Trash talking is a pivotal part of wrestling when it comes to cutting promos. WWE has featured trash talking since its inception, with wrestlers having to figure out how to verbally take down their opponents in every era.
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The Attitude Era may have been the most important era of WWE to require productive trash talking. A hit list of all-time greats meant that competition was tougher than ever to get television time with a microphone. The following names thrived the most as the best trash talkers of the Attitude Era in WWE.
10 Stephanie McMahon Berated People On The Mic
Heel Turn Found Her Groove As Wrestling Character
- Debut Babyface Character Wasn’t Working At All For Stephanie
- Heel Turn With Triple H Gave Her Chance To Find Identity
- Became All-Time Great Heel Personality Starting In Attitude Era
WWE started to introduce multiple members of the McMahon family after Vince McMahon got over as a heel. Stephanie actually struggled more than Shane when she debuted since she couldn’t establish an identity as a generic babyface.
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A shocking heel turn aligning with Triple H led to them both running the show for a while. Stephanie talked trash with the best of them upon finding her identity as a heel character. Promo battles with Chris Jericho, The Rock and many others showed how great Stephanie was at verbal wars.
Finally Found His Perfect Character During Attitude Era
- Cutting Hair Helped Change Look For New Character In 1998
- Jarrett Finding New Promo Style Helped Him Get Over In WWE
- Memorable Intercontinental Championship Reigns Showed Success
WWE and WCW witnessed Jeff Jarrett jumping back and forth multiple times whenever his contract expired. Jarrett struggled to find a consistent role on either show for years until WWE gave him an edgier character to mirror the time.
X-Pac defeating Jarrett in a hair vs hair match gave Jeff a new look, but that just helped his career. Jarrett received more promo time and became one of the most respected mid-card heels thanks to his trash talking before he left for WCW again.
WWE Found Success With The Most Unlikely Trash Talker
- Had Perfect Combination Of Humor & Serious Trash Talk
- Stepped Up On Microphone To Sell Matches With Triple H & Rock
- Helped WWE Survive Steve Austin’s Absence During Injury
Mick Foley is considered one of the most wholesome wrestlers that just likes to spread positivity. However, he more than held his own as a trash talker in the Attitude Era when placed into main event storylines.
Feuds with The Rock and Triple H saw WWE relying immensely on Foley to hold his own stepping up. Steve Austin missing time due to needing surgery didn’t even hurt WWE too much thanks to names like Foley stepping up in lead babyface roles.
7 Kurt Angle Was All About The 3 “Is”
Newcomer Had All-Time Great Rookie Perfecting Unique Promo Style
- Got Over As Obnoxious Heel Right Away Via Talking
- Trash Talk Was Intentionally Corny For Comedy
- Shockingly Won WWE Championship In Rookie Year
WWE had high expectations for Kurt Angle when signing him a few years after winning an Olympic gold medal. Vince McMahon wanted Angle to play a whiny heel that boasted his accolade in the faces of the fans while still having a cowardly style.
Angle was able to step up in promo battles against a murderer’s row lineup of names like Triple H, Steve Austin and The Rock. The promos typically featured Angle playing an arrogant nerdy heel, but he committed to make the act effective with his corny trash talk rather than embarrassing.
- Became WWE’s #1 Color Commentator During Attitude Era
- Loved Trash Talking Babyfaces As Heel Commentator
- Worked Rare Matches & Feuds To Help Other Wrestlers
WWE primarily used the tandem of Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler for the commentary team of Attitude Era shows. Lawler’s work has been criticized in modern times for some of his comments, but his vulgar jokes were welcome at the time.
The heel chapter of Lawler’s commentary career saw him ripping apart babyfaces with his insults. Lawler still talked effective trash talk as a face in later years since he was a well-versed performer. WWE even used Lawler in occasional matches to take advantage of his promo skills.
5 Triple H Excelled On The Mic
Taking Step Into Superstardom Saw Triple H’s Promos Improving
- Took Major Steps To Step Into The Elite Territory Of Attitude Era
- D-Generation X Time Started To Improve Triple H’s Reputation
- Main Event Run Cemented Triple H As Tremendous Trash Talker
There was always hope for Triple H to enter the top tier of WWE with names like Steve Austin and The Rock during the Attitude Era, but he needed to improve to keep progressing. Triple H started to become known as a good trash talker during his time in D-Generation X.
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WWE continued to work on moving Triple H up the ladder as he progressed in every area. Triple H became trusted enough to open most shows as WWE Champion in 2000 for 20-minute promo segments talking trash with the top babyfaces.
4 Vince McMahon Was The Ultimate Villain
Found Best-Case Results As Trash Talking Authority Figure
- Risky Character Change Worked Out To Perfection
- Verbal Battles With Steve Austin Became Top Storyline
- Had To Talk More As Heel To Make Up For Lack Of Wrestling
WWE wanted to utilize the real-life heat on Vince McMahon after the Montreal Screwjob put him in the spotlight. McMahon embraced the heel authority figure role after Eric Bischoff was finding success in WCW.
However, Vince took the position to new heights when entering a feud with Steve Austin. McMahon was great at talking trash in a ruthless manner to Austin, The Rock and any wrestlers that feuded with him. Talking was pivotal since no one would accuse Vince of being a great in-ring wrestler to require more creative storytelling.
Former WCW Star Showed New Level Of Charisma In WWE
- Got Over In WWE Debut By Talking Trash To The Rock
- Was Known For Talking Skills Before In-Ring In WWE
- Has Legacy Of All Time Great Trash Talker
WWE adding Chris Jericho to the roster in 1999 ended up being one of the most important signings of former WCW names. Jericho was getting over as a heel in WCW, but they limited him to never move above the mid-card scene.
The debut of Jericho in WWE instantly made him feel like a bigger star. Jericho was a great wrestler in the ring, but he got over most due to his trash talking. Verbal battles with The Rock, Stephanie McMahon, Triple H and countless others made Jericho a star for WWE.
2 No One Talked Trash Like Steve Austin
Made Trash Talk More Important Than Any Wrestler Before Him
- WWE Fans Wanted More Trash Talk When Austin Made Them Love It
- Had Memorable Promo Battles With Every Major Rival
- Changed Landscape For Attitude Era Atmosphere Fans Wanted
Steve Austin became the face of WWE during the Attitude Era as the perfect wrestler to represent the change of eras. Every show featured massive ovations and chanting along to catchphrases whenever Austin trash talked his rivals.
WWE had many all-time great segments involving Austin getting to go after his opponents on the microphone in memorable fashion. Austin’s various returns in future eras after retirement saw him still able to contribute via trash talking as a skill set he hasn’t lost.
1 The Rock Was King On The Mic
Still Revered As Greatest Trash Talker In Wrestling History
- Rock Got Over With His Trash Talking Skills In The Nation Of Domination
- Fans Loved Long Rock Talking Segments Running Down Opponent
- No One Has Passed His Trash Talking Legacy Decades Later
WWE realizing The Rock was better off as a heel in the earlier stages of the Attitude Era allowed him to get over huge with trash talk. Rock continued to excel at the verbal attacks through each stage of her career and was viewed as second to none.
Fans still name Rock first when comparing all-time great talkers since he was so elite at trash talking. Rock was so good at the insults that WWE even once allowed him to cut a promo running down all five opponents in a Hell in a Cell match.