Michael Cole
Cole in 2010
Sean Michael Coulthard

(1968-12-08) December 8, 1968 (age 55)[1]
Alma materSyracuse University
Years active1988–present
Employer(s)CBS Radio (1988–1997)
Titan Sports/WWE (1997–present)
TKO Group Holdings (2023–present)
Yolanda Coulthard
(m. 1987)
Ring name(s)Michael Cole
Sir Michael Cole
Billed height5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Billed weight176 lb (80 kg)[2]
Billed fromAmenia, New York

Sean Michael Coulthard (born December 8, 1968), better known by his ring name Michael Cole, is an American professional wrestling commentator and journalist. He is currently signed to WWE, where he serves as the play-by-play commentator for the Raw brand and as the vice president of announcing since 2020.

Coulthard began his career in journalism in 1988 for CBS Radio before being hired by the then-World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in 1997 (WWF was renamed WWE in 2002). He has performed multiple on-screen hosting and commentary roles across his two-decade-plus-long career.[3]

Early life and education

Sean Michael Coulthard was born on December 8, 1966, in Syracuse, New York. He attended the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, graduating in 1988 with a B.A. in broadcast journalism.[4][5]

Journalism career

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] He also covered the 51-day siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, in 1993, and the following year, 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

World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment/WWE (1997–present)

Backstage interviewer and Raw (1997–1999)

Coulthard came to the World Wrestling Federation in mid early-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 the LiveWire show. 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.[6] 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 December 1998, Cole became the regular play-by-play announcer for Raw is War, subbing for Jim Ross when Ross was ill with Bell's palsy. He continued in this role until WrestleMania XV in March 1999.[6]

SmackDown! (1999–2008)

When the promotion's new SmackDown! television program debuted later that year, Cole was chosen to be the show's play-by-play announcer. His broadcast partner was originally Jerry Lawler, but when Lawler briefly left the WWF in 2001, he was replaced by Cole's WWF Sunday Night Heat broadcast partner Tazz shortly before the WWF vs. WCW/ECW invasion storyline.[3][6] After the WWE Brand Extension, Cole worked exclusively for the SmackDown! brand, cutting down to doing play-by-play on SmackDown!-only pay-per-views, while Raw-only pay-per-views were announced by Raw's announce team.[6]

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).[3] 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.[8] He called play-by-play at the 2006 Royal Rumble match because Jim 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 Jerry 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.[9]

On the June 9 episode of SmackDown!, Cole's broadcast partner Tazz left SmackDown! to ECW, leaving Cole at that moment without a broadcast partner.[10] At ECW One Night Stand, John "Bradshaw" Layfield (JBL) announced he would replace Tazz as color commentator. This proved true five days later when JBL appeared on that week's episode of SmackDown! as Cole's new broadcast partner.[3] After JBL left the broadcast booth and returned to wrestling action on Raw, Jonathan Coachman became Cole's new partner on the January 4, 2008 episode of SmackDown!. Coachman was then replaced by Mick Foley beginning at Backlash on April 27, 2008.[3]

Return to Raw (2008–2009)

As a part of the 2008 WWE Draft, Cole was drafted to the Raw brand as Jim Ross was drafted to the SmackDown brand, ending Cole's nearly 10-year run as a play-by-play commentator on SmackDown.[11] On the July 7, 2008 episode of Raw, Cole was attacked by Kane, who repeatedly asked Cole "Is he alive or dead?" before Cole was saved by Jerry Lawler.[12] 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.[3] 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.[13]

Heel turn and feud with Jerry Lawler (2010–2012)

Cole reading an email from the Anonymous General Manager

Cole was the lead commentator for WWE NXT for its first three seasons, and 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.[14] Meanwhile, on the Raw brand, Cole was made the official spokesman for the Anonymous Raw General Manager beginning on June 21, 2010.[3] 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.[15] Cole showed particular over the top admiration for The Miz during his heel run. In particular Cole frequently praised his coaching abilities on NXT as well as praising his wrestling ability.

Cole at WrestleMania XXVII

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.[16] This began a feud with Lawler that built towards a match at WrestleMania XXVII. During this time, Cole revealed Jack Swagger as his trainer and antagonized Lawler with antics such as making light of his mother's death and inviting his son Brian Lawler to air family secrets.[3][14] At WrestleMania, special referee Stone Cold Steve Austin announced Lawler won the match but the Anonymous Raw General Manager reversed the decision and declared Cole the winner by disqualification, due to Austin being involved in the match.[17] A month later at Extreme Rules, Cole teamed with Swagger to defeat Jim Ross and Lawler in a Country Whipping match.[18] Lawler and Cole had a final "Kiss My Foot" match at Over the Limit on May 22, which Cole lost; after the match, Bret Hart returned and put Cole in his signature submission move, the Sharpshooter, to help Lawler make Cole kiss his foot.[19] Cole apologized to Lawler the following night on Raw, ending their feud.[20]

