Back in my teenage years, I’d walk down the school corridor and hear other kids yelling stuff like: “AND THAT’S THE BOTTOM LINE!”, “OH, YOU DIDN’T KNOW!”, and “CAN YOU SMELL WHAT THE ROCK IS COOKIN’!” If you didn’t watch wrestling, it went way over your head. But for those who did, it was a way of connecting. Sometimes you could join in and make like-minded friends. Perhaps you’d talk about Raw, or share who your favorite wrestlers are. Despite their often silly nature, the wrestling catchphrase became a huge part of our lives.
It hasn’t died, but the concept of the wrestling catchphrase is nowhere near as common as it was. Let’s do a comparison and you’ll see what I mean. Here’s a list I’m throwing out there, although there are many, many more. Can you match each wrestling catchphrase with who said them? If so, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back. You grew up in a fun time for wrestling:
“AND THAT’S THE BOTTOM LINE, ‘CAUSE STONE COLD SAID SO!”
“IF YA SMELL WHAT THE ROCK IS COOKIN'”
“TO BE THE MAN, YOU GOT TO BEAT THE MAN! WOOOO!!”
“REST IN PEACE!”
“WHATCHA GONNA DO, WHEN HULKAMANIA RUNS WILD ON YOU?”
“THE BEST THERE IS, THE BEST THERE WAS, THE BEST THERE EVER WILL BE!”
“EVERYONE’S GOT A PRICE!”
“WHAT A RUSH!”
“SAY HELLO TO THE BAD GUY / HEY YO!”
“QUOTE THE RAVEN NEVERMORE”
“HAVE A NICE DAY!”
“IT’S TRUE. IT’S DAMN TRUE!”
“D-VON… GET THE TABLES!”
“BIG POPPA PUMP’S YOUR HOOK UP, HOLLA IF YA HEAR ME!”
“I’M THE WHOLE F’N SHOW!”
“OH YOU DIDN’T KNOW?! YOUR ASS BETTER CALL SOMEBODY!”
“FOR THE BENEFIT OF THOSE WITH FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY…”
“CAN YOU DIG IT SUCKA!”
“RAW IS JERICHO!”
We could easily have listed another 50 catchphrases from back in the day. Almost everyone had phrases crafted to make their character unique, and fans enjoyed being part of the repetition. It’s like learning lyrics for your favorite song and getting to sing along as it’s performed live.
Familiarity is good for fans of any genre. When a wrestler hasn’t got this, it makes them like anyone else who doesn’t. Sadly, it feels like over 75% of wrestlers (in all promotions) don’t use this gimmick as part of their presentation, and I can’t say why. I assume in WWE it’s because they don’t want to get a superstar over with the phrase, and then later find them using it elsewhere. Unlike ring names, it’s not a simple task to trademark phrases, so for business reasons, it’s less hassle to discourage the practice.
In recent years, AEW has emerged as the promotion consistently using the most catchphrases. And it’s not just reserved for active wrestlers, as you also hear them from other on-air talents. Here’s a list of the currently popular WWE wrestling catchphrases:
“New Day Rocks!”
“We The Ones!”
“We Want The Smoke!”
I’m struggling to think of any other decent catchphrases in WWE. Out of those listed, I only appreciate three of them because they get big enough reactions. I’m probably overlooking a couple, but it goes to show how sparse they are.
Now, before anybody thinks otherwise, this isn’t a WWE vs. AEW piece. Although I find it interesting, I am not saying that AEW is better because they use more catchphrases than WWE. I believe that every wrestling company could use this concept better, including AEW. Impact Wrestling, for example, uses very few catchphrases (James Storm has the best), and I enjoy their shows every week. And it’s not just about coming up with random phrases for the sake of it. They have to be 1) creative, and 2) used often enough so fans pick up on them.
Let’s look at wrestling catchphrases used by All Elite Wrestling:
“Very Nice, Very Evil”
“ADAM COLE BAY BAY!”
“I’m Better Than You, And You Know It”
“I’m The Best In The World!”
“Tony… Cut The Shit”
“Yo… listen. The Acclaimed Has Arrived!”
“Goodbye. And Good Night… Bang!”
“It’s Time… For The Main Event!”
“DELETE! DELETE! DELETE!”
The phrases are often used just before, or even during matches. Adam Cole always elicits one of the loudest reactions. MJF’s is arguably the best heel catchphrase of this generation. Britt Baker probably has the best of any woman, and it’s just three letters. Penta Oscuro pulls out “CERO MIEDO!” (Zero Fear) anytime in a match and usually does several times.
Mark Henry gets paid to show up for Rampage as an interviewer to say this one line every week before the main event. AEW has these little touches to remind us how the wrestling catchphrase can get in your head. There’s more they could do with them (some aren’t frequent enough), but at least it adds more flavor to some characters.
I’d be interested to know what you think about wrestling catchphrases in the modern era. Have they become an afterthought? Does wrestling need more of them? Or do you believe it’s an outdated concept? Should it be more about cutting a great promo than repeating the same line for years on end? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Thank you! And that’s the bottom line…