Older fans will remember some truly excellent duos and trios (but mostly duos) that donned the headsets, entertaining us with both their repartee and their calls of the action. Some voices were soundtracks of their respective generations, and to hear them speak is to remind yourself of those presumably simpler times. It's why much of wrestling fandom gives way to nostalgia.
It's a subjective ranking, but I endeavour to list off the best commentary teams in the history of WWE, though this will certainly provoke some debate. That's all well and good, as there will no doubt be partial to the voices of one's preferred era. One thing I think most of us can agree on is that no announcing tandem or triumvirate with Coach in it would ever qualify as a classic.
10. Gorilla Monsoon & Lord Alfred Hayes
Here's a team that some would find it easy to pick nits with - Monsoon could be prone to gross exaggeration and hyperbole (not exactly a bad thing), while Hayes' oration could be uneven and silly at times. But go back to those Madison Square Garden shows of the 1980s, when the matches had a steadier pace, and Monsoon and Hayes complemented the action well with light-hearted banter, treating the matches like legitimate athletic contests, while also adding some jovially-detached flair.
Really, for as simply effective as Hayes could be as a caricature of prim-and-proper sportscasters from across the pond, Monsoon could deliver in concert on said MSG events with other colour commentators of the time such as Mean Gene Okerlund and Ken Resnick. The commentary was rarely storyline-driven, and treated the matches like self-contained moments of sport, while also imparting a little anecdotal fun. You never see commentary like this any more, and it's kind of a shame.
9. Vince McMahon, Bobby Heenan & Randy Savage
Really, you could've just gone with McMahon and Heenan for this entry, as although they would prove to be better with different partners, McMahon was still capable of selling Heenan's barbs and quips with both laughter and disgust, depending on the scenario. But Savage would own his own pizzazz (if that's the word) to the group when the three helmed the Raw desk for six months together in 1993.
Savage was mostly a breathing bowl of grunted word soup, spouting out colourfully-bizarre phrases in between adding some solid-enough commentary. Overall, they're possibly the best three-man booth in main roster history, due in part to the charming unevenness that existed. These three could (and did) go to different extremes on a whim.
8. Tony Schiavone & Jesse Ventura
I'm going to employ a bit of a cheat here, as outside of SummerSlam 1989 and Royal Rumble 1990, the two didn't team together much otherwise in WWE. However, Schiavone and the future Governor proved to be a perfect combination in WCW from 1992 to mid-1994, and were probably the best team in either of the Big Two at the time.
Schiavone's excitability and confident delivery blended well with Ventura's cocksure attitude and his innate ability to make brilliant observations as a devil's advocate. By mid-1990, both men were gone from WWE, robbing the promotion of two very distinct and effective narrators, whose contrasting personalities only added to the collective intelligence they brought to our ears.
7. Michael Cole & Tazz
There once was a time when Cole was actually a valued part of our weekly wrestling fandom, believe it or not. You'd have to go back to the era of young Brock Lesnar, The SmackDown Six, and Zach Gowen being pushed down a flight of stairs, when Cole and Tazz blended irreverence with genuine chemistry, to the point where some year-end awards polls would give the two the nod as best commentators of 2002-04.
Some have said that post-production was a vital key to their success, as well as being produced by a cutting-edge individual such as Paul Heyman. Or maybe it was just the overall goodness of SmackDown that brought out the best in the two. Whatever it was, Cole and Tazz were as fun to listen to as Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar were to watch.
6. Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness & Percy Watson
NXT's rotating commentary set-up of the earlier years produced some mostly favourable combinations, and there's no doubt that Corey Graves was a fresh part of the show between 2014 and 2016. But once Mauro headed down to Full Sail, he helped bring NXT's commentary to another level, alongside the reliably-observant McGuinness and the steadily-improving Watson.
Ranallo is clearly the star of the three, as evidenced at the TakeOver events when he's unable to sit still during the cataclysmic twists and turns. One could argue that Ranallo has brought out the best in his contemporaries, as both McGuinness and Watson work to match the energy and intensity of their more-experienced orator.
