Now more than ever in WWE and across an array of promotions around the world we are being treated to some incredible professional wrestling. From the rise of NXT to New Japan to the uprising of British talent, there is wrestling out there for all fans no matter how niche your tastes might be. Despite what you more casual fans might realize though, the wrestling is really only half the battle. The purists among you may not want to admit it, but pro wrestling is very much an entertainment based business. Being a great in ring performer alone isn’t good enough and wrestlers also need to be skilled at cutting promos and talking fans into the building. It’s not a new phenomenon either. Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold, The Rock. The reason those three names are maybe the three biggest drawing Superstars in pro wrestling history is because they could not only wrestle, but they could talk their asses off and do a great job doing it.
With more WWE television to fill than ever before, being able to keep an audience entertained while there isn’t any wrestling going on is more important than ever. Take a three hour Raw for example. WWE’s flagship show almost always begins with around a 20 minute talking segment. Being the start of the show means there are an awful lot of people watching and if you don’t have the ability to hold their attention through your words, then you won’t be a part of it. There are plenty of Superstars who can and do appear in that opening segment, and plenty of others who shouldn’t and need others to do their talking for them.
15. Great Talker: Chris Jericho
All of the top Superstar starting from back in the days of Ric Flair and Hulkamania all the way up to the present day have a catchphrase. It can be as simple as YES! or WHAT? but rest assured if you want to stay at the top you’re going to need one. Some wrestlers actually have a few and if you’re Chris Jericho you have a long list of them that only keeps getting longer. Those who dissect the business lump endless praise on Y2J for his ability to reinvent himself time and time again and his catchphrases and mic ability are an extremely large part of that. Jericho is one of a few wrestlers left from a bygone era who can go out to the ring and just talk without guidance. It’s a lost art and one that Chris can still play to perfection over 25 years into his career.
14. Mouthpiece Needed: Jinder Mahal
Jinder Mahal currently finds himself in the midst of an unexpected push. The Maharajah is the number one contender to Randy Orton’s WWE Championship and will face The Viper at Backlash. While his rapid rise to the top can be attributed mainly to the work he has clearly been putting in while at the gym, and a little to his in ring work as it isn’t terrible, it most certainly isn’t because of his time with a microphone in his hand. In all fairness to Jinder it’s not entirely his fault. In somewhat predictable fashion WWE have dealt him the ‘fed up foreigner’ gimmick and what you can say with that to work with is always going to be stuff we’ve heard so many times before.
13. Great Talker: The Miz
Chris Jericho isn’t the only WWE Superstar who has used his words to reinvent himself. The Miz, with some help from his returning wife Maryse, has shot back to the top of the card during the last year. While his in ring work hasn’t changed much, what he says to us the fans and his rivals certainly has. The high point of Miz’ recent work has been his back and forth with SmackDown Live General Manager, Daniel Bryan. It would seem on Talking Smack after the blue brand’s Tuesday night show Superstars are given a lot more freedom to say what they like and The A-Lister has grabbed the opportunity with both hands. His appearances on the talk show have featured him blurring the lines between story line and reality via his rants about Bryan and also John Cena.
12. Mouthpiece Needed: Apollo Crews
Apollo Crews was called up to Raw and SmackDown following WrestleMania 32. At the time it seemed a little premature and over a year later it would appear that assumption was warranted. Although Apollo is undoubtedly a physical specimen who can pull of some incredible things between the ropes, his segments on the mic were nowhere near up to scratch when he arrived on the main roster and they haven’t really improved since. Crews is without a shadow of a doubt a Superstar who could massively benefit from an advocate doing his talking for him. Crews is clearly a nice guy and his smiley attitude can’t help but come through in his promos, something that is not good when the former independent star needs to take a more serious stance. Having someone else do his talking for him will eliminate that problem.
11. Great Talker: Triple H
There’s so much talking during the present day three hour Raws that when someone you’ve been listening to talk for years and years can get lost in the mix. Triple H has been cutting promos in WWE for over 20 years so some of you may be bored of hearing what The Game has to say. Please don’t be. If you’re not really listening it may sound like mundane, Authority based spiels but give it your full attention and you’ll realize The Cerebral Assassin has honed this craft and is simply an incredible talker. Plus if you’re not an NXT fan I urge you to give it a try and bear witness to how pumped Triple H can get a crowd for their Takeover shows with his introductory promos.
10. Mouthpiece Needed: Cesaro
Now let me get something straight first of all. While I am of the firm belief that Cesaro, as a singles star at least, would greatly benefit from someone else doing his talking for him, unlike Vince McMahon I do not think it’s because he’s Swiss. The former United States Champion can speak many languages fluently, and English is one of them. He barely even has an accent so it is most definitely not his nationality. Similar to Apollo Crews, while Cesaro’s in ring talents are beyond polished, there is just something lacking when he has a microphone in front of his face. At one time WWE made Cesaro a Paul Heyman Guy and the future looked bright. Heyman has of course worked wonders with Brock Lesnar, who we’ll get to later, and fans of The Swiss Superman hoped for even a fraction of a repeat of that but alas, it didn’t last.
9. Great Talker: Enzo Amore
You don’t get a nickname like Smacktalker Skywalker without being able to talk a crowd in to a building. Throughout his time in NXT and since his arrival on Raw Enzo Amore has wowed and hyped crowds with his incredible ability to simply talk. Not only does he have his regular spiel that every in house crowd knows verbatim, but each and every week he follows that spiel up with a fresh promo plucked straight from his personal notebook that he claims contains hundreds of ideas that he’s always adding to. Enzo may not be the most physically gifted Superstar between the ropes but his incredible talent on the mic not only brought him to the dance, it’s seen him rise through the ranks and keep his current spot on the roster.
