Hello loyal readers and welcome back to my personal stroll down memory lane. As always, this is not scientific in any way, there are no correct answers here. This is just my own personal opinion from my own experiences as a nearly thirty year wrestling fan. This week I have chosen to reflect on one of the most important skills for any professional wrestler to have, but also one of the hardest to master. I am speaking of the gift of gab, the art of the professional wrestling promo.
With all the talk lately surrounding whether or not The Miz will have the ability to have a successful WWE Title reign, I kept hearing one positive on his side was his entertaining promo skills. And this got me to thinking about who has done the best job with this over the years. The ability to talk to the fans and advance an angle through words has really become somewhat of a lost art. The fact that The Miz, in my opinion, is only an average talker but is regarded as one of the best today is more an indictment of the rest of professional wrestling as a whole then it is an endorsement of his vocal talents.
[adinserter block=”2″]But this was not always the case. Over the years certain individuals have managed to convey feeling and emotion with their words in such a way as to draw the fans into the storyline so that you felt you really had a vested interest in who won or lost. And by the way, promo skills don’t mean just yelling at the camera as loud as you can either. I always felt that Bruno Sammartino had excellent promos back in the day. He would remain calm and composed and gave you the sense that he was taking his opponent very seriously.
The exact opposite was Roddy Piper, who made everything into a frantic maniacal joke. Before the Batman movies came along, I always envisioned The Joker speaking in that crazy borderline psychotic “Hot Rod” way. Shawn Michaels has always been regarded as one of the top talkers and I would agree with that. The Rock and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin are certainly in the top five all time, although I felt that both were victims of their own success. Once they became megastars, they were almost required to complete the checklist of catchphrases in there promos each week. And more recently, three of my favorites have been Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle (who is very underrated in my opinion), and John Cena.
But even with all the worthy contenders, one name has risen above all others. One man has proven through the years to be the most engaging and entertaining promo man in professional wrestling history. My top choice is none other than The Viper himself, Randy Orton. Wait a second, am I being serious? No of course not. My choice is Ric Flair.
[adinserter block=”1″]Let me make one thing clear, this is not the Ric Flair of today. The Flair of today has become a parody of himself. Every promo is over the top and each time he looks like he is about five seconds from a heart attack. The Ric Flair I speak of is the one from the mid to late ‘80s. Where some times he could be hyped up, but sometimes he could be calm as well. The thing that always struck me either way was the level of confidence in his promos. He was “The Man” back then. He had the gold around his waist, the Four Horsemen at his side, and the wrestling world at his feet. He was just plain cool. Any man that can refer to himself as “Space Mountain” gets my vote.
And it was his calm and cool promos that made his over the top ones have so much more impact. If you act like a lunatic every time, it loses its punch. When Flair got hyped about an opponent you knew that opponent had gotten under his skin. And it made you that much more interested in seeing the match. That’s one of the things I miss most these days, the ebb and flow of good wrestling storyline promos that suck you in. And back in the day, nobody could draw you in quite like the Nature Boy.
So there you have it. This is my completely unscientific determination of the best professional wrestling promo man ever. Do you have a different choice for the top spot? Do you have someone that you think gets overlooked? Who is your favorite out there today? Leave me a comment. I would love to know what you think. And keep on the lookout for the next edition of “The Best I Ever Saw”.
Vince DeHoratus lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two kids. He has been a life long wrestling fan and he has passed that love onto his son. Though not quite yet “middle aged and crazy”, he is fast approaching it.
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