Much has been said about the announce skills of ECW's Joey Styles (and with good reason) and how he has one of the few men who was able to pull off calling a match without a broadcast partner. The conventional wisdom has always been that the man who made OMG his catchphrase really showed his skills behind the microphone because he didn't have a color commentator to rely on. That conventional wisdom couldn't be more wrong.
That's not to say that Styles was a bad announcer. As I said in an earlier column, he's one of the very best. What I am saying is that I don't think calling a match by yourself is as hard as calling a match with another commentator.
Anyone who's watched any sports broadcast for long knows that color commentators can be a pain in the ass. People are so used to legendary teams like Bobby "The Brain" Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon and Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler that they often forget how bad things can be (fortunately there's Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler on RAW to remind them). For every team like Ross & Lawler, there are many other teams that talk over each other and compete with each other to see who can say the best line. Like any good relationship, it takes a lot of work to form an effective announce team (don't even get me started on what a train wreck three man announce booths are).
To me, the proof of the pudding is in the taste. Surprisingly, some of the worst announcers in wrestling are actually pretty good by themselves. The biggest example is Vince McMahon. Vince McMahon is usually not held very high in fans' opinions when it comes to his play-by-play work with Bruno Sammartino and various other color commentators. However if you listen to Vince's early work in the WWF, he actually did a good job calling matches by himself.
Mike Rickard II is the author of Wrestling's Greatest Moments (published by ECW Press), a look back at the greatest matches, angles, and feuds of the last thirty years. The book is now availble for pre-order through amazon.com