John Cena vs. Roman Reigns and the Greatest Worked Shoot Promos in WWE History
While pro wrestling is a work of fiction, the lines between story and reality can often become blurred by a few simple sentences during a promo.
Some fans would prefer it if WWE kept things a little more kayfabe, but many love it when a Superstar brings something from real life into the story.
Promos usually fall into one of three specific categories. There's the worked promo, which is entirely fictional and meant to drive the story along.
There's the shoot promo. Something like this is usually reserved for interviews with past wrestlers who have an ax to grind. In fact, an entire company is based around filming shoot promos and putting them on the internet.
Then there's the worked shoot. This is designed to make people think the wrestlers are going off-script when they are instead doing exactly what management outlined.
We have seen several Superstars use this kind of promo to get themselves over in recent years. This slideshow will rank the best worked shoots in WWE history. Since WWE owns the rights to WCW and ECW, those promotions are fair game too.
10. The Birth of ECW
Shane Douglas has had many ups and downs during his long career, but there was once a time when he was pegged as the next big thing in pro wrestling.
The Franchise had worked for both WWE and WCW before he found the promotion where he could be himself. At the time, it was known as Eastern Championship Wrestling.
It was a National Wrestling Alliance territory at the time, and Douglas wound up winning the coveted NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
After the match, Douglas went on a tirade about not wanting to be the champion of a dead promotion before throwing the belt on the ground and declaring himself the first Extreme Championship Wrestling champion.
ECW went on to gain a large following of fans who were tired of watching a clown wrestle a king in WWE, and it all started with Douglas.
9. Scott Hall Declares War
The Monday Night War was a great time to be a fan of pro wrestling. Both companies were doing everything they could to steal fans before the invention of the DVR.
While Raw and Nitro had already been competing for several months, it wasn't until Scott Hall interrupted a WCW match that the battle truly began.
This happened before the internet allowed dirt sheets to spoil every big reveal, so fans had no idea why a popular WWE Superstar was jumping over the barricade and stealing a microphone.
Hall mocked WCW's roster and product before stating he was declaring war on Eric Bischoff and WCW. At a time when kayfabe was still prevalent, people thought Hall had actually invaded WWE's biggest competition.
Once Kevin Nash showed up, it became clear this was all part of a larger plan to introduce the NWO, but Hall's defiant promo is what got the ball rolling.
It's a shame The Bad Guy never held a world title in WWE or WCW because he proved on multiple occasions he had what it took to carry a company on his back, and this was one of those moments.
8. The Rock's Wrist Notes
The Rock is easily the most successful person to transition from pro wrestling to Hollywood, but The Great One never lost the itch to get in the ring.
He surprised the world when he chose to return to the company in 2011. While everyone had a list of dream opponents for Rocky to face, it was obvious he was going to feud with John Cena.
The two had been compared to each other for years, especially once Cena became the face of the company and started getting offers to appear in movies.
During one of their heated confrontations, Cena ripped into The Rock for not being as dedicated to the sport as he claims. It was somewhat ironic since he was heading in the same direction.
When Cena exposed The Rock for writing promo notes on his wrist, the arena erupted with laughter and applause. It helped make their feud seem more personal, which is always a good thing in pro wrestling.
7. Bret Hart Loses It
Bret Hart spent the majority of his WWE career as a babyface, and he ended up becoming one of the most popular wrestlers in the world. He rarely broke the rules and always gave his glasses to a lucky fan at ringside.
However, fans' preferences were beginning to alter, and WWE decided it needed to adapt accordingly. Management booked him to face "Stone Cold" Steve Austin at WrestleMania 13, and that's when everything changed.
At the end of their match, Hart refused to break the Sharpshooter. A bloodied Austin was writhing in pain, but he refused to tap out. In less than one minute, Hart and Austin switched places as the company's biggest hero and villain.
The following night on Raw, Hart unloaded on the WWE Universe, especially the American fans he said turned their backs on him.
It was a heartbreaking moment for the kids who looked up to The Hitman, but it helped set in motion the push that would launch Austin and make him one of the most recognizable stars in the business.
6. Jerry Lawler Punches Andy Kaufman
Andy Kaufman was one of the most unconventional comedians in the world during his storied career. He would often design his act so he would generate boos instead of laughs.
