The storytellers have become the story in the case of WWE’s commentary team—and it may not be for the best story.
The role of the WWE commentator has evolved throughout wrestling’s history. What was once a team dedicated to progressing a match through play-by-play and creatively constructive colorful commentary has become as grandiose as the superstars who step into the ring.
The current state of the commentary team should be approached with great caution given Jerry “The King” Lawler’s recent heart attack.
There should be a regression towards professional match calling. Doing that will add yet another realistic aspect to WWE’s programming.
It is no surprise that WWE is gearing towards more realistic scenarios. Bringing back former UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar and having CM Punk’s worked shoot was only part of it. Most superstars today already go by a first and last name rather than a grandiose fabricated name.
In fact, the only remnant of the larger than life gimmick-laden Attitude Era is Kane—and even he is employing a more personable character as a member of Team Hell No.
Michael Cole has been at the forefront of this evolution. His transition from simple commentator to the heel persona he recently dismissed was subtle.
He spent the majority of his career as the voice of Smackdown. Over time, Cole has been used in storylines, often to get cheap heat for a heel.
His integration in other superstar’s feuds eventually led to his own feud in WrestleMania XXVII against Jerry “The King” Lawler, ultimately overshadowing any notion that a commentator was just a "regular Joe" calling matches.
Their match signaled the point of no return for the commentary role until Jerry Lawler, unfortunately, suffered a heart attack on the September 9th edition of Raw.
Cole handled the rest of the show with such professionalism and genuine worry for his broadcast partner that he arguably became a face in the process. The reality of the situation wiped away any heat that Michael Cole may have had in the past, which would have been difficult, if not downright impossible, to get rid of by means of a storyline.
Now, Cole is working temporarily alongside WWE great Jim Ross, and both have focused more on calling matches instead of fueling their own personas. Though, Jim Ross used to get cheap heat for CM Punk in the commentators’ home state of Oklahoma.
If the move to go back to professional commentating were to happen, then they would more likely resemble referees than the superstars.
And like the referees, they would become a personable and relatable vehicle for progressing a storyline.
Over time, having a reliable commentary team will result in an increased attention to the superstar feuds, none of which will be clouded with the commentators own personalities.