The art of the promo. To be a legend in the industry you not only need the athletic skills but also the ability to communicate with the WWE Universe. A few legends who couldn’t talk were lucky enough to have a manager, however, many wrestlers were fired or cut because they couldn’t communicate properly. A promo should advance a storyline or help the character development of the gimmick. Even if you lack the athletic ability your colleagues are blessed with, a wrestler can still make it in the business if their words resonate with the audience, just watch Enzo Amore. We’ve also seen wrestlers cut a terrible promo but have the body of a God, such as the Ultimate Warrior.
Kurt Angle said during his Hall of Fame speech that the WWE Universe cares about the moments that don’t involve wrestling and he couldn’t have been more right. From Mick Foley celebrating The Rock’s birthday to Stone Cold Steve Austin drenching everyone in beer, the moments that don’t involve wrestling can do more for the industry than a maneuver or spot. Many of the promos on this list helped launch a wrestler’s career on the right path. Other wrestlers on the list were already well known and famous but the promo propelled them to new heights of success and popularity. Let’s take a walk down memory lane and visit some of the most epic promos that made a wrestler.
15. Talking Smack With The Miz
We may be jumping the gun here but when it’s all said and done, The Miz may have benefited the most from the brand split that happened in 2016 due to this promo. Sure, The Miz and his character were made a long time ago, however, what he did on WWE Network’s Talking Smack in August of 2016 may go down as one of the best promos ever or atleast, in the modern era of today. Not only did this promo resurrect his career as a legit talent, it also convinced many long time Miz haters that he’s a promo assassin.
The Miz unleashed hell on SamckDown Live’s General Manager, Daniel Bryan, and things get very personal. So personal, Bryan walks off the set and rumors fly that he may come out of retirement to face Miz at a PPV down the road. Miz is now on Raw, but his work during the first year of the brand split has been to quote him, awesome.
14. The Snake Has A Message For The Millionaire
At WrestleMania VI, the Million Dollar Championship was up for grabs, pitting Jake Roberts versus Ted DiBiase. Ever since Roberts was a member of the WWE he would create some great promos but this one tops them all. On the biggest night of wrestling, Roberts lets the Million Dollar Man know who the better man is.
“This time, you’ll be the one who is humble, this time you’ll be the one who is humiliated, and this time you’ll be the one that grovels for the money,” said Roberts. “How appropriate that the money you grovel for is your very own, a victim of you own greed, wallowing in the muck of Everest.” Roberts did a great job pacing the promo and made it so convincing, you couldn’t tell if he was playing a character or if he was himself.
13. First Signs Of A Hollywood Star
The Rock was already slaying his opponents with his trash talking but it was this promo that set him over the top as a verbal assassin. All of his hard work and practice came full circle in this Raw promo six days before Armageddon 2000. The Rock would be involved in a Six-Man Hell in the Cell match for the WWE Championship and humiliated each and every opponent by imitating them.
From Kurt Angle wanting milk and Viagra to Stone Cold Steve Austin listening to the Backstreet Boys, the Rock had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand. Although he lost the match, the promo showcased what the Rock does best and that’s entertain the audience with his words. Only a few years later would he make the jump to Hollywood.
12. Retirement Speech
Mark Henry has been a faithful employee of the WWE since the 1990s but he didn’t have that one promo that made his career until 2013. On an episode of Raw in 2013, Henry would interrupt John Cena by coming out in a suit and placing his wrestling boots on the ramp. Rumors circled during the day that Henry would announce his retirement and asked Cena to stay in the ring for his speech.
“I respect everybody that loves this business and I love all the people that work for this company,” said Henry. The crowd starts chanting, “Thank you, Henry,” and everyone is buying into it. After tearing up and ending his speech with a standing ovation from the crowd, Henry attacks Cena, starting an epic feud for the WWE Championship.
11. Jericho’s First List
Chris Jericho may have become famous in the WWE Universe when interrupted the Rock during his debut with the company, however, while working for WCW, Jericho started to turn into the wrestler we all love. While working on the mid-card of WCW’s Monday Night Nitro, Jericho was given the okay to speak as long as he wanted in the ring.
He was involved in a feud with “The Man of 1,000 Holds,” Dean Malenko and after beating Marty Jannetty, he would produce a list. “Malenko, you claim to be the man of 1,000 holds, but I counted, and you know about sixty but I know 1,004 and I wrote them all down.” Jericho reading off the list introduced us to how innovate and out of the box Jericho would become.
10. Cream Of The Crop
While promoting an Intercontinental Championship match with Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania III, Macho Man Randy Savage pulled off one of the best lines in the history of the industry. “I’m talking about all the way to the top, yeah. I’m justifiably in a position that I’d rather not be in. But the cream will rise to the top, ooh yeah,” said Savage. While wearing his famous purple Macho Man shirt, Savage continues to percolate confidence and charisma throughout the promo.
Savage claims, “I am the cream in the World Wrestling Federation and there is no doubt about it, yeah, you Mean Gene Okerlund you know that I’m the cream of the crop!” Savage and Steamboat would go on to have one of the most memorable WrestleMania matches in the history of the WWE putting the cherry on top.
9. Paul Heyman Doing What Paul Heyman Does Best
On an episode of SmackDown in 2001, Paul Heyman would come down to the ring and unleash his own pipe bomb before the term pipe bomb became a thing in the WWE Universe. After letting the fans know that this was Vince McMahon’s ring, and television show, he gets Vince to come out to face him one on one. “I’ve waited so long to tell you to your face, I hate your stinking guts,” said Heyman. “But it’s not just me, it’s your children that hate your stinking guts.”
