There have been some absolutely stellar pay-per-view matches that WWE has showcased over the past 35 years, but one thing that is usually overlooked is the famous art of the promo package.
What is probably forgotten, or not even realised, by most who don’t follow wrestling is that the stories and the charisma of the superstars usually outweigh what they can do in the ring.
Stone Cold, The Rock and John Cena were all amazing on the mic, but it’s very rare to see them in a five-star match on the Meltzer scale.
A well-done promo package can not only build the excitement leading into the show but can actually tie a whole story together. Some of these can span the course of several years to sure fans haven’t missed any aspects of the rivalry they may have previously forgotten.
The music also plays a very important part of the package, as it can tap into a range of emotions going into the bout. Sometimes the music will just serve as a background, whereas some will be absolutely vital in showcasing the importance of the rivalry. In some cases, the music is so good that it will feature again and again throughout the span of several years.
These packages will be based purely on standalone merit. So without further ado, let’s dive in.
10. Cena vs. The Rock – WrestleMania 29
“You were responsible for my collapse”
This package really highlights how strong both of these men were on the microphone. We didn’t need to look into the rap battles, or the insults, but just the cold, hard truths between two of the greatest to have ever done this.
It takes you through John Cena’s tumultuous year back in 2012, losing to John Laurinitis, losing his Money in the Bank contract to Dolph Ziggler, not to mention not being able to capture the WWE Championship from CM Punk despite numerous opportunities to do so.
It also delved into John’s personal life, stating that his marriage failed because he couldn’t get over his failure to beat The Rock at WrestleMania 28, which I felt was a bit uncomfortable. I get that you wanted to make this seem really personal, but to even state that a marriage collapsed because of this is a bit much, for my personal tastes.
It did the job though and showed that this was deeply personal to John Cena. Also reminded us all that The Rock beat CM Punk with a People’s Elbow in the worst finish to a match until Hell In A Cell between The Fiend and Seth Rollins.
9. Becky Lynch “The Man” – WrestleMania 35
“The one thing I don’t have anymore – doubt.”
While we may be very far removed from WrestleMania 35 at this present time in Becky’s Lynch’s career, this promo package can still bring those feelings right back to the surface.
To the tune of Aloe Blacc’s The Man song, we’re taken back through the struggles Lynch suffered through the back end of 2018 and early 2019 – missing out on her Survivor Series match with Ronda Rousey, seeing Charlotte Flair added to her match with Rousey at WrestleMania 35, and being against the authority figures of the company all the way through.
To see how much the crowd was behind her, how far her character had come along, was truly touching to see. It really showed how much momentum Lynch had behind her, and to see that level of crowd reaction doesn’t happen often, so it was really special.
8. Randy Orton vs. John Cena -Bragging Rights 2009
“John Cena/Randy Orton has become a rivalry. No, wait. John Cena/Randy Orton has become the rivalry.”
If you were a fan of WWE at the back end of the 2000s, you will know how this rivalry was everywhere. If WWE couldn’t think of what to do next, they would go straight back to Cena vs. Orton, and while overdone, it was always lightning in a bottle.
This showcased how back and forth this rivalry was, and this was considered to be the end of it all. Hell in a Cell, no-DQ matches, and finally their Iron Man match at Bragging Rights to decide it all. If Cena lost, he would have to leave Raw for good. The stakes were high.
The music to this one was Letters in the Sky, which I’m pretty sure was exclusively used for WWE’s purposes, as it was also everywhere throughout the late 2000s/early 2010s, but it captured the energy between the two so perfectly.
7. John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt – WrestleMania XXX
“A guy like Bray, he just wants to destroy everything I’ve worked to build.”
This promo package highlighted how different the characters of Cena and Wyatt were, and it’s what made this rivalry special.
Cena was shown to be the hard working man who was always in the gym, always in the ring, doing Make A Wish meets, spending time with the troops abroad doing their tours in the Middle East. He was the epitome of a company guy and prided himself on that. Wyatt was not.
Wyatt was shown to be a destructive force who reminded that Cena was the one with everything to lose. He was the dynasty. He was the one who needed to win, whereas Wyatt had everything to gain here. Wyatt was playing the mind games, and he was winning.
This was all about John Cena’s legacy and Eminem’s song obviously fit the bill for this package. After twelve years at the top, Cena’s time with the company was starting to wind down slightly as a new guard was forming in the likes of Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and such, so he was battling for what he believed in, what he had created in his time with WWE.
6. Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa – NXT Takeover: New Orleans
Is there a more apt word for describing this rivalry? A brotherhood broken, a friendship finished. This package ultimately summed up everything that Gargano and Ciampa had been through over the twelve years of their respective careers on the independent circuit, and watching all of it made it so much more personal.
Then the fact this rivalry was put on hold for a whole year meant we never knew when, or if, we would see Ciampa return to bring it all back to the surface.
As NXT fans first saw in their match in the Cruiserweight Classic back in 2016, these two had such great chemistry both together and against one another, so seeing them fully tear each other to shreds again was beautiful, in a very violent way.
We got to see how twisted and angry Ciampa could be. Just reliving that initial moment of betrayal, and then seeing Ciampa return to cost Gargano his next career on top of that. Shivers. One of the best feuds WWE has ever put on.
5. Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose – Battleground 2016
“I knew I was better than everyone, I’ll say that right now.”
This package perfectly highlighted the long history between these three stars going into the match everybody had been waiting for over the past four years. From the start we knew The Shield would break up at some point, but when? Why? Who would position themselves as the top guy?
As we all know now, Seth Rollins set out to be that guy, and from my point of view, I never saw that coming at the time. Maybe the break up was going to happen, but I didn’t see Rollins as the guy to do it. Watching this back, I can’t believe I didn’t see that.
He was the architect, he was the main coach. He built them to a point where the were unbeatable. But he also built himself to be better than Reigns or Ambrose.
Seeing the fall of one of the most dominant factions in WWE history, seeing how each star had built their own path, and then see it all come together in this month match against one another? Special.
4. Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H – SummerSlam 2002
“I will cripple your ass!”
This is the classic example of a promo package taking you back through the annals of history. Starting back in 1997, it highlights how Triple H was Shawn’s sidekick in DX, but ever since Shawn retired, H became the icon. He didn’t want to let that go by siding with his old friend, and there begins arguably the hottest feud of the early-2000s.
This video shows love, passion, betrayal and hatred all in the space of four minutes. You literally went from two friends messing around and kissing one another to Triple H brutally smashing Shawn’s head through a car window.
This was part comeback story, part cementing of Triple H’s character, and watching this back, it’s clear that this was the turning point where The Game became the heel in the WWE.
3. Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H – WrestleMania XXX
“You are a B+ player.”
This is a video that always gives me chills. The soundtrack, Monster by Imagine Dragons, said it best – “Ever since I could remember, everything inside of me just wanted to fit in”.
As somebody who stood at 5”8, it was always going to be difficult for a guy of Daniel Bryan’s stature to reach the pinnacle in WWE. You look back to the 90s and Bret Hart was considered a small guy at 6”0 and 235lb, so it was an uphill battle.
Somebody who’s charisma is led by his passion for wrestling, fans took so easily to Bryan and watching through the history of his career and climax of the yes! movement is undoubtedly a signal that if you are passionate about this business, you can be a superstar if you put the time and effort in.
His battle with The Authority is one of the best storylines of the current era, Triple H playing the perfect heel boss for Bryan’s plucky, never give up attitude while he constantly tries to shut him up and put him down.
I don’t think there will be any storyline that can quite replicate the mixture of passion, anguish and audience involvement as this one. The occupy Raw segment will stand the test of time as one of the best moments in WWE history.
2. Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels – WrestleMania XXVI
“If I can’t beat you at WrestleMania, I have no career.”
Obsession. Obsession makes people do crazy things. And nobody was more obsessed back in 2010 than Shawn Michaels. Michaels had to have one more attempt at beating The Undertaker’s famous streak at WrestleMania XXVI, and he was proving he would be willing to give anything to do it.
Knocking best friend Triple H out of the Royal Rumble, but still coming up short, the show stopper snapped and assaulted referees and when Triple H became the voice of reason, Shawn should have known that was when he needed to give up. But he couldn’t.
This video, the music, the grainy effects all brought the effect of Shawn’s obsession to the surface and perfectly encapsulated how important this match was to him.
1. Stone Cold vs. The Rock – WrestleMania X-Seven
“Austin 3:16 said I just whooped your ass, well I say just bring it.”
If this video doesn’t scream 2001, then I don’t know what does.
Austin beer swilling, The Rock showing everybody their room in the SmackDown Hotel, Limp Bizkit’s My Way playing in the background.
This video didn’t need a lot of words, because the intensity this rivalry had was enough to excite even the most lapsed fan. Just watch it again, and thank me later.
The author of this article can be found on Twitter @DRL_1990. Thanks so much for reading!