The September 10th edition of RAW featured Renee Young as the first woman to be a permanent member of the RAW broadcast team, putting her behind the same microphone used by such WWE commentator greats as Gorilla Monsoon, Jim Ross, Jesse” The Body” Ventura, Bobby Heenan, Jerry Lawler and even Vince McMahon himself. And I couldn’t be happier about it!
To qualify this; I spent 10+ years behind and in front of broadcast desks working in radio and TV news and talk shows. I learned from and saw how the greats of the industry did it and I can say without a doubt, there is a certain “it” factor to being a good broadcaster. It’s not just about being knowledgeable in what you’re talking about, it’s finding a connection with an audience and using it. A good broadcaster makes you feel like it’s just you and them in the room. Let me say, with all certainty, Renee Young is a good broadcaster.
Born in Toronto, Canada, Young (real name: Renee Paquette) had a brief flirtation with being an actress, but eventually became a host on The Score television network. On the Score, she hosted a show called Right After Wrestling (later renamed Aftermath) with Arda Ocal, Mauro Ranallo and former WWE referee Jimmy Korderas. She performed this and other hosting duties with The Score until signing with the WWE in 2012. It was easy to see that even then, Young had the spark and connection with the viewer that one needs to succeed.
The long list of men that have held the commentator position on WWE programming is like a who’s who of pro wrestling minds. Each one brought with them a signature tone, style and bucketful of terribly wonderful Dad Jokes to add colour and excitement to the matches we watched. Renee Young’s addition to the Commentator team is not important because she can perform like these legends. It’s important because she’s the exact opposite of them.
One of the biggest challenges the WWE faces these days is becoming stagnant. Recycled matches, a dependency on Part-Timers and Legends and storylines that seem to drag on and into nowhere are contributing factors to what makes RAW a difficult 3-hours to slog through on most occasions. Couple this with over 15 years of ear-fed commentary that, more often than not, takes away from the action instead of enhancing it, and the commentators or “hosts” of the show become a big part of the problem.
The commentary team on RAW saw a bit of a shot in the arm with the addition of Corey Graves, who’s proved himself to be quite capable behind the mic, but who’s role lately seems to have been relegated to snidely making fun of his co-hosts, while the oblivious Micheal Cole seems to be simply repeating things he’s told to say more often than not.
What Young brings to the table are three things:
- A woman’s perspective, which is hugely important as we see Women’s Wrestling taking more of a central role in the show (thank goodness!)
- A fresh, modern, voice, not just in opinion and comment, but also in tone, delivery and timbre. Her voice is strong, confident and stands out amongst the rest of the team. You NOTICE when she talks and thus, listen and are more engaged.
- The experience of being a capital-B Broadcaster. Much like Mauro Ranallo on NXT (who coincidentally worked with Young at The Score) she knows and understands delivery, connection and how to get her point across clearly and effectively.
In September 2013, Young was given a shot at being a full-time color commentator on NXT. This lasted for several months, and I was extremely impressed by her ability and found myself more engaged in matches and wanting to hear what she thought. Rene did not disappoint. Now, 5 years later, her addition to the RAW commentary team is an excellent move. Not only because she’s a woman and appeals to wider audience, but also because she’s good at what she does. Very good.