Michael Cole was interviewed on the Gorilla Position podcast ahead of Sunday’s Survivor Series pay-per-view. Cole was on to talk about The Undertaker’s farewell on his 30th anniversary with the company, Vince McMahon, his favorite moments on commentary and much more.
Here are some highlights:
Michael Cole was asked what The Undertaker meant to him: “When I started in the company in late 1996 or early 1997, I had come from the news world. The only thing I knew about sports entertainment and WWE is from what I watched on television as a fan. Undertaker was one of those guys that I knew immediately when I came into the company that he was the leader. He was the locker room leader. He had the respect of everyone on the roster. He was a guy that I talked to a lot about the business and he helped me understand and learn the business. Of course, when I started here, I was a backstage interviewer. Some of my all-time classic interviews were done with Undertaker. He is someone who epitomizes what WWE is all about from the loyalty to our product and to our brand, to the leadership in the locker room, the respect that our stars have for him and what he is able to teach younger superstars today, what he is able to bring to the table from an experience standpoint, not to mention he is probably the greatest in-ring performer of all time when you factor in everything from the way he works in the ring to his classic entrance to making characters.”
Cole was asked if he believes he has mastered the art of being a commentator: “I believe I’ve mastered it. I hope I have. The problem is that this business is always evolving. This business is always changing. Am I the greatest wrestling announcer of all time? No way. There are many people that were better at calling wrestling matches than I have. The thing that I am very proud of in my career is the ability to be able to work with anybody. I’ve had dozens and dozens of partners over the years and I have been able to make them good and be able to help them move along in their career. The other thing is the longevity of doing this every week, 52 weeks a year. In 24 years, I have missed two television shows. One was when I got married and another time was when my wife had a kidney transplant. So from 1997, I’ve missed two television shows. That’s 52 weeks a year, no weeks off, no vacations. We are always adapting and evolving and in 24 years, this business has changed drastically. I’m a 54-year-old man and to be able to keep up with the trends in society today and the use of social media and what the kids are doing at 20 years old is why I need a Corey Graves or a Byron Saxton in my announce booth because they can keep me grounded and keep me updated in what the trends are. I can still go out and call a wrestling match or a sports entertainment story but I don’t know what the 18-year-old kids are doing. I’ve been able to evolve over the years. I want to do this at least a few more years. I would love to make it to 25 years on the air in the company. I think that would be tremendous and I think it would be something that has never been done before. I still love what I do and until that goes away, you are going to be stuck with me whether that is better or worse.”
Cole talking about Corey Graves: “Corey and I are really good friends. We hang out outside of the SmackDown booth. We have a lot of the same interests. We do a lot of things together. I think Corey is a once in a generation performer. We’ve tried so many people over the years in those endless roles and there were dozens and dozens who tried it and they didn’t make it. Corey is a natural. He has the instincts. He is a natural heel. He knows exactly how to protect heels. I know how to protect babyfaces. The two-man booth works great. I think it is something we stumbled upon and got lucky with and now I hope I am going to be working with Corey for the next decade because he’s the best in the business.”
Cole talked about Vince being in the commentator’s earpiece during broadcasts: “You know, it’s so funny how this myth has taken on a life of its own over the past two decades. Listen, Vince runs the company. He’s the boss. He’s the chairman. He turned a small regional wrestling promotion into a multi-billion dollar international conglomerate. It is his sandbox. He can do with it whatever he wants. Honestly, he gives me a lot of leeway and allows me to do a lot of things because he believes in me after so many years. He’s the boss and just like any producer of any television show, he’s going to tell me what he wants. I may not agree with that direction a lot of the time, but I have to do it. He’s my boss. Yes, he is very active in your ears. During WrestleMania season, he is very active. But, I have a great relationship with Vince. He believes in me or I wouldn’t be here as long as I have. I think a lot of that stuff that Vince screams in your ear gets really blown out of proportion. I think there are some people that say that because they want to save face because they weren’t successful in what they did. He’s emotional just like all of us are when it comes to this product. He’s so close to it. It’s his family. It’s in his blood. He wants what he wants. On certain days, you’re going to draw the ire of McMahon and on other days, he’s going to tell you that you are the greatest thing in the world and that’s the way Vince is. I wouldn’t trade my working with Vince and what he has meant to my family and my career for anything.”
If you use any portion of the quotes from this article please credit Gorilla Position podcast with a h/t to WrestlingNews.co for the transcription