Promos That Live Rent-Free In Fans' Heads

Professional wrestling is built off of many different factors. Not only do wrestlers need to be proficient in the ring, they also need to be proficient at talking as well. Many pro wrestlers have left audiences awestruck with just a microphone and a few well chosen words. Sometimes a good promo can accomplish more than 50 powerbombs or even the most impressive of backflips or moonsaults. Oftentimes, wrestling talents have built entire careers just off of their ability to ensnare an audience with their verbal acumen.

From in-ring interviews to backstage segments and from scripted promos to off the cuff shoots, these examples stand as some of the best. These are the kinds of promos that wrestling fans will likely find themselves thinking and writing about for years to come (ironically or otherwise). With all that being said, these are 12 examples of pro wrestling promos that live rent-free in fans' heads.

Raw is Jericho

They say that first impressions are everything, and this is especially true in professional wrestling — just ask the Shockmaster. Your first moments on screen are a true make or break moment and, back in 1997, Chris Jericho knew this. For most of the '90s, Jericho built a solid name for himself via the likes of ECW and WCW. From his picture perfect in-ring abilities to his unbridled charisma, the man was the total package — something that WWF was definitely aware of. This meant when the chance to snatch up the Lion Tamer emerged, the WWE took it.

Following weeks of Countdown to the Millennium teaser videos, the Ayatollah of Rock n' Rolla arrived on the August 9th, 1999 edition of "Raw" in grand fashion. First off, interrupting The Rock of all people in the middle of a promo was a perfect way to cement Jericho as a big deal. For the next three minutes, Jericho tore the then-current television product apart, noting he was here to save the WWF. The Rock, in typical fashion, opted to put Jericho in his place verbally, but the mark was already made. Making a grand entrance has become ingrained in Jericho's wrestling DNA, with the trend persevering to this day. With 25 years having elapsed since this promo, we can definitely say that nothing was ever the same again.

Hogan forms the NWO

In the '90s, the world of pro wrestling received quite the shock when Hulk Hogan jumped ship from the WWF to WCW. World Championship Wrestling served as the WWF's main competition for several years, so this was definitely a sizable defection. However, while he certainly arrived with ample momentum, Hogan's clean cut babyface act started losing steam amidst a changing wrestling landscape. Sometimes, however, things fall into place at just the right time — and in this case, that was Kevin Nash and Scott Hall.

Both men had turned some heads, arriving in WCW while having recently been on WWF's television, blurring all kinds of kayfabe lines. The duo, referring to themselves as The Outsiders, made a unique promise: the arrival of a mystery third man. This came to pass at Bash at the Beach 1996 where, during a six man tag match, Hulk Hogan arrived. In a move no one saw coming, Hogan hit the leg drop on Randy Savage, turning heel in grand fashion. He'd cement this turn during an in-ring interview with "Mean" Gene Okerlund, who confronted Hogan as trash rained down around them. Hogan went on to throw shade at the WWF and how the fans had grown disillusioned with him despite all his heroic efforts. He then put a cherry on the sundae and said "You fans can stick it, brother!" — turning his backs on all the Hulkamaniacs.

Miz's Talking Smack promo

Starting off as a personality ripped from MTV's "The Real World," The Miz found his way to WWE TV via their "Tough Enough" competition. Despite coming up short in the competition to eventual winner Daniel Puder, the WWE still saw some value in Mike Mizanin and opted to sign him in 2005. From there, The Miz began a slow but steady rise to prominence within the company, utilizing many different looks and catchphrases.

The 2010s saw The Miz really come into his own, winning the WWE Championship and the Intercontinental Championship on several occasions. It was in mid-2016 that The Miz struck gold on a fateful episode of the "SmackDown" post-show "Talking Smack." The series, hosted by Renee Young and a then-retired Daniel Bryan, provided a venue for WWE stars to cut unscripted promos. It'd be here that The Miz, provoked by Bryan, cut a scathing and passionate promo regarding his career and how he was perceived. Intensified by Miz's wild eyes, he proceeded to spit venom at not only Bryan, but the WWE universe as a whole. He noted how despite his various accomplishments and his commitment to the company, he'd never been given the respect he deserved. For many fans, this was a true eye opener for just how good The Miz was and could be.

Austin 3:16

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin was one of those rare, once-in-a-blue-moon talents that truly took professional wrestling by storm. Back in the late '90s Austin, tired of his lukewarm Ringmaster gimmick, opted to rebrand himself as Stone Cold. This was inspired by the real life mob hitman "The Ice Man" Richard Kuklinski and a humorous conversation with his then-wife regarding some cold tea. This rebranding definitely gave him a mild jolt of momentum but his true arrival would come at the 1996 King of the Ring.

