10 Wrestling Catchphrase Flops That Just Didn’t Stick

Not every attempt at a catchy catchphrase in professional wrestling lands with the impact of a top-rope elbow drop. Some, despite the charisma of their creators, fall flat. Join us as we look at ten wrestling catchphrases that flopped and failed to stick with the audience (despite the best efforts from the wrestlers)!

1. “How’s Your Lips?”

The Rock with his arms raised up, wearing a shirt that shows the dud catchphrase.
The Rock, with his arms raised up, wearing a shirt that shows the dud catchphrase. Photo Credit: WWE.

The Rock may be the catchphrase king of the modern era, but even he does not have a perfect track record.

Indeed, the man who created “If You Smell What The Rock Is Cookin’,” “Know Your Role and Shut Your Mouth,” and “Just Bring It,” amongst myriad others, failed to get over his 2003 catchphrase, “How’s Your Lips?”

In 2003, The Rock returned to cut an in-ring promo with his t-shirt reading “How’s your lips?” on the front and “Cause they’re gonna get slapped off your face” on the back.

The WWE even attempted to bring the line out in merchandise.

It just didn’t catch on and was quickly dropped.

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Rock The Shaq-bah

The Rock besides Shaq and Charles Barkley
The Rock, besides Shaq and Charles Barkley. Photo Credit: WWE.

The Rock, however, used the phrase again in a high-profile interaction in 2012. In the build-up to his WrestleMania XXVIII match against John Cena, billed as “Once in a Lifetime,” basketball player Shaquille O’Neal backed Cena.

The Rock then responded via Twitter:

“How’s your lips, Shaq? Cause next time I see you, I’m slapping them off your face.”

The failure of the catchphrase shows that WWE thought The Rock could pass anything off due to his charm and natural charisma. They were wrong.

2. “I Don’t Think So”

Shawn Michaels grabbing a two-page spread of a magazine featuring him on the front cover.
Shawn Michaels grabbing a two-page spread of a magazine featuring him on the front cover. Photo Credit: WWE.

By 1992, The Rockers were tearing at the seams. The team appeared to be in disrepair after a miscommunication at Survivor Series and a later match against “The Real World’s Champion,” Ric Flair.

Then, one of the most iconic heel turns in wrestling occurred as Shawn Michaels superkicked his partner Marty Jannetty and threw him through the Barber Shop’s glass window.

In the aftermath, Michaels grabbed a two-page magazine spread of The Rockers and tore it in half, remarking: “Is there a problem with The Rockers?” before scoffing and sarcastically answering, “I don’t think so!”

The 1992 Royal Rumble was the first testing ground for heel Shawn Michaels as it saw a total overhaul of his character. He was now swaggering and pompous with his classic “Heartbreak Kid” look, including John Lennon sunglasses and a heart-adorned ring jacket.

Solos Run for Michaels

Michaels eventually got his own talk show, the Heartbreak Hotel.
Michaels eventually got his own talk show, the Heartbreak Hotel. Photo Credit: WWE.

After the split, Shawn Michaels retained his “I don’t think so,” which would continue to serve as his punctuation point on promos for several more pay-per-views.

It did suit the future two-time Royal Rumble winner’s new character direction – egotistical and mocking – but failed to leave a mark.

Shawn Michaels was never the most captivating promo in the company, which is not to say he was terrible. He just failed to stand out in a time of Roddy Piper, Randy Savage, and Jake Roberts.

The most notable part of Michaels’s promos was his gum chewing, an obnoxious touch that riled up the fans.

Michaels gained fame through his in-ring performance rather than his mic skills, and his unremarkable catchphrase “I don’t think so” quickly faded away.

3. “I’m Not A Good Guy; I’m Not A Bad Guy, I’m The Guy”

Roman's 2015 Royal Rumble win came at the height of his unpopularity. 
Roman’s 2015 Royal Rumble win came at the height of his unpopularity. Photo Credit: WWE.

It seemed as if nothing could get Roman Reigns ‘over’ (popular with wrestling fans) in 2016.

In 2014, with the total backing of the fans, Daniel Bryan was forcibly pushed into the main event picture, leading to his capturing the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXX. After a disappointing reign, Bryan was shuffled down the card far too early.

Meanwhile, WWE tried to propel Vince McMahon’s pet project, Roman Reigns.

Despite winning the 2015 Royal Rumble and besting Triple H for the title at WrestleMania XXXII, hate for “The Big Dog” seemed unrelenting.

What indeed did not help was the catchphrase, “I’m not a good guy, I’m not a bad guy, I’m the guy.”

In an attempt to popularize Roman, they emphasized what the fans most derided about him: that he was “the guy” whether they liked it or not.

