Fists, kicks and powerbombs are all well and good, but any Superstar worth their salt knows that the microphone is the most destructive tool that WWE has to offer. And if they forgot, 2017 should have reminded them. Over the course of this year, competitors of every stripe administered verbal beatdowns on rivals, teammates, The Chairman of the Board and, in one case, the WWE Universe itself that needed to be seen to be believed. Here are the 10 performances on the mic that left us speechless, with input from the Superstars who made the magic happen.
#10 “This Is My Yard.” – Roman Reigns, Raw 4/3
With the WWE Universe still reeling following Roman Reigns’ apparent retirement of The Undertaker at WrestleMania 33, The Big Dog emerged on Raw to address his fallen foe and the meaning behind his victory over The Phenom.
Awash in a shower of boos, Reigns stood defiant in the middle of the ring and, with just five simple words, “The Guy” laid claim to his yard and affirmed The Deadman’s demise in the realm of sports-entertainment. No, you weren’t dreaming as WrestleMania concluded: The Undertaker is gone, and his yard now belongs to Roman Reigns.
#9 – “You just gave your word I can beat a McMahon senseless.” – Kevin Owens, SmackDown 9/12
“Mr. McMahon’s appearances on television are getting more rare and rare with time. You have to make the most of every opportunity here. But when you’re in there with The Chairman, if you’re ever gonna make anything count, that’s it. [The headbutt] was just there. We were shaking hands, he said something that set me off, and that’s the way it happened. To be completely honest, I feel like Mr. McMahon won’t let me live that one down. There’s no way he won’t come looking for payback, and I’m looking forward to it if I say so myself. It was actually 20 years almost to the day that Steve Austin had Stunned him at Madison Square Garden. I remember that like it was yesterday. It’s the kind of thing that sticks with you forever. Maybe there’s a kid out there who watched me do what I did to Vince and he’ll remember that in 20 years.” — KEVIN OWENS
#8 – “I dare any one of you to touch me right now.” – Enzo Amore, Raw 10/2
“I knew once I said certain things that Kurt Angle was gonna come out there. I knew he was coming out there if I kept running my mouth like I was. I figured he’d be out there a lot sooner. Every single person I approached, I was expecting to hear Kurt Angle’s music in a matter of seconds. But Kurt Angle’s music never hit until I was standing in the ring and had already roasted every single person in the Cruiserweight division. So, I’m pretty sure Triple H, Vince McMahon, Kurt Angle, whoever, had no idea what I was about to say. That was all me, and I’d like to take all the credit in the world for that because I’m the only person who deserves that credit. I wouldn’t have been so mouthy if I knew these guys could come after me. But I knew if they wanted their job, they wouldn’t touch me, and that afforded me the opportunity to say whatever the hell I wanted. If anybody wanted to get fired that day, it would have been one less ‘loser-weight’ I had to worry about.” — ENZO AMORE
#7 – “It’s not paranoia, it’s the Usos.” SmackDown 2/21
“We never got to talk. One day we just kept pushing and asking and asking and asking, and they go, ‘Usos, you got 30 seconds.’ Thirty seconds. Now, what the hell do we say in 30 seconds that’s gonna make it relevant or get people to go, ‘Damn, that was dope’? Like Austin. ‘Austin 3:16 says I just whupped your a**.’ When he said that, everybody got it. For a few hours, we were pacing trying to figure out what to say. Brother came up with it. ‘They need to be worried about us. They need to stop being paranoid and start worrying about The Usos.’ Bam. Wait a minute …” — JIMMY USO
#6 – “Something very bad is going to happen to you right now.” – Samoa Joe, Raw 6/5
“Sometimes people become desensitized to shouting and yelling, grandiose threats that are made in front of a group of people. It’s easy to grandstand, and I think with somebody as cerebral as Paul, when you eliminate the extraneous influence and you’re just talking to Paul, what you say carries a lot more power, a lot more weight and a lot more menace. I needed Paul to understand how serious I was about beating up his client, and the best way to do it was have a nice, quiet, one-on-one personal chat. That’s why I grabbed Paul and spoke to him the way I spoke to him. For those who weren’t familiar with me, they became intimately familiar with me, my motivations and how I handle my business.” — SAMOA JOE
#5 – “You’re damn right I did it.” – Big Cass, Raw 6/19
Every so often there is a palpable sensation that can be felt when a breakout star is emerging before your very eyes. Sometimes, like in the case of Big Cass’ coming-out party on the June 19 edition of Raw, that feeling is accompanied by a foreboding sense of terror.
Big Cass put Enzo Amore and the WWE Universe on notice when he revealed himself as the mysterious attacker of Smacktalker Skywalker. When he doubled down on his bad deed, uttering the words “You’re damn right I did it” during that fateful speech, it was inarguable that the 7-footer was on his way to becoming a major player in WWE. — RYAN PAPPOLLA
#4 – “I am trying so hard not to be that guy anymore.” – Triple H, Raw 6/30
Just as a tiger cannot change its stripes, Triple H cannot change his reputation as The Game.
Triple H explained on the first Raw after Royal Rumble 2017 that he constantly struggles to do what’s best for business and what’s best for his legacy as one of the most accomplished Superstars of all time. That struggle came to a head after his protégé Seth Rollins crashed NXT TakeOver, which triggered a response by Triple H (and a trap involving Samoa Joe) that reminded everyone in the WWE Universe of one simple truth: If you ever come at The King of Kings, you better not miss. — MATTHEW ARTUS
#3 – “Y’all should get back to doing what you do best, and that’s carrying bags for Roman.” – New Day, SmackDown 7/4
“You should have seen the buildup the week prior to that rap battle. It was a bunch of negativity on the internet, [but] if you watch SmackDown LIVE that day, the rest of the show could have been the rap battle. Nothing else could have followed that. It was entertaining, it was raw, it was gritty, and it was us showing the world a whole ’nother way of what The Usos can do, not just in the ring wrestling. Ain’t nobody touching it.” — JIMMY USO
#2 – “How many moments do you two get?” – The Miz, Raw 8/21
“I had two of the biggest names in WWE in my sights, and I schooled both of them. It made everyone realize there is a chip on my shoulder, and I’m not going to be put down by a John Cena or a Roman Reigns. I don’t care who you are. You cannot verbally spar with me, and you can’t step into a WWE ring with me. I’m too damn good.” — THE MIZ
#1 – “I can do this part-time better than you could ever do it full-time.” – John Cena, Raw 8/28
For the last few years, there’s been a lot of chatter about how Roman Reigns is “the next John Cena.” Turns out, Cena was listening. In an 11-minute back-and-forth on Raw, The Cenation Leader sized up his heir apparent in the most critical terms possible, and The Big Dog responded in kind with a few choice words for the “part-timer” looking down his nose at him. It was a thrilling aspect of a changing of the guard most people never get to see: The old standard-bearer and the new, telling each other exactly what they think. — ANTHONY BENIGNO