I have a theory: mid-match commercial breaks are much more grating now because of the commentary. Michael Cole (or, his character) has always placed more value in WWE storytelling and corporate line-toeing than in the importance of whatever match is taking place, so when he throws us to commercial break by emphasizing the uncertainty of wrestling competition, it feels like he’s insulting our intelligence.
That’s only a problem if you listen to commentary, and it’s subjective. If you don’t like Michael Cole, then this exacerbates the issue. But if you have no problem with Cole (he’s been employed long enough to suggest some people quite like him) then this doesn’t hold ground.
I think this is a ‘wrestling fan’ problem. We like to watch wrestling matches, and we also like to know what wrestling matches are worth watching. It’s difficult to recommend or tout a TV match with commercials because we actually can’t see—and thus can’t judge—a part of it. Whereas with other scripted TV shows, we’re not actually missing any of the content when they go to commercial. With wrestling matches, we, the TV audience, is actually being robbed of part of the match.
You can suggest that not much happens during the break, that we’re actually saved from watching rest holds or whatever. But to a wrestling fan, the kind of person who likes the technical aspects of the art, we don’t care if we’re missing something bad or good; the fact that a piece of the match is missing is grating.
I imagine if the commercial returned us to the exact moment we left it, it wouldn’t be a problem, though it would destroy the ‘live’ element. But they even do the commercial gap during non-live shows, like Smackdown. They ‘come back’ to the action, even though it’s taped, and they could easily just split the match in two equal parts without a missing piece.