Top 5 Wrestling Promos (that aren’t by Ric Flair)

1. Mad Dog Vachon. I couldn’t find this video on Youtube for years, and now… bang! As in bang, bang, bang goes Mad Dog Vachon’s hammer as he builds his coffin.  His delivery is just slightly over-the-top, without going into pure camp as most modern wrestling promos do.  I love Mad Dog’s bug-eyed glare as he talks about the mines (“deep down where it’s dark”) and building his coffin for Jerry Blackwell. Plus, f0r some odd reason he refers to the coffin as “taboot- that’s the word in arabic for this!,” which sure enough is correct.  Mad Dog needs to make an entire “Learn Arabic in 30 days” album. He already has had a bit of a recording career, and in addition to having a face made for radio, he has a voice that could shatter glass.

2. Terry Funk is a wrestling legend. Most of his promos are great. He has this unhinged redneck persona that seems genuinely crazy.  If you can only detect a touch of camp in Mad Dog Vachon’s delivery, it’s hard to pick up any in Funk’s. The above video is totally amazing, words cannot do it justice although I will try. Funk is standing up in a shower and covers himself in motor oil and “dirty, filthy dirt” in order to know, in his words, “how it feels to be a true Florida cracker.” I had a hard time choosing between this and the Memphis Wrestling promo below where he comes out with lines like “I BEAT A MAN HALF TO DEATH IN HOUSTON FOR CALLING ME YELLOW!”

“When I was just a kid, I used to take legs and bite ’em off grasshoppers and eat ’em, and my Daddy used to tell me, ‘Terry, why do you do that stuff?,’ and I said ‘Just for the hell of it, Dad!'”

3. Jake the Snake Roberts was probably the best promo man of my childhood.  His promo about the Million Dollar Man where he coins the phrase “wallowing in the muck of avarice” is genius (as is Gene Okerlund’s deadpan response that “Longfellow couldn’t have said it better”). Roberts was one of those guys that had so much personality that even when he started out as a heel, people didn’t love to hate him, they actually loved him. He had a dark charisma and an unsettling persona that was more or less who he actually was as a person.  Check him out smoking crack and talking about the local yokels in the excellent wrestling documentary Beyond The Mat if you need to see for yourself.  In this promo, Roberts brings a disturbing amount of R rated sexuality to the PG world of Saturday morning wrestling as he discusses slapping Randy Savage’s wife Miss Elizabeth. Breathing as heavy as an obscene phone caller and talking in a raspy voice about how slapping her felt so good, he would pay to do it, Roberts come off like the real life Max Cady.  I can’t believe that myself and every other 11 year old in the country was watching this. The whole thing is quotable, but Roberts really puts his pimp hat on at the end, when he tells Savage to leave Elizabeth with him, saying, “I can cultivate her into something that even I could want!”

4. Unlike Jake the Snake, the Ultimate Warrior was not known for his talking ability. A big fan favorite among young fans in the late 80’s, Ultimate Warrior had a stunning physique and terrible wrestling skills. He was not particularly great on the mic either, his shtick consisted mostly of snorting and wheezing while talking about his home planet where warriors like him come from. It was sort of metaphysics operating at a retard level. But, in this promo, the weirdness clicks and really goes somewhere.  Describing Hulk Hogan flying to Wrestlemania, he commands an apparently hypnotized Hogan to kick down the cabin door in his airplane, dispose of the pilots, and shove the plane’s control into a nosedive.  It doesn’t seem make any sense, there is no context for it really, but it sounds totally awesome.

5. Dusty Rhodes is so odd, he could only be American. An overweight, bleached blond, slick talking white guy who has the brass balls to refer to himself as the “greatest sports attraction in the world.” Dusty Rhodes is also the blackest sounding white dude this side of Jerry Reed. As he himself says, he is “287 pounds of sweet soul.” He has so many great promos, but the above one is classic, because you can see how much the audience loves this misshapen freak as he talks about hard times in America.  It’s a brilliant move to compare his beating at the hands of Ric Flair to the plight of “a man (who) has worked a job thirty years, thirty years, and they give him a watch, kick him in the butt, and say a computer took your job, daddy!” As a side note, even Hulk Hogan used to call people “daddy” before he switched over to “brother.” Must be a 70’s thing…

The one below is my personal favorite, because he has the cadence of a preacher, yet the word choice of a hillbilly on a DMT trip.   If a big fat man on a pink princess phone free associating about Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis, Jerry Lawler, some Chuck Berry lyrics, and race relations doesn’t make you smile, I can’t help you.

“I might even be there early, with 17 dancing go-go bears”

Bonus Beats: Space Mountain himself, Ric Flair

“Last year I spent more money on spilt liquor than you made!”

“At Delta, the girls call me “Cool,” at Eastern, they call me “Slick Ric”, and all the woman around the world just say ‘there goes the man’…”

“It’s Rolex Time, so don’t be bringing out one of those Mickey Mouse watches!”

“To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man, and I’m saying, WHOOOO, right here, in Nashville, Tennesee, I’M-THE-MAN!”

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About peter

musings about music, culture, food, and more... twittering, tumbling, and instagramming: @PgunnNYC http://axchem.tumblr.com/
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