On the latest edition of Grilling JR, the topic of discussion was WWE announcer Michael Cole.
“I think it was Vince. He wanted younger. He didn’t want Southern. He didn’t want chubby cheeks. He wanted a change. He also underestimated my popularity. With that said, it sounds very egocentric to say something like that, but I think that was all proven over time. In any event, I don’t think Cole had anything to do with it or any conspiracy theories or any underhanded bullsh*t. That’s just not him. I don’t know how much he could have influenced it anyway to be honest with you in all fairness to everybody involved. It was one guy’s decision.”
Jim Ross recalled the angle in which Michael Cole turned heel.
“Well I’m sure it wasn’t Cole’s idea. It was Vince or Vince’s number one writer at that time. The lead announcer has to be somebody that the audience trusts. You can’t be an overwhelming character where the character is more important than their validity, their honesty, shooting straight within the storyline parameters, etc. When Cole was the lead announcer and he was becoming a heel, I thought it was one of the silliest positionings that we had ever done. You want everybody to trust this guy. If this guy’s a heel and he’s lying, exaggerating, and then he says, ‘Man, I’ll tell you what, Triple H is maybe the toughest guy in all of WWE.’ Do I believe that broadcaster or do I think he’s bullsh*tting me in his heel character?’ Does he really mean that? Whereas if he had been a babyface and didn’t have that tainted history of being a heel, then all of a sudden, there’s no issue. You believe him.”
“They didn’t do him any favors whatsoever. Here’s the good news about that deal to me. He endured it and survived it. Horrible creative for him, but he didn’t say sh*t. He survived it and now he’s tenured and he’s been there for years and years. He’s got a title and he’s making good money. I’m proud as hell of him.”
Jim Ross recalled the Cole/Lawler feud that brought in Jack Swagger, (now Jake Hager.)
“They liked the interaction between Cole and I and some of the fans were buying it, so here’s how we can further humiliate these two announcers by completely taking them out of their comfort zone and putting them in the ring. They wanted to get some heat on Swagger and they thought I would be a good guy to do that, which I didn’t mind doing. When you’re in there with him, you don’t have a lot of choices. You’re going to do what you need to do because you can’t stop it. He’s a beast. Even though I helped him get in the business, and he’s a kid that I still mentor to this very day, he had an opportunity to get over, and he was very aggressive. I went through it. They were setting up a tag match. That’s all it was is they were setting up a tag match. Somebody else could have used the TV time more, but that’s not how the creative went. Michael Cole didn’t like doing it either. I blacked his eye and chipped his tooth in that little skirmish. I’m not trained in this area. The last thing Vince said to me when I went out there was, ‘Lay your sh*t in JR.’ Ok. Now I didn’t go out there with a premeditated thought that I want to hurt him, but when your adrenaline gets going, and you don’t know how to throw a working punch, sometimes those rounds go off and there’s little issues there.”
“I remember I had to get tetanus shots when I hit Cole on one of those shows along that period where I hit him in the mouth, his tooth ran into my knuckles, and it bled like a hog. Little did I know that it was really dangerous as far as infections are concerned when other human beings bite. Then I had to take antibiotics. The doctors had to look at it everytime you go out there and all this other sh*t.”
Ross offered his final thoughts on Cole.
“He’s no different than us folks. He’s a wrestling fan. He’s had a really good job in wrestling for years and years, and he’s earned every moment of it, every accolade, every promotion, every raise, and all of his exposure. He’s earned all of that. He’s Mr. Reliability. I think he’s one of the more underrated guys in broadcasting. He’s earned his keep, and he’s earned it in a very classy way.”
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