Michael Cole On Difficulty Of 3 Hour RAWs, John Cena's Heat, Lawler's Heart Attack, More
On his start and his rise in WWE: "I got off on the wrong foot here in WWE for a bunch of different circumstances. Number one, I came from CBS News, so I came from outside the business. And this is back in 1997 where it's still the 'good ol boy' network, where if you weren't brought up and didn't pay your dues in the wrestling industry you had no business being here. Jim Ross is a guy who dedicated 30 years of his life to this business. He started as a referee, building rings and morphed his way into becoming an announcer and he had paid his dues, as most of the guys had. So I came in in 1997 and I was first employee that was ever hired by the company that was an announcer. I came from CBS Radio. I had been a wrestling fan but I had never been involved in it in any aspect. So I come right out of the blue and start doing shows on WWE. So there was immediately a backlash from the true hardcore fan. 'Who is this guy? How can he be talking about a product that I've watched for 25 years; I've never heard of him. He's not from the business. He's not from the industry.' Then I wasn't even able to get my feet wet and pay my dues here before Jim got sick with his bout of Bells Palsy. So when Jim got sick, all of a sudden, now I had been in the company for a year and they throw me now onto Monday Night Raw and PPVs and I was clueless. I had done sports before, so I knew how to go out and call action, but this business isn't just about calling action. It's about telling stories. It's about understanding the psychology and that was all foreign to me. So for four or five months I'm trying to fill the shoes of this legend who had been sick and I was thrown into that spot so there was a horrible backlash at that point. Rightfully so because I wasn't ready for that spot. I shouldn't have been in it. And then third, Vince Russo at the time who was our writer decides that this is great, let's make JR the bad guy; let's make him the heel and have him attack Michael Cole's character.
"It obviously turned out bad because I ended up being the bad guy because the perception was both within the storyline and in real life is that 'here's this young, punk kid coming out of the news world to replace the guy that I grew up with.' It would be like some guy from a local news station stepping in to replace Walter Cronkite on the news. I had all these things against me and when JR came back fans were like, 'thank god, this Cole guy sucks, he shouldn't be here,' and I stuck it out. I had seen so many things in my life covering news from wars and so many horrible things that I couldn't let this stuff affect me. I had a wife and family and that's who I loved and who I cared about and this other stuff was like, 'whatever, I'm not going to let these people affect me,' and I continued to move on and I went to do Smackdown and I did that show for 10 years, which was, to me, an incredible run, and finally in 2008 got drafted to Raw and the rest is history. I don't have any regrets at all. I thought and I still think that I earned that role. People still to this day can't stand me for replacing Jim Ross, and they think that JR and I have a terrible relationship because of the storylines that we've done, but we don't. Jim and I are actually real close and we do have a great relationship and Jim's been a great mentor to me and here we are today."