February 10, 2007
Frank Koenen

Using Non-Wrestlers in Proper Wrestling Roles II

There are those performers in the WWE that serve as much purpose as those who wrestle. The announcers, the managers, the authority figures, and the ladies are all part of our Monday and Friday nights. I wrote an article in 2004 how I felt they were being misused, but some of it was dated and the article was pretty poor.

(To read the original article, dated 8/3/04, click here)

They’re still being mishandled. So I’ve overhauled my article to hopefully fit today better. Maybe in a couple of years I’ll do the article again when it seems dated, but here is mine for 2007.

Announcers/Interviewers/Etc.: The WWE has really stepped up their game with their play by play announcers. For the most part, they’ve cut down with the clowning and comedy announcing on Raw. Jim Ross, Michael Cole, and Joey Styles are all excellent in their current positions. Tazz is also a great color commentator. That’s where the goodness stops. I know many are a fan of JBL, likening him to Jesse Ventura. But he’s not getting the wrestlers over like he should, instead he’s trying to get himself over. That’s a problem Ventura had in WCW, until Bill Watts told him he’d let him sit out his contract. I think someone needs to tell JBL that, because he has potential. Jerry Lawler however I think needs to go. He’s just been out there forever with Ross, and his act is getting old. I think they need to try some new people in the color position. Lawler should be a road agent, as he’s a master at psychology and could teach some wrestlers how to make fans care about them.

Meanwhile the rest of the announcers and backstage interviews need an overhaul. The Maria thing was fun for a while, but it needs to stop permanently. They need play-by-play guys who can actually call matches. No more Sean Mooneys, Todd Pettengills, and the like. Look do not equal talent. No one cares what the announcers look like because they don’t appear on camera most of the time. It’s important for garnering new fans if you have a good announcer, they can explain things and get things over. If you have a bad announcer, potential fans will be confused and turned off from the product.

The WWE should keep announcers out of storylines. If you look at WWE as a TV show (which Vince does), they’re the narrators. They’re telling this story from the third person, they should really have no interaction. There can be exceptions like with Lawler every so often to put someone over, but I’d keep those storylines down to a minimum. Remember the main focus should be on guys who will draw a match down the line.

Managers: When I first wrote this article in 2004, there was a dearth of good managers. Now WWE has two excellent managers with Shawn Davari and Armando Alejandro Estrada. Unfortunately they’re the only two and they only seem to have a maximum of two wrestlers at a time. Estrada should be leading an army of wrestlers trying to wrestle the title away from Cena.

One complaint about I have Estrada is that he got beat so quickly by Cena. Bill Watts at one point didn’t want Michael Hayes to wrestle with the Freebirds because he’d sell so freely and was their mouthpiece. (This was after he initially didn’t want Hayes to wrestle, because he thought he stunk) Watts knew that the natural thing to do was let anticipation build for the talker to get his comeuppance so the fans would feel paid off and maybe even draw some money off of it. Instead Cena squashed him about two weeks in the feud, now we knew Estrada was a non-factor.

There needs to be more managers, because god help them, some wrestlers can’t talk. They have a good amount of established characters to be managers like Teddy Long and The Coach. Unfortunately in today’s scripted world of WWE, I guess they don’t really need them, because they’d rather have acting by wrestlers that makes an Ed Wood film look like a Broadway production. Some guys can talk to sell a match and that means more potential profits. There is hope in this category for the WWE to improve, but not much.

Authority Figure: This is another thing that has been improved upon since 2004. Vince McMahon is firmly in control of Raw and acknowledged as having control over all of WWE. Teddy Long has had a long tenure and has enough of a presence to be alright as an authority figure. But Long is getting tiring in the position and I think he’d serve better as a manager or referee, both of which he was excellent in doing. McMahon has really gotten tiring as we’ve been seeing the evil boss storyline on TV in some form for over a decade. Right now what’s needed a McMahon to become a Jack Tunney like character, only to come out of the shadows every so often when needed. I think ratings would improve if there was less time in every show to an authority figure and more focus on the wrestlers who will eventually draw money for a match. The storyline is stale, let it die for a while.

Referees: The third man in the ring. I’ll be honest saying I’m not a great judge of referees, but this is my honest opinion. One good thing is they haven’t tried to make them into big characters. I actually think doing that every so often wouldn’t be too bad. They do it in Mexico, but it wouldn’t be a good idea to do it as much as them, because I don’t think it would work for American audiences. Nick Patrick worked for a while in WCW. It’s a shame the WWE no longer use three of my favorite referees: Earl Hebner, Tim White, and Teddy Long. All three have good reason to be gone. Hebner was fired, White has been injured, and Long can work as a manager. But they had a big missed opportunity by passing on James Beard just because he talked on the Wrestling Classics Message Board. I think James could have really helped some of the guys out there.

Women of Wrestling: This is one where I have one idea, but McMahon is going to go in a 180 direction. This is my opinion- if women can’t wrestle, they better learn how to talk otherwise they’re useless. Looking good doesn’t hurt but that can’t be the only “talent” you have.

The ones that can’t wrestle can serve a purpose. They can be used as valets for the wrestlers. A couple of the really good looking ones could work as babyface valets to get a good reaction out of the crowd, and if they’re paired with a bland face then they can rub off on them. Even if they don’t have good interview skills they can pass because their good looks should be enough to get a reaction from the crowd (think Sable). If a woman has enough personality they could be used as a heel manager. Especially if they’re attractive. What person doesn’t know the pretty stuck-up bitch? Natural character. That also leads to a natural feud between managers which can lead to matches between their proteges which will actually lead to money being made. Even an short special occasion match between two non wrestlers would be alright.

The WWE should decide if they’re going to do a serious women’s division or not. If they do, they need to sign competent women’s wrestlers. That doesn’t seem likely though because they’re going to sign 15 models or something according to rumors. It’s too bad I think no North American promoter ever establishing a solid Women’s division has been one of the biggest wasted opportunities in the last twenty years, right up there with the Invasion. That may be another article for another time.

I think the sexual appeal for the women is being overused in the WWE with all the stripping matches and bikini contests etc. Now I don’t think they should never be done, quite the opposite, they’re drawing potential has been ruined because we’ve seen it so often. Who’s going to buy a PPV to see a bra & panties match between Torrie Wilson and Maria when we’ve already seen them twenty times in the last year alone in next to nothing on TV, and probably much more in pictorials. Make the fans salivate and then give them the pay off. Women shouldn’t be so eager to get stripped down, I’ve noticed the psychology that the babyfaces strip down even if they win stripping matches. Then what’s the point of it? There’s more drama if you think the women would be humiliated by being exposed in next to nothing.

Part of the problem with all of this is that WWE as a TV show, wants to have a variety of characters. But that can be played by the wrestlers. The announcers are needed to explain what these characters do, they don’t have time to be major characters themselves. The managers can be a good set of characters and get over other characters. An evil authority figures was a fun character, but that was about a decade ago. Women can be good characters, but they should have more depth than just looking good.

Well, that’s my update. WWE has improved somewhat, but I would say they still need work. Then again this is just all a fans opinions. I’ve never drawn a penny, and Vince McMahon has so maybe it’s all a moot point. But I still feel that McMahon is sometimes going in the right direction but there is more that he could do to improve his product and therefore make more money.

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