On the latest episode of his Talk Is Jericho podcast with Court Bauer, Chris Jericho has revealed when and why Vince McMahon started scripting promos in WWE.
The debate over scripted verses unscripted promos in pro wrestling has raged online, and in the business itself for years now. Especially in the world of WWE. Do scripted and rehearsed promos help Superstars stay on point and deliver a convincing performance or do they strip away the organic energy and emotion from the moment?
Over the course of his long career Chris Jericho established himself as one of the best orators in the business. From his time in WCW, to his runs in WWE and AEW, Jericho has mastered the art of the wrestling promo. In fact, when Jericho debuted in WWE in 1999 it wasn’t a match that sparked his arrival, but a now legendary verbal sparring session with The Rock. Something Jericho reveals came together without the help of writers or rehearsals.
“It’s funny because when I got to WWE, my famous first promo with The Rock when I interrupted him, there were no writers at that point. That was late 1999 and no rehearsals either… Rock, and I and [Vince] Russo went over in the back, but there was no going through it. As you know, a few years later, that became the norm, which is part of what my opinion of one of the issues there is everything is so overly scripted and overly processed.
However, things changed when Vince McMahon decided that he wanted to make SmackDown bigger than Friends. Which at the time was one of the biggest shows on television and also aired on Thursday nights.
“The reason why writers became a thing was when we started SmackDown, which was right after I got there, August ’99, Vince made it his motto that SmackDown was going to be bigger than ‘Friends’. We’re going to beat ‘Friends’ on Thursday, and his reasoning and idea and strategy was well ‘Friends’ has writers, then we need writers too.”
Elsewhere in the episode, Bauer recalled working on “The battle of the billionaires” and the problems writes face in producing long term stories in WWE.