Doomed On Many Levels

Roman Reigns Getting Booed.
Roman Reigns getting booed. Photo Credit: WWE.

The Wrestling Observer Newsletter noted that Vince McMahon did not care about the boos. Instead, his “position was relayed by JBL during Raw commentary.”

JBL further commented, “If you love him or hate him, you’re very passionate about him.”

As such, some have seen the phrase instead as a rib (a practical joke) on the fans or even Roman himself.

The “I’m not a good guy” line was supposed to sound suave and sophisticated, but it was counter-intuitive to him being cheered. He was a good guy who should have tried to appeal to the crowd for support rather than act as if he was above needing them.

The catchphrase was also far too long to be effective.

Roman Reigns’ “I’m not a good guy, I’m not a bad guy, I’m the guy” proved not to catch on in the end, and – if anything – only made the audience detest Reigns more.

4. “CLB”

Christian Cage, referred to as the "CLB" by Steve Austin. Photo Credit: WWE.
Christian, referred to as the “CLB” by Steve Austin. Photo Credit: WWE.

In 2003, as co-general manager of Raw alongside Eric Bischoff, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, coined the term “CLB” towards Christian.

It was a chant they presumed would get over.

Standing for “Creepy Little *******” was not the first time that WWE had thought about poking fun at “Captain Charisma.

Ex-WWE writer Alex Greenfield revealed that Vince McMahon planned to have Christian’s “ratty” appearance hidden behind a blue dot simply because Vince thought of him as ugly and unsightly.

“We were on the plane one time shortly after I started,” Greenfield began. “Vince was just like, ‘God ****, I just don’t like his face. His face really bothers me.’

“I was like, ‘He’s ugly, Vince?’

“‘No, it’s not that he’s ugly, it’s just, I don’t know, it’s ratty! You know what we should do? We should put a blue dot over his face whenever he comes out!’

“It was the flight to Sheffield, England, also the flight where the Spirit Squad idea was invented. This was a whole flight of bad ideas,” admitted Greenfield.

Vince McMahon even called Christian the insult on an episode of Raw. Despite how Vince felt about Christian, the fans could not relate.

When Even Steve Austin Can’t Make It Work…

In 2003, Steve Austin and Eric Bischoff were co-Raw GMs.
In 2003, Steve Austin and Eric Bischoff were co-Raw GMs. Photo Credit: WWE.

In the book, The WrestleCrap Book of Lists, R.D. Reynolds commented: “And how did those seat fillers respond? If you guessed, ‘With utter and complete silence,’ step right up and claim your prize. When ‘Stone Cold‘ can’t make something work, it’s probably time to pack it in.”

Talking of Steve Austin’s catchphrases, although “CLB” failed, perhaps one of his catchphrases became too successful – the “What?” chant.

Now used to derail various wrestlers’ attempts on the microphone, it’s a catchphrase that gets mostly chastised today.

5. “Get It, Got It, Good”

The New Age Outlaws as James Gang and the Voodoo Kin Mafia in TNA.
The New Age Outlaws as James Gang and the Voodoo Kin Mafia in TNA. Photo Credit: TNA.

Former WWE stars are often watered down, having lost their intellectual property. The New Age Outlaws in TNA were a shining example.

Wildly popular in the Attitude Era, the members failed to find an identity.

In TNA, they were The 3Live Kru, The James Gang, and even The Voodoo Kin Mafia – the latter a rib on the initials of WWE owner Vincent Kennedy McMahon. Other than to poke fun at Vince, the name was befuddling as they initially had no ‘voodoo’ element (until adding Roxxi Laveaux) and, despite the ‘kin’ tag, were not related.

The duo went from being one of the hottest things in wrestling to insulting their old D-Generation-X cohorts. They referred to the newly reformed DX as “Dumb to the Xtreme” while launching a tirade against the WWE.

They also cut the memorable “Alamo” promo, where they called out Triple H (Paul Levesque) and Shawn Michaels (Michael Hickenbottom) by their real names and challenged the duo to a confrontation at the Alamo (which Vince McMahon allegedly attended); they refused and were later called “cowards,” by Billy Gunn and Kip who declared they had won the war.

Dixie Carter allegedly froze $1 million in case DX did decide to show up.

D-Old Generation-X

Road Dogg and Billy Gunn cosplaying Triple H and Shawn Michaels.
Road Dogg and Billy Gunn cosplaying Triple H and Shawn Michaels. Photo Credit: TNA.

For this worked shoot, TNA also gave the duo a catchphrase, calling back to their Attitude Era days. They came up with: “If you’re not down with that, we’ve got three words for ya: Get it, got it, good.”

