiavone?
I only ask because I am. I am fed up with tuning into the first hour of Nitro and hearing Tony Schiavone attempt to build the night's card as the greatest thing to happen since sliced bread. I am sick of hearing the phrase "greatest night in our sport". And I am most fed up with the fact that Mike Tenay doesn't get to say much. The man is one of the most intellegent wrestling broadcasters of our day and he is being greatly overshadowed by Schiavone.
The third broadcaster on the WCW team isn't much better. Everytime I hear Larry Zybsko talk, I hear fingernails scraping across a chalkboard. Only, this chalkboard never seems to shut up. At least in the second and third hours, Larry is replaced by the annoying, yet sometimes entertaining, Bobby Heenan. Bobby may be the "heel" annoncer of the team, but at least he doesn't repeat himself the way Schiavone does.
Sometimes I almost feel sorry for Mike Tenay. I just know that deep down inside, he has that uncontrollable urge to tell Schiavone to just shut up. We all do. It just that yelling at a television set doesn't do a thing except make your neighbors angry. When Tenay is allowed to get a word in, it is always something intellegent. Usually it's a stat that we as viewers may not have known, or perhaps an insightful look into an upcoming match. But everytime Schiavone says something, it's merely a horribly obvious point that everybody already knew. And than Zybsko adds something about how he would fight the match. And this order is kept up until the end of the first hour. In fact, we can usually pretty much know what they will be talking about. A normal first hour match being called on Nitro sounds something like this:
Tony: "And this match features U.S. Champion Bret Hart vs. DDP. Ya know, these men don't like each other."
Mike: "Yes, well if DDP wants a shot at this match, he's got to take advantage of Hart's pulled groin muscle. But he can't just attack that area....Bret Hart is much to good of an athelete and he will be defending that sore spot."
Tony: "Bret's the U.S. Champion."
Mike: "Yes, Tony, he is."
Larry: "Ya know if I were fighting Hart in this match, I'd rip him apart and try and win."
Mike: "Of course you would, Larry. The point IS to win."
Tony: "DDP's wearing blue."
Mike: "That is correct, Tony."
Tony: "And Bret Hart's wearing black."
Larry: "Ya know, if I were fighting Hart in this match, I'd rip him apart and try and win."
Mike: "You said that already, Larry."
Tony: "The ref is wearing black and white."
And so on and so forth, until the match is over and we get that post-match commentary that usually has absolutly nothing to do with the match itself.
The Pay Per View announcing is somehow even worse, especially when Dusty Rhodes used to do it. Don't get me wrong, I liked Dusty Rhodes as a wrestler, but listening to him announce was like listening to an illerate man try to read cue cards. It was just horrible. One has to ask themselves where in the heck Lee Marshall is. At least he makes sense when he talks.
The WWF's announcing table is considerably better. Jim Ross is one of the finest wrestling play-by-play announcers around, (Actually, Jim Ross is the ONLY wrestling play-by-play announcer around!) and Jarry "The King" Lawler is funny whenever he opens his mouth. It's also nice to have a heel announcer who gets beaten up every once in a while--it adds variety.
But the WWF is not without it's flaws. James E. Cornette has got to be the worst excuse for an announcer I have ever seen. The 1980's "wrasslin'" junk that spews from that man's mouth takes me back to the wrestling days of old that I would rather soon forget. Cornette is the reason that I cannot even watch Sunday Night Heat, simply because he calls the matches. The slightly less annoying but yet still pain inducing Michael Cole is yet another reason I would sooner watch a Norman Smiley match than tune into the WWF's Sunday Night program.
The WWF's finest announcer, the owner of the company, and now the #1 heel of the league, Mr. Vicent K. McMahon, Jr, is the only announcer I have ever heard who mixed a great breed of play-by-play, inside news, and interesting statements with his calling. Vince could keep you interested in a match, while still telling you about a future Pay Per View, or next week's card. But, alas, the World Wrestling Federation owner simply stopped announcing and placed himself in the center of the action. It was a sad, sad day when Vince stopped, for that is when we really entered this sad state of commentary.
It all comes down to this: Why do we tune in every Monday night and listen to these half-witted announcers call one of the most popular pastimes of the decade? Because we love the sport, and we're die hard fans.
But I still hate Tony Schiavone.
Kyle Beidelschies is from Tiffin, OH. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org