In the digital age, the art of the promo has resurrected.
If you look beyond WWE’s micromanaged, overly-scripted verbiage, you’ll see many promotions that allow and even foster creativity. Even though Impact Wrestling and Ring of Honor have to adhere to the constraints of television, their talent have the freedom to express themselves. Of course, wrestlers on the indie scene don’t have that luxury of national exposure, so they have to create and distribute their own compelling content in order to build their character and develop a following.
With so much media available for consumption, wrestlers have to think outside-the-box to get people talking. That competition has brought out the best in many talents, especially these top 10 talkers.
10. Christopher Daniels
The Fallen Angel’s promos have been criminally underrated, most likely because not enough people hear them. A nearly 25-year veteran of the squared circle, Daniels has gotten only better with age, his battle scars adding heaviness to his words. While he hasn’t consistently hit home runs this year, he did hit a grand slam in March before challenging for the ROH World Championship at the 15th Anniversary.
9. Alexa Bliss
No woman has had a more dominant year than Little Miss Bliss. She was rarely seen without the Women’s Championship, and that’s on both shows. She also developed her bratty character even further, constantly praising herself, manipulating potential foes and tossing catty insults whenever possible. Even the atrocious “Bayley: This Is Your Life” segment didn’t derail Bliss’ momentum.
8. Enzo Amore
There were three degrees of Enzos this year: a catchphrase-spewing hype machine as he’d always been, a plucky underdog hellbent on seeking retribution from his former buddy, and a cheating coward denouncing his haters. The first degree had become stale, so his evolution was cunning and vital. Talking will always be his greatest asset – it’s carried him to the Cruiserweight Championship and centerpiece of the division.
7. Eli Drake
Let me talk to ya, Eli Drake has been holding down the fort in the turbulent Impact Zone. Since winning the Global Championship in August, he has been the focal point of Impact TV, delivering hilarious monologues for all his dummies. Look no further than Impact’s Thanksgiving episode, where Drake was on screen for the majority of the show, delivering quips about everything from his opponents to mashed potatoes.
After turning heel at Final Battle last year, Cody shed his Stardust-free, ex-WWE image and developed new skin as the cocky ring leader of the Bullet Club. Perpetually dressed in three-piece suits, puffing on cigars and ordering fans and foes to kiss the ring, Cody has taken a page out of his father’s greatest rival’s book, albeit there’s no need for kiss-stealing when you’re married to Brandi. His promos are animated and unpredictable, always rooted in truth. When it comes to talking fans into the arena, he’s a chip off the old block.
5. Dan Lambert
If you haven’t been following Impact Wrestling this year, you probably have no idea who this man is. Well, he’s the mouthpiece for American Top Team, a stable of MMA fighters supporting Bobby Lashley. For the past several months, Lambert has chastised pro wrestling, claiming its participants to be inferior to MMA. It’s a shame he’s set out to destroy wrestling because he’d be a great old school manager in the same vein as Jim Cornette and JJ Dillon.
4. The Miz
Whenever Paul Heyman retires, The Miz will be the best talker in WWE. Year after year he steps up his mic skills, injecting a “shoot style” that separates his storylines from everyone else’s. Whether it’s bashing Enzo on Miz TV, threatening Baron Corbin in a profane Twitter video or cosplaying as John Cena, Miz has truly become must-see TV.
3. Chris Jericho
On November 5, Chris Jericho shocked the world by appearing on New Japan TV, challenging Kenny Omega to a dream match at Wrestle Kingdom 12. It was a simple, but effective vignette, setting the table for Alpha vs. Omega. Then just a couple weeks ago, Jericho upped the ante by actually appearing in NJPW and leaving Omega a bloody mess. He followed that up at a press conference with a profanity-laced explosion, channeling the late Andy Kaufman. In just a few instances, Y2J has become the talk of the wrestling world, and this is coming off arguably the greatest run of his WWE career teaming with and being betrayed by Kevin Owens.
2. Paul Heyman
When a man thinks your speech is so important that it’s the perfect time to propose, you know you’re onto something. Paul Heyman’s promos are legendary, his reputation so strong that he’s routinely sent out to simply talk people into purchasing pay-per-views or subscribe to WWE Network. This was just another year of the most famous advocate promoting his client’s virtues while simultaneously building the aura of his opponents, with the exception of Jinder Mahal because not even Heyman can stretch that into a legitimate contender.
1. Matt Tremont
Before the NWA was chronicling Tim Storm in short videos, Matt Tremont was producing his own story, chapter by chapter, promo by promo. The deathmatch king went through a renaissance this year, turning heel in CZW to feud with fellow indie superstar Joey Janella. It was heart-wrenching for those bloodthirsty fans to see their hero go through an “awakening,” burying his “Bulldozer” moniker in favor of “Father” Matthew Tremont. He felt disrespected and unappreciated for all his sacrifices and contributions to the company, and he expressed those feelings in poetic fashion.
Halfway through the year, his crusade for a match with deathmatch pioneer Atsushi Onita came to fruition, as the Japanese icon agreed to come to the U.S. for the first time in over 30 years. Tremont built up the battle with a series of goosebump-inducing promos, blood trickling down his beard as he vowed to maim his role model. His eyes piercing through the screen, instilling fear and concern and excitement in all who watched, and most importantly, all who listened.
It’s a wrestling cliché, but only cause it’s true: You may not believe in everything else, but Tremont makes you believe everything he says.