The phrase is far less catchy than “Suck it!” while also trying to piggyback off their WWE days. It was ironic, considering the flak they were throwing in DX’s direction.

The catchphrase was taken from, of all places, the 1950s comedian Danny Kaye, who uses the line in the 1955 film The Court Jester.

The one-sided inter-promotional rivalry ended after Triple H’s quad injury in 2007.

The former Road Dogg and Billy Gunn struggled to strike up a groove in TNA.

6. The Miz: “Hoorah!”

The Miz as Jake Carter in The Marine.
The Miz as Jake Carter in The Marine. Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox.

According to Urban Dictionary, “Hoorah!” is “a word primarily used by the United States Marine Corps and the United States Navy Seabees” to ” show motivation or lifted morale.”

But this phrase was rather bizarrely used by The Miz upon his debut.

It was a questionable choice for a young Miz, whose link to the military is limited to his starring role as Sgt. Jake Carter in the WWE The Marine films.

After taking part in Tough Enough as a contestant and some training under Bill DeMott in Deep South Wrestling and OVW, The Miz made his full-time main roster debut in mid-2006.

After a horribly botched promo when serving as the Diva Search host, The Miz was already on an unsteady footing in the WWE.

Before his debut bout against Tatanka, The Miz repeatedly cut an in-ring promo, yelling, “Hoorah!” The fans reacted rather positively, mirroring the catchphrase as prompted.

It became a recurring segment that Mizanin obnoxiously shouted the catchphrase until interrupted by his opponent.

By his second match, the chants had noticeably reduced, as if now chanting more out of pity. “Hoorah!” was soon mercifully dropped altogether.

Roughing Up The Rookie

The Miz.
The Miz. Photo Credit: WWE.

JBL was SmackDown’s heel commentator and thus constantly backed the bad guys. The Texan always buried The Miz, including comparing him to derided stooge The Red Rooster (Terry Taylor).

He even snapped during one match, yelling, “The guy sucks, okay? Look, I don’t like him.”

The Miz was likely hated for breaking into the business through reality TV, having appeared on The Real World.

One infamous story from his early years, corroborated by The Miz on his WWE 24 documentary, was that he was once caught eating chicken near Scott Armstrong’s bag.

An enraged Chris Benoit, feeling The Miz was being disrespectful – and likely using the incident as a justification to punish the already unpopular Miz – kicked him out of the locker room. The ban lasted over half a year, with John Morrison explaining: “The rule is whoever kicks you out of the locker room has to be the one to invite you back in.

The Miz eventually became a world champion and won over his fellow grapplers.

But it was certainly not this catchphrase that got him over.

7. “Chris Benoit Is For Real”

Chris Benoit winning the 2004 Royal Rumble.
Chris Benoit winning the 2004 Royal Rumble. Photo Credit: WWE.

After winning the 2004 Royal Rumble and triumphing in the main event of WrestleMania XX, Chris Benoit broke through the glass ceiling.

Despite his talents inside the ring, there remained a noticeable gap between Benoit and the fans when it came to his mic skills. To bridge this divide, he was given the catchphrase “Chris Benoit is for real,” which even spawned merchandise sales.

There was the use of the digit “4” on the shirt, which was likely referencing his past as a member of The Four Horsemen.

However, Benoit’s rise to the top was not without its challenges. His difficulties with live mic performances contributed to a lukewarm reception during his time in the spotlight as “The Rabid Wolverine.”

Nevertheless, any success he found in the ring will forever be overshadowed by the tragedy he would cause later in life.

8. A Green-Related DX Catchphrase that Didn’t Stick

X-Pac and Triple H.
X-Pac and Triple H. Photo Credit: WWE.

“X-Pac heat” is a term used to describe legitimate fan hatred of a heel, and there may be a reason the former DX member’s name is attached to it.

Sean Waltman drew the ire of many fans, perhaps for trying to emulate his DX days even years after leaving the faction.

And his lame catchphrase, “Your *** is grass, and I’m going to smoke it,” didn’t help his cause. A blatant reference to smoking grass, it capitalizes on the not-so-subtle smoker aspect of X-Pac’s character.

Indeed, in real life, X-Pac has become an ambassador for nationwide legalization of the substance.

The Grass Is Always Greener With X-Pac

X-Pac while in the nWo. Photo Credit: WWE.

One story recalled by Vince Russo even reveals how X-Pac ended up smoking the “wacky-tobacky” with Ben Stiller during the latter’s appearance on a 1999 edition of Monday Night Raw.

It might surprise some that the “The Grass Is Always Greener With” line was first used in 1995 in ECW by 2 Cold Scorpio, directed at Taz. This was the same rivalry in which Taz’s neck was broken after a misjudged spike piledriver.