While the Taxi star was known to be a bit of an oddball, it still surprised a lot of people when he decided to get involved in the ridiculous world of pro wrestling.
This was during the '70s, so WWE had not yet become the juggernaut it is today. Jerry Lawler brought him into the into the Memphis wrestling scene after he became famous for fighting women in intergender matches.
Lawler and Kaufman were friends, but their performances were convincing enough to make people think they had a deep hatred for each other.
Their appearance on Late Night with David Letterman is what made their feud famous. Lawler ended up breaking Kaufman's jaw at one point.
Every time Kaufman would step into the ring, he would insult the crowd by calling them rednecks and showing them how to bathe properly. It got him instant heel heat and made him one of the most hated men in the industry.
5. John Cena Schools Roman Reigns
It was only a matter of time before WWE put Cena and Roman Reigns into a high-profile feud, but nobody expected it to get personal so quickly.
During the contract signing for their upcoming match at No Mercy, Cena proceeded to lay into Reigns. He called The Big Dog a corporate-created copy of himself and ridiculed him when he forgot a line in the exchange.
Reigns was able to fire back some good insults about Cena burying young talent, but he was put in his place again when Cena brought up his wellness policy suspension.
Some people think the joke about Reigns' inability to pass a drug test crossed the line, but it's unlikely Cena would have said something like that without having it approved first.
4. Jim Ross Turns Heel
Jim Ross is one of the most beloved commentators in wrestling history, but there was a time when he was working as a heel.
Ross' contract expired in 1994, and WWE chose not to renew it. Two weeks later, Ross suffered his first Bell's palsy attack.
When he returned to the company in 1996 to take over for Vince McMahon, Good Ol' JR unleashed a verbal assault on the company and Mr. McMahon.
At the time, McMahon was never acknowledged as WWE's owner on television, so Ross bringing that information up during his speech was why some people thought he was going into business for himself.
The villainous Ross introduced the fake Razor Ramon and fake Diesel characters as part of the storyline, but it ended up fizzling out because everyone knew Scott Hall and Kevin Nash were creating the NWO in WCW.
After it became clear fans would never fully turn on Ross, WWE had him revert to his babyface ways, and he went on to become the most respected announcer in the company.
3. The Miz Knows His Worth
Talking Smack may be gone, but it will always be remembered fondly as a semi-unscripted show wherein wrestlers could share their real feelings.
Daniel Bryan and Renee Young would often joke with heels they didn't get along with on SmackDown, but there was one person who was never going to break character.
The Miz stepped up and delivered some of the best promos of his career on no fewer than three occasions. However, one segment stands out above the rest.
The August 23, 2016, episode of Talking Smack saw Bryan and The Miz get into a heated argument over the A-lister's perceived style of wrestling like a coward.
This promo put the show on people's radars, but more importantly, it made fans care about The Miz again and realize he was one of the best talkers in the industry.
Since that night, The Miz has continued to prove he is an incredible mic worker, and if there's any justice in this world, his hard work will lead to another world title in the near future.
2. The Love Triangle
Edge and Lita are Hall of Famers, and The Hardy Boyz have all but guaranteed themselves a spot in the HOF after they retire.
While they all seem to be on good terms these days, there was once a time when their real issues were used in a WWE storyline.
While nobody but those three individuals—Edge, Lita and Matt Hardy—will ever know the complete story of what went down, everyone remembers the segments on WWE television wherein they trashed each other.
Lita probably regretted the situation, but all three Superstars were able to take the next step in their careers because of the interest people had in their situation.
It's hard to tell how much of what was said between them on air was scripted, but it sure felt like everything coming out of Hardy's mouth was how he felt.
1. The Pipe Bomb
CM Punk was one of the most popular wrestlers in the world when he decided to leave WWE, and one of the things that helped him was his infamous pipe bomb promo.
It has been over six years since Punk sat on the stage and ranted about the state of the business. Cena had just been put through a table by R-Truth, so he sat in the ring recovering while he was forced to listen to Punk's speech.
He even invoked Vince McMahon's name, which is usually frowned upon when he is not working as a character on television.
Punk's promo was so convincing many people thought he was going against the company and hijacking the show as if McMahon wouldn't have had the ability to cut to commercial or have one of the bodybuilders he employs remove him by force.
People still talk about this segment more than three years after Punk left the company and chose to focus on MMA. That's how powerful a worked shoot can be if done properly.