The original winner for the '96 edition of the tournament was slated to be Triple H. However, following the now-infamous kayfabe shattering curtain call, someone had to pay for it, and  that ended up being Hunter with his tournament win being scrapped. However his loss was definitely Austin's gain, resulting in the Texas Rattlesnake winning in the tournament finals against Jake "The Snake" Roberts. Following the matchup, Austin opted to insult Jake's then-gimmick of a born again Christian and create a bible verse of his own. "Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass!" still stands as one of the most memorable and marketable lines in all of professional wrestling. From t-shirts to bumper stickers, throughout the Attitude Era, the aura of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin within pop culture was inescapable, and this promo was the spark that started the fire.

Heyman's One Night Stand speech

When it comes to connecting with hardcore, often jaded professional wrestling fans, few do it better than Paul Heyman. The mad scientist behind Extreme Championship Wrestling has always had a speech pattern like no other that many have attempted to imitate. From his various promos on "ECW Hardcore TV" to his work alongside Brock Lesnar, the man's verbal credentials are undeniable. But by far his most passionate public address came at ECW One Night Stand 2005, which emanated from the legendary Hammerstein Ballroom.

Packed to the rafters with passionate and likely inebriated wrestling fans, the atmosphere was positively electric. Heralded to the ring by a chorus of chants for him and ECW, Heyman could visibly be seen with tears in his eyes. He'd of course chalk this up to smoking with Rob Van Dam in the back, resulting in a sizable pop. From there, he'd thank all the fans in attendance before proceeding to tear into the WWE opposition in attendance. From Eric Bischoff to JBL to Edge, Heyman had a cutting comment for each and everyone of them. Closing out his speech with a defiant cry of "This, my friends, is E-C-F****n-W," definitely sent shivers through the entire ballroom. It was a one of a kind speech for a truly one of a kind pay-per-view that'll likely never be matched.

Hulk Hogan, we comin' for you...

Long before the days of spinaroonies and golden royal scepters, Booker T was a part of the tag team Harlem Heat with Stevie Ray. Accompanied by Sister Sherri Martel, Booker and Stevie — both real life brothers — definitely left a sizable mark on World Championship Wrestling. From their many WCW World Tag Team Championship reigns to individual singles gold, both men's collective and respective legacies within wrestling are well established. However, a legacy cannot be built without a few blemishes, and for Booker, this definitely was that blemish.

Sometimes a professional wrestling promo has staying power, but not for the reasons originally intended. This was the case for Booker T when he took to the microphone alongside his associates at WCW Spring Stampede in 1997. Hot on the trails of then-WCW Champion Hollywood Hulk Hogan, Booker cut a passionate promo against the Immortal One. But in his rantings Booker opted to yell, live on pay-per-view, "Hogan, we coming for you n*****!" Booker, realizing what he'd said, immediately buried his face in his hands and let Stevie continue the promo. It's one of the very rare uses of the n-word on a mainstream pro wrestling broadcast and still echoes in fans' minds even today. Additionally, it's one of the rare times that an unintentional goof has actually added to someone's legacy and not diminished it.

Bray Wyatt and Miss Teacher Lady

The 2010s were a true transitional period for the WWE, with many new faces emerging to stake their claim in the modern era. This was due in major part to WWE's burgeoning developmental television show "NXT," which provided a venue for main roster prospects to hone their craft. One such talent was Windham Rotunda AKA Bray Wyatt, the leader of the sinister Wyatt Family. Almost immediately, Wyatt established himself as a truly special talent, bolstered by his impeccable stage presence on the microphone. From his preacher-esque promos to his unflinching hypnotic stare, it was impossible to not be drawn in anytime Wyatt spoke.

Wyatt's most captivating promo came on the May 19th, 2014 edition of "Raw," where he told the crowd a rather unusual story. In his typically cryptic way, he described how, as children, we all dream of being superheroes, only to have that delusion stamped out. Additionally, he cited a woman he referred to as Miss Teacher Lady who made it clear to a young Bray he'd amount to nothing. He then noted how he'd grown up to prove her wrong and now stood in front of the audience as a conqueror. Wyatt's run in WWE was inconsistent to say the least, but this moment was pure undistilled magic that had the entire audience entranced.

Steiner Math

It's admittedly a bit difficult to explain why Scott Steiner has such an unwavering fandom, but we'll do our best. Originally a part of a very successful tag team with his brother Rick, the Steiners were a stellar fusion of size, strength and agility. In the late '90s, Steiner would rebrand himself with the new moniker of Big Poppa Pump, complete with bright blonde hair and bulging muscles. It'd be during this era that Steiner would amass countless fans, due largely to his gonzo and unpredictable promo style.

