Who's your favorite wrestler? "Stone Cold" Steve Austin? Shawn Michaels? The Undertaker? John Cena (don't worry, know one's judging here)? The Great Khali (okay, now we're kinda judging)? Throughout professional wrestling history, there have been thousands of unique performers. Some of them have been awesome--like "Macho Man" Randy Savage, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, or Bray Wyatt--and some of them have been out-of-this-world horrible--like Simon Dean, The Boogeyman, Fake Diesel and Fake Razor Ramon, The Shining Stars, Black Reign... (the list goes on until the sun explodes and engulfs the world in cleansing flames).
Good or bad, every wrestler has to have at least one of two things to succeed: in-ring ability or mic skills (Vince McMahon's approval also helps, but as Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns have proved, fans don't really give a damn what Vinny Mac likes). Ideally, a main event wrestler will be able to put on a good match and give a good promo, and there have been plenty of complete packages in wrestling, like Ric Flair, Kurt Angle, Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, and Kenny Omega (For the New Japan fans). However, if a wrestler is only good at one or the other, they have to really stand out to get themselves over.
Without further ado, this list is dedicated to a group of men who only truly excelled at one facet of professional wrestling. To be fair, we're not saying that all of them are horrible at either wrestling or talking (but some of them are), just that their skills at one were never equal to their considerable skills at the other.
19 Talker - Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan was the face of professional wrestling for well over a decade. Without him, wrestling would definitely not be what it is today. He's one of the biggest box office draws of all time. The man had charisma damn near exploding from his body and he could rouse a crowd like very few in the business. He was always great on the mic and he could tell a good story in the ring. However, as far as in-ring ability goes, Hulk Hogan was notably lacking. A million people have already made this point, but it's worth nothing: Hogan had one of the most limited move sets in wrestling history. His finisher was a leg drop, which was good for popping the crowd, but isn't even slightly convincing as a move used to incapacitate grown men. The Hulkster has had a few good matches, usually with obviously great talent, but for the most part, ring work was secondary to everything else for the Immortal One. Plus, he was involved in possibly the worst match of all time with the Ultimate Warrior at Halloween Havoc 1997. It's so bad, it has actually surpassed horrible wrestling to become ironically wonderful. Go watch it.
16 Wrestler - Cesaro
Cesaro is a strange case on this list. On one hand, his mic skills are very weak, so much so that his name often comes up first when listing the worst talkers in the WWE today (He's not the worst, Titus O'Neil is). His promos often feel awkward and he never seems fully comfortable reading from a script. He does have some charisma and a cool entrance (the tearaway suit is cool and fun, don't let anyone tell you otherwise), but his saving grace is his connection to the fans, which is top notch. He's very over with a very vocal portion of the WWE audience, mostly on the back of his phenomenal in-ring work. Since coming to the WWE, he's been a constant source of great matches and even though WWE Creative sometimes forgets about him, he always storms back with stellar in-ring work. He has good matches with everyone, but his series of matches against Sami Zayn in NXT and his set of matches against John Cena for the US title are some of the best in the last five years. Hopefully, Creative stops dragging their feet on Cesaro and gives him a real, dignified title reign soon. Just have him talk less and kick ass more.
15 Talker - Enzo Amore
To be fair to Enzo, his WWE career, and wrestling career, in general, are very young and he's still a work in progress, as far as in-ring ability goes. Like the Rock, Enzo is by no means horrible between the ropes, but compared to his mic skills, he's nothing special in the squared circle. To his credit, the WWE doesn't ask him to do much in the ring. He plays the smaller dude in distress to the giant hot tag factory that is Big Cass and thus, he spends a lot of time taking a beating. Fortunately, he makes up for his deficiencies on the mat by being possibly the best mic worker in the WWE today (Chris Jericho scribbles furiously into the List of Jericho). The Rock may be the only person as good as Enzo at creating gold from the most mundane things. Enzo can read a grocery list and make it entertaining. He has an irresistible energy and charisma about him that makes the crowd pop every single time he's on screen.