8. Mouthpiece Needed: Sasha Banks
Sasha Banks has been one of the incredibly talented women spearheading the current movement we’re witnessing in WWE each and every week. Many of the females on the current roster can not only compete in the ring, but they can also talk the talk. Sasha Banks is one of those who has much more of the former than the latter. Despite raising the stock of NXT along with Bayley and having an historic rivalry with Charlotte Flair, Banks’ promos still revolve around her being amazed that she’s a wrestler in WWE. On top of that she often seems like she’s remembering a script word for word. Sasha has more than earned her place in WWE, she no longer has to have words almost fail her in amazement of the trajectory her career path has taken.
7. Great Talker: Matt Hardy
While watching Matt Hardy under his Broken gimmick in TNA, I felt like I was watching a completely different Superstar. Hardy’s new persona was so far removed from his Team Extreme one that it was by far the most drastic form of reinvention featured on this list. And it worked. While his in ring talent was still overshadowed by his brother Jeff, or Nero if you’d prefer, the promos Matt began cutting explaining how he had become Broken and the character behind it were incredible. There isn’t another wrestling character with a back story quite like it. The problem is that now Matt is back in WWE, his Broken-ness has taken a back seat and hence Hardy has taken a step back. Hopefully WWE, Matt and Impact get whatever issues they have resolved sooner rather than later.
6. Mouthpiece Needed: Shinsuke Nakamura
This one is going to go off in a few different directions. Now I am as big a Shinsuke Nakamura fan as anybody. I’m rooting for him to take SmackDown Live by storm and personally don’t think that his lack of English should affect a man with that much charisma in becoming a huge Superstar. I also don’t trust Vince McMahon to share that opinion. If the only way for Shinsuke to enjoy success under Vince’s watchful eye is to have someone do his talking for him then so be it. So far on SmackDown Nakamura has barely been allowed to say anything and been poorly compared to Michael Jackson by Dolph Ziggler. Yes there’s still plenty of time to explain to fans who don’t know him why The King of Strong Style is so special, but to please all parties let’s have a great talker do it for him.
5. Great Talker: Alexa Bliss
A few entries ago we discussed Apollo Crews’ premature graduation to the main roster. We could have easily been saying the same about Alexa Bliss but instead it has been quite the opposite. Bliss has had three Women’s Championship reigns in less than a year on the main roster and that recognition is extremely well deserved. While normally NXT is where most Superstars are given freedom and allowed to flourish before they’re lost in the shuffle of the main roster, Five Feet of Fury has flipped that on its head. In NXT Alexa was overshadowed by her peers yet since then she has surpassed almost all of them. Most notably her work on the mic has been fantastic, and it just keeps getting better. The Monday night following her Raw Women’s Title win Bliss gave an incredible victory speech during which she addressed all of her rivals and showed them how it’s done and why she’s champ.
4. Mouthpiece Needed: Brock Lesnar
Even though Brock Lesnar was given a lot more freedom to do his own talking during his first run with WWE, having Paul Heyman by his side talking him up isn’t a new thing. Paul has been advocating for The Beast Incarnate since day one in Lesnar’s WWE career and while the physical specimen that Brock is would have led to him having a great amount of success, it’s hard to argue that without the Father of ECW Lesnar wouldn’t have become the phenomenon that he is. When The Beast returned in 2012 he returned without Heyman at first. It didn’t take long for Brock to request the services of the man who had done so well by him up until that point though. In fact it’s rumored that Lesnar effectively demanded WWE bring in Paul otherwise he wouldn’t continue.
3. Great Talker: Kevin Owens
There may not be a better all rounder in WWE right now than Kevin Owens. Vince McMahon may not agree with me on that one but thanks to Owens superior talking ability when you put a microphone in front of him even The Chairman can’t keep him off of TV and out of the ring. Owens arrived on the main roster and went straight after John Cena and as even the most casual wrestling fan will know, if you’re going to swing for Cena in a war of words then you had better be good. Rest assured, KO can more than hold his own in both a physical battle and a promo one with Big Match John. Plus Owens has only just arrived on SmackDown Live and his appearances on Talking Smack have already been gold.
2. Mouthpiece Needed: Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns has been a singles stars for three years now and to date I can only think of one great promo from The Big Dog, his one sentence bombshell after about 15 minutes of solid booing following his WresteMania win over The Undertaker. Not a good return on someone who is pretty much WWE’s top guy. Back at WrestleMania 31 WWE had a seemingly perfect opportunity to turn Paul Heyman on Brock and side with Reigns, subsequently becoming his advocate and mouthpiece. Whether that option was ever considered of course will probably never be common knowledge as the company went with strapping the rocket to Seth Rollins that night. All signs point to Roman and Brock clashing again at WrestleMania 34 and who knows, maybe Heyman will jump ship then. What’s for damn sure is that Reigns either needs somebody more talented doing his talking for him or to simply not say anything at all.
1. Great Talker: John Cena
While praising Owens and his skills on the mic, a not so small name was dropped, John Cena. While many have sparred in wars of words with The Leader of the Cenation there are very few, if any, that have come out on top by the end of it. Even The Rock was left embarrassed by Cena after the 16 time champ pointed out that The Great One had promo notes written on his arm. Cena honed his craft constructing freestyle raps about his opponents and nowadays can simply put them down with things he thinks of right off the top of his head. The latest casualties have been AJ Styles and earlier entry in this list, The Miz. While both men thought they were giving as good as they got cutting a promo on John Cena, the former Doctor of Thuganomics would always have a retort and will very rarely not be the one who gets the final word.
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