GUEST POST: cutting a promo for beginners

[What up, Wrestlegasmers? As you know from my last post, I’m back in the country and have been recovering from a hellish couple of days of travelling. After a lovely Christmas Day with the family I’m just about over that, but the jet-lag’s lingering. Knowing I’d be in this confused bodyclock state, when Wrestlegasm fan-boy MC asked if he could write a guest post a couple of weeks ago, it seemed like the perfect thing to keep you people interested while I fully juice back up again.

I’m often asked by rookies what they need to know to get a firm grip on professional wrestling. In his guest post, MC has tackled the art of the promo. Read on and enjoy! And if you want to visit MC’s own blog, clickedy-click right here. ]

Hi Everyone. This is your friend from the Commonwealth, MC, and I’ve enjoyed Wrestlegasm so much over the past few months that I wanted to contribute to the fun, and Ray was gracious enough to give me a chance to prove myself. Perhaps it will be the first of many, or maybe not. You never can tell with this sort of thing, but I appreciate the opportunity and I will try not to track too much mud on the carpet.

Anyhow, on with the task at hand.

The purpose of a promo is to sell something… whether it is an upcoming match, a feud or even just a character, so a great one can turn even the most mundane of these tasks into a work of pure genius. Thus it is important that you keep a few things in mind if you want to do your best. Of course, many of these skills are applicable outside the sphere of wrestling; so don’t be afraid to experiment at your place of work within reason. And I do mean within reason, because no one wants the police to show up because frankly, think of all that paperwork.

The thing you should strive for above all else is to make people believe that you are the toughest person out there. Yes, you may have flaws, but any opponent you face, well, you are better than them. Even if you are discussing some other aspect of yourself that is not seemingly ring-related, if you are skilled at the art of cutting a promo, you can make people believe that it is the most relevant thing. This is especially true if you have a gimmick, whether it is your particular lifestyle, your day job (it was amazing how many people with day jobs like IRS agents, police officers, garbage men and such were also wrestlers in the 1980’s and 1990’s, wasn’t it) or the fact that you are related to someone who was big in your industry or the person who is running the whole show.

That being said, you don’t even have to be completely coherent to deliver a great promo. If you can tell me what The Ultimate Warrior was talking about 100% of the time, I want to know what medications you are on (or perhaps lacking).

The fact that people in the audience may find themselves repeating what you’ve said so they can get a handle on it means that by the rout educational method, they have a good chance of remembering at least part of what you have said, which is really half the battle. If people start yelling “What?” in unison, and you aren’t a charismatic rebel with a shaved head, well, then you may be stunned by the events that follow.

If you can’t make someone afraid of you because of your technical prowess, scheming or never say die attitude, well, you could always make them think you are crazy, because crazy people have no logic. Nothing says that you are a man or woman who is capable of striking a foe or coworker down in their prime with a well-placed bell to the throat like showing up one day with a sock puppet, or breaking a beer bottle over your head. And let’s say you weigh 500 pounds and you show up in a pink tutu… people are going to talk, no matter what you say, but I am sure you’d have a few things on your mind… and a few people wanting to give you an intervention, but that is another story.

Of course, if you lack an intimidating presence, well, you can always try making people laugh. I mean everyone loves a clown, err… I mean, the funny guy. Maybe they’ll underestimate you and you can wail on them while they are rolling around laughing at you… or you can mock them mercilessly and get the crowd/onlookers on your side. If you can make a pop culture reference while doing so, well, then that is more power to you, because when you want a title match, sometimes connecting it to a larger cultural phenomenon can help. And sometimes being funny can be mistaken for being charismatic, and that’s not the kind of mistake you want to correct. And if you are not down with that, then I have two words for you: threaten them!

You can often get away with just say “I am going to hurt you!” but after a while that might get boring, so you have to be specific enough in your threat to keep things interesting without being too specific. Saying you are going to headbutt someone’s teeth through their skull is good… saying you are going to give someone a compound fracture in their femur by giving them repeated blunt force trauma with a foreign object is being way too specific… unless you are a doctor, and then you have to say you are giving them a few cc’s of asskicking or something equally medical sounding. That is the only real way of pulling that off.

And speaking of education, you might be able to get away with calling someone a gelatinous parasitic tapeworm if you are a former teacher or the best in the world at what you do, but in most cases, it will just make you sound like an unlikable jackass… and unless that is what you are going for, you should generally try to avoid that. If you went to divinity school, well, the skies the limit really… you can basically run with anything in the Bible, and you can generally get away with it, so sermonize away. That’s right, preach it.

Now, when it comes to selling a match or a feud, while it is important to tell people that you are going to win, saying that your opponent sucks is poor form. After all, if you beat up someone who is totally inept and has no business being in the same company as you, let alone a ring, well, then you don’t look like someone who means business, rather you just look like a bully, and that does nothing to increase your credibility.  The key to setting up a classic match or feud is to say that your opponent is good, but you are better. Of course, you sort of have to say this, even if you know that, in fact, your opponent is going to utterly destroy you, like an eagle facing a worm.

Selling that feud for a long period of time is also going to require you to occasionally up the ante, because after a while, the same barbs aren’t going to have the same effect. Aside from just talking a good game, you may also have to resort to increasingly brutal tactics, like kicking someone in the head or ambushing them when they least suspect it to keep the edge in your personal battle for dominance. But you have to know how far is too far, because there is a definite line between awesome and awful. For instance, under no circumstances should you crash the funeral of someone’s father and drag the coffin away… or do anything with a dead body really.

But the most important thing you should remember when delivering a promo is to just have fun with it. If you are bored with what you are doing, then chances are, everyone in the audience will be too. So, if all else fails, I guess you could always pretend to be someone else every week… I am sure that will work out well for you. Though thinking about it… that didn’t work out too well for the last guy that did that.

Maybe I should be telling you to be the best version of yourself you can be. And if you say that enough times before a match, you too will have your own catchphrase t-shirt. Just remember to give me my cut (and give Ray a taste too)!

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One thought on “GUEST POST: cutting a promo for beginners

  1. Can you believe this whole thing started because I was thinking about A Knight’s Tale and Wat’s angry tirades about the fonging he was going to unleash upon poor gambler Chaucer.

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