Thursday, January 5, 2012

Announcers in the Ring

Hulk Hogan & Mean Gene!
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger on Twitter

Very soon, I will be making my professional wrestling debut.  I am not a wrestler though.  I am merely a commentator with All American Pro Wrestling.  But recently, I was signed to a match against Mike Masters.  It's not a common practice, but we've seen plenty of wrestlers become announcers.  I know I'm obviously not going to be the first announcer to step through the ropes and prepare for battle.

The first time I remember it happening was in the 1980's.  "Mean" Gene Okerlund did interviews during WWF Superstars and other shows for the company.  He was a big time Hulkamanic too.  So when Mr. Fuji and George "the Animal" Steele challenged Hulk Hogan and Okerlund to a match, Gene reluctantly said yes.

If my memory serves me correct, I think this was a direct release to Coliseum Home Video.  Before the match, they should Hogan and Okerlund training together.  They were "hanging and banging" in the gym and at one point, I believe Mean Gene carries Hogan on his back up a flight of steps.  The match is basically Hogan vs. the heels, until Gene is accidentally tagged in during a high five montage.  His time in the ring was brief and he pretty much avoided any kind of contact.  The faces win after Gene thwarts Mr. Fuji's salt toss attempt and kicks him in the gut.  Hogan slams his partner on top of the laid out heel and pushes down on his back for extra leverage.

The Fink vs. Harvey Wippleman
In the 1990's legendary ring announcer Howard Finkel engaged in a series of tuxedo matches with manager Harvey Wippleman.  The object of course is to strip your opponent from their tux.  The contact was limited in the contests, and the two looked like a couple of kids in a school yard rolling around.  Of course the stripping of the two was not exactly pleasant for viewers.  Nearly 20 years later, I still don't understand the motivation for this feud or the need for such a match.

JR. vs. Michael Cole (from
More recently Jim Ross has engaged in battle wrestling Triple H, Tazz, and Jack Swagger among others.  Of course his feud with Michael Cole boiled over into the ring with JR and Jerry "the King" Lawler taking on Cole and Swagger in a tag team match, and the two going at it one on one as well.  My hat is off to JR (if I wore one) for his efforts.  He's not a wrestler by any means and considering the health issues he's had in the past, I commend him for stepping into the ring and doing battle.

Jonathan Coachman and JR had some battles too and of course he had matches with Stone Cold Steve Austin among others as well.  Eric Bischoff I guess also fits into this category of announcers becoming managers becoming wrestlers.

I think that's it though.  I'm racking my brain and I've checked a few online sources, but have come up short.  I don't recall Joey Styles, Tony Schiavone, or Mike Tenay ever wrestling.  Correct me if I'm wrong of course.  And please, wish me luck as I prepare for my match with Mike Masters on January 14th.

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