Nonetheless, when X-Pac started using the overly long catchphrase, it failed. Although the New Age Outlaws got over with their comically long ring entrance, X-Pac’s ten-word tongue-twister was not as catchy.

It also reinforced the view of X-Pac as a comic figure. After all, when you have such a bizarre spiel, you cannot be taken seriously.

The schtick resurfaced in the 2019 Hall of Fame speech by inductee DX, albeit in a self-effacing fashion.

It seemed people were not getting high on the fumes of X-Pac’s pot-themed catchphrase.

9. “Rooty, Tooty Booty”

The catchphrase started during a feud with The New Day.
The catchphrase started during a feud with The New Day. Photo Credit: WWE.

“Chris Jericho popularized many professional wrestling catchphrases over his quarter-century-plus career.

From “Raw is Jericho!” to “A little bit of the bubbly,” Jericho has had many successful taglines, but not all have hit the right notes.

On the January 4th, 2016, episode of Raw, Chris Jericho returned to TV to trash The New Day (as well as WWE’s poor ratings). During the segment, he introduced the term “rooty, tooty booty” as an insult, receiving a lukewarm reaction from fans.

He would continue to use the term over the following weeks.

Jericho devoted a section to the phrase in his book No Is A Four-Letter Word: How I Failed Spelling But Succeeded In Life.

In it, he writes that it was “really ******* stupid” and suffered a “much-deserved death.”

He admitted that although its inherent silliness may have gotten over in the Attitude Era – as his infamous “filthy, dirty, disgusting, bottom-feeding, trash bag ***” line did about Stephanie McMahon – in 2016, only a fraction of the audience embraced the admittedly-failed catchphrase.

Quiet Affection

Chris Jericho's "You Just Made The List!" soon became a significant success. 
Chris Jericho’s “You Just Made The List!” soon became a significant success. Photo Credit: WWE.

However, as much as it may have fallen flat, Chris Jericho still has affection for it and claims that it was supposed to be silly.

On a 2016 edition of Talk is Jericho, he told critics that they should read Kierkegaard or watch Peter Sellers’ films if they did not find the phrase funny or sophisticated enough.

Moreover, he has praised it in retrospect.

During early 2016, Jericho’s face run was criticized as going stale, with Jericho seen by many as past his prime on the mic. However, this failed phrase started the hatred towards Jericho, allowing him to experience success as a heel where his schtick became part of his pretentious character.

In his words, “That was the price to pay to keep the façade of my out-of-touch, slightly annoying character rolling.”

After all, had it not been for the groan-inducing image he had created, would his much-acclaimed heel run in 2016 (in which he was able to get over “drink it in, man!”, “stupid idiot!” and – perhaps most memorable of all – “you just made the list!”) have been so effective?

Nonetheless, “Rooty, tooty booty” was seen as little more than a failure in its time.

10. Sting: “It’s Showtime, Folks”

The Sting
The Sting. Photo Credit: WWE.

Sting may be one of the biggest stars in WCW history. During his time in the company, he would repeatedly exclaim, “It’s showtime, folks!”

A callback from his times as the more spirited and fun-loving surfer iteration of his character, the catchphrase felt comedic.

Yet the problems were two-fold for Sting.

No Time For Showtime

The Sting. Photo Credit: WWE.
Sting. Photo Credit: WWE.

In his surfer guise, Sting was supposed to be a hip idol for kids. So, using a phrase that sounds like it was from a cheesy 1970s sitcom is not relatable to young viewers.

It was hard to take Sting seriously as a menacing figure when he uses a phrase that sounds more like a magician on a cruise ship than an all-powerful dispenser of justice in his crow persona.

Pro Wrestling Catchphrase Fails and Flops

Discover ten pro wrestling catchphrases that flopped and failed to stick with the audience despite the best efforts from the wrestlers!
Photo Credit: WWE.

A catchphrase can be as vital as a signature move in professional wrestling. It’s the verbal signature that fans chant, the words that encapsulate a wrestler’s persona, and often, the key to immortality in the squared circle.

However, the above ten examples demonstrate that even some of the most popular wrestlers cannot always create gold on the mic!

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Griffin Kaye is a life-long pro wrestling fan and historian with a love for '80s and '90s WWF, the NWA, WCW, ECW, and AEW. His favorite wrestlers include Ricky Steamboat, Bret Hart, William Regal, Tito Santana, Stan Hansen, Mr Perfect, Ric Flair, and Chris Jericho. He can be reached on Twitter @GriffinKaye1, as well as on Instagram at @TheGriffinKaye and @WrestlingInTheYears.