What I Do as a Pro Wrestling Commentator

Sonny Go as a Pro Wrestling Commentator

This is Sonny Go, and analysis is my business. I come before you today as a commentator for Manila Wrestling Federation. This blog post and included video both go into my process for announcing a pro wrestling show. We’ll look into what I do for Manila Wrestling Federation, how I prepare for pro wrestling commentary, and how I help out with production. This took a while to do and I even had second thoughts about putting it out, but I think it’s worth documenting my process as it is right now, both for posterity and to help anyone thinking of doing this.

The following is a rundown of being a pro wrestling commentator from my point of view. I’m nowhere near the level of a Jim Ross or a Mauro Ranallo, but I still take the role with utmost sincerity and dedication. After all, it’s not everyday when you can find something that fits so well that you might as well have been born to do it. You have to be a bit of a weirdo to want to do something like this, talking loudly about physical combat — real or theatrical — as a vocation.

First of all, let’s get into the importance of preparation.

Pre-Show Preparations

Commentary is the culmination of preparation. I’m sure there are people out there who are amazing on the mic without any prep, but I’m not one of them. I have the voice and diction to sound pretty good on the mic, but I’m not naturally good at being entertaining and interesting while talking. It takes considerable effort for me to “turn it on” at will.

Also, I’ve been told that I’m boring and irritating enough times throughout my youth that I had to work on getting my confidence back and remove the barriers my subconscious mind built up over the years. I have great admiration for people with talent in spoken word, from actors and comedians to TV hosts and sports commentators.

Two things go into my preparation for a pro wrestling show — notes and fitness.

Preparing Notes

The first and most important part of preparation is compiling notes, but not for obvious reasons. I don’t rely on them at all; I barely look at my notes during the show. The act of writing down those notes in the days prior to the show is what lets me consolidate important details in my head, so I can bring them up in commentary.

Some may find that to be unnecessary since knowledge of the thing being commentated on should be enough, but I refute that assertion. I don’t think you’re just talking about pro wrestling when you commentate a pro wrestling match. You’re also talking about the story, the wrestlers, their relationships with each other, their histories, the significance of the venue, the zeitgeist of the current time, and so on.

Maybe all that stuff doesn’t need to be talked about at all and I can just focus on just the wrestling. But I know from being a turbonerd that talking like a turbonerd is a great way to bore people, so I have to be able to give context to all the turbonerd details of what’s going on. Also, being able to drop trivia is a great way for a turbonerd to be momentarily interesting.

As shown in the video, I have a template that I use for every show. Not only do I write notes for each match, but I also add the segments in between so I know where we’re currently at during the show. Match notes follow my personal system — the 4 S’s.

My System

I previously wrote about my progress as a commentator and detailed what would become my personal system. It’s composed of the 4 S’s — situation, strategy, story, spice.

  • Situation: What’s happening now. The play-by-play.
  • Strategy: What you think each competitor has to do in order to win.
  • Story: How they got there in the first place and what they’re fighting for.
  • Spice: Trivia, interesting facts, tangents, jokes.

Mind you, I don’t follow this to the letter, but it serves as a mental checklist I can rely on whenever there’s dead air. A little bit of a pause every now and then is good, but pausing while you’re already speaking is bad. I wanted to avoid what I was doing in 2019 — lagging like dial-up internet. I worked on fixing that while the pandemic paused everything.

Physical Fitness

The second part of preparation may not be what you’d expect. Many people won’t understand this right away and may even refute it. I even know a handful of unhealthy people who happen to be really good at talking who I know would laugh at my face for making this assertion. I don’t care what they think because my point here is backed up by science.

I genuinely believe that physical fitness is actually important for a commentator.

Think about it — commentary is communication. That certainly has a physical component. Try to state that it doesn’t require physical faculties to a handicapped person.

With commentary, you see what’s going on with your eyes. You then process that information with your brain, and you can add more information based on knowledge, experience, and research. You then speak clearly and concisely to help make the in-ring action more digestible to the audience.

