One of the age-old contentions when it comes to color commentary (believe me, it happens in absolutely every sport) is whether whomever is in that role needs to have first-hand experience to analyze whatever they’re covering. According to one ECW legend and former longtime WWE color commentator, it’s absolutely essential for pro wrestling.
Never short for words, former ECW and WWE wrestler Taz (or Tazz if you’re nasty) now works for CBS Sports Radio, co-hosting the national morning show Taz and the Moose with Marc Malusis. So Taz will never lack for an opinion, as he spends five days a week giving his opinion to anyone who will listen.
However, Taz’s opinion on Chris Jericho’s podcast Talk is Jericho is probably one that a lot of wrestling fans will be interested in. The former ECW champion believes that to properly do one’s job as a color commentator in WWE, they must have experience wrestling in matches, and more importantly have held some sort of world championship.
Taz also believes that the wrestling inexperience — specifically, from color analysts Byron Saxton and Corey Graves — are holes in the product.
“I believe, and I know that it is going to sound negative on those that weren’t world champions; Corey Graves was a former tag team champion in NXT. Byron Saxton barely worked, so that to me jumps out. I believe in that. You can’t tell me as a fan, if I have never been a wrestler, you can’t tell me what it is like to be a world champion if you have never done it; I’m sorry,” he said. “I hope for the best of those guys, and no disrespect to those guys. I met Corey Graves, and he seems like a great guy, but that is my opinion. You need some legitimate sea legs under you as a professional wrestler, I really believe that. I think putting your ego and checking it, and having the chops to talk obviously.”
The former ECW champion may have a point as well, when one considers that the best color analysts when it came to wrestling had significant experience. Jerry Lawler, Dusty Rhodes, Jesse Ventura all carried major gold around with them during their wrestling careers. Other great analysts, including Bobby Heenan and Paul Heyman were around championship-caliber wrestlers as managers, and usually aided in getting those champions over as well.
Saxton’s wrestling career wasn’t very extensive, but Graves wrestled for a very, very long time, both on the indies and in NXT. He’s earned praise from just about every wrestling fan for being the best color commentary in at least one generation, so some people are likely to rankle at Taz’s “former world champions” talking point. Only time will tell if both will end up proving Taz right or wrong, though.