Heyman would lay into him even more, describing him in words that had to be beeped. Paul did a terrific job point out all the evil things Vince did in his past to help build up the story at Survivor Series that year and it paid off.
8. New World Order
Hulk Hogan was the real-life superhero that every kid loved and wanted to be like. He started his career as a heel but by the mid-80s, HulkaMania was running wild and the WWE Universe was eating it up. Along the HulkaMania journey, Hogan would have some powerful promos, however, his greatest promo came when he once again became a heel in the WCW. In 1996, at WCW’s Bash at the Beach, Hogan would betray the world, become a heel, and pull off a promo that would solidify “Hollywood” Hogan as one of the greatest characters in the business.
With trash being thrown in the ring, Hogan says “With all this crap in the ring, it represents these fans out here.” No one ever saw this coming and not only did he make his character work but he also put over Kevin Nash and Scott Hall that night.
7. Getting Personal
Many people never want their personal problems every becoming public, especially on a national level, but Eddie Guerrero was no ordinary person. In one of the most down to earth and truthful promos ever, Guerrero shares his feelings about battling his own addictions with the WWE Universe and Brock Lesnar on an episode of SmackDown in 2004.
“The truth is, I am an addict,” said Guerrero. He would go into a story from three years earlier when he was dealing with his addiction. “For three years, not only did I lose my job, I lost my wife. I lost my kids. I lost myself. I lost my spirit.,” said a tearful Guerrero. The legend goes on to say he earned his way back into the ring and by the grace of God, earned the respect of his family again.
6. The Game Was Born
“This one is about me J.R., it’s not about Chyna or anyone else,” said Triple H in an interview with Jim Ross a few weeks before SummerSlam in 1999. From Shawn Michaels to Chyna and every DX member that’s in between, Triple H always had some kind of help as a member of D-Generation X. Things began to change in 1999 for Triple H.
He no longer wanted or thought he needed the help of any other Superstar. In the interview, Triple H brings up his former friends of the Kliq and how he got punished for the Madison Square Garden “Curtain Call” and no one else. “You talk about being students of the game, I am the f******* game!” said Triple H. The promo perfectly blends reality with storytelling and it was the first time Triple H used the term, “The Game,” in the WWE.
5. Foley’s Baby Boy
He was known as a deranged psychopath but for the first time in the WWE Universe, fans got to witness a different side of Mick Foley’s Mankind character on an episode of Raw in 1997. While sitting down with Jim Ross, Foley unleashed a promo that would forever cement him in a legendary category of wrestling history. From talking about his mother to the fact that he doesn’t enjoy pain, Foley puts on a performance of a lifetime.
“There’s plenty of reasons to hate me, I just don’t want people to hate me for untruths and partial truths and rumors,” said the sincere Foley. The promo also gets into reality as we learn Foley was a huge WWE fan growing up. In a studio setting and with a calm Jim Ross, this was the perfect interview to show who Foley really was.
4. The Pipe Bomb Heard Around The World
CM Punk was already an established wrestler with a gimmick and personality by the time this promo came around, however, because the promo was smothered in so much truth, many fans thought this was a real shoot and not kayfabe. Sure, most of what he says was a shoot but the fact is Vince McMahon allowed him to say it.
In 2011, on an episode of Raw, CM Punk costs John Cena a match, walks back up the ramp, sits down, and begins to lay it all out. “I have a lot of things I want to get off my chest,” said Punk. He then unleashes on Cena, the Rock, and especially McMahon about how unfairly he’s been treated. The pipe bomb transcended into pop culture and Punk became a household name overnight.
3. A Golden Spoon
Ric Flair’s “Tear in my eye” promo for the WWE at the 1992 Royal Rumble may be his best, however, in 1987, while promoting Starrcade, Flair would blast off into the stratosphere as one of best promo artists in the industry. If anyone could hype up a match with Ronnie Garvin it was Flair in 1987.
“I dress myself in alligator shoes. I wear a $15,000 Rolex! I got Mercedes Benz, Rolls Royce, the biggest house on the biggest hill on the biggest side of town… you know why I got all that? ‘Cause I was born with a golden spoon. And that took me to the World Heavyweight Wrestling Championship,” said Flair. As a true champion, Flair also puts over Dusty Rhodes, the Road Warriors, and the event Starrcade while still coming off as a heel.
2. Hard Times
Arguably the most charismatic wrestler to ever step in the ring, Dusty Rhodes was and always will be a champion of the people. In the 1980s, the hottest feud in the industry was between Ric Flair versus Dusty Rhodes. The promo took place in 1985 at Mid-Atlantic Wrestling and was meant to build up the match between Rhodes and Flair at Starrcade.
“He [Flair] put hard times on Dusty Rhodes and his family. You don’t know what hard times are daddy. Hard times are when the textile workers around this country are out of work, they got four or five kids and can’t pay their wages, can’t buy their food. Hard times are when the auto workers are out of work and they tell ‘em go home, “said Rhodes. Rhodes was always the American Dream but this promo made him an American legend.
1. Austin 3:16 Is Born
He became the fourth King of the Ring winner in 1996 and the first thing he did was humiliate his opponent and legendary Hall of Famer Jake The Snake Roberts. To put it bluntly, Steve Austin turned a kid-friendly PPV program into a rated R program with a lot of attitude. After verbally butchering Roberts, who quoted psalms from the bible, Austin looked into the camera and said, “You talk about your psalms and you talk about John 3:16, Austin 3:16 just said I whooped your a**.”
The ruthless Austin finishes off the promo stating, “That’s the bottom line because Stone Cold said so.” Austin 3:16 would be born and he would go on to lead the WWE to the top of the rating charts for years to come.
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