14 Wrestler - Roman Reigns
Say whatever you want, but Roman Reigns is a damn good wrestler. Has he been shoved down fan's throats despite constant rebellion? Yes. Is the Super Cena-esque booking he receives infuriating? Absolutely. Are his mic skills the equivalent of a motorcycle crashing into a pet store? 100% yes. Many of the complaints about Roman Reigns and his position in the company are entirely valid, but the idea that he can't wrestle is moronic and childish. In the past few years, he's had some great matches with Bray Wyatt, AJ Styles, and Dean Ambrose, among others. His current feud with Rusev has also produced some great matches. Even his Wrestlemania 32 match against Triple H wasn't bad. If nothing else, Reigns has proved himself in the ring and he deserves credit for his in-ring abilities. That being said, his mic skills are dismal and the WWE isn't doing itself any favors by having him be a wisecracking cad. The most fans have ever been behind Reigns is when he shuts up and just hits people. The more dumb jokes he makes, the more the fans will turn against him. It's basically science at this point.
13 Talker - Vince McMahon
The Chairman of the Board! The Genetic Jackhammer! The Most Awkward Tweeter in America! Many of you may not see Vince McMahon as a wrestler, but as he's given himself the WWE and ECW Championships in the past, for this list, we're going to judge him as one. Vinny Mac is without a doubt the best wrestling villain ever. He's the most hate-able entity in professional wrestling. His feud with Stone Cold is legendary, maybe the best ever, and he's been a constant antagonist for many of the WWE's top faces for the last two decades. On the mic, he can spit venom like no one else and every single word that comes out of his mouth elicits a response. However, in the ring, he's kind of awful. He has all the in-ring craftsmanship you would expect from a geriatric non-wrestler. He's clunky, slow, and an infamously bad seller. To be fair, his Wrestlemania 21 match against Shawn Michaels was a barn burner, but only because it was fun to see HBK beat the Chairman with various weapons. Considering that he followed that showing with a match between himself and Shane McMahon vs. HBK and God, Vinny Mac may be the most unnecessary "wrestler" ever.
12 Wrestler - Shane McMahon
From one McMahon to another, Shane McMahon was a better wrestler than he ever needed to be. As the son of the Boss, Shane probably could have had an easy job as an on-screen authority figure, which, to be fair, he has done, Shane's career is defined by being balls-out insane. See, Shane O'Mac is best known for three things: having wonderful theme music, having great taste in shoes, and performing some of the most dangerous spots in wrestling history. He's jumped off the TitanTron more than once, as well as the Hell in a Cell, and he was fan of hardcore matches in his heyday. However, he wasn't just a spot monkey, he could genuinely wrestle. Take his street fight with Kurt Angle at King of the Ring 2001. That match is a masterpiece, a twenty-six minute long combination of legitimate wrestling and hardcore brutality. Shane goes through TWO PANES OF GLASS AND STILL DOES A SHOOTING STAR PRESS, FOR GOD'S SAKE! However, unlike the rest of his family, Shane O'Mac isn't very good on the mic. He's charismatic, but when he's talking, he's often awkward and sometimes wooden. It makes sense that he's the commissioner of Smackdown, the more wrestling-centric show under the WWE's umbrella of testosterone.
11 Talker - Road Dogg
Oh, you didn't know!? Your ass better call somebody... and tell them that, yeah, Road Dogg wasn't a very good wrestler. He was clunky and uninspired in the ring, and he never had much singles success in the WWE or otherwise. For much of his career, he was a tag team wrestler: he was apart of the New Age Outlaws with Billy Gunn, where he served as the mouthpiece to compliment Gunn's wrestling ability, and the second version of D-Generation X, where he and Triple H yelled a lot and gestured at their man parts (Also, Voodoo Kin Mafia, but let's not talk about that, OKAY!?). While Road Dogg was never a great in-ring technician, he more than made up for it with his mic skills and charisma. He was one of the best promo guys of the Attitude Era and even today, he can still pop a crowd like few wrestlers ever. Although Triple H was the leader of DX, Road Dogg controlled the mic and helped make the stable even more popular and integral after Shawn Michaels' departure.
