Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Life As a WWE Announcer Is Allegedly Insane

Geez, and that's only page one
Photo Credit: KINGJOBBAH
WWE programming over the years has had several weak links, but even when the product has been good recently, the announcing has been a sore spot for many fans and observers. Most people have chalked it up to Vince McMahon constantly being in the commentators' ears, specifically Michael Cole's. But apparently, the strain runs deeper than having to talk to the audience at home while having a blustery windbag barking orders in your ear.

User KINGJOBBAH at r/SquaredCircle allegedly got his hands on several pages of notes that any commentator for WWE has to abide by. The notes seem to have originally been written around 2008 with several addenda over the years from Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, or Kevin Dunn. Honestly, the sheets have a lot of good advice on them, but no one told the higher-ups at WWE that brevity is the soul of wit. The sheer amount of detailed notes that any given WWE commentator is supposed to absorb and own, according to these sheets (which could be a forgery, who knows), is staggering and insane.

Of course, the list wouldn't be without its ridiculous items among the generally sound, even if boilerplate at times, guidelines. Highlights:
  • "Take the high road- don't be crude, especially with the Divas." Or as I like to call it, the most widely-ignored note given to any single group of people of all-time. Well, either that, or WWE's definition of "crude" is far different than the Webster's dictionary version.
  • "Dress professionally." No one told Jerry Lawler, apparently.
  • "Vince wants to talk to the announcers and and tell them to STOP reading dirt sheets." When I read that line, I got the image of Cole wearing reading glasses, poring over a print copy of the Wrestling Observer under the light of a desk lamp. Although, if he actually read dirtsheets, maybe he would have gotten Bull Nakano's name right at Beast in the East?
  • "Be careful when anointing anything or anyone 'the greatest of all time.'" Again, this is either an ignored directive, or WWE's idea of scaling back on hyperbole is way different than the norm.
  • The list of "words to avoid" seems to corroborate the bitchy rumors from five years ago that Vince McMahon didn't want his product to be called anything associated with wrestling or wrestling terminology.
  • "Less is more," a phrase which has been embedded on three of a nine-page manual for announcers and commentators.
  • "Instead say, 'Drew McIntyre is all over Matt Hardy.'" Ah, this list could double as as a checklist for EVOLVE announcers too!
  • "Lower your voice and use hushed tones when talking about something serious." Ah yes, the Owen Voice is embedded in the announcer's code.
  • "Be conversational. You are talking to your buddy in a bar!" IF that's the case, then I need GPS tracking on JBL at all times, because I do not want to be at the same bar he's at.
It's good to have some sort of written guideline, but that bunch of papers seemed to be written by people who have no idea how to coach up or set boundaries for their employees in a given field. It feels like too much to absorb, and it's probably why so many announcers fail to deliver meaningfully on their desired task. It just goes to show how muddled things get when an organization gets too corporate in structure.