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Thread: Let's Talk Good and Bad Commentary

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    Default Let's Talk Good and Bad Commentary

    As a fan one thing that was always such a big part of the Pro Wrestling experience was the commentary.

    As a kid, I was fortunate to grow up listening to some of the greatest commentators in WWE history, like Gorrilla Monsoon, Jesse Ventura, and Bobby Heenan, and Jim Ross.

    Those were the top guys, but even the lower teir commentators were great back then with guys like Vince McMahon, Rowdy Piper, and heel Jerry Lawler.

    Commentary can almost be every bit as important to telling the story as the action in the ring is.

    At its best, the commentary can make a decent match, good, and a good match, great.

    At its worst, the commentary can be a major distratcion and a major detractor to the match.

    In the old days what made it great was that the lines were clear as to who each character was at the commentator booth, and all of them did excellent work.

    There were the straight men, the ones who were the play by play guys, (Monsoon and McMahon, and Ross), and the color guys, heels who would root for bad guys and add the comedy (Ventura, Heenan, and Lawler).

    Now this seemingly simple balance worked so well, because the play by play men would actually call the action, almost hold for hold while the color guys would add the extra talk and comedy while being extremely and comedically biased in favor of heels.

    The banter would add so much because with this clear devide between commentators you the viewer would know exactly what was going on in the story and match.

    This dynamic was always there until at some point the WWE made IMO, the worst commentary decision ever by making Michael Cole the lead play by play commentator and Jerry Lwaler the color commentator who roots for good guys.

    Cole IMO always had a less than appealing, high pitched and whimpy voice, especially when compared to the typically strong and commanding voices of the previous play by play men of Monsoon, McMahon, and Ross.

    To make matters worse Cole was never much of a play by play man at all, his style always seemed to be more of a color commentary style, as he tends to foresake calling several pieces of in ring action and seems much more interested in playful banter and talking about a matches backstory.

    To top it off, Cole isn't very funny which makes his color commentary very annoying.

    It was at this point when the Commentary became a major low point of each show for myself and several others I know.

    By ditching the tried and true formula of one straight play by play guy, and one heel color commentator, the WWE created an annoying unbalanced mess at the booth where both commentators are rooting for the good guys and trying to be funny.

    For a short abysmil period of time they tried to make Cole a heel which meant that the heel rooting for the bad guys and burying the faces would be the play by play man as well resulting in the absolute worst commentary I've ever heard by far.

    Thankfully that experiment didn't last and Cole returned to being a good guy, and the commentary returned to being just bad instead off god awful.

    Lately they've tried adding JBL into the mix, and while he's a much better commentator than Cole or good guy Lawler, the other two still being there means that overall the commetary is still pretty bad.

    One thing that also stands out is the fact that before Cole's era, commentary was usually good enough that a blind man could tell you everything that was happening in the ring throughout a match, especially if Ross or Monsoon were calling it.

    Nowadays that same blind guy wouldn't have a clue what was happening for most of the match until big spots happened like finishers or chair shots.

    So will this ever be fixed, or is this even a problem for anyone else here?

    All I know is that its almost depressing going back and watching old DVDs of classic WWE shows and listening to great commentary, and all of the passion that was so audiable back then, and just added so much magic to some of the best moments.

    And now the commentary almost takes as much away from some moments for me.

    So am I alone in this, how does the commentary make you guys feel these days?


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  2. #2

    Default Re: Let's Talk Good and Bad Commentary

    To make matters worse Cole was never much of a play by play man at all, his style always seemed to be more of a color commentary style, as he tends to foresake calling several pieces of in ring action and seems much more interested in playful banter and talking about a matches backstory.
    That's how it's done in WWE. That's not Cole, that's the organization (and personally I really don't give a damn if every move is called, this isn't sports, it's sports entertainment).

    It escapes me how people think Cole is a bad play by play commentator. If you want to bitch about the heel stuff, I get that, but the guy is damn good at what he's doing right now.

    If anyone is the problem, it's Lawler, but even he isn't as bad when he's not bickering with heel Cole for two straight hours.

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    Default Re: Let's Talk Good and Bad Commentary

    Quote Originally Posted by The Champ View Post
    That's how it's done in WWE. That's not Cole, that's the organization (and personally I really don't give a damn if every move is called, this isn't sports, it's sports entertainment).

