Pro Wrestling

10 Best Wrestling Commentators Of All Time Source:

You can have some of the best wrestlers on the planet putting on one of the best matches ever seen, but for the viewers at home, if the commentary booth isn’t doing its job, you’re only getting part of the whole package. A good commentator, whether on play-by-play or color, can enhance the quality of any match, keeping viewers engaged in the product and effectively hyping the action in the ring. And while there have been good commentators and bad ones, over the years there have been some that did their job so well that they turned it into an art form, becoming legendary voices that have made some of the biggest calls in the history of the sport.

10. Gorilla Monsoon

Monsoon often gets overlooked due to the incredible color commentators he worked with getting so much credit, but Gorilla was an excellent play-by-play man in his own right. These days, we might mock his invented words and claims of fans “literally hanging from the rafters”, but he had the perfect combination of gravitas and hype that made him the right man for the job. He had the high level of energy required of all WWE play-by-play announcers, the ability to banter effectively with his heel partners, and the knowledge of actual wrestling which he used to call moves that gave him credibility over someone like Vince McMahon and his infamous screams of “Whattamaneuver!” whenever he didn’t know what to call something. More importantly, unlike bland neutral play-by-play announcers, Monsoon would actively pull for the babyfaces, defending their actions to the dastardly heels he shared the commentary desk with, and actually making them sound like good guys. These days, the heel color commentators tear down babyfaces all the time, while all Michael Cole can offer is nervous laughs and what’s trending on Twitter. Source: s***

9. Matt Striker

Currently serving as the lead play-by-play man for Lucha Underground, Striker got his start as a wrestler in WWE, after a story about him getting fired for using sick days from his job as a school teacher to work at wrestling shows became a big story in the world of wrestling. Unable to catch on in the ring, Striker transitioned to the announce table, and brought with him an encyclopedic knowledge of wrestling that instantly made him a star in the eyes of fans. Unfortunately, Striker would take the act which made him famous too far, earning criticism for slanting his commentary too far towards spouting esoteric facts (some of which were revealed to be entirely made up) and catering too much towards “smart” fans by using insider terms. Striker would be released from WWE, but quickly found independent work, including English commentary for New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Wrestle Kingdom show, before showing up with Lucha Underground, where he has become the voice of the upstart promotion. Striker’s flaws still emerge from time to time, but he brings honest enthusiasm and knowledge of the product that makes him one of the better play-by-play announcers working today. Source:

8. Lance Russell

You may not have heard of Lance Russell, but those who have know that he was the cornerstone of Memphis professional wrestling, one of the hottest territories in North America. While he only had a cup of coffee in World Championship Wrestling, Russell was a beloved figure in his home state, nearly as big a star in Memphis as the legendary wrestlers, such as Jerry Lawler, Bill Dundee, and Dutch Mantel, whose matches he called (including one of wrestling’s most famous bouts, a match between Lawler and comedian Andy Kaufman). He was erudite, knowledgeable, and entertaining, with an iconic voice that was instantly recognizable for fans of that era. Russell was also an unabashed babyface announcer, known for siding heavily with the good guys and often calling for other wrestlers to help from the back when heels were in the midst of ambushing a face in the ring. The most incredible fact we can tell you about Russell is that he was known for doing live commentary at house shows, which allowed them to eventually be broadcast on TV, at a time when taping shows outside of a company’s main arena never happened. This meant that some incredible matches, including the infamous Tupelo Concession Stand brawl, were preserved for future generations, when they might not otherwise have been. Source: NotInHallOf

7. Jerry Lawler

Forget what you know about the Jerry Lawler who became so increasingly grating on commentary that WWE moved him to Smackdown, claiming that three-hour Raws were tiring him out too much, because Lawler’s work in recent years have almost erased his legacy as one of the best heel color commentators in wrestling history. Lawler originally came to WWE as a commentator in the mid-90’s, and quickly established himself as the ultimate heel, most notably during a lengthy feud with Bret Hart and the Hart Family, which complemented Bret’s ongoing issues with his younger brother Owen and brother-in-law Davey Boy Smith. Lawler consistently walked the line between cruel and entertaining, and at the time, was still able to back up his words in the ring. Also, because it was two decades ago, many of his jokes were still fresh and new! Lawler developed some unfortunate mannerisms towards females during the Attitude Era, symbolic of the sometimes uncomfortably over-the-top nature of the period, but he still regularly maintained a high level of quality during big matches, forming possibly the best commentary team of all-time alongside Jim Ross. While his recent past has somewhat spoiled his legacy, his earlier work deserves a spot on this list. Source:

6. Jesse Ventura

It’s a shame that it’s harder to find examples of Ventura’s commentary than it should be, considering WWE has a publically available online archive of most of North America’s wrestling media, but thanks to a lawsuit Ventura won against WWE over royalties, much of his commentary was actually edited out of shows, in an attempt by WWE to limit the amount Ventura could claim (having the side effect of several key moments in WWE history being peppered with stretches of silence from the commentary desk). In his day, however, Ventura, who was already one of the most charismatic wrestlers in history, was the standard by which all color commentary was judged. Ventura created the template for all heel color commentators to follow, railing against faces like Hulk Hogan at every opportunity, while making sure to justify every despicable action taken by the heels. Ventura’s trademark style and memorably gruff voice were a highlight of WWE programming for several years, and his team with Gorilla Monsoon was nothing short of legendary. Source:

