WWE: The Power of the Promo – by Mike Sanchez

I’ve always been fascinated by gifted speakers or orators. People who can stand in front of crowds and deliver heartfelt, passionate words to the masses. They stand in the spotlight, knowing thousands of pairs of ears are hanging on every word, eager to experience what the speaker has to say. Many have made their mark in history with their words, such as Martin Luther King and Winston Churchill who delivered speeches that still make the small hairs on the back of your neck rise with emotion.

Words have impact and are important. While I won’t digress into the complexities of language here (it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it), it’s important to note that speeches to the masses have impact. In WWE, though not on the international stage or with such gravitas as the aforementioned historical figures, words and speeches are extremely important in that business. This week saw yet another passionate exchange between John Cena and Roman Reigns on Raw. Cena dug deep from his vast arsenal of promos and produced one of his best. For Reigns, not so much but he held his own and deserves praise.

Did Reigns forget his words? Yes, but it’s important to remember that he hasn’t been doing this as long as Cena and certainly isn’t in John’s league when it comes to promos – at least, not yet. There’s an old adage that says; if you’re the smartest person in the room, find a different room. Similarly when I played darts in a competitive league some years back, our team captain would say if you’re the best player in the team, find a new team. Both pieces of life advice ring true in that you can only improve by being surrounded by people who are better than you. Reigns may not have hit the heights of Cena in Monday’s verbal exchange, but he will only improve his own promo game by surrounding himself with gifted talkers.

Professional wrestling has a history littered with gifted talkers capable of delivering epic promos that suck in the fans, hush entire arenas and boost the hype of matches. Commentary is different, yet still important in that the voice is directed to you at home and doesn’t interact with the live audience in the arena. I think there’s a definite art form to being able to talk in front of a live audience. As someone who has done this in my professional life on several occasions, it can be scary and thrilling both at the same time.

At this present moment, I believe WWE has several incredible talkers on the roster that do more than their fair share in hyping the product. You can advertise and promote all you want, but a tremendous promo from a gifted orator can make all the difference. Before Monday’s contract signing, we knew Cena vs Reigns was happening at No Mercy, the next Raw PPV. After the event, some people were saying the match shouldn’t be on such a throwaway PPV and should be saved for the Rumble or even Wrestlemania. That’s the difference and impact Cena’s promo had on the feud. That’s the hype and importance he brought with his words.

In a similar vein the same can be said about The Miz. Easily one of the best talkers in the modern era, he brings a wonderful passion to his promos. He walks the fine line between scripted and reality in what he says. He plays a great fool from time to time, but when he’s on his game and delivering a venomous, spiky promo to an opponent, it goes to a whole new level. Miz can bring real events and true stories into his promos that many either don’t want to do or can’t. He should be rightly recognized as one of the best at present. Then there’s Enzo Amore who may be dabbling in the 205 now, but certainly has the gift of gab. You can feel the confidence he brings when the mic is held to his mouth.

We can’t talk about promos without mentioning Paul Heyman. This is where WWE show their business smarts in the best way. Brock Lesnar is an immense talent, a once in a lifetime attraction, but talking isn’t his strong point. He’s more than capable, but for such a big attraction, a big persona is needed. Step in Mr Heyman. Paul takes Brock and the Universal Title to a whole other level. As the mouthpiece for the champ, he can run his mouth as much as he wants because he has a beast at his side. He tells wonderful, intricate stories while in the ring before a hushed crowd. He uses catchphrases (Ladies and gentlemen…), and still makes every segment a must-watch. Heymen is the epitome of how words and speeches matter in WWE. He’s there to build and hype Lesnar even more than he already is and succeeds every time.

From Randy Savage to Bobby Heenan. From CM Punk to The Rock, the promo is an integral part of WWE programming. Acting is hard. Talking in front of an audience is hard. So we should remember that not everyone is going to be great at it. Some will bloom while others wilt in the spotlight. While the performer will forever receive credit for their performance, the writers also deserve a mention. If you believe every epic promo was off-script, then I’m afraid you’re wrong. WWE may let some stars off the leash now and again, but it wouldn’t be prudent to tell every talent to shoot from the hip every time they take to the mic. So enjoy the highlights we get at the moment. Lose yourself in the story if but for just a while and revel in the hype when a gifted talker has you on the edge of your seat.

What do you think? Are promos that important in WWE? Did you enjoy Cena’s moment on Monday? Who are your favorite talkers and what was your favorite promo? I’d love to hear your thoughts. As always, thanks for reading.