Craig Wilson and John Carbery
Ah the cutting of a promo, a vital skill needed for a wrestler if he hopes to reach the very top of his profession. Whether it is discussing hard times, telling fat out of shape residents in that particular city to keep the noise down or threatening to check opponents into Smackdown Hotel, these are comments that live long in the memory of wrestling fans. That said, so are the remarks of those less talented on the mic and it is those superstars, who forget they are live or mumble something incoherent, that are the focus of this Top Five.
5. Great Khali: Great signing, Johnny Ace… Signed up by Ace on a multi-year deal with a seven-figure downside, I guess it was only once the ink was dry that the company realised he was hopeless in the ring and, somewhat remarkably, even worse on the microphone. Still, the company ploughed on giving him a title run before he was relegated to comedy act. Perhaps it’s harsh to criticise him and instead feel sorry for him through it not being his fault. Still, we can all agree he was woeful on the microphone.
4. Scott Steiner: From shoot style wrestler to ‘genetic freak’ by the late 90s, Steiner is a walking advert for don’t do [redacted]. “Daddy is that man bringing a tiger to the ring?” “He sure is son. That’s why you should never do [redacted].” In the eyes of bookers, Steiner had a body worth millions of dollars. Shame his promo skills were only worth a few cents… still, you sure as hell wouldn’t tell the crazy bastard that he was terrible on the microphone, certainly not if you were in arms’ length of him.
3. Ahmed Johnson: By God did Vince McMahon have a thing for Ahmed Johnson in the mid-90s, despite no discernible talent that really set him apart from others. A powerhouse look, admittedly, but it’s difficult to work out what he was worse at: talking on the mic, protecting his opponents or staying injury-free. A combination at being awful at all three meant that whatever Vince saw in Johnson was never realised and instead he spent time mumbling into mics, injuring opponents or finding himself on the shelf as he recovered from various injuries.
2. Sycho Sid: If you were a booker in the 90s looking for a talent that couldn’t speak well on a mic and was liable to flounce off to play softball, then Sid was your guy. “I have half the brain you do” is an unforgettable line from Sid. Sure, he was talking to Scott Hall and Kevin Nash so technically right but still, you don’t get points for playing yourself down. Sid’s career is remarkable as despite being known for being lousy on the mic and in the ring, he managed to be a main eventer in two different companies and headline two WrestleManias. Not bad for a guy with half a brain… Oh, “we’re live, pal.”
1. The Ultimate Warrior: Really, just see the remarks made about the worth of Steiner’s body compared to promo skills and attribute it to this man too. You could tell what he was trying to do, he was trying to tell a story about the power of the Warriors (fans) and the impact that would have on him (Warrior – crazy name changing bastard). However, difficulties arose when the WWE expected Warrior to be able to put those words in the correct order and put together a coherent promo. Still, didn’t stop him becoming Intercontinental then World Heavyweight Champion in the WWF and a guy that Vince McMahon went back to several times despite having his fingers burned every time.
5. Davey Boy Smith: The reason I put the Bulldog on this list, is because it’s amazing he got as far as he did while being as awful on the mic as he was. He was a great wrestler with a natural charisma that worked wonders for the WWF in Europe but if you ever actually listened to one of his promos out of context you’d probably be shocked to learn that this guy was a huge star. His greatest moment on the microphone was probably his reaction to the Shockmaster incident. “He fell flat on his fookin arse”.
4. John Zandig: He’s low on the list because his most famous promo, JEEEZZZUSSSSS, is bloody hilarious. Zandig is everything that’s wrong with promos on the independent level all rolled into one self-aggrandising, more metal than thou ball of scar tissue. He also commits a promo cardinal sin, he claims he’s going to kill his opponents. Pro Player Tip: If you claim you’re going to kill your opponents you are going to sound like a moron.
3. Brad Maddox: This dweeb couldn’t cut a promo with a carving knife but for some reason WWE decided he’d make a good GM/Authority figure on RAW. He had zero charisma, flat delivery and a boring character.
2. Vince Russo: This is a shoot bro, Vince Russo was one of da worst talkers evah, bro! It was painful to watch Russo live out his heel fantasies on Nitro and the early days of TNA. Relying on cheap heat and insider references Russo took as many shortcuts on the mic as he did in his booking ledger, with similar results.
1. Linda McMahon: Linda should never have been put on TV. The fact that her best on camera run was as a drugged-up mute tells you all you need to know about her mic skills.
You can read all previous Top Five pieces here.