Chris Jericho is not Chris Irvine on TV, he’s Chris Jericho turned up to 11.
Jericho was a recent guest on the “Inside Of You” podcast with Michael Rosenbaum, and talked about how WWE has evolved over the years, going from letting the wrestlers script themselves to giving them lines created by writers. Jericho explained that he started in WWE by writing his own content, but soon after they launched SmackDown on network television (the then-UPN network), Vince McMahon thought they’d have to compete with the NBC show Friends since they’d be airing head-to-head.
“Here’s the arc for that—when I started in WWE, probably the first six months, I wrote all of my own stuff because that’s how it was. There’s a famous promo I did with The Rock where it was my big debut in WWE and it was a big thing in 1999. There was no rehearsal, there was no lines, no script, nothing. So then as WWE progressed, they started getting into [network TV],” Jericho explained, “so they get the network show [on UPN] with SmackDown, so it’s ‘OK, we’re going to go head-to-head with Friends. We’re going to beat Friends.’ That’s Vince’s attitude, right?”
“So to do that, we need writers like they have on Friends. Well, it doesn’t work that way in wrestling because on Friends if I’m David Schwimmer playing Ross, I’m not David Schwimmer. I’m Ross. In wrestling, it’s almost like Seinfeld. It’s Jerry Seinfeld playing a version of Jerry Seinfeld on the show Seinfeld, but it’s not really him but it is kinda him. And it’s the same with wrestling, right? Chris Jericho is a character” Jericho explained, “but it’s also mostly me turned up to the 10th degree. So I can’t have somebody write something and go, ‘Here’s what you’re going to say, Chris.’ It’d be like somebody writing my answers for you as we’re doing this podcast. You have to have a mind of your own and so it became a real sterile kind of like, ‘Here’s your script’ and everyone would be standing there with the scripts like a table read.”
Jericho went on to note that the main downside to being taught to be so scripted is you don’t get to have authentic moments like that. Check out the full show below: