Promos 101

October 22, 2007

After watching TNA’s Impact this week I was inspired to offer a free promo lesson, which I will call Promos 101. Keep in mind that I have never claimed to be able to hold a candle to the great talkers in this industry. I am not in any way shape or form a Ric Flair, a Rock, or a John Cena on the microphone. I am however a competent promo and more importantly, know the important elements of a good promo. This past week on Impact I witnessed two of the worst promos I have ever seen.

Before I point the finger at the specific promos in question, lets take a look at what promos are and what they are supposed to accomplish. Promos are supposed to PROMOTE something, thus the name. If I am going to go out and cut a promo, I am suppose promote myself, promote my opponent, promote the angle and match I am in, or in a perfect world all of the above. This business is called a business, because that is what it is. We are all out there trying to convince fans to spend money on our product. Promos are designed to get people and angles over and convince fans that what ever the person is talking about is worth paying for or at least worth tuning in to watch. All the Charisma, electricity, and excitement in the world doesn’t make for a good promo if fans care less about what you are promoting when you’ve finished talking.

The single most fundamental rule of promos is to NEVER completely bury anyone or anything! This business is a work, so when you are cutting a promo you are trying to sell the entire match or angle not just yourself. Even if you are a cocky heel you cannot just completely run down your opponent. It is both lazy and bad for business. If you call your opponent a bum, with no other build up, what do you have? If the fans believe you, you’re facing a bum; who cares. If you beat the guy, you’ve beaten a bum; who cares. Heaven forbid he beats you, and then a bum has beaten you; where does that leave you?

There are a few minor exceptions to this rule, but even in those instances it’s not really the best approach, but it’s relatively harmless. Those exceptions are guys like Ric Flair, and Hulk Hogan, who are pretty much Teflon to insults because they are so established, and over. You could run down both guys till you are blue in the face and they crowd is still going to love them, because they are legendary house hold names, but when you are dealing with less established guys, burying them is absolutely inexcusable.

This brings me to the TNA promos that inspired this commentary. The first one was by Jr. Fatu. I both know and have worked with Jr. and have a lot of respect for him, but this promo was atrocious, and never should have been allowed to air. When a company like TNA hires a guy like Jr. Fatu they do so because of the level of success he has achieved in his career. As Rikishi, Jr. Fatu was extremely over and was a very big name, so bringing him in is supposed to give the company more credibility and help elevate those he works with. His promo accomplished the exact opposite. Jr. Fatu cut a promo talking about facing Robert Roode in the Fight For Your Right Tournament. In the promo he didn’t know or care what the tournament was even called, didn’t know what his opponents name was, and continually referred to Roode as a “jobroni”.

If Jr. Fatu doesn’t care that he is in a tournament to win a World Title shot, why should we, and what does that say about the importance of a World Title Shot? Calling Roode a “Jobroni” and screwing up his name is so disrespectful and bad for business, that it isn’t even funny. This promo was a chance for a former Huge WWE star to give a TNA star some credibility, but that is not what happened. Instead we are left to believe that Roode is so unimportant and crappy that people in this industry don’t even know who he is. Why would I want to see this match when the baby face (the guy who is supposed to be telling the truth) tells me it’s an unimportant joke match? Established more experienced guys are supposed to give younger guys the rub and elevate them, not bury them!

If Jr. Fatu beats Roode in the tournament now, who cares, he beat a “jobroni” to advance in a tournament he doesn’t even care about. If Roode beats Jr. Fatu, Jr. Fatu got beat by a “jobroni”. This is the epitome of bad business, and if TNA wants to succeed, things like this CANNOT happen, ever!

The second promo I had a problem with was by another guy who should know better. Team 3D (Brother Rey) cut a promo on the Motor City Machine Guns before attacking them and power bombing both guys through tables. I would assume this segment is to create interest in a Team 3D vs. MCMG match. Team 3D is by far the more established team, so elevating the Machine Guns should be the goal of this segment. This leaves a sane booker, two options.

Option 1: The heels can come out and build the faces up verbally, talking about how every body loves these guys, and how the MCMGs are younger faster and more exciting team that everyone is talking about, but that Team 3D is still the big kids on the block and that the Guns will need to go through them to prove themselves. Then when the attack happened the Guns should have gotten the advantage only to have the rug pulled out from under them leading to the power bombs. This way we as fans can get behind the MCMG hoping they get their revenge.

Option 2: Team 3D comes out and buries these guys verbally, being cocky heels, to create heat, only to have their attack fail with the MCMG getting the upper hand running off Team 3D, sending the message that the verbal burial was complete bullshit.

What we got was of course the worst combination of the two. We had Team 3D come out and tell us that the MCMG (who are actually getting over) are unimportant and useless, as is the whole X-Division (why they are also burying the X-Div. Is beyond me, they are in the Tag Team Division after all) then they hit the ring and killed the unimportant useless tag team to drive home the fact that everything they just said was true. Even if that was the way it was booked, Brother Rey should have cut a different promo. This segment threw a huge bucket of water on a tag team that was catching fire, in order to get over a team that is about as established and over as a tag team can get. Yet again horrible, horrible business, and thus a bad promo!

Lance Storm