5. Joey Styles

For the bulk of ECW’s life, it had but a singular voice on commentary, that of Joey Styles. Styles’ voice was perfect for the wild and crazy atmosphere of Extreme Championship Wrestling, bringing a high energy fervour that was unmatched in wrestling. While he did occasionally get criticized for an over-reliance on his trademark catchphrase and loud screaming, but nobody can take away the fact that Styles generally brought a professional level of commentary despite doing the job by himself, with only occasional guest appearances on color commentary. Styles’ dedication to a one-man broadcast booth ensured a consistent voice behind ECW, giving the rebel independent promotion another unique quality that the larger promotions were unwilling to copy. Styles later translated his enormous fan support into a job with WWE, but had a rocky experience on Raw before moving to the resurrected ECW brand, eventually ending up in an off-screen role, as WWE’s President of Digital Media. Source:

4. Paul Heyman

Speaking of ECW, the mind behind the madness, Paul Heyman, also did different tours of duty in WCW and WWE from behind the announce table, and if you’re any sort of wrestling fan, you don’t need us to tell you that when it comes to Paul Heyman, there are few that can hold a candle to him on the microphone. Paul’s early work in WCW (as Paul E Dangerously), both in the booth and as a manager, showed flashes of the charismatic genius he would become, but it was in his unfortunately short-lived team with Jim Ross where his immense talent truly shone. Brought into WWE both because he’d begged for a job in the wake of ECW’s demise, and because of Jerry Lawler’s abrupt departure over WWE firing his then-wife, Heyman wasted no time in immediately establishing his brash and edgy character, which was something of a breath of fresh air for WWE fans. Heyman’s timing was such that he got to call the biggest PPV of the Attitude Era, WrestleMania X-7, and he did so with aplomb. Heyman would stay on commentary through the WCW/ECW Invasion angle, but was unfortunately ousted from the position when that storyline ran its course, never to return to the booth. Source:

3. Gordon Solie

If you ask any respected commentator in professional wrestling who one of their biggest professional inspirations are, most of them will almost certainly name the legendary Solie. For nearly three decades, Solie was the voice of professional wrestling in the southern United States, working for Georgia Championship Wrestling, Championship Wrestling from Florida, Continental Championship Wrestling, and of course, World Championship Wrestling. He was famous for calling wrestling matches as if they were legitimate sporting events, with an easy familiarity that made him a favorite of wrestling fans everywhere. Solie’s announcing was synonymous with wrestling in the 70’s and 80’s, much like Jim Ross, who called Solie his greatest influence, was during the Attitude Era. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008, one of an exclusive group of commentators to earn that particular honor. Source:

2. Bobby Heenan

While Jesse Ventura might have established the standard for heel color commentators, it was The Brain who perfected it. Nobody exemplified the tough-talking coward quite like Bobby Heenan, who would use his position at the announce table to talk up the heels and run down the faces, usually secure in the knowledge that wrestlers would never put their hands on an announcer (something they’d had no problem doing when Heenan was a manager). Heenan’s tendency to take wild leaps of logic in order to justify rule breaking or denigrate the actions of the good guys led to the creation of broadcast partner Gorilla Monsoon’s trademark phrase “Will you stop?” which he had many opportunities to use. Heenan eventually jumped to WCW, where he would continue to bring his classic wit to the announce table, although he was eventually worn down by WCW’s downward spiral. Bobby was deservedly inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004. Source:

1. Jim Ross

This wasn’t even a difficult choice, nor should it be. Nobody has been the voice of wrestling, and of WWE, more than Good Ol’ JR, Jim Ross. After honing his skills in World Championship Wrestling, Ross joined WWE at WrestleMania IX, making his infamous first appearance clad in a toga. From there, his career advanced in leaps and bounds, as he brought his extensive knowledge of wrestling, old-school mentality, and unique personality to WWE’s broadcast booth, eventually supplanting Vince McMahon as lead play-by-play announcer, a role that he would hold for over a decade. In that time, the number of matches that have been enhanced by JR’s commentary is impossible to count. His close association and friendship with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin played a role in helping catapult Austin to the top of the wrestling world, supplemented by JR’s trademark cries of “Stone Cold! Stone Cold!” He is one of wrestling’s most beloved figures, both inside the industry and by fans around the world, and the day he left WWE’s broadcast booth was a sad one on the history of professional wrestling. Now retired from WWE, JR continues to bring his familiar voice to his Ross Report podcast, while still shilling his famous (and very tasty) B.B.Q. sauce. Source:
Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle is an avid wrestling and film fan. He's been writing about WWE, movies, and video games for Goliath since 2015.