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The Question: Who Is The Greatest Wrestling Announcer Ever?

By James Guttman, James Bullock, and Dan Crocker Oct 13, 2016 - 11:14 AM print

It's time for another edition of "The Question" - We Want Insanity's weekly answer to something we all have our own opinion on. See what we have to say and then share your own. That's what questions like this are for...

Who Is The Greatest Wrestling Announcer Ever?

James Guttman:

This one can be tough because “announcer” can be a subjective term. In wrestling, there are a number of different roles that a person behind a microphone can play and, due to this, a number of different “bests”. For instance, the best play-by-play guy was Gordon Solie. The best interviewer was Mean Gene. However, for me, the best person to listen to on a headset was broadcast journalist Bobby “The Brain” Heenan.


Growing up with the Brain on my television makes me feel lucky as a wrestling fan. No one could merge the in-ring action with their own personal struggles like Bobby. Dipping between frantic and snide, Heenan managed to make us laugh for an entire show while still getting under skin enough that you hoped he’d get stuffed into a Weasel suit.

That’s what made him so special. With the timing and wit of a vaudeville mainstay, Bobby Heenan found a way to be humorous and self-deprecating without betraying his own character. His gimmick as a pompous Beverly Hills star-chaser never suffered because of his jokes. Instead, he’d get you to laugh at his insults in one minute and then remind you of how arrogant he is in the next. I was when I experienced his impeccable timing first-hand during my interview with him (the first extended shoot ever on ClubWWI.com)

It was this delivery that made all the matches he commented on even better. His memory was always spot-on and his call-backs came out of nowhere. He would find ways to insult wrestlers who weren’t even in the match. Once, at the start of a Repo-Man vs. British Bulldog bout, the camera panned the crowd to show an excited 8 year old African-American fan. Without missing a beat, the Brain shouted, “Look! Even Koko B. Ware is here!”

From the time he greeted Brutus Beefcake, fresh from having mental plates surgically implanted in his face, by sticking magnets to his cheeks to questioning the amount of times Blackjack Mulligan washed his long johns to his instance to that no one in the WWF was “Fair to Flair”, there was no other like Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. And, all these decades later, it’s starting to feel like there never will be again.

James Bullock:

When it comes to voices in wrestling, I can’t help but smile thinking about so many of my favorite early moments as a wrestling fan were given even more profound sense by the added voices of individuals able to properly convey the situation; be it Gorilla Monsoon, Bobby Heenan, Jesse Ventura, Joey Styles, and the first name that popped in my mind when I thought about my answer, Todd Pettengill. I can see you laughing right now that I would even choose the Michael Cole of his time as the greatest wrestling announcer of all time, but I couldn’t even if I really wanted to. By God I have to go against my childhood nostalgia and pick the best man for the job, “Good Ol’ J.R.” Jim Ross.

While my boy Todd was essentially the voice of “The New Generation” (and the era that cultivated my love for in-ring action) alongside Vince McMahon (the irony isn’t lost on me, mind you), Ross was the voice of “The Attitude Era” – the time in history where everyone and their mother was a wrestling fan. When you think back to the antics of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, D-Generation X, The Rock, and Mae Young you’d expect some “Jackass” style announcer commentating to match the insanity seen on Monday nights every week. Instead, we had Ross with his Southern drawl and pure exuberance for everything that was going on in front of his announce table. In a lot of ways Ross was like your boisterous grandfather who commented on everything he saw, but did so in such a genuine manner you couldn’t ignore him. In actuality, Ross brought a sense of reality to the absurd world that was wrestling during its potentially last boom. From expressing his fear for Mick Foley’s health after being thrown off Hell in a Cell, to shouting in pure joy over Austin becoming the WWF World Heavyweight champion, to how ridiculous it was that Mr. McMahon was revealed as “The Higher Power”, Ross didn’t just perfectly express his own feelings, but also voiced how everyone felt watching in attendance or at home. Ross’ ability to simply speak was easily outdone by his passion – passion to the point that everyone who has sat behind a WWE commentators’ table has been compared to since WWE felt it was time to move beyond the Jim Ross era. It might be the same nostalgia that put Todd in such a good light when it comes to my opinion of him as an interviewer and commentator, but I truly believe there won’t be a wrestling commentator better than Jim Ross. And, seriously, how many other commentators can you think of have created as many memorable catchphrases as Ross? SLOBBERKNOCKER!

Dan Crocker:

There have been some great (and not so great) announcers over the years. Jim Ross and Gordon Solie come to mind as two of the greats. As far as the no so greats, the less said about “Mongo” the better. My favorites have always been the funny guys, however. Others like Jessie Ventura did it well, but for my money no one has really come close to Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. First, he usually pulled for the heels and so did I. He was also just legitimately funny. After already being one of the best all-time managers, his announcer work was an equally successful second act to his career.

His strength relied in more than his snappy one-liners, although they were the snappiest. His facial reactions and double takes were also top notch. Of course, it helped that he had a great straight-man to work with in Gorilla Monsoon. In my estimation, there was never a better duo in the entire history of wrestling commentary.

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