    It escapes me how people think Cole is a bad play by play commentator. If you want to bitch about the heel stuff, I get that, but the guy is damn good at what he's doing right now.

    If anyone is the problem, it's Lawler, but even he isn't as bad when he's not bickering with heel Cole for two straight hours.
    I didn't say he shouldn't talk about backstory at all, I said he seems more interested in them than calling the action in the ring.

    And that's fine if you don't mind that, but I do.

    I very much perfer to have it were a guy calls most of the action and reacts to the color guy bringing up backstory rather than both guys blabbering on about everything except the moves happening in the ring.


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    Default Re: Let's Talk Good and Bad Commentary

    Michael Cole does well in furthering storylines and explaining storylines to the audience but just isn't so great calling the matches. I'm not so bothered about him not being able to call every move, but I feel he lacks the emotion which can really add to a big moment. Near falls are so much cooler when J.R is calling them, it's so said so often but it's true.

    King just does not seem to have the passion for the current product to currently be commentating and I'm still not entirely sure why he continues to do it, he hasn't been good on commentary since 2004.

    JBL is good but needs to be more of a heel, a heel commentator constantly rooting for the heels would add so much.

    There was a time back in 2005 when I didn't like Joey Styles because I still loved J.R and wanted him to still be commentating, but now I feel like it's a massive waste to have Joey Styles still in the company but not commentating. Whether that's his choice or not I don't know.

    JBL in full heel mode and Joey Styles as the play by play guy would be perfect for me.

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    Default Re: Let's Talk Good and Bad Commentary

    JBL doesn't need to be any more of a heel. He roots for the heels more than enough as it is, if he does it any more he'll become heel Michael Cole.

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    Default Re: Let's Talk Good and Bad Commentary

    Quote Originally Posted by The Champ View Post
    JBL doesn't need to be any more of a heel. He roots for the heels more than enough as it is, if he does it any more he'll become heel Michael Cole.
    I hear what L.T.D. is saying though, maybe if JBL was more heel say like Heenan, where he's clearly biased towards heels and basically give faces no credit for anything.

    Nobody (I think) ever wants another Cole heel, burrying people and screaming over everyoone to get his point accross.

    But JBL is a little too unbiased to be called full heel right now, and it would be fun to have a full heel commentator again.


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    Default Re: Let's Talk Good and Bad Commentary

    I don't know, I just feel like it's an iffy line to cross after how obnoxious Cole got (and JBL can be very obnoxious when he wants to be).

    I think he's fine as he is now.

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    This will remain in my sig until The Rock gets his WWE World Heavyweight Championship rematch.

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    Default Re: Let's Talk Good and Bad Commentary

    Quote Originally Posted by The Champ View Post
    JBL doesn't need to be any more of a heel. He roots for the heels more than enough as it is, if he does it any more he'll become heel Michael Cole.
    He's not heel enough for me, I feel like he gives the faces too much credit. I'm talking Bobby Heenan or Jerry Lawler 1994-2000 type heel commentary. Both are often cited as the two best colour commentators in the companies history and there's a reason for that, they were 100% bias towards the heels and it made the commentary so much more interesting especially when clashing with a fully face play by play guy.

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    Default Re: Let's Talk Good and Bad Commentary

    I was a huge fan off when lawler and JR announced together back in the day. Good commentary
    Bad Commentary has been jerry lawler over the last couple off years. It's amazing how he was once great. And now it's so amazing how he has turned into this terrible waste off space announcer.

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    Default Re: Let's Talk Good and Bad Commentary

    I agree that the commentary isn't nearly as good now as it was a few years ago when it was Ross/Lawler on commentary. I definitely understand what you mean by the commentary not adding to or even taking away from moments that should be huge and remembered.

    Michael Cole actually isn't too bad, and I actually enjoyed some of his heel run and thought it was quite funny to be honest. Whether hes better off as a color or play by play guy, I'm not really sure, but I think its Jerry Lawler who mainly takes away from the commentary now. He was much better a few years ago and just seemed to have lost interest and passion in being a commentator, maybe its because his buddy JR isn't there anymore, lol.

    JBL isn't bad on commentary either but if there were two great commentators, they wouldn't need a 3rd.

    I think a JR/Michael Cole commentary team would be awesome, with Cole as the heel color commentator and JR as the play by play guy.