10 Wrestler - Billy Gunn
On the other side of that New Age Outlaws, DX 2, Voodoo Kin Mafia (Ugh) coin is Billy Gunn, one of the most underrated wrestlers in WWE history and the missing link between Mr. Perfect and Dolph Ziggler. At one point, he was Mr. Ass and his entire gimmick was that he liked butts. According to his theme music, he even loved to sniff them. Wow. Wrestling is really dumb sometimes. Gunn was never a standout mic worker and he preferred to stay in the background whenever possible and let his technical abilities speak for themselves. He had a bit of charisma and a very lovely smile, but he excelled as the silent partner. He was a tag team expert, first with the Smoking Gunns, one of the most underrated tag teams in WWE history, then the New Age Outlaws and D-Generation X. Unfortunately, there was also Bill and Chuck, where he and Chuck Palumbo were in love with each other and almost got married, but then didn't, because it was actually just a long, Adam Sandler-esque joke about homosexuality. It was... God, wrestling is really, really dumb sometimes. Based on all the stupid gimmicks he had to put up with, it's not a surprise people don't remember Gunn's ring work as well as they should, which is a shame.
9 Talker - Buff Bagwell
Listen, does anyone really look back at Buff Bagwell with fondness? He was one of the worst in-ring workers in WCW and one of the most embarrassing things about the company's last few agonizing years, which is insane considering DAVID ARQUETTE AND VINCE RUSSO BOTH HELD THE WCW WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP! The most complimentary thing you can say about Bagwell is that today, his matches provide some insane, ironic sense of joy, as if the final days of WCW's demise were a maudlin comedy for us to enjoy years later (Words are fun!). One of his matches involved his mother, Judy Bagwell, being put on a forklift, and he and Chris Kanyon fought over her. You can read that sentence a thousand times and it will never stop being funny. Despite all of that nonsense, Bagwell did have some stuff to him: he was very charismatic, had good mic skills, and a good look. He was so shredded, it's honestly surprising Vince McMahon never brought him in for a run with the WWE Championship. He was a fun talker and people liked him, as much as they could like anyone at the end of WCW, but in the ring, he was an endless dud.
8 Wrestler - Jeff Hardy
Jeff Hardy aka Willow aka BROTHER NERO is one of the most popular wrestlers in the business. His high flying, never say die style has made him a fan favorite for over fifteen years. Alongside his brother Matt Hardy, who is currently pretending to be a Batman villain obsessed with Phantom of the Opera, Jeff is one of the most revered tag team wrestlers of all time. The team's TLC matches against the Dudley Boyz and Edge and Christian are the stuff of legends. Plus, he's also an accomplished single's wrestler, having won both the WWE and TNA World Championships. He's had some wonderful matches with Triple H, the Undertaker, and Edge, and his final WWE feud against CM Punk was one of the best in the last decade. However, like Shane McMahon, his mic skills never matches his natural charisma (Also like Shane McMahon, Brother Nero LOVES jumping off big stuff). He's had a few great promos in his day, but he more often than not comes off as wooden and, worse even, boring, with a tendency to ramble. Luckily, he has Matt to take care of mic duties, so he has plenty of time to think up more insane, drug fueled gimmicks. Like Willow.
7 Talker - Goldberg
What good timing this entry has! With Goldberg coming back for a grudge rematch against Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series, now's the perfect time to remind every just what ol' Billy's about. Goldberg was a wrestling phenomenon, a giant, eviscerating Panzer Tank turned human that crushed everyone who stood in front of him, despite being a very limited in-ring competitor. He wasn't a very good wrestler and his arsenal of moves was limited to strikes, spears, and the Jackhammer. He kicked Bret Hart so hard in the head that it ended the Hitman's career. His best matches were against small dudes who could carry him, like Chris Jericho, and the Elimination Chamber match at Summerslam 2003. That was seriously pretty cool. Also, he once speared Nunzio so hard, he exploded. Luckily, he had an otherworldly presence. He had a natural charisma about him that made every single match of his feel like a huge deal. He was a good mic worker who could cut a bone chilling promo, helped by the fact that he was a very believable monster. Let's just hope his rematch with Bork Lazer is better than their Wrestlemania XX encounter. Oh God please.
