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DOES WWE NEED CHEESY COMEDY TO QUALIFY AS ENTERTAINMENT? WHAT'S COLE'S LONG-TERM BEST ROLE?

Dec 23, 2010 - 1:03:13 PM


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In the reader comment area after my blog on Raw yesterday, there was some conversation about the excessive comedy segments this week and Michael Cole's role on Raw. Here are excerpts of those readers comments and my thoughts on the topics.

Reader Kyle Ritta wrote: The comedy in WWE is dreadful. I stopped watching because of the comedy/guest-host for awhile. Now there is no guest host but still terrible comedy. Luckily it doesn't render an entire show, but it's still cringe-worthy to put up with, especially mostly every Santino segment now.

Another reader commented: I am not sure which "comedy" segment was worse. The one featuring the Miz or the one a night later featuring the Big Slow.

MY THOUGHTS: That is a tough call. I think anything that we're questioning the wisdom of is worse if it involved the new unproven WWE Champion rather than the mid-card jolly comedy figure and occasional main eventer, The Big Show. The Big Show segment was typical WWE comedy trying to show they don't take themselves seriously and can write their characters into clever, "fun" segments. We've been seeing that since the Saturday Night's Main Event days where McMahon (and Dick Ebersol) felt the need, when trying to appeal to the Saturday Night Live and larger NBC crowd, not to present wrestling in a more straight-forward typical manner.

The Miz segment I really want to wash from my memory. It was too clever to matter. Nobody watching knew what was going on. It seemed like one of those segments that someone came up with while smoking pot late at night, and then didn't have the good sense to rewrite when clear-headed and ready for put on a TV show. Miz is good enough on the mic, he doesn't need that kind of thing, and he's too new as a main event champ to be partaking is oddball overwritten segments like that.

I could live with Santino being on every show in a comedy segment if that was the only "comedy break" of each show, and if it didn't involve people selling for the absurd Cobra finish and didn't involved the actual WWE Tag Team Titles. But when you sprinkle in tons of other bad comedy, it really changes the tone of the show. I don't prescribe to the notion that you can increase TV ratings by appealing to non-pro wrestling fans with comedy. I believe people who are fans of pro wrestling want their pro wrestling served to them with largely a straight face.

There's nothing that says "entertainment" means bad comedy. To me, entertainment comes from wrestlers cutting great promo speaking about title aspirations, seeking revenge, or complaining about stipulations or cheating. The entertainment comes from an athletically spectacular simulated fight between two people I care about. I don't need the Cobra, Big Show in a Santa suit, and a Ghosts of Christmas Past skit to make Raw "entertaining." In fact, it diminishes the entertainment factor. If those segments truly helped bring in people who otherwise don't like "pro wrestling" I could see the business sense in doing it, but I don't believe there's evidence of that.

The same reader commented: Cole needs to become a full-time valet for the Miz since this was he is best-suited for.

If there's a thought of turning Miz babyface down the line, be it in six months or four years, if they plant a seed now with Cole, it could make for a great rivalry in the mold of Hulk Hogan and Bobby Heenan. The storyline to write Cole out of the announce booth could be that Cole gives up his announcing career in order to manage Miz's career because he's Miz's number one fan. Cole can essentially become a wrestling manager, handling the business affairs for Cole and eventually Alex Riley, too, as he grows as a performer. Cole can battle the G.M. over injustices when it comes to how Miz is booked and whom he's scheduled to wrestle.

Then way down the line, Miz could at some point turn babyface - and there are many ways to do it - and drop Cole. Cole could feel betrayed, like a jilted lover, and then perhaps recruit Riley to join him. Cole, like Bobby Heenan was to Hogan, could become obsessed with ending Miz's title reign and his very existence in WWE. Hell hath no fury like that of a lover scorned.

There's a way to do that without making slapstick ha ha lite comedy that doesn't really draw. There's a way for Cole to play for laughs occasionally but in reality he takes his character and Miz's career very seriously. It would set up a Hogan-Heenan, McMahon-Austin type dynamic that leads to Cole managing various wrestlers over time trying to take down Miz. He could also create a faction of heels and go after other titles, just as Heenan did, but his focus for a while would always come back to trying to take down Miz.

Cole is too good to have saddled to the announcing chair, especially when his character is all over the place, sometimes rooting for babyfaces and justices and then indiscriminately rooting for the opposite. Cole is the type of traditional heel manager whom fans love to boo and will pay to see get beat up or just throw a tantrum when things don't go his way. I saw it work in person with Bobby "The Brain" Heenan in the AWA in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It's a lost art, but Cole is the most unlikely candidate to emerge out of nowhere as a great reintroduction of that type of act.

Reader Kyle Fitta wrote: While I agree with all the Cole hate, it's not his faults. It's Vince McMahon's fault because he tells Cole what to say and act like. When Cole use to do serious pbp, he wasn't too bad. Now - he's terrible as a pbp because of his jokes and bias hate that renders the show. In fact that is what's wrong with the entire announce teams these days. They are too busy making jokes, asking dumb questions, commenting on what people are wearing or look like, instead of getting the match over or wrestlers over. When Jim Ross came back, you could actually see what we, the fans, were so honored to have for all these years. Ross was able to get Daniel Bryan over more than any announcer this year has. Period.

MY THOUGHTS: Yeah, any complaints about Cole that anyone has needs to be given in the context that he is serving Vince McMahon and is directed by Vince McMahon. I think his announcing has suffered because he has no constitution regarding what drives compliments or criticism of wrestlers or their actions. It's just arbitrary. He has a ton of talent, but being a co-host of WWE TV shows being a cheerleader for Miz no matter what he does or says one second and then decrying the actions of a heel against a babyface in another second is just herky-jerky and doesn't help get the product over or sell tickets.


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