    Or maybe just replace JBL with Jim Ross, either way... BRING BACK JR DAMNIT!

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    Default Re: Let's Talk Good and Bad Commentary

    I bullshit you not, at least once a week I yearn to have Vince McMahon back on commentary. He's the guy that was there day one when I was five, when he left commentary something didn't feel quite right until I got acclimated to JR and he became so fucking awesome. I don't need him back for a long period of time, I just want to here him do that yawn like voice one more time.

    Do it for me Vince.

    EDIT: I like Michael Cole.
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    Default Re: Let's Talk Good and Bad Commentary

    Quote Originally Posted by The Champ View Post
    I don't know, I just feel like it's an iffy line to cross after how obnoxious Cole got (and JBL can be very obnoxious when he wants to be).

    I think he's fine as he is now.
    I'm the complete opposite. I miss the Smackdown days when week after week JBL played the role of Austin Aries to Michael Coles Christy Hemme.

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    Default Re: Let's Talk Good and Bad Commentary

    I think the formula of comically-biased-to-ridiculous-extremes heel announcer and good-guy-who-gets-riled-easily babyface commentator wouldn't have lasted. It would have gotten stale eventually. It suited the 80s and early 90s fine, but that style of commentary is probbably too cartoony for modern times.

    However, I do agree that commentary in the WWE has been subpar for a long time. It's been manufactured to appeal to the younger members of the audience, with clichés being thrown out constantly along with lame humour and a very basic description of the in-ring action.

    My personal favourite type of commentary is more realistic commentary, akin to that of an actual sport, where at least some of the moves/in-ring strategy are explained in detail. And by explained in detail, I don't mean copy-pasting a body part into "He's working body part X because his opponent won't be able to use his finisher with an injured body part X!", a talking point that can be used for pretty much any combination of body part and finisher, and very rarely turns out to be true. William Regal is extremely good at explaining holds and strategies well, and there is no modern equal in terms of putting wrestlers over, no matter their place on the card. Paul Heyman was another announcer who was good at it.

    I also really like JBL because what he says actually makes sense an awful lot of the time. He calls the other announcers out on their obvious clichéd bullshit, something that always went unchallenged in the Cole/Lawler days. Conflict is good, rather than two babyface commentators agreeing on everything. This actually makes JBL's job as a semi-heel announcer easier because nowadays the actions of most heels are often more rational and justifiable than those of their babyface counterparts. JBL has on occasion taken his berating of Cole too far, to the point of annoyance, but in recent months he's been a near perfect announcer.

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    Default Re: Let's Talk Good and Bad Commentary

    My problem with Cole and Lawler is that they spend too much time talking about things that aren't the match that's going on at that moment.

    If there's a match going on in the ring, 95% of all conversation should pertain to that match and the competitors in it. I get that they have to sell things like the main event, and the central storylines. Things that happened earlier in the night that relate to those things. That's totally fine. But doing that shouldn't dominate, which it tends to do. And those portions should come during slow times during longer matches.

    If a match between Wade Barrett and Zack Ryder is going to run 5 minutes, there's no reason for Cole and Lawler to spend the whole match talking about HHH and Lesnar. That makes no sense.

    Beyond that, when talking about these "other things", they still need to pay attention to the damn match. I remember a match on Raw a couple weeks ago, Lawler and Cole were going on about some random thing when a big move happened in the ring, followed by a near fall. Cole's reaction was completely displaced as they finished their train of conversation, and he didn't even react to the move itself until after the kick out.
    Sloppy. Damn sloppy. Completely killed what should have been a big moment in the match. Cole should have completely stopped what he was talking about, and called the action at that moment. By continuing talking about something else, he completely buried the match and both men in it by trivializing them. This was something JR was brilliant at. He could stop one train of thought, sell the action in the ring, and go back to what he was on about before without missing a beat.

    Banter is fine, but it should be within the context of the match itself. Not in opposition to it.

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    Default Re: Let's Talk Good and Bad Commentary

    Modern commentary with the exception of JBL is either very drab (Cole, Lawler, Matthews etc.), goofy (Booker) or unprofessional (Punk). In saying that, I've never been that big on past commentary teams. I mean, one of the most revered commentators in history is Gordon Solie and he was as interesting to listen to as an Economics teacher and the likes of Monsoon, McMahon and Hayes never did a whole lot for me either.

