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Michael Cole vs Tony Schiavone


JudyBagwell
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On each of their best days, Cole. On each of their worst days, Big Tone.

Tony never made me hate him like I hate Cole right now. Some of the old PPVs I've been watching remind me he used to be pretty good - excitable without being too "JR" about it, knowledgeable without being too "Mauro" about it. Today he's jaded and bored sounding, gets things wrong, and just paints by numbers with his tedious palette of beige soundbytes.

Schiavone on his day was good without blowing my mind but his was the friendly familiar voice of Nitro which for a couple of years was my favourite thing in wrestling. I don't remember getting to the end of a show and thinking "Fucking hell, Tony was awful tonight."

As an aside, the thread title made me wonder if there's a parallel universe or time dilation phenomenon where that match has just been announced for Invasion. I've never seen one before, no one has, but I'm guessing its a White Hole.

Edited by air_raid
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Schiavone by a million miles. The last couple of years of WCW he became a parody who lacked any credibility as he tried to add gravitas to a product that didn't have or deserve any but prior to that he was very good. For periods, such as the early nWo days and most times he sat beside Jesse Ventura, he was excellent.

Cole has never been excellent. I feel for him at times because he has a completely different job to commentators previously and has to cope with a dictator yelling down his lughole constantly but he's just never had an ounce of legitimacy. That fake laugh, feigned excitement and pre-prepared statements have always killed enjoyment of him, even at his best. His best period was the SD stuff with Tazz after the brand split but even that suffered from the problems above. 

Schiavone has also got a superb voice. Cole used to sound like a teenage girl and now he sounds like her long-suffering Dad.

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Tony, hands down. Michael Cole, you can pretty much nail 80% of what he says before he says it, and the rest he just spells out for you like you’re thick. “[wrestler] has hurt their [body part], will that play a factor in this match?” Of course it is, Michael.

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Cole's 2002-05 run as Smackdown announcer was really, really good. People give Cole stick, but he's probably the best employee to have. When Heyman wants him to be Mike Goldberg, he's Mike Goldberg. When Vince wants him to be a shill, he's a shill. He's as good as whatever they want him to be at the time, which makes me feel he should be considered great at his job, even if he's not to our tastes.

But Tony is one of those voice men. When you watch wrestling and you hear his voice you just know what you are getting. Unlike Cole, Tony's strength is in his enjoyment. He didnt like late 90s wrestling, and couldnt fake how much he didnt like what he was calling. He sounded like he was doing voice overs for carpets around 99/2000 time. When he was at his best, though I reckon he was as good as anyone. Just a fantastic style to him.

As far as who is better in 2018, Tony by a mile. He's excellent on those MLW shows. He seems like the Tony of old. I fully expect Matt Striker to murder his enjoyment eventually, though.

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6 hours ago, IANdrewDiceClay said:

He's as good as whatever they want him to be at the time, which makes me feel he should be considered great at his job, even if he's not to our tastes.

This is a good point but ties into the issue earlier of him having no sense of character or personal enjoyment (most of the time). All the great commentators, whether colour or PBP, had their own hook and style. Cole, probably through no fault of his own, doesn't have that, and when he has shown spark, it's been a lesser version of another's asset.

It's the Joe Bonnamassa problem. It may be a great skill being able to recreate the old Blues greats, but that makes you an imitator, not an artist.

"You are a tracer! You go around the lines!"

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It has to be Tony. I started watching WWF in 2000 around the time Cole showed up, and I only caught bits of WCW on VHS/DVD around that time. 

Now though after nearly 20 years of Michael Cole and having watched most of WCW PPV/Nitro from 1983-1999, I can safely say Tony because if you took Michael Cole out of that 20 year run I wouldn't miss him at all.

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I feel a bit sorry for Cole as he is basically a sock puppet for Vince (as I understand it). Stone Cold talks about how difficult a job he has in not only doing the business of discussing a match but getting across corporate messaging, social media shills, sponsor reads and Vince's phrase of the month ("in cahoots", "abeyance", "turnabout is fair play"). I'm sure he's well compensated given he rarely misses a week's broadcasting. I bet he's seen some stuff over the years. 

As mentioned above for the UK tournament, turns out he's pretty good off the leash. 

I was never a WCW guy so I don't have a strong connection with Schiavone. 

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Even if you took his Jim Crockett/WCW work out of the equation and compared them solely on their WWF work, I'll take Tony as co-commentator on Challenge, Prime Time, Royal Rumble '90 and Summerslam '89 as his absolute zenith over anything Michael Cole has spewed out in 21 years.

 

People still talk about and can remember Tony's commentary from Summerslam '89 with Jesse Ventura. All that people remember of Cole is stupid shit he says.

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2 hours ago, Freddyjoe said:

I think if you compare Michael Cole of the first Uk championship tournament where it seemed he was allowed to be himself. I’d say he was up there with the best of them. He was great! 

He was great but Schiavone's had tens of nights like that. SummerSlam 1989 for instance.

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Tony Schiavone has something that Michael Cole has never hard, and I'd argue no one in the WWF has since Gorilla Monsoon (though an argument could probably be made for JR), in that one of his strengths is really making you feel welcome. Lance Russell was the king of this, but there's something to be said for announcers/hosts bringing a sense of warm, cosy familiarity. From the way Schiavone addressed the fans, to the way he chatted to Dusty/Heenan while rarely falling into JBL/Cole levels of distracting bickering, his voice was almost reassuring, in a way that Cole's has never been - largely because of the degree of artificiality behind him.

That said, I've argued in the past that Michael Cole is the best pure announcer they've ever had. It's hard to square that with how often he's cringeworthy and robotic, but he's an anchor in a way that nobody else ever has been, he's the best guy for the job in what WWE is now - he holds together a three-man booth, while hitting all the right notes in terms of plugging the Network, sponsors, upcoming events, etc. It's all very artificial, but no one else can do it like he does, with the level of professionalism he tends to bring to the table - the night of Lawler's heart attack being a prime example.

What's frustrating is that there are times when Cole has been great, in more low pressure situations - the "Beast In The East" show, the UK tournament, and so on. I think that bodes well for the future, as he's taking on more of a production/training role, particularly with NXT. Something that struck me at Evolution was how, when Cole talks about some of the NXT talent, he really does seem genuinely invested in their success - it was particularly apparent with the Riott Squad - and that makes him seem so much more of a real human being.

 

As an aside, Cole is probably second only to Vince in terms of who I'd want to hear a 100% honest account of what he enjoys in pro-wrestling. 

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Cole was very good when Heyman was basically working him and Tazz constantly, getting them to redo stuff etc. Cole really improved during that time (I think he's said so himself) However, since 05, he's been as bland as anything. The only great call I can remember him ever giving was 'The Streak...is over' which was a great moment. But that's it.

So yeah, Tony all day, every day. A far superior storyteller with a genuine sports feel about the event.

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