In an appearance on Sports Media with Richard Deitsch, AEW star Chris Jericho was asked about his process of cutting promos and how he comes up with them. Jericho took Deitsch through his method, explaining the most important thing is committing to the promo.
“You just have to commit,” Chris Jericho said. “For something like the drone, you commit, and you make people believe the drone is real, and you’re pissed off, and, ‘I’m going to smash it.’ And that’s how it works, and that’s just what you do. How do I do a promo? I do write them down because I need to get my thoughts in order. Sometimes it’s only an hour before the show, and sometimes it works great. Sometimes, it doesn’t work. Basically, I put my thoughts together. I’ll write them down, kind of bullet points, and then just kind of think about it and let it sink for a bit. If you’re going to tell a joke or some kind of an insult, you better make sure it’s good. And once again, you better to commit to it, and you can’t force it. It has to come to you.
“I used to hate that in WWE. It’s like, ‘you need an insult here.’ If you didn’t have the right one, you’d go out there (and crash and burn). I remember Vince made John Morrison use the insult of ‘platypus dung.’ I was like, ‘John, you can’t say that. No one’s going to laugh.’ He said ‘well, Vince wants me to say it.’ I said, ‘just say you forgot to say it.’ And of course, he said it, it dies.
“You have to be confident, you have to have your thoughts in mind, but you also have to be cognizant of, ‘if things change, like a conversation, if something happens, you’ve got to roll with that too.’ So it’s almost like if you asked Wayne Gretzky, ‘how does he score a goal?’ It’s probably hard to explain because it’s just something he does. And it’s always been that way for promos for me, because when I first started in 1990, I wasn’t the biggest guy. I knew I would never be the biggest guy in the show, but I could have the most personality, the most charisma, and have the best character.
“It’s been ingrained in my system as a good guy or as a bad guy, being fearless, committing, not worrying what people think about you. If you’re locked in and you believe what you’re saying, if people believe, if I believe this drone is real, other people will believe this drone is real as well. And that’s the most important thing about a promo. You have to believe what you’re saying, and be committed to it.”
When asked about promos that skate the line between kayfabe and reality, Chris Jericho admitted he was somewhere in the middle. He pointed to a recent promo AEW co-worker MJF cut as an example of how fine the line is between being real and too real.
“People at this point know that this is show business. There’s only so deep you can go,” Chris Jericho said. “I think that, for example, there was a line a few weeks ago that MJF used about Lex Luger being in a wheelchair to Sting. I don’t think that gets heat, I think it makes people feel uncomfortable. I think it makes people feel bad, and you don’t want that. So there is a fine line between using real life issues, and going to inside baseball, where it’s like, ‘I don’t know what this guy is talking about, but it just doesn’t feel right.’ To me, that is the fine line of a pro wrestling promo. If there’s something in the universe that people know, then you can use it because it’s been on the show or whatever. If it’s something behind the scenes like, ‘well, your dad was a drunk.’ And it’s like, ‘where did that come from? His dad’s a drunk? Well that sucks. My dad was a drunk too. I don’t want to watch this show anymore.’
“That’s how I feel. I don’t think it gets more heat, I think it actually gets reverse heat, which has people going, ‘ugh. We know it’s a show.’ It’s like watching the new Star Wars movie and someone going, ‘Kylo Ren, your mom in real life had an abortion when she was sixteen.’ What does that have to do with Kylo Ren? It’s two different things. So, I think there’s a fine line to it. You can make things seem real with your intentions and the way you say things and the words you use. That makes it real. You give me a Chinese menu, I can do a promo that will make it feel real. So you’ve got to be careful. And people sometimes go, ‘oh, I’m going to say this and it’s going to get major heat.’ And people just kind of sit there going, ‘I don’t know what he’s talking about.’ So there’s a fine line.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Sports Media with Richard Deitsch and provide a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription