“Who is the best talker in wrestling history?”
When people ask this question, Jerry Lawler, veteran wrestler and longtime WWE announcer, may not be the first name you think of. Oh, sure, he’s considered “great” by many, and would undoubtedly make people’s top five or top 10 lists, but the best ever?
Some many see that as a stretch.
Instead they’d go with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who has electrified wrestling crowds (and cinema audiences) for years now with his dazzling promo work. Or Steve Austin, whose mic skills in his tremendous employer vs. boss feud with Vince McMahon turned around a struggling company and helped make it into a highly profitable billion dollar organization.
Or how about John Cena, a wrestler blessed with a talking ability that has turned him into one of the biggest stars in history?
They may even throw out CM Punk’s name, whose smooth talking and searing work/shoot promos have helped revive interest in Raw and the WWE product in general.
However, as amazingly talented as these men are (and they are), I would personally give the nod to Jerry Lawler, who is currently recuperating at home following his massive heart attack live on Raw last week.
Simply put, “The King” is, when it comes to talking, probably the best all-rounder out of everyone. Sure, The Rock can cut amazing promos, but how would he handle being in the announcers’ booth and having to call matches two hours every week? Likewise, how could Steve Austin, never a great ad-libber, cope in the same situation?
CM Punk actually did try his hand at announcing, in late 2010 to early 2011, and while he certainly wasn’t awful by any means, aside from churning out the occasional witty one-liner that winked to the internet fans, he seemed largely bored most of the time.
Indeed, Lawler’s strengths, and his claim at being the best talker in the industry, lie in that fact that he truly can do everything when it comes to the talking aspect of things. To be able to commentate on WWE programming (a far harder job than it looks, by the way, just look at all the people who have failed miserably at it over the years) and do such a great job at it you become part of a classic duo—Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross—and are widely considered the voice of the company? Lawler’s done that.
His verbal skills as a wrestler are superb, too. Sell a feud to the masses? Check out his (now considered classic) feud with Andy Kaufman in the ‘80s. (In his most major movie role to date, Lawler even played himself in the critically-acclaimed Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon, starring Jim Carrey, and, unsurprisingly, did a terrific job of it).
His deeply personal 2011 feud with The Miz was also tremendous and helped get Miz over as a top heel and credible WWE Champion. Even Lawler’s most recent work, battling with the newly turned CM Punk, has been top-notch and blows away what most of the company’s top babyfaces can do on the mic.
Of course, not everyone will be persuaded. Some will claim that it's exposure and ability to draw money that makes someone hold a valid claim to being “the best talker in history,” meaning Rock or Cena deserve the title. But I reckon Lawler’s long, credible track record of great mic work makes him a genuine top contender, even if, as noted, he’s not the first person you would think of.