Ready for a controversial list?
When going over who I personally feel are the best talkers in the history of professional wrestling, I narrowed a list down to about 30 guys. Weeding ten out to have a “top 20” list was incredibly difficult. Ranking the 20 I had left from one to 20 was a lot harder than I had anticipated. After a lot of thought and after re-watching some of the more memorable promos from the guys I’m about to list, this is what I came up with.
Obviously as is the case with any “top ten lists” (in this case, top 20) the rankings are completely and totally subjective. Many people will disagree. Many will claim “You’re insane! How could you rank so and so ahead of so and so?!” The bottom line, as one of the guys on our list would say, is this: it’s my opinion. I’ll explain my opinion for each guy’s spot on the list and you can take it for what it’s worth, which is one fan telling you who he feels are the best talkers in wrestling history.
I’ve been a wrestling fan for all of the 29 years I’ve lived on this planet, and I’ve been entertained by these guys a lot over the years. Taking into account the generation in which they performed, the actual promos they performed throughout their careers, or the announcing work they did, anything that involved the verbal side of their character was taken into serious consideration. After doing all of that, this is what I came up with.
Today we will take a look at numbers 20 through 16. On Sunday we will unveil numbers 15 through 11. On Monday we will look at ten through six. Finally, on Tuesday we will unveil the top five best talkers in wrestling history.
With all of that being said, let’s jump into the list …
#20. Eric Bischoff
Am I the only one who thinks Eric Bischoff is an extremely underrated talker? In his “character prime” during the WWE vs. WCW “Monday Night Wars” as the on-air heel authority figure, Bischoff’s microphone work was as good as it gets. His ability to make people want to jump out of their seats and “punch that cocky son of a bitch in the face” was tremendous.
Later in his career, when WCW was purchased by Vince McMahon and he was reduced to a simple on-air character for WWE, instead of the guy in charge of the company kicking WWE’s ass on a weekly basis, he was still a great wrestling villain. As RAW General Manager, he had the same cocky style that garnered him so much heat in WCW.
In my opinion, Eric Bischoff is a guy who is often overlooked when it comes to verbal ability in the wrestling business.
#19. John Cena
Does John Cena deserve to be higher than number 19 on a list of all-time great talkers in wrestling? Personally, I don’t think so. However, I will state that I feel he deserves to make this list. He has charisma that can not be denied. I would make the argument that his speaking style is a bit one-dimensional. Once you’ve seen Cena’s act once or twice, you’ve pretty much seen what he has to offer.
Cena held his own against one of (maybe the single greatest, we’ll see as this list rolls on) the best talkers in wrestling history during his WrestleMania build-up with The Rock. Some could argue that he got the better of ole’ Dwayne, but it should be pointed out that this was a Rocky who was well-past his wrestling prime.
Cena’s earlier “hip-hop/freestyle” character was a great showcase of his verbal skills. Personally, and I know this probably sounds ridiculous to many, I felt his freestyle rapping character was better than his current squeaky-clean babyface persona.
#18. Triple H
Many people like to focus on the political side of wrestling when talking about Triple H. He “holds people down” or he “uses his stroke” to influence things more than one man should. All of that aside, the guy is a great talker.
One factor that I feel is overlooked when talking about Triple H is his diversity as a performer. Obviously Triple H is better-served in the role of a heel. However, when you look at his past work as a babyface, namely his time as the leader or D-Generation X, he can cut funny, witty promos with the best of ’em.
Triple H is an all-around performer in the ring, on the mic, and behind-the-scenes. Focusing strictly on his verbal ability, seeing is how that is the point of this article, there are too many guys that I feel are ahead of him in that pecking order, but he certainly belongs on the list.
#17. Vince McMahon
I really wanted to place Vince McMahon higher on this list. However I avoided that temptation because I am a self-admitted mark of the “Mr. McMahon” character. That character entertains the hell out of me. Looking at things from an unbiased perspective, when viewing the “best talkers” competition overall, I feel that number 17 on the all-time list of wrestling’s greatest talkers was a deserved spot for the Chairman of the Board.
Many fans who didn’t live through the Steve Austin vs. Mr. McMahon saga aren’t aware of this, but it’s a fact: without the Mr. McMahon character to play off of, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin wouldn’t have reached the level of insane success that he achieved. He would have been a main eventer regardless, but the iconic status that he reached was due large in part to the fact that he had the perfect character in Mr. McMahon to play off of. Outside of the Austin-McMahon feud, McMahon has proven that he can entertain fans anytime he grabs a microphone.
Call me crazy, and I’m sure many will, but I actually enjoyed the commentary style of McMahon growing up as a kid.
While McMahon’s style is completely “over-the-top”, to say the least, he is still among the best talkers in wrestling history.
#16. Jim Ross
When making up lists of the “all-time greatest talkers” in wrestling, many people only look at those who cut impressive promos in the ring throughout a given career. Seeing is how I’m taking into account all sides of verbal performance, how could I complete this list without the inclusion of the single greatest announcer in pro wrestling history? I couldn’t. So, I didn’t. Jim Ross will round out our list for day one here in our look at the top 20 talkers in wrestling history.
As mentioned, when it comes to announcing, Jim Ross has no peers. He’s the best of all-time. Period. However, the other times JR has performed in a speaking role on-camera, such as cutting promos in the ring, while passionate, he’s pretty one-dimensional. That dimension is great, don’t get me wrong, but he’s not as versatile as some of the other best talkers in the history of our favorite sport.
Jim Ross comes in at number 16 on our look at the list of the best 20 talkers in the history of wrestling.
Stop back by eWrestlingNews.com on Sunday to see how the list continues, as we will look at numbers 15 through 11. As noted earlier, numbers ten through six will be posted on Monday and on Tuesday we will conclude the countdown with the top five best talkers in wrestling history.
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