*Lionel Hutz voice* There's trash-talk, and there's *Lionel Hutz voice* trash-talk.
A balance must be struck within the confines of the professional wrestling promo, the very, very obvious etymology of which is something even the so-called greats have struggled to grasp over recent years John Cena.
The wrestler should at once call their rival worse than sh*t and much better than sh*t, all at the same time. If wrestling is an ironic dance - it's a fight in which the two combatants protect one another - the promo is an ironic duet that functions to get the insulted over.
Cody is the greatest promo in the game; on the Road To Fyter Fest, he built his opponent Jake Hager, but with a smart, necessary acknowledgement that the old tactic hadn't worked, creating the expectation that Hager had bring it to another level. He didn't patronise the audience; he warmed them to a cold match. He spoke of Hager's pedigree to put him over, but demanded he show more than he had to that point, with a dig designed to create the sensation that a fight was about to go down.
"Cool. This ain't f*cking amateur wrestling. We're getting paid now, buddy."
Hager came back with his best AEW performance to date. There should always be a comeback of some sort. It's wrestling.
Unless the animosity is too much, the tensions are too high, or Triple H has had too much power for two decades...
10. Triple H
To prove that wrestling is an ugly place, one of its most genius practitioners and stand-up ambassadors - he truly just wanted to be a hero to children, showing that hard graft and intelligent strategy was the way to go - Bret Hart was also a mad adulterer of a shagger with a penchant for grim homophobia in the 1990s.
Deep in the guts of his career-defining, barely-worked '97 programme with Shawn Michaels, he lowered himself to his "degenerate" standard with a spot of wordplay ill-advised in both content and delivery.
Interrupting a jape of a DX opening segment, Michaels no-sold Hart's disgust with a theatrical face-palm, laughing at the notion that Hart, if anything, was putting him over in a new world to which his nemesis, sadly, no longer belonged. Switching gears, Hart said "And I think that I know, as the rest of the Hart Foundation knows, what the 'HHH' stands for in 'HBK' (Heart Heart Heartbreak Kid?)."
"You're nothing but a h*mo, and that guy in the green shirt is nothing but a homo."
Proving how absolutely useless the man was in 1997, Triple H couldn't adequately respond to Hart's worst material. He didn't underscore the desperation of the jibe by, for example, lightly kissing Michaels on the cheek. He sold it, betraying the no-f*cks disposition of the future DX, by immediately grabbing the mic and saying "Oh, I'm no queer!" as if he were actually on bloody trial.
He learned eventually...