Thursday, September 18, 2008

I'm Back

Back in a Pointless List mood!


5. JIM ROSS - Yeah, that's right! I'm courting controversy with the very first pick! That's just how I roll! Considered by many the greatest hype-man in wrestling today, Good 'Ole J.R. is easily recognized as the voice of today's WWE despite recently being taken off of the flagship show of the promotion and being shuttled over to the lesser, taped program Smackdown. Make no mistake, the version of J.R. currently pushing such luminaries as The Great Kali and Festus bears only a passing resemblance to the man who called the action during such classics as Ric Flair Vs. Ricky Steamboat from WrestleWar '89.

4. JOEY STYLES - Criminally underrated. I think Joey brought a great understated enthusiasm and sardonic humor to the ugly stepchild of wrestling that was ECW back in the 90's. Looking slightly sleazy in his cheap suit and slicked back hair, he was the perfect carnival barker for the promotion's weird, wild mix of extreme violence, in-your-face sexuality and piss-taking, surreal promos. While I admit I don't currently watch the tamed, corporate "ECW" that they show on Spike (or is it Sci-Fi?) anymore, I still look forward to new episodes of The History of ECW on WWE24/7 which are introduced by Taz and Joey who provide insight while acting like old high school chums reminicing about the good old days when they barely made enough money to get by.

3. LANCE RUSSELL - The eternally put-upon broadcaster for CWA in Memphis. "Banana-Nose" had a great, plain-spoken speaking style that brought a great deal of weight to the sometimes ridiculous happenings around him. Of all the announcers on this list, Lance might be the most recognizable to non-fans of wrestling - his is the voice heard announcing most of the action during Andy Kaufman's wars with local Memphis favorite Jerry "The King" Lawler during Andy's documentary I'm From Hollywood!. His description of Kaufman's technique (frantically waving his hands blindly in front of him to ward off Lawler's attacks) frequently has me in stiches to this day ("Kaufman says he can do this HOURS at a time!").

2. Bob Caudle - Although he might be better known for his interviews than his match commentary, I have to include him on this list for his work with the man at number one. Bob had a great quality that made him such a fan advocate, one he shared with the late great Gorilla Monsoon, that made you think that he really, truly cared about all the babyfaces and would be disappointed, day in and day out, with the actions of the heels. Possessing a voice as smooth and mellifluous as Bing Crosby also helped me forget that he was once on the committee that helped elect southern dipshit Jesse Helms to political office.

1. Gordon Solie - Of course any discussion of pro-wrestling announcing begins and ends with the Dean. Gordon, along with Bob Caudle, were truly the greatest announce team in the history of wrestling during the Mid-South years. Solie's rapid, staccato delivery was a perfect counterpoint to Caudle's deeper baritone. Every now and then they'll show Championship Wrestling from Florida and Gordon's no-nonsense interviews (given while at a big desk with his still smoldering cigarette in an ashtray before him) still give me goosebumps. Truly, a broadcasting legend for all time.