Michael N. Todaro
Meet the microphone, professional wrestling's great equalizer.
Watching Monday Night RAW, I was reminded of just how special professional wrestling can be when you have performers who are good on the stick. CM Punk and The Rock have yet to wrestle a single match, but already have the "Universe" ablaze following their tete-a-tete inside the ring earlier this week.
It's the gift of gab, ladies and germs, and you either got it, or ya' don't.
That's not to suggest that poor mic skills are a death sentence in pro wrestling. Many performers compensate with their in-ring skills and when it comes time to talk, come tethered to a talking head like Paul Heyman. Or, they simply whittle their sentences down to three words, like "FEED ME MAWR."
There are no teleprompters in this business.
Heck, sometimes you can even get away with no talking at all, if you angle it properly. How long was it before Kane, who could only communicate through his Speak & Spell, lost the burned vocal cords gimmick and started yammering about Lita's kooch?
A long ass time.
Other guys can talk too much. Yes, I'm looking at you, Trips. Just because you can talk for 20 minutes doesn't always mean you should. Then of course we have guys who fall somewhere in the middle like Dolph Ziggler. He's got serviceable mic skills and can usually hold his own against the top shelf talkers.
Believe me, that shit's hard.
The microphone is the great equalizer. Once you open your trap, the entire "Universe" has you figured out, so if you suck, they'll know you suck, and vice versa. I've seen guys fake their way through matches, busting out a few power moves and calling it a day.
Faking your way through a promo is damn near impossible.
I remember attending an executive board meeting (in my past life as a suit) about something that had nothing to do with my department, but they had free coffee and danishes, so I sat in. 15 minutes later and I get, "Jess, I've been looking at the Davis account," from the boss. "Can you tell the board your strategy to prioritize their budget cuts for 2001?"
The entire room turns and looks at me.
"Uh...my team's strategy is to uh, prioritize their uh, (clears throat) budget cuts for uh, 2001."
I'm pretty sure that was the first time in the history of the "Big Apple" that an actual tumbleweed blew through a New York City board room. I'm great if I have time to prepare, but to jump up in front of a crowd and try to make magic happen?
Foot, meet mouth.
That's why I'm not going too hard on Big E. Lashley, who laid one helluva egg on RAW. After being the silent assassin for the past few weeks, he finally grabs the mic, gets his chance to work the crowd, but instead leaves half of them scratching their heads.
What did he just say?
I've seen his work on the local circuit and I understand his delivery, but I wasn't sure if he meant he was wrestling John Cena or if he wanted Dolph Ziggler to, and then we cut to a commercial with everyone (including the lovely AJ Lee) arguing about who's doing what.
He didn't exactly strike out, but a slow dribbler up the third base line that has you thrown out 40 feet from the bag is hardly the way to kick off your major league debut.
That puts him just above TNA IMPACT! Wrestling, who for the first time ever, had me feeling sorry for them with all those Sting promos. We have Rock coming back to WWE and electrifying the people and somewhere in the back of the crowd Dixie Carter is jumping up and down waving her arms, "Hey everybody, look, we got Sting! Sting is back!"
I'm sure for a lot of guys in the Impact Zone, it probably does sting.