Mike Tenay Reveals The Greatest Trait Of Don West, Opens Up On Their Friendship

Don West Mike Tenay

Mike Tenay has opened up about the loss of his good friend and former TNA Impact announce partner, Don West.

It was on December 30th, 2022 when former Impact Wrestling lead announcer Mike Tenay announced that his good friend Don West passed away. West was 59 years old when he died due to brain lymphoma cancer.

Don West sat beside Mike Tenay as TNA’s main color analyst from 2002 until the summer of 2009 when the company hired Taz and put him in the commentary position. West remained a part of TNA Wrestling for several more years due to his incredible skills in terms of selling merchandise.

During an interview on Wrestling Observer Radio, Tenay was asked about West’s best trait.

“I think simply his energy [was Don’s best trait]. If we look back on the history of wrestling announcers, and I’m willing to be corrected here, I don’t think there really was anybody before that was really like him, from that energy standpoint. He took the listener, initially, he took them out of their comfort zone.”

Tenay would go on to explain what West was hired to do on commentary and how he worked so well in that role.

“He was hired to be the voice of the fan, which, again, right at the start, I’m, I’m not sure, thinking back on it, that I thought that he was going to succeed right from the start, but when you see someone’s energy level, which is one thing, combined with the passion that they have for it, I think that’s where it’s different from somebody who’s just playing a role and being loud.

“I remember; I don’t think I probably watched the first couple of shows back until maybe we were three or four in. I remember watching back one of the shows, and I came to a conclusion, almost immediately, that I needed to get my volume level up if I was going to compete and if I wasn’t going to be left on the side of the road, because you had to have that. I think, probably, that might have been off-putting for people and viewers as well, just because a lot of it was a little extra loud than they were used to. Maybe a little over the top, maybe a little more salesmanship from Don than they were used to.”

“Probably, as I think back on it, the greatest compliment that we got came from you Dave (Meltzer), which didn’t come until just really the last couple of years. That was when AXS TV started replaying some of the older TNA and some of the older IMPACT shows, and you would explain to me that you had watched the first run IMPACT show, and you essentially started to go back to work. You had left the TV on, and as you sat there, you heard that energy. You heard that passion from Mike Tenay and Don West, and I think, not to put words in your mouth, but I think your level of appreciation for what we did grew greatly because you realized at that point that nobody really was doing that kind of an announcing job.”

Mike Tenay also spoke about building chemistry with Don West as a commentary team and how their friendship grew as they worked together more.

“I can’t narrow it down in terms of that with Don to say, ‘It was Slammiversary 2003, where we clicked, and we looked each other in the eye and said…’ I think it was the process of growing together and realizing along the way that we were getting better. We were clicking, and then you reach a comfort with your partner.”

“I think probably rather than say a specific show, if I had to narrow it down to a specific time, I would think probably about a year or so in where it really felt like we both were working in tandem. The personal friendship and relationship that you have with your broadcast partner can be a great help. I don’t think that it’s, I don’t think it’s in the announcer’s handbook, that you need to be — the play-by-play guy doesn’t need to be best friends with his color man, but s**t, it sure helps.”

“Just because you know that you guys are out there on that island. I can’t say one specific show, but I think probably somewhere between, you know, six to nine months to a year in. The familiarity and the friendship that’s grown. That’s when you know that you’re hitting your stride.”

H/T Fightful for the transcription above.

You can check out Impact Wrestling’s touching tribute video to Don West below and on their Youtube page.