Pro wrestling has long been the land of giants clashing against one another in feigned competition. What gets lost among the gladiator fights and battles with chairs, ladders and tables are the talking skills of these ring warriors. As far back as wrestling has been televised, which dates back to the beginning of television of itself, there has been an emphasis on ‘talking them into the building.’ Originally it was just a wrestler plugging an upcoming show and the terrible things he was going to do to his opponent on that date, to get the ticket sales moving. It has morphed into the Monday Night Spectacle that it is, complete with dramatic storylines, monologues and bickering and all out verbal warfare. So as wrestling has progressed there have been some great talkers to come along, but among all of them here is the cream of the crop.
10. Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho burst onto the American pro wrestling scene in the mid-90s in his early 20’s with local promotions around the mountainous area of the Appalachia’s. As a smallish wrestler, he found his way to Mexico where he became a bit of a teen heartthrob. After ruling Mexico and traveling Japan, Jericho entered ECW to gain his notoriety. Within a year, he was on the big stage in WCW and laid his legend as one of the best talkers the business has ever seen in short order. Upon his arrival in the WWF in 1999, Jericho further proved he was among the best, even holding his own against the king of the day The Rock in his debut segment. After Chris Jericho, the wrestling world would never, ever be the same again!
9. CM Punk
While some fans may not know of Punk before his debut on the WWE owned ECW brand, his work in Ring of Honor and the indies was the stuff of legend. With incredible bouts and feuds with Colt Cabana, Samoa Joe and Raven, Punk was one of the best in the world before he ever stepped foot in a WWE ring. While he was good, it wasn’t until he dropped his “Pipebomb” promo on RAW against John Cena that he was recognized as great by the WWE Universe. With a mastery of realistic promos, Punk has ushered in a new style of storytelling by using the promo to hint at real life frustrations while still keeping the story intact and staying in character.
8. Jake “The Snake” Roberts
Jake Roberts personal story may be depressing, but his ring work and especially his promo work were nothing short of magic. Jake Roberts, never far from his python snake, would cut cerebral and dark promos at barely a whisper at a time when most promos were shouted in the general direction of the camera. With his dark demeanor and his subject matter about mind games with metaphors, many fans thought Jake was the incarnate of the Devil himself. His work will long be remembered as some of the most genius work any wrestler has ever done and his promos are taught to students of the game.
7. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
Steve Austin may be the most popular wrestler to ever set foot in a ring. His “Stone Cold” persona was bigger than anything else during the late 90’s and his numerous catchphrases are still uttered to this day by long time fans. Yet, the infamous “Austin 3:16” promo that solidified his “Stone Cold” persona at King of the Ring 1996 was not the first time Austin stunned an audience with his poise and control on the microphone. As a member of WCW, Austin was impressive anytime he was given the stick, and is known mostly for his run with Brian Pillman in the team “Hollywood Blondes”. After his run in WCW ended, Austin had a short, but memorable run in Philidelphia based hardcore wrestling promotion ECW. His ability to go without a script and air his frustrations at his former company let Austin loose on the microphone in a way few knew he was capable of. His promos are still classic to this day, and proof that “Stone Cold” predated his bald head and black tights look, and that folks, is the bottom line.
6. Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage
These two get lumped together not because they weren’t good enough to be here alone, but because their talents are almost identical. With intense and sometimes nonsensical cartoonish promos, Hogan and Savage defined the era of colorful WWF wrestling during the 80’s. With Savage’s distinct and often imitated voice and Hogan’s reliance on the word ‘brother’, these two made up for what they may have lacked in substance with style. Can you dig it, brother? Oh yeah!