The brain is what makes that possible, and the heart is what supplies the brain with the resources to do just that. If you strengthen the heart, it can pump blood more efficiently to the brain and help it work more optimally.

The one thing that gave me immediate results in improving my commentary is regular physical exercise. That routine also had the added benefit of making me more mindful of cultivating a habit for practice and preparation. All of it adds up to me becoming a better commentator.

Once again, I’m well aware that it sounds ridiculous to some people. I only say this because that’s what gave me results. I don’t get how physical fitness can be considered irrelevant in this.

Importance of Sleep

Sleep is how the brain rests and consolidates information. It’s like when you can’t beat a boss in a video game. The best thing to do after your 10th attempt at it is to step away, do something else, and even go to sleep and pick up where you left off the next day. What will likely happen is that your performance improves and you even kill the boss at long last.

That’s what happens when you let your brain rest and recover with ample sleep. The same happens when you’re studying something, either for school or just learning something new. Perhaps every now and then, you’re so excited that you can’t sleep. That can happen just before the show, especially if it’s a big event that you’ve been looking forward to.

I personally almost never had problems with sleep. I’m the type who can sleep in public transportation, which may not be the best for me in terms of safety, but it’s quite helpful in getting a few winks on the road. But other than commuting, I almost never nap. I just get really sleepy at night (or whenever my sleep schedule is currently at) and I can just plop down the bed and shut my eyes before Morpheus immediately takes me to the land of dreams.

Meanwhile, other members of my family are light sleepers who find it difficult every night to drift off. I know they’re the neurotic sort of people, which is likely why they have mental and cardiovascular issues that are further exacerbated by their sleep issues in turn. Perhaps I’m fortunate for not having the same difficulties when it comes to sleep hygiene.

Diet, exercise, and sleep are the Triumvirate of Health — the three most important habits that you need to refine and perfect to lead a happy and productive life. While I’m taking the risk of making this blog post sound like one of those pastel-colored lifestyle blogs, I’m putting that forth to emphasize that there’s no other shortcuts to performance than to have good habits.

Eliminating Vice

I also wish for the romanticization of vice in artistry to cease. As much as I idolize the likes of Hunter S. Thompson, who smoked, drank, and did drugs like it was going out of style, he lost his mojo once he tasted success and his vices started to catch up with him. Besides, it did go out of style at the turn of the century. When you see the drug overdose death of a writer or musician every week on the news, it’s bound to get old.

It also doesn’t help that all of it diminishes the body’s capacity to make art. I used to vape nicotine salts, so I know just how nicotine is both amazing as a cognitive enhancer and terrible with its half-life of around 20 minutes and the withdrawals afterwards. Meanwhile, let’s not talk about alcohol since it only makes me feel ill, and I’m never going anywhere near hard drugs.

I was still vaping back in 2019. I can talk at great length about the cognitive enhancing properties of nicotine, which I’ll leave for a future blog post. To summarize my personal experience with that substance, nicotine is very effective as a stimulant and cognitive enhancer. It certainly helped with my writing back then and it also helped get my gears cranking.

However, the problem with nicotine, especially with the high levels I was inhaling into my lungs with nicotine salt vaping, was how the effects of a puff last for only 20 minutes at best and taking more puffs to keep it going only made me feel progressively worse. The more it went on, the more I had to take in, and the more it spiked my blood pressure and heart rate.

The final straw came when I tried to exercise. As I mentioned, I do cardio with my martial arts training to improve my performance. I’m not one of those meatheads who just lifts for the gains and never does cardio. My main priority with my physical fitness is performance first and foremost. It’s not because I don’t find appearance to be important — especially since I’m now starting to appear more in front of the camera — but my main job is still to talk and analyze.

The nicotine was eating away at my stamina. A hit of my vape would bring my heart rate up by an additional 15 beats per minute, and that is enough to have me huffing and puffing after just a couple of rounds. That was absolutely unacceptable, which was why I quit vaping cold turkey on 1 December 2021. Subsequently, after getting through nicotine withdrawal, the plan to bring back MWF commenced with Medyo Noche 2021, and the rest is history.