    Vince McMahon sucks at commentary
    In fact, can we talk about McMahon? How does he get off so easy on past commentary? Basically every match consisted of 'Un-be-lieve-able' 'What a maneuver' 'Cover 1....2....aw and he just got his shoulder up before the count of 3!'.

    The issue with commentators is
    I don't think the problem is the commentators per say, it's just the system they've got to deal with. The face commentators are always such tools, shifting their support based on who's face and heel with the least amount of loyalty and we're supposed to be on their side. Even JR struggled with this. Speaking of issues JR struggled with, was there any match he feared more than a Jeff Hardy match? Good ol' JR could never quite get the moves right.

    Even JR sucked at times
    And as much as people love JR to come back and call matches, it's pretty clear that without his 'boys' like Austin and Foley or somebody of that era he just phones it in. His odd appearance every now and then is refreshing and I hope they keep him on for pre and post shows for PPVs but his days as a play by play are definitely over.

    Styles was the man though...
    One commentator who's beloved by internet fans and deservedly so is Joey Styles. Styles could do it all, call the action, offer some colour commentary and even give you the background story and explain why a certain spot was so significant.

    EDIT: Trying out headers since when I see big walls of text I usually can't be bothered to read all of it. I believe this way, members can understand my core points without having to try and decipher four very monotonous looking paragraphs. I'm considering doing this from now on when I have a lot of words to write so if you think it looks silly let me know.
    Last edited by Big Pete; 05-15-2013 at 07:35 PM.

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    Default Re: Let's Talk Good and Bad Commentary

    None of them are in Monsoons league. I also liked lord Alfred Hayes heel commentary.

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    Default Re: Let's Talk Good and Bad Commentary

    I watched this week's NXT and Tom Phillips and Brad Maddox are by far the best commentary team that the WWE is putting out there right now. Phillips is still new, but he knows his stuff and isn't unbearably annoying like most of the other PBP guys, and I don't exactly love Maddox but he's not Jerry Lawler.

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    Default Re: Let's Talk Good and Bad Commentary

    Quote Originally Posted by Big Pete View Post

    Vince McMahon sucks at commentary
    In fact, can we talk about McMahon? How does he get off so easy on past commentary? Basically every match consisted of 'Un-be-lieve-able' 'What a maneuver' 'Cover 1....2....aw and he just got his shoulder up before the count of 3!'.
    Whoa now...compared to Michael Cole, Vince was fucking Howard Cosell at the announcers table.

    Vince may not have been the best at naming moves, but he knew how to sell the emotion of the action...("the boyhood dream...has come true for Shawn Michaels!").

    Vince made the action sound exciting and he was better at play by play than Cole is at least IMO.


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    Default Re: Let's Talk Good and Bad Commentary

    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor View Post
    I think the formula of comically-biased-to-ridiculous-extremes heel announcer and good-guy-who-gets-riled-easily babyface commentator wouldn't have lasted. It would have gotten stale eventually. It suited the 80s and early 90s fine, but that style of commentary is probbably too cartoony for modern times.

    However, I do agree that commentary in the WWE has been subpar for a long time. It's been manufactured to appeal to the younger members of the audience, with clichés being thrown out constantly along with lame humour and a very basic description of the in-ring action.

    My personal favourite type of commentary is more realistic commentary, akin to that of an actual sport, where at least some of the moves/in-ring strategy are explained in detail. And by explained in detail, I don't mean copy-pasting a body part into "He's working body part X because his opponent won't be able to use his finisher with an injured body part X!", a talking point that can be used for pretty much any combination of body part and finisher, and very rarely turns out to be true. William Regal is extremely good at explaining holds and strategies well, and there is no modern equal in terms of putting wrestlers over, no matter their place on the card. Paul Heyman was another announcer who was good at it.

    I also really like JBL because what he says actually makes sense an awful lot of the time. He calls the other announcers out on their obvious clichéd bullshit, something that always went unchallenged in the Cole/Lawler days. Conflict is good, rather than two babyface commentators agreeing on everything. This actually makes JBL's job as a semi-heel announcer easier because nowadays the actions of most heels are often more rational and justifiable than those of their babyface counterparts. JBL has on occasion taken his berating of Cole too far, to the point of annoyance, but in recent months he's been a near perfect announcer.
    I agree with most of this except your first point about the Heel and Face commentator dynamic not working and being dated now.

