Michael Cole (wrestling)

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Michael Cole
Michael Cole 2010.jpg
Cole in November 2010
Birth nameSean Michael Coulthard
Born (1968-12-08) December 8, 1968 (age 51)
Syracuse, New York, United States[1]
ResidenceMcAllen, Texas, United States[2]
Alma materSyracuse University
Yolanda Coulthard
(m. 1987)
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Michael Cole
Sir Michael Cole
Billed height5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Billed weight169 lb (77 kg)[3]
Billed fromAmenia, New York

Sean Michael Coulthard (born December 8, 1968),[4] better known by his stage name Michael Cole, is an American professional wrestling commentator and former journalist. He is currently signed to WWE, where he serves as the play-by-play commentator for the SmackDown brand,[5] and since 2020, has served as Vice President of Announcing.

Journalism career[edit]

Coulthard began his career in the media as a journalist, working for CBS Radio. His first high-profile assignment was to cover the 1988 US presidential campaign of Democratic Party nominee Michael Dukakis.[6] In 1992, he reported on the presidential campaign of Bill Clinton.[6] Coulthard covered the 51-day siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, in 1993. The following year, he spent nine months covering the Yugoslavian civil war.[6] In 1995, he was also selected to cover the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing.[6] He returned to the presidential campaign trail in 1996 to cover the campaigns of Steve Forbes and Sen. Bob Dole.[6]

Professional wrestling career[edit]

World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment/WWE (1997 - present)[edit]

Backstage interviewer and Raw (1997–1999)[edit]

Coulthard came to the World Wrestling Federation in mid-1997 after being recommended to company officials by Todd Pettengill, and started using the stage name "Michael Cole".[7] He provided voice-overs for promotional videos and later became the host of LiveWire show alongside Jim Cornette. Cole first appeared on screen at the June 30, 1997 episode of Raw is War, interviewing The Legion of Doom and replaced Todd Pettengill as a backstage interviewer after SummerSlam. In late 1997, Cole became one of the three announcers for the first hour of Monday Night Raw, alongside Jim Ross and Kevin Kelly. Eventually Cole was permanently replaced by Jerry Lawler in mid-1998. In 1999, Cole became the regular play-by-play announcer for Monday Night Raw, subbing for Jim Ross when Ross was devastated by Bell's palsy.

SmackDown! (1999–2008)[edit]

When the promotion's new SmackDown! television program debuted later that year, Cole was chosen to be the show's play-by-play announcer. Originally his broadcast partner was Jerry Lawler, but when Lawler briefly left the WWF, he was replaced by Cole's WWE Sunday Night Heat broadcast partner Tazz shortly before the WWF vs. WCW/ECW invasion storyline. Cole also had a stint doing commentary on SmackDown!'s former sister show WWE Velocity.

As an announcer, Cole was rarely involved in storylines; however, he has had minor roles in storylines involving Heidenreich, Stephanie McMahon, Vito, and D-Generation X (Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Chyna, and Rick Rude). His 2004 angle with Heidenreich became infamous due to an implied scene where Heidenreich "Heidenraped" him in the arena restroom. In a 2008 interview, Heidenreich explained that the Cole rape angle was McMahon's idea, and that Pulp Fiction came to mind when Stephanie McMahon approached him with the idea. He also appeared in the Taxi Driver parody trailer in promotion of WrestleMania 21.

Cole called play-by-play at the 2006 Royal Rumble match because Ross, who had commentated the last two Royal Rumble matches with Tazz, had been (kayfabe) "fired" and replaced by former ECW play-by-play man Joey Styles, reuniting the original SmackDown! team of Cole and Lawler. On February 3, 2006, it was announced that Cole and Tazz were starting a radio show on Howard Stern's Howard 100 on Sirius Satellite Radio, but the show was a trial run that only lasted a couple of weeks.

On April 26, 2006, WWE announced that Cole would become the Managing Editor of WWE.com. Shortly after, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon told shareholders in a meeting held on September 14 that he thought that the website "sucks". In response, Cole replied on WWE.com about updated content for the website: a broadband network with original web-only shows have been scheduled for October, with a new mobile offering, a re-vamped subscription site and more exclusive videos and photos. Cole went on to say, "So in summary, the web site does suck, compared to where we are going to take it, but it won’t suck for long. Wish I could say the same for the boss."

