Michael Cole spent much of the past few years being quite possibly the most annoying performer on the WWE roster. Sure, it was part of his job, working as a heel announcer opposite a babyface Jerry Lawler, but the roles were all ass backwards seeing as Cole is the play-by-play man and "The King" is the color guy.
It made broadcasts of Monday Night Raw terribly difficult to listen to at times.
WWE was going to continue right along with the status quo as it were until Lawler suffered a heart attack live on the air back in September of last year and Cole was forced to deliver the news to fans watching at home. He did so with a level of professionalism no one remembered he had thanks to how well he played his heel character. With his handling of the situation, fans no longer wanted to hate Cole, so he was turned babyface.
Believe it or not, Lawler actually called and apologized for this. Here's how Cole described it in a recent interview with the Busted Open Radio show (transcription via PWTorch) while also admitting his heel run went on far too long:
"I remember on Wednesday, two days after it happened, I was actually in the gym at my home in Texas and I got a phone call from Jerry's girlfriend, Lauren, and she said, 'Michael, I've got somebody who wants to talk to you,' and it was King. I was like, 'Holy cow, King, how the hell are you calling me two days after you basically died on national television?' I guess he had been reading some of the press and stuff and he said, 'Michael, I'm so sorry.' I asked why? He goes, 'Well, I killed your heel heat.' So, I guess he had watched stuff that was said and everything else. So after that I became babyface. I think it was the right time, the heel run had run its course, I think it went on much longer than it should have.
"The company collectively said, 'If we're going to turn you this is the time to do it.' Since JR (Jim Ross) had been taken off Raw and I became a heel, the one thing I thought the company was missing was that straight guy who was able to deliver the show the way that it needed to be delivered, like the Jim Ross and the Gordon Solie's, Gorilla's. They didn't have that voice of reason in the booth. This was the perfect opportunity to allow them to do that and as a company we collectively said, 'Let's run with it,' and we did. It's been fairly successful. I still have a lot of detractors out there, a lot, but it's getting a little bit better."
Well it's good to know that Cole is self aware and it's even better to know both he and WWE realized the time was right to turn him back to being the guy who simply calls the matches.