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(ET) Mower Question ?

I have just gotten a Wheelhorse C-185 going. This tractor is practically
identical to the E-20.
It has the typical front mounted mower, (3) 15" blades, 44" cut.
I had the blades sharpened, installed correctly and the mower seems to work
fine, but I thought it might cut better than it does.
There are metal bands around each blade under the mower deck, The normal
area for the discharge is also blocked off. I assume these bands are to
protect the motor shaft from any large objects.
I have noticed with other ICE mowers I have owned that they do not cut as
good if the discharge chute is blocked.
In my opinion these bands and the blocked discharge are causing the grass 
be  blown down resulting in a cut that is not as manicured as I would like.
With the high RPM of the motors I guess I expected a better cut than I am

Has anyone had the same experience and any idea's on this subject.