On the June 9 episode of SmackDown!, Cole's broadcast partner Tazz left from SmackDown to ECW, leaving Cole at that moment without a broadcast partner. At ECW One Night Stand, John "Bradshaw" Layfield announced he would replace Tazz as color commentator. This proved true five days later when he appeared on that week's episode of SmackDown! as Cole's new broadcast partner. After JBL left the broadcast booth and returned to wrestling action on Raw, Jonathan Coachman became Cole's new partner on January 4, 2008. Coachman was then replaced by Mick Foley beginning at Backlash on April 27, 2008.

Return to Raw (2008–2009)[edit]

As a part of the 2008 WWE Draft, Cole was drafted to the Raw brand as Jim Ross was drafted to the SmackDown brand. This effectively ended Cole's near 10-year run as play-by-play commentator on SmackDown in which he called every episode except for two. (The two episodes were the series premiere and the 9/11 Tribute show, both of which were called by Ross.) On the July 7, 2008 episode of Raw, Cole was attacked by Kane. He repeatedly asked Cole "Is he alive or dead?" before Cole was saved by Jerry Lawler. Cole made his in-ring debut as Lawler's partner against the tag team of Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase; a match for the World Tag Team Championship. Cole and Lawler lost after Cole inadvertently tagged himself in, and was quickly pinned by Rhodes after a lariat. At the 2009 Slammy Awards, Cole won The "Oh My God" Moment of the Year award for vomiting on Chris Jericho at SmackDown's 10th Anniversary show on October 2.

Feud with Jerry Lawler (2010–2012)[edit]

Cole reads an email from the Anonymous General Manager

Cole was the lead commentator for WWE NXT for its first three seasons. During the first season in 2010, Cole began showing signs of arrogance and cockiness towards face wrestlers and WWE fans alike, turning heel for the first time in his WWE career. He also began to belittle Daniel Bryan and took a liking to The Miz, leading to confrontations with Bryan throughout the season. Meanwhile on the Raw brand, Cole was made the official spokesman for the Anonymous Raw General Manager beginning on June 21, 2010. Cole returned to SmackDown to join Matt Striker and Todd Grisham on commentary beginning on October 1, and branded himself the "Voice of the WWE", stating that he should be on all WWE shows going forward.

On the November 29, 2010 episode of Raw, Cole interfered in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match for the WWE Championship between Jerry Lawler and The Miz, costing Lawler the match and helping Miz retain his title. This began a feud with Lawler that built towards a match at WrestleMania XXVII. During this time, Cole revealed that Jack Swagger was his personal trainer and he antagonized Lawler with antics such as making light of his mother's death and inviting his son, Brian Lawler, to air family secrets. At WrestleMania, special referee Stone Cold Steve Austin announced Lawler had won the match but the Anonymous Raw General Manager reversed the decision, due to Austin getting involved in the match.[8] A month later at Extreme Rules, Cole teamed with Swagger to defeat Jim Ross and Lawler in a Country Whipping match.[9] Lawler and Cole had a final "Kiss My Foot" match at Over The Limit on May 22, during which Bret Hart returned and put Cole in his signature submission move, the Sharpshooter, to help Lawler make Cole kiss his foot.[10] Cole apologized to Lawler the following night on Raw, ending their feud. Cole continued to favor most villains and question the actions of the fan favorites to regain control in matches.

Cole continued to wrestle sporadically after this. On the July 25 episode of Raw, Triple H placed Cole in a match against Zack Ryder, which Cole lost quickly. Cole and Alberto Del Rio lost a tag team match to John Cena and Jim Ross on October 17.[11] This prompted Cole to challenge Ross to the "Michael Cole Challenge" (a series of three contests); Cole said that if Ross won each challenge, Cole would quit his job.[12] During the challenge on November 14, Ross won the first two challenges (arm wrestling and dancing), causing Cole to declare that the third contest was who weighed less, which Cole won. Ross was subsequently fired and CM Punk came out and attacked Cole; Cole vowed revenge and said he would sue Punk for injuring him.[13] Cole was a surprise entrant in the 2012 Royal Rumble match but was quickly eliminated by Lawler, Booker T, and the returning Kharma.[14] Cole was put in a match with John Cena on the June 4, 2012, episode of Raw, which he lost, and was forced to make an apology for all of his wrongdoings.

