B. Dangerous, Brian Damage, Gypsy King and Lowlife Louie Ramos
This week’s top five is all about wrestlers who were really good inside the ring, but weren’t the best at doing interviews and promos. We would also like to give a warm welcome to a new contributor to the blog…The Gypsy King! Welcome!
There was a time where wrestling was largely about in-ring athleticism, but over time promos became a massive element with TV exposure becoming progressively more common. Not everyone was gifted in both regards.
This is my Top 5:
5- Bobby Eaton
An absolutel gem in the ring, but definitely needed James E. Cornette to bring it all together.
4- Bob Backlund
Backlund was a beast in the ring, but was lacking on the mic as an All-American Boy babyface. However, that did improve significantly once he became the crazed Mr. Bob Backlund.
3- Lex Luger
Poor Lex… The best he ever was had him associated with Harley Race, who carried the passion for him while Luger just had to speak slowly and confidently. When left to his own, “The Total Package” was really the “Mostly Package”.
2- Greg Valentine
“The Hammer” was as solid as anyone of his generation in the ring, but he was definitely at his best when he had a manager to speak on his behalf.
1- Bret Hart
“The Hitman” wasn’t terrible on the mic, but clearly his promos were not equal to his in-ring work. He had no real passion in his inflection and was no match when pitted against top-talkers on the mic.
Mark Callaway was a tremendous big man wrestler who could have a great match with just about anybody during his prime. When on the microphone on interviews or promos….to me…they just didn’t measure up to who he was as a legendary performer.
I think the ‘Dog Faced Gremlin’ gets overlooked by just how good he was in the ring. A wrestler who could brawl, be technical or just simply overpower his opponents. While a gifted wrestler….Rick Steiner wasn’t the best on the mic. His brother Scott wasn’t great either, but used his craziness in promos to get them over.
The Man of 1,000 holds was truly one of the all time great technical wrestlers. While many felt his size is what held down his career from going farther than it did…to me…it was his paint drying style of promos that ultimately did him in.
Bryan Danielson/Daniel Bryan
I will give credit where credit is due and say that while with WWE, Bryan improved vastly from when he started in his career. Some of his interviews and promos were just pure intensity….overall though, not the greatest on the mic despite being one of the best all around wrestlers in the world.
A well rounded wrestler who could easily have a five star caliber match with many. He also had great charisma, but most of the time his promos weren’t up to par with how good he really was as a wrestler. The Hulk Hogan promo aside.
5 Lex Luger:
Luger gets an unfair rap as a worker as despite his muscle bound persona and lukewarm WWF run in the 90s, in the late 80s, Lex had a golden run of matches where he performed admirably against the likes of Flair, Sting and Vader. On the mic however, Lex proved he was far from being “The Total Package” with a dull and generic delivery that undersold his slept-on ring work.
4 AJ Styles:
As good a worker as any in the last 20 years, Styles promo ability is akin to his awful side torso tattoo. Awkward, lacking any reason to make you emotionally invested in him as heel or face, and underpinned by the knowledge of his well evidenced religious bent and questionable views on topics like homosexuality, Styles is far from “Phenomenal” at talking the walk.
3. British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith:
In 1992 there was no doubting that Smith was one of the biggest draws in wrestling and popular on both sides of the Atlantic. Perhaps the reason why he never reached the upper echelons and held a world heavyweight title was due to his inability to bust out a fire promo. With an awkward accent that mashed up elements of his upbringing in northern England, Canada and the States, and hos well documented struggles with addiction. Smith could never speak with the cadence and fire of his peers.
2. Jeff Hardy:
Jeff has had a chequered career dogged by struggles with substance misuse, but also characterised by periods when motivated and energised to be a hugely popular and technically innovative fan favourite. Sadly, that doesn’t stretch to being able to match his grappling abilities on the mic, where he comes off as a laid back, stilted North Carolinan with none of the fire and flourishes that characterise his unique mat prowess. Ironically his brother Matt, who is by far the inferior worker of the siblings from a wrestling standpoint, is one of the most gifted and imaginative talkers in the business when given free reign.
1. Chris Benoit:
It is always difficult writing about Benoit, for obvious reasons. In ring he was one of the greatest to ever step inside the squared circle. But just as he was known to be an intense, insular and socially awkward character outside of his inner circle, he was also very limited on his ability to deliver promos that matched his intensity in the ring.
5) Brock Lesnar
Undoubtedly one of the toughest and most successful wrestlers ever. Lesnar is a multiple time heavyweight and universal champion ,and UFC heavyweight champion. Even through all the success, Lesnar never speaks much. For years choosing to let the tremendously eloquent and incendiary advocate, Paul Heyman do his talking for him. Lesnar has shown a few flashes when given a microphone, but way not enough considering what he has achieved.
4) Dory Funk Jr
The son of legendary Texas promoter and wrestler Dory Sr and brother of equally legendary Terry..Dory Funk is a pure wrestler’s wrestler. A former NWA champion as well a champion everywhere else, he is also a trainer to some huge names in the sport. The only flaw in Funk’s arsenal was his promo game..which could never touch the flair and bravado of his younger sibling.
3) Barry Windham.
Another 2nd generation star Windham is a former world and tag team champion. A member of the four horsemen and one of the most underrated technicians of his time, able to work anyone in any style and go 1 hour in the process., . Windham always seemed to need a mouthpiece, whether it was Lou Albano, J.J Dillon or Curt Henning in the west Texas rednecks, it always seemed like he rather wrestle.
2) Chris Benoit
A controversial choice to add to any list, Benoit was one of the pure, great talents in the wrestling business. Another former world champion, tag champion and so many other accolades, Benoit did his hard hitting, no nonsense offense do his talking for him. Altho he could speak ,his promos always seemed forced, a stark contrast of the naturalism he exhibited between the ropes
1) Dean Malenko
The man of 1,000 holds, Malenko should rank high in anyone’s pure pound for pound list. One of the greatest technical and counter wrestlers ever. Malenko rarely spoke. He let his dazzling moveset do his talking. Sadly the one time he was given a speaking storyline was to make him stalk Lita, a gimmick that would never fly today..