I don’t drink alcohol because I find intoxication to be extremely unpleasant. The only drugs I do are caffeine and kratom, and I consume them in mild doses. The only vice left was nicotine, and I felt amazing once I completely cut it out. Every now and then, I still desire that momentary boost, like a Terran marine in StarCraft taking a stimpak. But like how it subtracts 10 health from the marine, I know nicotine would make me feel like shit in the end.

Gear and Tech Setup

This isn’t something you have to be concerned with if you’re commentating for an already established promotion. Since Manila Wrestling Federation is still a growing company, I’m hands-on with the tech.

What We Used to Use

At first, we used hand mics on stands, which is the most affordable and accessible option. The mics are connected to a USB audio interface, which is then connected to my laptop.

The main problem with the hand mic is you either have to hold onto it or keep your head steady when you have it on a stand. There’s also the lack of monitoring, which could’ve been remedied with earphones plugged into a headphone amplifier that’s connected to the audio interface.

I didn’t do that for 2022 because I was dumb.

But that did force me to make the jump to broadcast headsets, which are what professional commentators actually use.

What We Use Now

Broadcast headsets are basically equipped with condenser microphones that connect to a mixer or audio interface via XLR. That ensures the best possible audio quality while also allowing users to monitor their mic audio, which is of utmost importance in live events.

I remember calling matches with my partner Romeo Moran in MWF Noche Buena 2022. The crowd was pretty loud and we couldn’t hear each other very well, so we had to focus mostly on calling the action and less on conversing, which isn’t the best way to commentate. The dynamic between commentators helps make them more relatable and bring viewers closer to the action.

After looking wherever I could for local sources to no avail, either brand new or second-hand, I ordered three pairs of broadcast headsets from Amazon. I had two major choices — Sennheiser and Audio-Technica. The former is the industry standard — Sennheisers are used by every major promotion across sports, esports, and pro wrestling — but are $500 a pop.

Meanwhile, the cheapest Audio-Technica I can get is the discontinued model BPHS1, which looks pretty distinct due to its microphone. My two best endorsements for the BPHS1 are Podcastage with his review and the StarCraft commentator Tasteless, who uses them on his streams. As long as it sounds good, I’m fine with it.

The audio interface I got is the Zoom PodTrak P4, which has 4x XLR inputs, 4x 3.5mm outputs, and USB-C ports for data and power. That last one was what really convinced me to get it over the Zoom H6. That then connects to the laptop, which runs the all-mighty OBS.

I have the commentary recorded three times — through OBS, through Voicemeeter Banana, and through the Zoom PodTrak P4. I’m not leaving anything to chance. If I end up having no commentary at all, I’d be absolutely gutted, and I will never let that happen. And even if that happens, production still gets the commentary track they record for syncing.

That’s a total of four recordings to be absolutely damn sure. And no, I don’t think that’s either tedious or excessive at all. I believe in having contingency plans like Batman.


I also have other roles in MWF shows, but I’ll talk about them some other time. Much of what I’ve detailed here isn’t exactly a commentator’s job, but I thought it was important to talk about the technical side of things so that beginners can have a better grasp of the technology required to do this stuff.

It used to be necessary to go through the path of a radio broadcaster or something similar to become a commentator, but the Internet has changed that. The most likely route nowadays for prospective commentators is to create their own content where they commentate on various things like fights, competitive video games, or even street footage.

However, be warned that such a path has pitfalls like copyright and even lawsuits if you happen to take it a bit too far and piss off the wrong people. You may do as you wish as long as it’s not too disrespectful and won’t end up with you getting caught in a lawsuit for slander. If you can’t find a way to make it both entertaining and respectful at the same time, you’re a parasite.

In the end, what makes you a commentator isn’t the gear or the other flashy aspects of it, but the hard work in getting good at talking, projecting, and entertaining. There’s no other way about it — deliberate practice makes you ever closer to perfect.

Got Feedback?

Have something to say? Do you agree or am I off-base? Did I miss a crucial detail or get something wrong? Please leave whatever reactions, questions, or suggestions you may have in the comment section below.

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