Mark Madden’s Debut: Introductions & Jackasses


By way of introduction, I worked in wrestling a long, long time ago. I concluded eight years of part-time employment by WCW in 2000 when I was fired as Nitro color commentator for making one joke too many about DDMeâ<80><99>s leathery skin. (â<80><9c>He should wear luggage tags for earrings.â<80> No regrets.)

Before my year-long stint on color, I toiled for, for WCW Magazine, and for the oft-lamented WCW 900#, the true birthplace of Stone Cold Steve Austin and the one place where Gene Okerlund could just be himself. (900# highlight: I once suggested that a gravely ill Mickey Mantle switch livers with Okerlund.) WCW was bought and folded by Vince McMahon just weeks after my dismissal; let the record show I got a better severance package by departing early.

Prior to WCW, I wrote columns for the Pro Wrestling Torch. Were they good? Were they inflammatory? Was I underpaid? Put it this way: Eric Bischoff hired me for WCW mostly to shut me up. If you can find the Torch column where I call Ole Andersonâ<80><99>s bluff and agree to fight him, itâ<80><99>s a keeper. (The offer still goes, you cowardly old SOB.)

After leaving WCW, I kept watching wrestling. Iâ<80><99>m not sure why. Mostly because of Ric Flair, I guess.

My sole involvement with wrestling since 2000 has been doing color on one goofy World Wrestling All-Stars pay-per-view (which mutated into the still-goofier TNA) and editing Flairâ<80><99>s best-selling autobiography. (By â<80><9c>edit,â<80> I mean taking indecipherable, inaccurate gibberish that wasnâ<80><99>t close to being in Ricâ<80><99>s voice and rewriting/salvaging the entire thing, for which I was paid $1,000.00. Thanks, Vince.)

Itâ<80><99>s a weird time to start writing about wrestling again. The internet fans know nothing, but those who run the business know even less.

Itâ<80><99>s great fun to watch a wrestling show and just count the non sequiturs, e.g., Hector Guerrero the mouthpiece for urban revolutionaries LAX? Isnâ<80><99>t that like having Ricky Ricardo front the Sandinistas? (TNA doesnâ<80><99>t let Homicide talk because heâ<80><99>s â<80><9c>too thuggish.â<80> I thought that was the whole idea.)

The element of wrestling that makes me cringe most is the announcing. Not because I was so great, although I obviously was.

Except for the incomparable Jim Ross, every announcer in wrestling sucks out loud, but itâ<80><99>s not their fault. In fact, I feel for my downtrodden brethren. Itâ<80><99>s hard to announce a wrestling show when you have some jackass YELLING IN YOUR HEADSET EVERY SECOND TELLING YOU WHAT TO SAY.

Itâ<80><99>s an idea that was in its infancy when I did Nitro. Terry Taylor and Ed Ferrara would feed me one-liners. Sometimes they were funny; usually they werenâ<80><99>t. Sometimes I used them; usually I didnâ<80><99>t. When it got to be distracting, I asked them (nicely, even) to back off, and they did.

But since then the notion has â<80><9c>progressedâ<80> to somebody like Vince McMahon SCREAMING AND SCREAMING, â<80><9c>SAY THIS! SAY THAT! OH, THE EMOTION! WHAT MUST HE BE THINKING RIGHT NOW?â<80>

Even if the advice given is good â<80>” trust me, it almost always isnâ<80><99>t â<80>” itâ<80><99>s impossible to announce anything with someone YAMMERING IN YOUR EAR AT A BILLION DECIBELS. Imagine Don West living in your cochlea. Furthermore, itâ<80><99>s insulting. If the guy doing the yelling thinks he can do better than the guy wearing the headset, he should take over the announcing duties himself.

But if the guy doing the yelling did don the headset and SUCKED…well, everyone would know it. We canâ<80><99>t have that. Better to suck in secret.

Now, if the guy doing the yelling STOPS YELLING and the announcer stinks, or heâ<80><99>s underprepared, then dump the announcer. But at least the announcer will have succeeded or failed on his own merits.

If you listen close, you can tell this is happening. The announcers stammer or change direction in mid-thought far too often. And you hear constant references to emotion, or â<80><9c>this is personal!â<80> or, â<80><9c>what must he be thinking?â<80> because McMahonâ<80><99>s announcing philosophy is to tell stories by putting the viewer inside the head of the performer and heâ<80><99>s CONSTANTLY BELLOWING THAT PHILOSOPHY TO HIS ANNOUNCERS AT THE TOP OF HIS LUNGS. That philosophy trickled down to WCW via Taylor, who brought it to Atlanta from Stamford and who has likely brought it to TNA as well.

Itâ<80><99>s actually a good philosophy. But it would be better to thoroughly educate your announcers thereof rather than continuously rattling their cages about it while theyâ<80><99>re on the air. There’s no upside besides indulging your control-freak fetish.

One down. Pay me.

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