Recently on SiriusXM's Conversations with Maria Menounos, Chris Jericho talked about what is missing from WWE's product now. According to Jericho, WWE lost some of its creativity and spontaneity when the company went public in 1999.
"When I started it was the wild west, like, just gypsies, tramps, and thieves, like, lunatics. It was worse than rock and roll. Yeah, it was. And then, when you start moving into the late 1990s and early 2000s, it started to have a little bit of a cultural shift where more writers were coming in and the product was kind of cleaned up to be more of a corporate type of thing when Vince [McMahon] went public, right? And then he was trying to get Coca Cola as a sponsor, like the big time family friendly [companies], which is cool. But what happened was you did lose a little bit of that maverick spirit, of that, not so much rebellion, but just, 'I'm going to take a chance and if it sucks, okay, and if it works, suddenly, you've done something different.'"
In Jericho's view, WWE needs to give talent more freedom to make mistakes.
"You don't have that freedom to try as much anymore because it [has] really gotten into, 'here's your script' like a TV show, but it's not a TV show." Jericho continued, "no other entertainment entity is like it, so you have to have that element of giving girls and guys a chance to fail. If it doesn't work, at least you tried. At least you went outside the box. And I think there is a little bit of that missing where it can still come back, but the opportunities to try stuff [are] becoming less and less. It's more of, 'this has been approved. Read this. Memorize these lines and say it.' I can memorize a Shakespearean play, [but] it doesn't mean I can say it with any conviction whatsoever. You have to believe in it and you have to commit."
Jericho acknowledged that part of the problem is that many performers are afraid to be true heels.
"Everybody wants to have the merch. Everyone wants to have the t-shirts. I would always say, like Big Show was my [tag team] partner for a long time. We had a great, great partnership. And we were up against DX. And he was like, 'we [have] got to do these Jeri-Show shirts.' I'm like, 'no, we're not making shirts.' [He replied] 'what do you mean? We're losing money.' I said, 'no, we'll make more money as hated heels against DX in main events at pay-per-views and live events than we ever would selling t-shirts.'" Jericho added, "if you're going to be a heel, don't be afraid to get booed and don't be afraid of having people legitimately not like you. If you can do that, you can accomplish your goal."
During the interview, Jericho also talked about how he would know when a catchphrase is getting over with the fans and more. You can listen to the entire interview in the player above. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Conversations with Maria Menounos with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.