When fans recall their favorite moment's wrestling, few of those sacred memories actually come from within a match. We remember Macho Man's promos over his elbow or The Rock's third-person soliloquies instead of the Rock Bottom. In wrestling, memories (and money) are made with the microphone.
But today's promos are much different than what you'll find in the bowels of the WWE Network. That's because today's promos are entirely scripted.
"I think it's bad for the business. Now they write promos for people. In the old days, you got bullet points. They said, 'Here are the points you gotta hit, so do it in your character.' If you didn't know how to be a character or how to be a star, you didn't get over," he said.
"Now they write for everybody, which is good for the lower-tier guys who can't write, who aren't creative enough yet or don't have enough psychology yet. But for guys who have potential star power, you're really killing it, because [Steve] Austin would've never come alive if they would've been writing his character for him. If they told him to just stay with these promos. It's a whole different world now," he added.
Most fans and certainly most ex-wrestlers would fervently agree with Raven's assertion. When fans say, "Wrestling isn't like it used to be," they aren't talking about German Suplexes and Drop Toe-Holds — they're talking about promos.
Could you imagine being a child and watching Ric Flair lose his mind in a 1980s interview? Compare that to someone that WWE actually bills as crazy, Dean Ambrose. Tell me, who's the better quote?
With a keen eye, you can almost see wrestlers' eyes dance in the middle of their promos in an effort to remember their next line. Roman Reigns' early work, in particular, were some of the worst examples of this. He talks less nowadays and has thusly improved.
The discrepancy between today's personalities and those from the glory days of wrestling is vast. But make no mistake, they were scripted then too, just far less regulated. Then WWE was a wrestling promotion, now it's a publicly traded company.
As a conglomerate, WWE simply cannot afford huge mistakes. Giving a hot mic and free creative reign would eventually lead to WWE making multiple public apologies. But if WWE can micro-manage these promos, they have insulated themselves from negative headlines (see Ball, Lavar).
Wrestlers are probably thankful to have this pressure lifted off them. Their livelihood doesn't rely on coming up with the perfect promo, nor are they aren't charged with crafting memorable one liners. In short, they don't have to take risks. This is painfully evident when watching WWE today — wrestlers are happy to stay within the system.
Every now and then we'll get a wrestler who's blessed with the gift of gab and WWE's rigid protocol cannot deny their mouths. Today, that's Enzo Amore. Despite being comparatively scrawny and unattractive, the fans love him. His promos are an intense 10-minute ride and audience is with him every step of the way. Amore is proof that being genuine, nay, being vulnerable on the microphone is the gilded path to superstardom. While Amore may never see such a light, someone else in WWE could draw inspiration from his proficient jaw-jacking.
Good promos can still happen in today's WWE — they just aren't fueled by steroids, alcohol and the desperate need to get over.