5. Jim Ross & Paul Heyman
Heyman's grating, grunting analysis always seemed like it failed to impress the stoic, earnest Ross, but that was the beauty of these two as a team: they had obvious chemistry and knew their craft in and out, but the viewer could feel a palpable tension between them. By all accounts, the two get along well as longtime friends and colleagues but, like other duos still to come, they could sell friction while expertly getting the product over.
Previously, the pair had worked together in WCW, where they shared headset duties for the infamous Black Scorpion reveal, and they hadn't missed a beat when they reunited a decade later. If only they had more time than just their shared eight months in 2001, because they were just golden together.
4. Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler
Sacrilege, some of you will say. For fans of the Attitude Era and its surrounding years, Ross and Lawler were voices of a generation, and I will not argue your view. Being fourth on this list indicates a more-than-favourable opinion of JR and The King. You can't picture WWE's wild and woolly times without hearing Ross' gasoline-fueled screams and Lawler's high-pitched amazement. Just the same as nobody but Axl could sing over Slash's riffs.
And, well, Lawler's commentary was pushing many boundaries at the time, and has aged like a horrible mullet since - so we can't have them too high on our list.
Ross' gravitas in big matches was hard to equal, and Lawler was an ideal antagonist to Ross' general fair-mindedness. Lawler went too far babyface in later years, robbing the duo of the face/heel dynamic that they were adept at putting out there. Ornery Lawler got the best out of JR, and by that token, Lawler was never better than when seated next to his longtime friend.
3. Vince McMahon & Jesse Ventura
Saturday Night's Main Event was always worth staying up late for, and a big part of the show's appeal was the give-and-take between the men calling the action. Vince was great as the jolly-but-caustic straight man to Ventura's glibly booming rhetoric, as sometimes the best hostility over the course of the show's 90 minutes of run time was of the auditory variety.
Ventura loved to get McMahon's goat, and it was obvious, though McMahon knew that letting Jesse ruffle his feathers always made for good TV. The two were slightly more understated in their weekly spot calling WWE Superstars of Wrestling, but those five or six Saturday nights a year is where they were most electric. Something I always wondered: would heel commentator Ventura have backed corporate heel boss McMahon, had they ever crossed paths?
2. Gorilla Monsoon & Bobby Heenan
Okay, hear me out on this one. I'm sure some were expecting Gorilla and The Brain to go number one, and I would never argue anyone who puts them there. There will never, *ever*, be a commentary team that is as funny and entertaining as Monsoon and Heenan. Ever. Episodes of WWE Wrestling Challenge, parade-o-squashes and all, was always enhanced by Heenan's deadpan wisecracks and Monsoon's indignant responses.
I'll wait until the number one entry to explain why I picked them over Monsoon/Heenan, as I feel it's a vital difference in the two pairings. But make no mistake, Monsoon and Heenan were the foundation of many wrestling fan childhoods, and set a standard for commentary banter that nobody will ever match. To this day, with the right people present, you can quote them as though they were Caddyshack or Animal House. And this isn't even counting their back-and-forth on Prime Time Wrestling, which was often better than the matches.
1. Gorilla Monsoon & Jesse Ventura
The one thing that Monsoon/Ventura had over Monsoon/Heenan is simple: the ability to make a big show seem even bigger. While Heenan was an expert salesman, Ventura's commanding presence was on a level all its own. When Monsoon and Heenan called any show, you'd laugh until you pissed yourself, but they would also give suitable calls to the serious parts of the action. When Monsoon was paired with The Body, the event felt even more auspicious.
Every WrestleMania, every Survivor Series, every Royal Rumble with the two heavyweights on the call felt like a major event, as though lives hung in the balance, and major scores were on the verge of being settled. There was a hefty authority to Monsoon and Ventura trading dialogue. For anyone that ever dismissed WWE as corny, fake rasslin', Monsoon and Ventura brought a blend of gravity, dignity, and a little over-the-top salesmanship that even announcers from legitimate sport could not equal. That's a tribute to the shared talent of both legends.