Whenever Big Poppa Pump grabbed the microphone, you were never sure what was going to come out of his mouth. Case in point: his now meme-worthy promo that he cut on an episode of "TNA Impact" prior to Sacrifice 2008. The promo, now lovingly referred to as the Steiner Math promo, saw him lay out the statistics factoring into his main event encounter with Samoa Joe and Kazarian at Sacrifice. He'd note that Samoa Joe had a "8 1/3% chance of winning" while he had a "141 2/3% chance of winning". It was as absurd and mind boggling as a promo could get and in the years since, fans have never forgotten it.

CM Punk's pipe bomb

When CM Punk took to the stage on the June 27th, 2011 edition of "Raw," nobody could've expected what would happen next. Things had already gone in an odd direction, with Punk noting that his WWE contract was up that coming month. However, that was only an amuse bouche compared to what we'd be getting as the next week Punk had something to say. After costing Cena a tables match with R-Truth, Punk sat cross legged on the stage and simply let it all out. From discussing how he'd been booked up until that point to Cena's role as top guy, Punk held nothing back.

He noted his status as the legitimate best wrestler in the world and his intentions to leave with the WWE title. He took this a step further by threatening to defend it at the likes of New Japan Pro-Wrestling and even Ring of Honor. On top of that, he saved some extra venom for the McMahon family, especially Vince. Punk's microphone was cut off, but his mark had been made and to this day fans are still talking about it. Shoot promos are nothing new, but this truly helped to turn the world of pro wrestling upside down.

With a tear in my eye

Ric Flair is no stranger to masterful promos, and this one from the 1992 Royal Rumble is definitely a prime example. Whether he was playing the role of heel or babyface, Flair's charisma and stage presence was simply electric. Case in point, his enrapturing words following his legendary win at the WWF Royal Rumble in 1992. The '92 Rumble was a standout event for many reasons, not the least of which being its list of combatants. From Hulk Hogan to Randy Savage to Jake Roberts to Undertaker, just about everyone in the match had a shot at winning. This made things even more of an uphill battle for the Nature Boy, who was definitely out of his element.

Entering from number three, Flair had to outlast the entire 30 man gauntlet just to make it to the final four. Much to the shock and delight of fans, Flair would outlast the others and leave with WWF's top prize. For anyone who'd followed Flair's prolific career until this point, this was nothing short of a dream come true. Flair's words following this win were definitely the cherry on the sundae, noting that "with a tear in my eye, this is the greatest moment in my life!" He also claimed that "this is the only title in the wrestling world that makes you number one." Almost 30 years later, and this promos still stands as a prime example of just how good Flair was at making you feel something.

Cream of the Crop

"Macho Man" Randy Savage is by far one of the most quotable and visually eclectic wrestlers to ever lace up a pair of boots. Bursting with manic energy, Savage's promos were often rife with shouting and pointing. They often resulted in him pouring gallons of sweat. However, this promo is what many refer to as Savage's finest work and a true encapsulation of his talents. While being interviewed by Mean Gene, Savage centered the promo around his recent frustrations with "WWF President" Jack Tunney.

Savage noted how he truly was "The cream of the crop," even stating that "On balance, off balance, I'm better than you are." By the end of the interview, it's impossible to not find yourself drawn in by Savage's intensity and ravings. When people think of the Macho Man, this is often the first promo that they picture, and it's not hard to see why.

Hard times

Very few professional wrestlers could engross the audience the same way that Dusty Rhodes did during his prime. From his look to his personality, everything about the American Dream was the perfect encapsulation of blue-collar America. This everyman persona made Rhodes the perfect antithesis for "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair, who was wealth and excess personified. These differences between the two are what made their in-ring feud so addictive and made for some truly stellar matches. Additionally, this feud led to one of Dusty's finest promos and one of the most memorable in pro wrestling history — the "hard times" promo

Following a beating from Flair and the other Horseman, Rhodes returned to Mid-Atlantic Wrestling television in mid-1985 with something to say. Not only did he verbally tear into Flair and his cronies but he used his time to connect with the viewers as well. He noted how his struggles with Flair were similar to the struggles the everyday worker faces every single day. Not only did he thank his fans for their letters of goodwill, he noted that "My hand is touching your hand," which created a true emotional connection. It's a promo many have tried to emulate but few have succeeded in topping. Simply put, nobody got you invested quite like the American Dream.

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