    I think as long as there are heel characters on the show and face characters there needs to be both sides represented at the annoucers table to keep the commentary balanced and interesting.

    When both guys are pulling for the same guy and being outraged by the same things, it gets boring real quick.

    In the wacky world of pro wrestling true Heel annoucing is very much a good thing imo.


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    Default Re: Let's Talk Good and Bad Commentary

    Don't get me wrong, I think a heel and face dynamic is great, perhaps even essential, but not to the cartoony degree it was in the 80s where guys like Heenan would say the most ridiculous, illogical things to support the heels. I'm not sure if that would have worked in the 00s. Maybe it would have, but I'm not convinced.

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    Default Re: Let's Talk Good and Bad Commentary

    Quote Originally Posted by BadNewsFan View Post
    Whoa now...compared to Michael Cole, Vince was fucking Howard Cosell at the announcers table.

    Vince may not have been the best at naming moves, but he knew how to sell the emotion of the action...("the boyhood dream...has come true for Shawn Michaels!").

    Vince made the action sound exciting and he was better at play by play than Cole is at least IMO.
    Cole did that as well if not better when Foley won the championship for the first time.

    Vince sounded as phoney as Cole. It sounded like he was doing a bad 'commentator' impression everytime.

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    Default Re: Let's Talk Good and Bad Commentary

    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor View Post
    Don't get me wrong, I think a heel and face dynamic is great, perhaps even essential, but not to the cartoony degree it was in the 80s where guys like Heenan would say the most ridiculous, illogical things to support the heels. I'm not sure if that would have worked in the 00s. Maybe it would have, but I'm not convinced.
    The over-the-top illogical support of heel antics by the heel commentator would work these days. I miss the Bobby Heenan style heel commentary. For example,

    I use to love when Heenan would claim that his monitor went out and he did not see a heel using a foreign object.

    The way Heenan would rag on the jobbers. He made watching shows like Superstars that consisted of nothing but squash matches actually fun.

    He could insult faces while stlll putting them over which was clever.

    Also, certain wrestlers brought out the best of Heenan. The only way I could stomach a Hacksaw Jim Duggan match was if Heenan was on commentary. He had some classic lines about Duggan.

    I understand the cartoony comments that some people have made and there certainly is some truth in that. I didn't like the skits on Tuesday Night Titans with Heenan and Monsoon. It was just too much and Heenan was just an over-the-top clown that was the butt of every joke. I use to cringe when I would turn on the tv and there was Monsoon and Heenan on a farm or a ranch etc. You knew Heenan was going to fall off the horse or end up in the trough with the pigs. It was McMahonish 2nd grade comedy material and It was the reason I was a much bigger fan of the NWA or World Class etc.

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    Default Re: Let's Talk Good and Bad Commentary

    Quote Originally Posted by Big Pete View Post
    Cole did that as well if not better when Foley won the championship for the first time.

    Vince sounded as phoney as Cole. It sounded like he was doing a bad 'commentator' impression everytime.
    I disagree.

    I think Cole overdoes it when he does get excited, he oversells moments and sounds more phoney than Vince ever did.

    Another thing Cole does is undersell anything that's not the main event or Cena match, he'll talk on and on about other shit during mid card matches and barely call the match at all.

    Cole's the worst.

    Also if you haven't already you should check out the DVD of the best of SNME where Vince does an awesome job everytime when paired with Jesse Ventura and is really at his best no matter if its an undercard match or a super main event, which is something Cole has yet to master.


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    Default Re: Let's Talk Good and Bad Commentary

    They both have issues with delivery. You may prefer one over the other but it's pretty clear Vince was just putting on a 'commentary' voice when he was out there. It's night and day to the voice he'd use for interviews and as the McMahon persona. To me, they're as bad as each other. "Oh my!"

    Basically every commentator is guilty of talking about other topics outside of the match. Vince would do it all the time and talk about all the upcoming segments and play off of other commentators - it's just what they do. There was a time where Cole became too gimmicky when he was the heel commentator and flat out bury matches which hurt the product but the criticism stems back further than that.

    Thanks for the recommendation. I've watched a fair amount of early 90 to mid 90s WWE and formed my opinion based on that.

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    Default Re: Let's Talk Good and Bad Commentary

    The newest BotchedSpot comic fits nicely here:


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