There have been a lot of changes and new faces at the commentary table across pro wrestling of late.
From WWE’s announcing shake-up, to AEW’s debut Dynamite team, to the NWA’s new duo of Jim Cornette and Joe Galli, we’ve heard many new teams.
This got me thinking about all the announcers I’ve heard over the years and how many of them just don’t seem to get their due. So, why not do a Top 5 list? I figured I’d look specifically at some of the more under-appreciated colour commentators from years past since that seemed like more fun. So, while we all know and love the Jesse Venturas and Bobby Heenans of the wrestling world, here’s a list of commentators that are worth some love as well.
5. Percy Watson
Obviously we’re starting out hot here, with Showtime himself, former NXT Rookie turned NXT Commentator Percy Watson. Watson joined the announce team at Full Sail in November of 2016 kind of out of nowhere. His start was a bit shaky, but over his two and a half year stint with the Yellow Brand, Watson blossomed into the role and became a really effective face commentator to counter Nigel McGuinness’ heel act.
Most people overlook Percy in this role because he was teamed with two highly regarded announcers in McGuinness and Mauro Ranallo. His sudden exit from WWE really left me bummed out and I still feel his absence on Wednesday nights.
4. Dusty Rhodes
It’s hard to label Dusty Rhodes as underrated, but I feel most people write The Dream off when it comes to his commentary career. He might’ve had some wacky calls (dubbed “Insane Dusty Commentary” by Botchamania), but his work always felt real and never like someone else was feeding him lines. His commentary actually reminds me of things my grandfather would say during matches, especially anytime “plunder” was involved in a hardcore style match.
In that way, Dusty always felt like someone who was on the same level as the fans and never tried to go above the heads of those watching. He lived up to his “Common Man” nickname on the headset and that’s what I appreciated about his commentary the most. That common man approach is something sorely missing from pro wrestling today.
3. CM Punk
This might be a controversial pick, since the sample size is relatively small, but I always thought CM Punk brought a fresh feel to the commentary team during his brief addition to the WWE announce table in 2010. Yes, I know Punk sat in on commentary in ROH back in the early years, but it was during this short run in November and December on the Raw brand that really stands out to me.
Part of what made Punk so great on commentary was his ability to stay true to himself. If something happened that looked stupid, he didn’t try to get it over and make himself look stupid as well, he called it like he saw it and moved on. He brought a feeling of honesty to the team, which at the time was mired by a heel Michael Cole and a version of Jerry Lawler that had checked out years earlier. With a lot of news about FOX apparently trying to get Punk to co-host the WWE Backstage show for FS1, maybe we haven’t heard the last of Punk calling WWE action?
2. Bob Caudle
If this was a list of the most underrated play-by-play announcers, Mr. Bob Caudle would be at the very top of that list. I absolutely love Bob and his iconic voice is synonymous with so many great wrestling moments through the years. But he’s overlooked for whatever reason, possibly because he was around during a time where both Gordon Solie and Jim Ross were commentating.
In addition to his many years, Bob also worked as the de facto color guy in the NWA, after JCP purchased Bill Watts’ UWF (formerly Mid-South) and with it gained a new announcer in Jim Ross. The man would eventually be known as Good Ole JR became the lead announcer for JCP events while Caudle seconded him at many bid shows, including many of the early Clash of the Champions events, the inaugural Halloween Havoc event, and the Return of Robocop!
The thing I loved about Bob, both as a play-by-play and a colour guy, was that he always sounded like a friend explaining to the viewer what they were seeing. Bob has an incredible voice that is so unique and fits wonderfully with pro wrestling. Bob still makes appearances at fan fests, and is actually scheduled for 2019’s WrestleCade event in late November.
And now, for our number one spot…
1. Mr. Perfect
Sometimes I wonder how history would’ve played out had Curt Hennig not jumped to WCW nor wanted to get back into the ring, but instead stayed with WWE on commentary. It’s possible that the history of WWE would look a little different. Perhaps JR and the King wouldn’t have become the famous duo they became, but rather a famous trio would’ve emerged. It’s hard to say how things would’ve panned out, but the fact is that Perfect was absolutely brilliant on commentary.
Perfect had two different stints as a commentator: in ‘91/’92 while also spending time as Ric Flair’s executive consultant, and in ‘95/’96 just before the Attitude Era began to take shape. Perfect always had the right quip or line to throw-in during a match and was great at playing the Jesse Ventura type heel, who might’ve supported the heels but was also willing to credit the faces when they did something worth praising.
I think his chemistry was excellent with both Vince McMahon and Jim Ross, and their times together as a three-man booth was done, pardon the pun, to perfection. But it’s Perfect’s call of the 1996 Royal Rumble that always stands out to me, as his commentary really put over the feat that Shawn Michaels pulled off by winning the Rumble match. To this day I don’t understand why Perfect wasn’t on the call for WrestleMania XII.
Go back and listen to any of the shows Perfect did colour on, and you’ll see why he was the man for the top of this list. It’s a shame we never got the chance to hear more from him as he would’ve been an amazing asset during the Attitude Era and beyond.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @THExWilliam. Thanks for reading!