Chris Jericho is one of the best promo workers in professional wrestling, and he was a recent guest on The Steve Austin Show to discuss this topic among other subjects. Regarding how he became successful in cutting promos, Jericho stated that connecting with the fans, whether they love you or hate you, is a way to always keep a job. Jericho also stated that his strategy in ascending to the top of the card was to work with the "mid-level guys," such as Bob Holly, Bradshaw, and Rikishi. This was also a way to turn people around from having a negative impression and tension of him due to coming from WCW.
Jericho feels that a lot of wrestlers in the business are afraid to try new things, and aren't given the option to try. He created the Highlight Reel due to being inspired by Gene Okerlund as a backstage interviewer, "who could lead you through a backstage promo even if you didn't know what you were doing." He would sit in a WCW box where they did localized promos, and watch guys like Arn Anderson, Ric Flair, The Mountie (Jacques Rougeau), Glacier or "whoever's there" cut them.
One day, Lex Luger did not show up to do his promo because he wanted to go to the gym, and they pulled Jericho over "because he was always sitting in the corner." Gene Okerlund led him through the promo, and his number of promos started to increase.
Jericho stated that he learned to do a promo with no script, but just on his own instincts. He then explained why he started the Highlight Reel.
"My idea when I started the Highlight Reel was I wanted to be the Gene Okerlund," said Jericho. "Have guys come out that didn't get promo time and let me do an improve promo. Let's see what they got."
This idea, according to Jericho, did not fly with Vince McMahon, and he wanted it to be an actual promo segment with top level guys. However, Jericho wanted to do the segment to see how guys were without having to read a script and "they don't have handcuffs." Jericho feels that the three minutes between Main Event and Raw should be used to randomly throw talent out in the ring – unbeknownest to them before they are informed spontaneously – to cut a promo before the cameras roll. This will give them an opportunity to see if their promo needs major improvement, or they connect with the audience more than a scripted promo does.
If any portion of these portions is used, be sure to H/T The Steve Austin Podcast via WrestlingINC for the transcription.
Source: The Steve Austin Show