On the July 9 episode of Raw, Cole was booked against Jerry Lawler in a WrestleMania XXVII rematch, which he quickly lost. The Anonymous Raw General Manager reversed the decision, making Cole the winner by disqualification following interference by Booker T. Santino Marella then came out and pulled out Hornswoggle from hiding underneath the ring, claiming that he was the Anonymous GM.[15]

Face turn (2012–2019)[edit]

Cole (center) commentating on Raw with John "Bradshaw" Layfield (left) and Jerry Lawler (right) in January 2014

Cole was lauded for his handling of his fellow commentary partner Jerry Lawler's legitimate on-air heart attack on the September 10, 2012 episode of Raw. In spite of being a heel commentator for two years, Cole provided updates to television viewers on Lawler's condition throughout the episode and was described as "classy and professional", and praised for his handling of the emergency. The incident effectively turned him face for the first time since 2010, as he began favoring the face wrestlers and began receiving cheers.[16][17] Cole also joined in commentary during Raw and pay-per-view events, including Night of Champions and Hell in a Cell by Jim Ross and John "Bradshaw" Layfield. Cole cemented his face turn when he hugged Lawler in the ring when Lawler returned on the November 12 episode of Raw.[18]

On the March 30, 2015, episode of Raw, Cole, along with JBL and Booker T, were attacked by Brock Lesnar after Seth Rollins refused Lesnar his WWE World Heavyweight Championship rematch.[19] Cole did not appear on commentary the following week as part of a storyline injury. On June 8, Cole welcomed Byron Saxton as the color commentator for Raw, replacing Booker T. On the January 15, 2018 episode of Raw, Cole was attacked by Braun Strowman due to Strowman's anger at being fired by General Manager Kurt Angle, and was subsequently replaced by Tom Phillips for the remainder of the broadcast.

Return to SmackDown commentary (2019–present)[edit]

On September 26, 2019, WWE announced as a part of their "WWE Premiere Week" that a new commentary team will be on SmackDown. Cole would return to commentary on Smackdown, alongside former Raw commentators Corey Graves and special contributor Renee Young.[20]

Reality of Wrestling (2013)[edit]

In December 2013, Cole served as a special guest announcer for fellow WWE employee Booker T's professional wrestling promotion Reality of Wrestling, along with Rich Brennan (formerly known as Anthony Pratt and Rich Bocchini).[21]

Personal life[edit]

Coulthard is married to Yolanda with whom he has one son.

Other media[edit]

Cole at Tribute to the Troops in 2016

Cole has appeared as a commentator in numerous WWE video games, providing his own voice. He has also appeared as a non-playable character in several and is a playable character in WWF SmackDown! 2: Know Your Role, WWF No Mercy as an unlockable character and WWE '12 as a downloadable character.

Cole appeared on the September 12 episode of Fox & Friends to address fellow WWE commentator Jerry Lawler's heart attack that occurred during the September 10 live broadcast of Raw.


Year Title Role Notes
2014 Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery Himself Voice performance; direct-to-video
2016 Scooby-Doo! and WWE: Curse of the Speed Demon Himself Voice performance; direct-to-video
2017 Surf's Up 2: WaveMania Seagull, Himself Voice performance; direct-to-video
2017 The Jetsons & WWE: Robo-WrestleMania! Himself Voice performance; direct-to-video

Web series[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2012–2015 The JBL and Renee Show Himself Series regular (2012-2014), recurring (2014-2015)
2013–present Michael Cole's Weekly Sit-Down Interviews Himself Host

WWE Network[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2016 WWE 24: Thank You Daniel Himself Guest
2016 WWE 24: WrestleMania Monday Himself Guest

Awards and accomplishments[edit]

