For the 17 years I’ve been in the wrestling business, I have had the opportunity to learn what makes a great promo. Actually, the learning experience began when I was a kid, a fan growing up in Florida. Seeing that Eddie Graham is being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame made me think about how much I learned as a fan about the power of the spoken word.
A great match on TV entertains the fans but promos sell tickets. Look at the biggest draws in the history of wrestling… Hogan, Austin and the Rock. Eric Stein made a great point last week about the need for catchphrases to develop stars. All three mastered the idea of the promo and working with Rock and Austin closely, I know how much they valued their mic time.
So, to everyone who wants to get into wrestling or currently wonders how to create a great promo, here’s a simple guide.
Did you ever write an essay in high school? A great wrestling promo follows the same format. In the camps I’ve done at Slamtech, I have the attendees draw an upside down triangle, then three rectangles directly underneath and then a regular triangle under that.
Every great promo can start with a broad, ear-catching statement that may not have anything to do with the point but it gets the audience’s attention. Hooking the audience is the key. Jake Roberts and Arn Anderson were masters at this. Then, you begin to tie it into your main point. That completes the upside-down triangle.
Next, two or three points to back up your main point. The reasons why you’ll win or how you’ll get revenge. That completes the rectangles.
Then, restate your main point and wind up with tying back in your broad statement that you led with. Follow this format every time and every promo you deliver will be solid. Blend in your character’s catchphrases and BOOM! You’re in! Here’s an example. I’ll cut a promo here as Randy Orton for WrestleMania and why I’m going to win.
“My grandfather, the legendary Bob Orton Sr., stuck his finger into the eyesocket of his opponent and with no care, extracted the eyeball and left it dangling, helpless. The lesson? Don’t try to take something from an Orton! With that as a lesson I heard growing up over and over again, what do you think I’ll do to keep my WWE Championship at WrestleMania?
John Cena… you already know what I’ll do. I tore your chest apart and nearly kicked your father into early Alzheimer’s. On the biggest stage of them all, WrestleMania, trying to take my title… I’ll do even worse.
Triple H… you already know what I’ll do. Your leg muscle shredded, your career nearly over. You’ve pushed and pushed and now I’m going to push back. I’ve torn your leg, now I’ll tear your dreams at WrestleMania.
To all the fans, you already know what I’ll do. I wish I could hurt each and every one of you. But since I legally can’t, I’ll destroy your heroes. You hate me, well I hate you more.
That’s what will happen at WrestleMania. Randy Orton retains the WWE Championship. (pause and come back in quiet) Do you know why my grandfather ripped that poor guy’s eye out? (LOUD) Because he tried to take something away from an Orton!”
That will take just about 1:15 and is the average time of every backstage interview on RAW. It makes a point, hooks the audience from the get-go and establishes Orton as a heel.
I’ve taught this for a while now and utilizing this tool has helped everyone who follows it. I tell the guys and girls to come up with interesting aspects of their characters and exploit them. Interesting material that you come up with (as opposed to waiting for a writer to hand you something) will get you more airtime and more money.
Thanks to Bob and the gang from EPW and I can’t wait to come back!