In wrestling, nothing hits you emotionally quite like a perfectly delivered promo. Whether they grip you with emotion led to tears or laughter that overtakes your body or shock and awe because of the fourth wall being breached, they make for some of the best moments.
Over my lifetime, I have been blessed with some of the best like The Rock, CM Punk, Paul Heyman, Chris Jericho and of course Ric Flair. Here is my countdown of the 15 Best Promos. A few stipulations I am including is the promo cannot be a back and forth between two wrestlers like Raw Is Jericho nor can it be a retirement speech thus excluding guys like Daniel Bryan and Edge. Hall of Fame speeches obviously will not make it either.
15. New World Order – Hulk Hogan
When Hulk Hogan announced he was joining the NWO, it put the world of wrestling on it’s ass. He was always the big hero of wrestling. He pandered to fans and kids by telling them to say their prayers and eat their vitamins. He was a living, breathing super hero of wrestling. When he announced he was ditching his red and yellow attire along with his “Real American” theme in favor of eventually becoming Hollywood Hulk Hogan, it made for a MASSIVE wrench in the wheel.
14. The Last Words – Ultimate Warrior
The speech itself is powerful because Ultimate Warrior left on bad terms and this was a black sheep to WWE. When he made his triumphant return, fans were excited. Then, he delivered an all-timer in what would be his final time stepping between the ropes. He said these words…
“No WWE talent becomes a legend on their own. Every man’s heart one day beats its final beat. His lungs breathe their final breath. And if what that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others and makes them bleed deeper and something larger than life, then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized by the storytellers, by the loyalty, by the memory of those who honor him and make the running the man did live forever.”
Little did we know, this would be the last time we heard Warrior speak in a ring or on WWE television. He passed away a day later. This speech was essentially one of the biggest legends giving his own Euology. It was emotional watching it unfold before knowing that fact. Now, I dare any wrestling fan to watch without shedding a tear. RIP Warrior.
13. Retirement Speech – Mark Henry
I excluded retirement speeches from the list because it seems easier to convey emotion in a speech in which you are leaving your heart behind. However, this wasn’t your normal retirement speech. It was all a facade. Henry delivered a heart felt speech to wrestling fans and John Cena before dropping WWE’s super Cena with a World’s Strongest Slam. I remember watching live and thinking WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED?! It was all one big work and they pulled the swerve on everyone.
12. Hard Times – Dusty Rhodes
The American Dream is one of the most iconic gimmicks in wrestling history and he delivered this brilliant promo about hard times. It was a shot at rival Ric Flair being an evil thief who didn’t have honor thus not knowing about hard times. Dusty painted the picture of normal people experiencing lay-offs especially with coming of age technology. The best part about the promo is how relate-able it was which was the entire premise of the gimmick. RIP Dusty.
11. The Cream of the Crop – Macho Man Randy Savage
Out to get the man, Jim Tunney (President of WWF at the time) for being screwed out of the IC titles. He cuts what is one of the most iconic promos through the use of serious tone and prop comedy as he continuously pulls creamers out throughout the entire promo. He alludes to himself as the cream and eventually he will rise to the top. THE CREAM! THE CREAM OF THE CROP! THERE IS NO ONE THAT DOES IT BETTER THAN THE MACHO MAN RANDY SAVAGE! Let’s be honest. If you love wrestling, you have quoted that at some point in your life.
10. What About Me! What About Raven. – Raven
Raven is one of the forgotten about gems of WCW. Unfortunately, once the war ended, he never got a fair shake in WWF. This was the beginning of the deplorable poor me Raven. WHAT ABOUT ME! WHAT ABOUT RAVEN! His run against DDP was remarkable after this promo with him eventually capturing US Title gold. Quote the Raven, forever more.
9. The One Behind the One in 21-1 – Paul Heyman
I was at Wrestlemania 30 when Brock Lesnar infamously ended Undertaker’s undefeated Wrestlemania streak. It took roughly a minute for the end result to manifest in the audience. The next night on Raw, Paul Heyman did what Paul Heyman does best. He arrogantly puts over his client knowing he is the most hated man in the arena that night. He treats the fans like they are stupid and gets his point across that Brock Lesnar is the one in 21-1 and he is the one behind the one in 21-1.
8. War – Scott Hall
Hey yo. I love me some Scott Hall. When he showed up on WCW, shit hit the fan shortly after. People knew him as Razor Ramon. When he showed up, he dressed in all denim and interrupted a bullshit mid card match. He instantly got the attention of the crowd. He walks in the room and powerfully states they know who he is but they don’t know why he is here. He goes on to make fun of some of the people in WCW and tells everyone he has a scoop. He then famously drops the final words of the promo, YOU WANNA GO TO WAR? YOU’RE GONNA GET ONE! The birth of NWO is on the horizon. Later in the same show, he teases that he isn’t alone.
7. With a Tear in My Eye – Ric Flair
When Ric Flair speaks, you sit down. You shut up. And you listen. After winning the WWF Title in the Royal Rumble match, Flair cuts a promo burying WCW and putting himself over.
6. Undesirable to Undeniable – Cody
I wish Dusty were alive to see what his son is doing as President of All Elite Wrestling. I wish Dusty were alive to see this promo that Cody cut. I hope I can look back on this in 10 years and this means something big. Cody broke the fourth wall taking a major shot at WWE. He announced he would no longer challenge for the title if he didn’t beat Jericho at Full Gear. He took the words Jericho said about him and completely flipped them. The best part of the promo was his voice cracking and passionately talking about his support system and then fires a shot heard around the wrestling world saying “IT’S ABOUT THE 14 YEARS IT TOOK ME TO GO FROM UNDESIRABLE TO UN-GODDAMN-DENIABLE!”
Thank you Cody.
5. Hell in a Cell – The Rock
Perhaps the funniest wrestler to ever pick up a microphone. You never wanted to be on the receiving end of his insults. Ahead of the 6-man Armageddon Hell in a Cell match, he fires at Kurt Angle, Rikishi, Undertaker, Triple H and Stone Cold. He didn’t miss a single shot.
4. Golden Spoon – Ric Flair
Whatever he was on, get me some. I want this kind of energy in my life. The Golden Spoon is him to a tee. If you ever watch his 30 for 30, he was every bit high profile as his character was portrayed. He lived large and he let that come across on screen. He went through every article of clothing he had screaming why he’s better than the best.
3. 1,004 Holds – Chris Jericho
Dean Malenko was one of the best technical and submission wrestlers of the 90s. Jericho being a total heel comes out and dedicates his match to Malenko. But what happened following the match is one of the funniest bits in wrestling history. Malenko had talked about being the man of 1,000 holds. Jericho proclaimed he was the man of 1,004 holds and he brought a list as proof. He proceeds to read them all before going into commercial break. When it cuts back to the show, he made it to the 700s.
2. Pipe Bomb – CM Punk
I love this promo for so many fucking reasons. CM Punk was arguably the best wrestler of the 2010s. However, his departure was most certainly premature. The career path changed for Punk when he dropped his Pipe Bomb on WWE in Summer 2011. He vents all of his grievances with the higher powers of WWE before having his mic cut off.
1. Austin 3:16 – Stone Cold Steve Austin
Austin was arguably the biggest influence for putting WCW under thus winning the Monday Night Wars. When he delivered his 3:16 promo, it began not only the birth of Austin dominating the WWF landscape, but it was also the beginning of the best era of wrestling…the Attitude Era.