Cole is a four-time Slammy Award winner


  1. ^ Michael Coulthard – Biography
  2. ^ "Weekend ramblings from the "Baron of Bar-B-Q"". J.R.'s Bar-B-Q. June 27, 2008. Archived from the original on July 17, 2011. Retrieved July 27, 2008.
  3. ^ "Michael Cole Talks About What Led to Him Losing 65 Pounds, Before & After Photo | PWMania". PWMania. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
  4. ^ "Michael Cole's Birthday, Dark Main Event For Monday's RAW, Dolph Ziggler Comments On TLC & John Cena". WrestlingInc.com. December 8, 2012. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  5. ^ Valley, Jim (April 18, 2014). "Friday's ask PWTorch all-star panel". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Michael Cole bio on USA Network". USA Network. Retrieved July 8, 2008.
  7. ^ Melok, Bobby (October 16, 2012). "Where Are They Now?: Todd Pettengill". WWE.com. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  8. ^ Ring Posts: Live blog from WrestleMania XXVII: Michael Cole vs. Jerry Lawler – WWE Raw, Smackdown and TNA pro wrestling news, analysis from Kevin Eck – baltimoresun.com. Weblogs.baltimoresun.com (April 3, 2011). Retrieved on 2011-04-17.
  9. ^ "Michael Cole & Jack Swagger def. Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler (Country Whipping Match)". WWE. Retrieved May 2, 2011.
  10. ^ Caldwell, James (May 22, 2011). "Caldwell's WWE Over the Limit PPV Results 5/22: Ongoing "virtual time" coverage of live PPV – Cena vs. Miz I Quit, Orton vs. Christian, Cole vs. Lawler". PWTorch. Retrieved June 19, 2011.
  11. ^ "WWE RAW 10/17/11". Archived from the original on May 25, 2013.
  12. ^ "WWE RAW 10/24/11". Archived from the original on May 25, 2013.
  13. ^ "WWE RAW 11/14/11". Archived from the original on June 23, 2012.
  14. ^ Caldwell, James. "Caldwell's WWE Royal Rumble report 1/29: Ongoing "virtual time" coverage of live PPV – Rumble match, Punk-Ziggler, Cena-Kane, steel cage". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved January 30, 2012.
  15. ^ Benigno, Anthony (December 1, 2014). "The Anonymous Raw General Manager returned". WWE. Retrieved March 15, 2015.
  16. ^ Mitchell, Houston (September 11, 2012). "Jerry Lawler suffers heart attack during live 'Monday Night Raw'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  17. ^ Ocal, Arda (September 11, 2012). "Eyewitness account of Jerry Lawler's heart attack, collapse at WWE Raw". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  18. ^ Caldwell, James (November 12, 2012). "Caldwell's WWE Raw Results 11/12: Complete "virtual-time" coverage of live Raw - Lawler returns, Cena-Punk, final PPV hype". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved March 15, 2015.
  19. ^ "WWE Provides Storyline Update on Michael Cole's Injury, Rock Talks Ronda Rousey, Notable Names Attend Raw". Retrieved March 30, 2015.
  20. ^ "WWE Premiere Week features unprecedented eight hours of primetime coverage".
  21. ^ "Reality of Wrestling – Christmas Chaos 8". Archived from the original on January 28, 2014. Retrieved January 28, 2014.
  22. ^ Eck, Kevin (February 14, 2011). "2010 Awards". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved September 25, 2020.
  23. ^ a b Meltzer, Dave (January 30, 2012). "Jan 30 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Gigantic year-end awards issue, best and worst in all categories plus UFC on FX 1, death of Savannah Jack, ratings, tons and tons of news". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Campbell, CA. ISSN 1083-9593.
  24. ^ Meltzer, Dave (January 23, 2013). "The 2012 Wrestling Observer Newsletter Annual Awards Issue". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Campbell, California. ISSN 1083-9593.
  25. ^ Meltzer, Dave (January 26, 2015). "Jan. 26, 2015 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: 2014 awards issue w/ results & Dave's commentary, Conor McGregor, and much more". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Campbell, California: 25. ISSN 1083-9593.
  26. ^ "2011 Gooker Award". wrestlecrap.freepolls.com. Retrieved June 6, 2018.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Jim Ross
Raw Lead Announcer
Succeeded by
Jim Ross
Preceded by
SmackDown Lead Announcer
Succeeded by
Jim Ross
Preceded by
Todd Grisham
SmackDown Lead Announcer
Succeeded by
Josh Mathews
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Josh Mathews
SmackDown Lead Announcer
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Tom Phillips
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Jim Ross
Raw Lead Announcer
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Vic Joseph
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Tom Phillips
SmackDown Lead Announcer
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Tom Phillips
Preceded by
Tom Phillips
SmackDown Lead Announcer
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