Cole continued to wrestle sporadically after this and still favored most heels while questioning the actions of the faces to regain control in matches. On the July 25 episode of Raw, Triple H placed Cole in a match against Zack Ryder, which Cole lost quickly.[21] Cole and Alberto Del Rio lost a tag team match to John Cena and Jim Ross on the October 17 episode of Raw, prompting 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.[22] During the challenge on the November 14 episode of Raw, 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.[23] Cole was a surprise entrant in the 2012 Royal Rumble match but was quickly eliminated by Lawler, Booker T, and the returning Kharma.[24] 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.[25]

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, but then Santino Marella then came out and pulled out Hornswoggle from hiding underneath the ring, claiming that he was the Anonymous Raw General Manager.[26]

Face turn (2012–2019)

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. Despite 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".[27] He was also praised for his handling of the emergency, turning face as he began favoring the face wrestlers and began receiving cheers.[14][28] 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.[29]

On the March 30, 2015, episode of Raw, Cole, along with JBL and Booker T, was attacked by Brock Lesnar after Seth Rollins refused Lesnar his WWE World Heavyweight Championship rematch.[30] 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.[3] 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.[31]

Return to SmackDown and dual show commentary (2019–present)

Three days later after Raw, on September 26, 2019, WWE announced as a part of their "WWE Premiere Week" that a new commentary team would be on SmackDown.[32] Cole returned to SmackDown as a full-time commentator for the first time in six years, appearing alongside former Raw commentators Corey Graves and Renee Young.[33] He was joined on commentary with Pat McAfee on April 16, 2021, and the two were universally praised for their chemistry, with Cole stating working with McAfee was the highlight of every week for him.[34] McAfee would take a break to work for ESPN's College Gameday, and Cole would be joined by Wade Barrett on commentary for SmackDown and for premium live events with Graves.

On August 5, 2023, WWE went with more on-air commentary changes as Cole returned to Raw on August 7, 2023, with Wade Barrett joining on commentary.[35] He remained on SmackDown as Corey Graves would be returning on commentary with Kevin Patrick joining in.[35] According to PWInsider, The changes of having Cole working both Raw and SmackDown on commentary were requested by WWE's future parent company Endeavor and its broadcast partners USA Network and Fox by having him as the face of the product.[36] On January 1, 2024, Cole has left once again on SmackDown, leaving Patrick and Graves as the two-man commentary team.[37]

From 2020 onwards, Cole has engaged in longstanding feuds on commentary against Bayley, with whom he has had issues in storyline over the past few years,[38] Top Dolla, whom Cole called out for a botched top rope spot on an episode of SmackDown,[39] and Dominik Mysterio, whom Cole sides against in Dominik's feud with his father Rey Mysterio.[40]

Reality of Wrestling (2013)

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).[41]


Cole in 2016

Arn Anderson has praised Cole stating, "I think he does a very good job. I think he is very professional. He can call a wrestling match very well".[42] Legendary professional wrestling commentator, WWE Hall of Famer and former broadcast partner colleague Jim Ross has also praised Cole stating, "Michael works his ass off. He's a good family man, he's a company man, he works diligently to do his job. I respect him for all those things. I've always liked him, he's a good dude, and folks won't understand that. They only judge him for his television persona, rightly or wrongly. It's kind of frustrating".[43]

Other media

Cole has appeared as a commentator in numerous WWE video games, providing his 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.[44][45]

Cole appeared on the September 12, 2012 episode of Fox & Friends to address fellow WWE commentator Jerry Lawler's heart attack that occurred during the September 10 live broadcast of Raw.[46]

Personal life

Coulthard has been married to Yolanda since 1987 and together they have two sons.[citation needed] He is a fan of the New York Mets,[47] New York Jets, and Boston Celtics. After being joined on commentary by Preston North End supporter Wade Barrett, Cole was photographed alongside Barrett in a Preston kit and expressed his support for the team on X.[48]



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

Year Title Role Notes
2012–2015 The JBL & Renee Show Himself Series regular (2012–2014), recurring (2014–2015)
2013–2016 Michael Cole's Weekly Sit-Down Interviews Himself Host

WWE Network

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

Awards and accomplishments

Cole is a four-time Slammy Award winner.


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  48. ^ @StuBennett (August 30, 2023). "I told the voice of @WWE (and recent convert to the beautiful game) @MichaelCole he could pick any soccer ⚽️ team in England to support. Any at all. His response:" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
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Preceded byJim Ross Raw Lead Announcer 1998–1999 Succeeded byJim Ross Preceded byInaugural SmackDown Lead Announcer 1999–2008 Succeeded byJim Ross Preceded byTodd Grisham SmackDown Lead Announcer 2010–2012 Succeeded byJosh Mathews Preceded byJosh Mathews SmackDown Lead Announcer 2013–2014 Succeeded byTom Phillips Preceded byJim Ross Raw Lead Announcer 2008–2019 Succeeded byVic Joseph Preceded byTom Phillips SmackDown Lead Announcer 2015 Succeeded byTom Phillips Preceded byTom Phillips SmackDown Lead Announcer 2019–2023 Succeeded byKevin Patrick Preceded byKevin Patrick Raw Lead Announcer 2023–present Succeeded bycurrent