Look, I had to do 20 because the achievement of whittling down an industry full of some of the charismatic sumbitches in entertainment history to a lean 10 is just not worth all the comments of how did [x] not make the list, 6 question marks.
See, wrestling matches are all well and good, but for a match to have true substance you need to have compelling characters, an invested audience, and something, be it professional or personal, on the line.
At the centre of that triforce is a microphone and these are the best to ever wield one in a wrestling ring. The best english-speakers I mean, sorry, I don’t feel qualified to judge the quality of non-english promos, sorry Mexico, sorry Japan. Sorry.
20. Kevin Owens
It’s insane that KO is as good on the stick as he is considering that English is his second language. C’est incroyable.
Owens has mastered a style of promo, which appears to be so easy, yet eludes 95% of wrestlers, which is the ability to make it look like he is just talking.
That sounds super dumb but it’s true, he talks like a person, which in a generational of tightly scripted promos, is super rare. Also he’s one of the funniest men alive. That helps.
Watch his interviews with Michael Cole, they’re amazing.
19. Arn Anderson
Good ol’ AA has always looked like a 40 year old Dad who’s having a difficult time getting the lawn mower to start, but like most dads, if you get him talking about something he really loves, he can tell a story that spellbinds you.
Case in point, anytime you ask Arn Anderson to talk about the horsemen he’s unbelievably compelling, a proper southern poet, infinitely more articulate than he looks, watch his promo introducing a previously fired Ric Flair when he returned to Nitro in September 98.
18. Becky Lynch
It took a while for the Man to come around, but the detour was worth it, because by the time Becky Lynch arrived at the persona that would catapult to the top of women’s wrestling, she’d arrive with battle scars, a swagger in her step and an authentic bass in her voice.
Finally getting to hear Becky Lynch be as cool as she could be, to speak with the unabashed bravado that we knew she was capable of, it harkened us back to the dripping anti-heroic charm of Steve Austin.
I miss Becky Lynch.
17. John Cena
Oh man, John Cena has delivered some of the worst promos in wrestling history.
Not because he’s a bad talker, he’s the furthest thing from it, but because he was the poster child for the flip, goofball, corporate babyface that dominated WWE for a decade.
Some fans will never forgive him for the days of mocking wrestler’s nips (I mean who’d do that) but you can’t deny that when Cena gets rolling on something serious he’s one of the most magnetic men on television.
His worked shoot promos on Styles, Bryan, Rock, Reigns, Miz, and they’re masterclasses to a man.
16. Mick Foley
Mrs Foley’s baby boy is a man of split personalities, and amazingly, all of them were good on the mic in different ways.
Cactus Jack’s unhinged Cane Dewey promo is different to Dude Love’s cheesy swagger, is different to Mankind’s dangerous manchild, is different to the Commish’s easy charm, is different to anyone else in wrestling.
Foley’s always been more than a punching bag. His falls may have made him famous, but his personality on the stick made him beloved.