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The Top 10 mic moments of 2017
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 both WWE.com editors and the Superstars who made the magic happen.
“This is my yard now” (Raw, April 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 (see exactly what was said in the full clip here), 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. — JAMES WORTMAN
“You just gave your word that I can beat a McMahon senseless” (SmackDown LIVE, Sept. 12)
We said: What do you do when you’re standing across from the Chairman and CEO of WWE and he’s laying into you, verbally tearing down the career you’ve built? If you’re Kevin Owens, you make a name for yourself.
That’s exactly what Owens did. With a single savage headbutt, KO etched his name into WWE history as one of the few Superstars to get one up on Mr. McMahon. Owens took a verbal lashing from The WWE Chairman and got exactly what he wanted: a promise from Mr. McMahon that Owens could “beat a McMahon senseless, if provoked.” Showing that he was ready to play Mr. McMahon’s game, Owens lacerated The WWE Chairman with a wicked headbutt, then used his own words to justify it. (Watch the full confrontation here.) The assault continued for several minutes, as Owens showed just how ruthless he was willing to get in his rivalry with the McMahon family. —BOBBY MELOK
They said: “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
“I dare any one of you to touch me right now” (Raw, Oct. 2)
We said: Not since Chris Jericho called El Dandy “a Lou Ferrigno lookalike” and claimed Silver King was 12 wins away from being upgraded to Gold King had a reigning Cruiserweight Champion mocked his field of potential challengers with the impunity that Enzo Amore exhibited on Raw. Protected by a legal document that shielded him from physical retribution by his fellow cruisers, The Certified G summarily dressed down the 205 Live competitors face-to-face, one-by-one. (Watch the full diatribe here, and see which insult we ranked as the most savage here.) Among Enzo’s most stinging burns: Telling baby-faced TJP to present an ID before contending for the title (“I don’t want to assault a minor!”) and likening Gentleman Jack Gallagher to a 1930s newsie. — JOHN CLAPP
They said: “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
“It’s not paranoia, it’s The Usos” (SmackDown LIVE, Feb. 21)
We said: You could tell that The Usos had a new attitude from their general demeanor and what they wore to the ring, but Jimmy & Jey remained a conspicuously quiet presence in the literal sense: You never heard them talk much. But on Feb. 21, with American Alpha lurking in the ring, The Usos emerged from the audience and unleashed a rapid-fire, call-and-response takedown of the SmackDown Tag Team Champions that doubled as their formal reintroduction to the WWE Universe. (See The Usos' full interview on their epic 2017 here.) The instant-classic signoff served as the cornerstone for everything that came later: “It’s not paranoia, it’s The Usos.” — ANTHONY BENIGNO
They said: “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
“Something very bad is going to happen to you right now” (Raw, June 5)
We said: The cold, almost strangely reassuring way Samoa Joe told Paul Heyman that he was about to lock him in his Coquina Clutch was a very frightening experience for Brock Lesnar’s Advocate, to say nothing of the WWE Universe. But, more importantly, it showed that Joe truly wasn’t afraid of The Beast Incarnate. — SCOTT TAYLOR
They said: “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
“You’re damn right I did it” (Raw, June 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 (see the full moment here), it was inarguable that the 7-footer was on his way to becoming a major player in WWE. — RYAN PAPPOLLA
“I am trying so hard not to be that guy anymore” (Raw, Jan. 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
“Y'all should get back to doing what you do best, and that's carrying bags for Roman” (SmackDown LIVE, July 4)
We said: The Usos and The New Day battled over the SmackDown Tag Team Championship for much of 2017, but after the rap battle hosted by Grammy-nominated rapper Wale, every punch and kick traded between them had a little extra something on it.
It was a back-and-forth exercise in crossing the line, from The New Day claiming that they made The Usos relevant to Jimmy & Jey questioning the realness of Big E’s chest, what happened to Kofi Kingston’s Jamaican accent, and Xavier Woods’ official height. (Watch the full, uncut battle here.) After Woods countered by saying Jimmy was nothing until he appeared on Total Divas and that the brothers should go back to carrying Roman Reigns’ bags, Jimmy & Jey threw hands. As Wale said, “This is why we can’t have nice things.” — JEFF LABOON
They said: “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
“How many moments do you two get?” (Raw, Aug. 21)
We said: One day after “riding the pine” at SummerSlam Kickoff, The Miz had a chip on one shoulder, an underappreciated championship on the other, and John Cena and Roman Reigns staring him straight in the face. What followed was a blistering missive that cut WWE’s two biggest names down to size, a masterpiece even by Miz’s truth-to-power standards and a reminder that his shadow looms larger than he is ever given credit for. — ANTHONY BENIGNO
They said: “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
“I can do this part-time better than you could ever do it full-time” (Raw, Aug. 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