As WWW fans witnessed this past Monday, Booker T was gone from the commentary booth and in his place was an old familiar face. After years away from WWE, Jonathan Coachman (Coach) was back in the company and had replaced the five-time Heavyweight Champion on commentary. WWE’s official announcement read:
“Ladies and gentlemen, “The Coach” has returned… Jonathan Coachman, a longtime WWE interviewer and broadcaster and former ESPN personality, has signed with WWE to once again be part of the Raw announce team, WWE.com can confirm.
Coachman’s TV announcing duties will officially begin [Monday], when he joins Michael Cole and Corey Graves at the Team Red announce desk.
Meanwhile, WWE Hall of Famer Booker T will resume his duties as a panelist on WWE’s pay-per-view Kickoff broadcasts and will continue to make appearances on Raw and beyond as a WWE ambassador.”
The WWE Universe was split on the decision to remove Booker T from the announce booth and replace him with a guy who’d still be close to the WWE product but not a part of the company for almost a decade. Coach isn’t as flashy as Booker T, he isn’t as lively as Booker T and some will argue, not as entertaining as Booker T.
So, why did WWE make the change?
Booker T Was An Issue
Bringing in Coach was likely as much a decision to remove Booker T as it was to bring in an old veteran. Booker T was becoming a weekly character for Raw and, unfortunately, not in a good way. Constantly saying things during the commentary that would have his co-announcers completely baffled, Corey Graves and Michael Cole would actually have to stop their own commentary of a match or an intended note to address what Booker had said, often pointing out how ridiculous the comment was.
In fact, Graves and Cole simply gave up trying to overlook and ignore the repeatedly whacky things Booker would say or the multiple times he’d contradict himself during a live broadcast. Graves, in particular, started making it a point to laugh and call-out Booker T in the middle of a segment. It almost felt like the rest of the team was bullying Booker and laughing at his expense.
This might have been entertaining to some fans, and while there were moments that made for a good laugh, the long-term effect of three announcers more concerned with each other than the match or the WWE Superstars was not good for WWE. Booker T was drawing attention to himself and not the segments and because it seemed unintentional, there wasn’t much way to stop it from happening.
Coachman Made Sense
Not everyone will love Coach. As a character playing opposite The Rock or a backstage interviewer, he offered some endearing qualities. As a full-time announcer on Raw, how the crowd accepts him is yet to be seen. That said, Coach had a lot of things working in his favor.
First, he was a respected name coming out of a very large sporting company. When Coach left WWE, he went straight to ESPN. It was considered by many to be a jump or promotion from his old role with a wrestling promotion. During his time at ESPN, he was known to be an advocate for promoting WWE and created a segment called Off the Top Rope. The segment drew mainstream attention to wrestling on a platform that often didn’t give the time of day to a “fake sport”.
Coach lost his job (or left) because of ESPN’s unwillingness to use his ideas to further stories involving wrestling and combat sports. He became a martyr for Vince McMahon‘s baby.
While Vince McMahon probably loved and appreciated Coach for his work in that regard, and there was some cache to bringing in an ESPN personality, it was also no secret that Coach and McMahon were close friends. Coach’s hiring could have been McMahon offering a job to a buddy who was suddenly out of work.
Is Coach more a fit than Booker? We won’t know for some time and perhaps it’s short-term with the hiring or Jeremy Borash. What we do know is that Booker T is gone and Coach has arrived. Some will agree with the decision and other’s won’t. Such is the nature of professional wrestling.
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