Since changing their television format during the introduction of the Attitude Era, WWE has had an extremely well produced visual presentation. Seemingly overnight, wrestling shows evolved from a single camera set, to a mega production with endless vantage points. Besides the added immersion in the product, wrestlers themselves benefitted by being portrayed on television more as rock stars than athletes.
The addition of cameras and mics allowed WWE to cut together media packages, which truly transitioned the WWE from a sport, into a sports entertainment company. WWE's entertainment has come by the way of visual storytelling, accessible to old fans and new fans alike. Specifically, WWE has done a fantastic job at using pre-match promos to summarize months (sometimes years) worth of content into a short film.
As a testament to the quality of their promos, WWE will always answer three important questions by the end of the package. Viewers will understand who is the villain/hero, what is the motivation of the conflict at hand, and finally fans will know what is at stake in the match to follow.
While the pre-match promo is one area where WWE has rarely dropped the ball, there are cases of promos seeming generic; but never bad. Bland promos are only seen as “meh” worthy because we hold the WWE to such a high standard in their production value. Between the perfectly chosen music, smooth cuts between transitions, and sparing use of special effects, the following list is the best of the best that WWE has ever put out.
Keep in mind that this list is not considering the match at all, rather just the pre-match promo as it stands on its own. So if you think that the match is a stinker, do yourself a favor and just watch the promo. As always let us know what you think in the comments below.
15 15. Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair - Wrestlemania XXIV
14 14. Triple H’s Dominance - Wrestlemania XXX
Fans were absolutely livid at Triple H leading up to Wrestlemania XXX, due to his perceived booking of Daniel Bryan. Not only was Bryan not going to be guaranteed a spot in the main event, but he would have to wrestle Triple H first in order to even qualify for it. Fans may have been angry at the circumstances, but the match was arguably the best of the night, with Bryan going over clean.
13 13. The Miz - Wrestlemania XXVII
12 12. Ric Flair vs. Vince McMahon - Royal Rumble 2002
After the widely panned Invasion storyline ran its course, it was time for a different approach to the WCW acquisition for Vince McMahon. After Shane and Stephanie McMahon sold their stocks of WWE to Ric Flair, the Nature Boy became a 50% owner of WWE - instantly creating a rivalry between the two big egos. The feud became a more intimate WCW vs. WWE story, using figureheads from both companies as the opponents, instead of mid-carders.
11 11. John Cena vs. R-Truth - Capitol Punishment 2011
Besides R-Truth being a criminally underrated talent in the ring, the man creates some really good sound bites for promos. Truth’s “conspiracy” promo before Capitol Punishment in 2011 was AMAZING, and has never gotten the praise it deserved. The package set Truth up to be the number one heel in the company moving forward, but sadly WWE never jumped at the opportunity.
10 10. Undertaker vs. Kane - Wrestlemania XIV
9 9. Scott Hall vs. Stone Cold - Wrestlemania X-8
8 8. Undertaker vs. Stone Cold - Rock Bottom 1998
7 7. Hulk Hogan vs. The Undertaker- Judgment Day 2002
During the Backlash pay per view in 2002, The Undertaker became the number one contender for the Heavyweight Championship, and Hulk Hogan became the Undisputed Champion later that night. The two men would obviously engage in a feud, meeting at Judgement Day a month later.
6 6. Christian vs. Randy Orton - SummerSlam 2011
5 5. CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar - SummerSlam 2013
“The Beast vs. The Best” was the moniker that WWE was using to promote the SummerSlam match up between Brock Lesnar and CM Punk. In reality the match wasn’t really about Lesnar at all, but more so about the fractured relationship between Paul Heyman (Lesnar’s manager) and CM Punk.
4 4. John Cena vs. Kevin Owens - Money in the Bank 2015
3 3. The Rock vs. Stone Cold - Wrestlemania X-Seven
Here is the one that you have seen on every other list like this, and for good reason. When Stone Cold Steve Austin met The Rock for a second time at Wrestlemania X-Seven, the stage was set for an epic resolution to a fantastic build up. The promo that played prior to the match was beautifully, set to Limp Bizkit’s “My Way”, and the series of clips not only captured their current feud, but showed the rivalry that had built up over the past four years.
2 2. John Cena vs. CM Punk - Money in the Bank 2011
Reminiscent of a piece of political propaganda, CM Punk’s promo that aired prior to his match with John Cena at Money in the Bank in 2011 was awesome. This was the first time that WWE produced something that seemed like it was bashing their own company, and fans appreciated that.
1 1. Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels - WrestleMania XXVI
The promo that led into the rematch of the classic Wrestlemania XXV bout between The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels is to promos, what the match was to wrestling. It is untouchable in every way, perfect down to every detail and intricacy. Placebo’s “Running Up That Hill” played during the promo, and perfectly illustrates Michaels’ obsession with defeating The Undertaker. The promo usually gets lost in the shuffle, but definitely deserves the top spot on this list.
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