6 Wrestler - Chris Benoit
Chris Benoit was, without exception, one of the best technical wrestlers to ever exist. He won the Wrestling Observer Newsletter's "Best Technical Wrestler" award (Now the Bryan Danielson Award) five separate times and had a slew of incredible matches all over the world. His WWE matches against Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle, among others, were great, and alongside Triple H and Shawn Michaels put on one of the best Wrestlemania main events at WrestleMania XX. However, he wasn't nearly as stellar on the mic. He wasn't the talker ever, but he never seemed comfortable on the mic. His promos were often awkward and stilted, and he excelled the less he had to say. His amazing in-ring exploits eventually allowed him to win the World Heavy-weight Championship, but his inabilities on the mic held him back from further main event glory.
3 Talker - The Rock
Calm down. Put down your torches and pitchforks. Especially you, Gary, you're wild. Now, no one's saying the Rock is an outright bad wrestler. He's had a few great matches in his career: anything he did with Stone Cold, especially their match at WrestleMania X-Seven, was great; his match with Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania X8 was legendary; and even his first match with John Cena at WrestleMania 28 was very good. He's also one of the best sellers in wrestling history. However, his in-ring ability was never spectacular, compared to many of his contemporaries. Stone Cold, Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar, and even Triple H were better in-ring technicians than the Rock. His finishers, the People's Elbow and the Rock Bottom, don't look like they could incapacitate a toddler in real life. However, on the mic, he may be the greatest of all time. He rarely ever cuts a bad promo, and he has some of the best improvisational skills and timing in wrestling history. He's so damn charismatic that he can pop a crowd just by coming out and lighting up his own name with a flamethrower (Wrestling is weird sometimes). What he lacks in the ring, he more than makes up for on the mic, but he earns himself the slightest of inclusions on this list.
2 Wrestler - Brock Lesnar
Here's a very basic statement that everyone understands: Brock Lesnar (AKA Bork Lazer AKA The Mayor of Suplex City AKA King Mr. Potato Head) is an awesome wrestler, but a bad mic worker. He's an absolute freak of nature in the ring. He's the only man to ever hold both the WWE Championship and UFC Heavyweight Championship (Not at the same time, obviously), as well as being a former IWGP Heavyweight Champion in New Japan. His feud with Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship is one of the greatest in WWE history. Their sixty minute Iron Man match on Smackdown in 2003 may be the best ever and their match at WrestleMania XIX stands as one of the greatest WrestleMania main events ever. However, despite having a monster presence that could spontaneously explode a Gundam, the Beast Incarnate isn't bad on the mic, often coming off as bored and monotone. Even when he inflects anger into his voice, he still sounds like he'd rather be anywhere else. Luckily, he's spent his wrestling career alongside manager Paul Heyman, possibly the greatest mic worker in wrestling history. Together, the two have been an unmitigated success and Heyman has turned Lesnar into the most deadly, profitable act in sports entertainment.
1 Talker - The Ultimate Warrior
First off, RIP Warrior.
The Ultimate Warrior was an iconic character of the old WWE. Loud, borderline crazy, adorned with ALL THE TASSELS, The Ultimate Warrior as truly dedicated to the over-the-top gimmick he had been handed. He had an unparalleled aura of intensity and he could cut some amazing promos, which, even if they made no sense half the time, pumped the crowd up beyond belief. He was dedicated to the gimmick that he legally changed his name to Warrior. Unfortunately, he was possibly the most limited in-ring worker in WWE history. He was very energetic in the ring, but his move set was almost non-existent. He did some slams, did some strikes, did some rest holds, and then did the Ultimate Splash, which was such an unconvincing finishing move that it made Hogan's leg drop look like the F-5. He was simply bad in the ring. He never really got better as time went on, either. His WCW matches weren't much to brag about and he was involved in aforementioned worst match ever, which involved Warrior and Hogan holding hands for two and a half minutes straight. The Ultimate Warrior was the perfect example of someone getting a character over regardless of considerable flaws and he beloved for it.