Wrestling isn't the only talent WWE superstars need to master in order to be considered main event caliber wrestlers. They also need to effectively project their in-ring character with the help of excellent skills on the microphone.
Take CM Punk and John Cena, for example. These two superstars are arguably the first and second best wrestlers WWE currently has on their roster, and they reached these heights with their impressive mic skills.
But of the two, CM Punk is the clearly the best in the world.
CM Punk is a more entertaining superstar on the microphone than John Cena simply because of their respective target audiences.
John Cena is mostly directed toward the younger PG crowd, which tends to limit the things he can and cannot say. Often when he can say something outlandish, he opts for the less suggestive way of saying it for the sake of not offending his fans.
CM Punk, on the other hand, relates more to the older crowd—the fans who saw the Attitude Era firsthand and know that Punk is reminiscent of that time, though lacks a certain edgier quality considering WWE’s shift to a PG television rating.
Part of the reason CM Punk is able to reach more fans than John Cena does are his allusions to wrestling’s past or to pop culture. The more a wrestler references, the more effective he is on the mic.
Just this past Monday night on Raw, Punk made various references to the old wrestling territories going up against Memphis legend Jerry “The King” Lawler.
During this Monday’s cage match, Punk made an ode to the one of Lawler’s more noted feuds—with the late Andy Kaufman—as he pranced around the ring.
Even when he is not in the ring, CM Punk’s references allow him to be the character WWE wants him to be. CM Punk even tweeted about Kaufman last week after he kicked Jerry Lawler on last week’s Raw.
I did it for Andy Kaufman.— CM Punk (@CMPunk) August 21, 2012
John Cena, on the other hand, isn't able to make these kinds of references because his audience typically isn't old enough to remember these factoids, leaving Cena with only very little references to get his point across.
Even when he formed the Straight Edge Society, CM Punk was known for dropping his appropriately named pipe bombs. He was a cut above the rest in terms of pushing the envelope, and still is.
Take for example, his infamous shoot promo just last year. Punk was given the green light to rant about virtually everything he thought was wrong with WWE.
He spared no one, ranting about Vince McMahon’s business management, the culture of the locker room and how he was overlooked early on in his career.
He did all this while John Cena was laying in the ring after going through a table in a match against R-Truth.
As entertaining as John Cena can be on the mic, unless there is a drastic heel turn, he will never do something of that magnitude.
It’s not just that CM Punk has great promos; he also has the wrestling skills to back up that talk, especially now since he has been WWE Champion for so long.
One of the many complaints about John Cena is his lack of an extensive wrestling move set.
Cena can talk a mean game, but his wins aren’t as impressive given that he usually wins with three of four moves.
CM Punk is one of the—if not the—best in-ring talent WWE has. And while that’s a valuable asset by itself, the combination of his in-ring abilities combined with his skills on the mic truly make him the best in the world at what he does.