Interview: Chris Jericho

Chris Jericho is one of the greatest wrestlers of his generation, having wrestled for ECW, WCW and WWE; winning an impressive 30 championships along the way!

The grappler from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada also has a number of projects outside of the wrestling ring, including his rock band Fozzy and his podcast. Jericho has also released his third autobiography; The Best In The World At What I Have No Idea.

We caught up with Chris to talk about getting to wrestle his childhood heroes, if he thinks CM Punk will return to wrestling and who he would like to work with when he returns to WWE plus much more.

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How did you first get into the sport of professional wrestling?

It’s 24 years of history and that’s why I’ve got three books out. I was a fan as a kid and I had decided wrestling is what I wanted to do and I went and made it happen.

You went to Mexico, Europe and Japan to learn your trade, what were those experiences like?

When you have a goal you want to follow it and my journey took me around the globe and it was a great experience. Everytime you get a chance to tour anywhere around the world doing what you love to do, it’s a great experience. I appreciated my time in all of those countries when I was there learning my craft, and I still appreciate them now.

It is always a blessing to go and tour these places, where people save up their money for years to go and visit, whilst I get paid to go there and that puts a lot of perspective on things.

Who were some of the wrestlers you enjoyed watching whilst growing up?

I’ve actually got to wrestle and work with two of the people that I enjoyed watching whilst growing up, Shawn Michaels and Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat. In 2003 Shawn and I stole the show at WrestleMania 19, which was like a dream come true.

However it wasn’t until 2008 when I created this whole new villain character that was just hated in the world of wrestling but was also hated outside of that – I was getting chased down the streets outside arenas. I got to work with Shawn during that point of my career as well and that was probably one of the best angles in WWE history. We created that angle from scratch and very organically because it wasn’t supposed to be something that lasted seven months, it was only supposed to be a one night thing. The chemistry Shawn and I had during that feud stems from me being a huge fan of his when I was a kid and we became peers and friends and co-workers.

I was also a big Steamboat fan as a kid and I have a great picture from when I met him when I was about 16-years-old at an auto show. He was always one of those guys that I really appreciated his style of work, he was a so called smaller guy in the business but the way he carried himself and his work rate was second to none. When it came time for me to work with him at WrestleMania 25, it was a really cool moment – he came out of retirement to work with me and we had an amazing match that night.

You had a brief spell in ECW, what was your time there like?

There are a lot of people that think I was an ECW original but I really wasn’t there that long. I was only there for about six months, eleven weekends, so I had 22 matches for ECW during my time with the company, but it was a very integral part of my career to get established in the United States and for people to start seeing me. ECW was very much the place to be at that point and getting in there was very difficult as it was seen as a stepping stone to the big leagues and it was a way of me getting on the map.

How would you describe your time in WCW?

I went to WCW for the sole reason that nobody from WWE was calling me. I enjoyed my time in WCW but I was there basically hoping that someone in WWE would see me and I would get a chance to move over. I had two dreams when I was a kid, one was to be in a rock band and the other was to be in WWE – those are the two things I wanted to do.

Growing up in Winnipeg, Canada, I didn’t really know much about WCW, we didn’t get much of their programming up there it was mainly about WWF. My time in WCW was cool but it was just another stepping stone for me on the way to my goal of WWE.

What was it like when you made your WWE debut interrupting The Rock?

It was definitely one of the best debuts ever, I came up with the idea of the countdown clock and Vince [McMahon] came up with the idea of having the clock end right in the middle of Rocks promo. I think that is the biggest reaction I had ever got, a lot of people knew it was going to me but there were also a lot of people that didn’t have a clue. It was a different world back then, the internet wasn’t like it is today, these days you would just go online and you can find things out right away but it wasn’t like that then.

That is one of the reasons why my new autobiography; The Best In The World At What I Have No Idea ends in 2013 with the Royal Rumble, because my return was a total surprise and I had an even bigger reaction than I did for my debut in 1999 against The Rock. Nobody knew I was there for the Royal Rumble in 2013, I was googling it right before I went out because someone must have seen me or someone must have let the cat out of the bag but nobody did. I think that is one of the reasons why it was such a great reaction and such a big deal because nobody knew – it was a legitimate surprise in this day and age with all the social media and camera phones.

What was it like the night you beat The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin on the same night to become the first ever Undisputed World Champion?

Anytime you win a World Title it’s a great moment, it’s a bit like winning an Oscar. Once again I think my favourite World Title out of the three I’ve won was the one against Shawn Michaels in 2008 because it was the culmination of the seven month feud that we had.

The World Title is just a prop, it is what it is and you can win it, you can lose it, but the most important thing is always the storyline and you want it to be the best it can be and I think the Michaels v Jericho ladder match means a lot more to me than beating The Rock and Austin on the same night.

Beating Rock and Austin on the same night was fun and cool but it was just like they gave me the title that night off the cuff, where as the Michaels one was a storyline we invented and created and had to eventually make it for the World Title because it was the hottest thing in the promotion, and that is what wrestling is all about.

In 2012 you worked with CM Punk, what was that like?

I flew to Stamford, Connecticut, to talk to Vince about six months prior because I wanted to work with Punk and do a Best In The World v a Best In The World feud. It was a catchphrase I would use for myself and then when I left Punk began using it to get over. So I thought it would be great to kind of work that out, the original idea I had was that I was going to tattoo Punk, I was going to attack him and give him a real tattoo, Vince thought it was great but later on changed his mind because when someone gets tattooed there is usually blood.

That is when we came up with the idea that we would focus the feud on Punks real life, the fact that his father was an alcoholic and how that affected him has a child. It was a great angle and it worked out really well, we had a really awesome storyline between the two of us that lasted for three or four months. I think it was a bit of an underrated feud, if you go back and watch some of the matches, the interviews we did and the story we told, it was very well done.

Do you think CM Punk will ever return to wrestling with WWE or another company?

That is something you will have to ask CM Punk, I haven’t spoken to him about it. I do know in 2005 I was very burned out from wrestling and I left for two and a half years. If Punk does come back it might take a while because when you’re burned out your done, like I said it took me two and half years before I decided I wanted to come back.

A lot of people forget that I left for quite a long period of time. It is a tough life, there is a lot of pressure and a lot of politics, you go through a lot of shit. If you’re not there 100% it can really drag you down that’s for sure.

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What was it like working with Bray Wyatt during your last spell with WWE?

I came back to specifically work with Bray, I enjoy his character and I think he does a great job working that character and committing to it. I think Bray will be a world champion very soon in WWE and I really enjoyed working with him. The steel cage match we had was the best match we had and I think it was a great performance.

Have you got anyone in mind that you would like to work with during your next run in the WWE?

When the time comes for me to go back, if I have some time and they’re willing to have me back I will look through the roster and see what works and makes sense. Seth Rollins is great, Dean Ambrose is great, I think Daniel Bryan as a babyface v myself as a heel would tear the house down.

There are a lot of great guys but it all depends on what they’ve got going on and what I’ve got going on. The last thing they are going to be doing is waiting around for Chris Jericho to come back, so when the time comes we will see what is going on and who is doing what with who and make some decisions from there.

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How would you compare your three bosses, Paul Haymen, Eric Bischoff and Vince McMahon?

Vince is the best boss I’ve ever had. The other guys were good bosses but to me they were just small time independent guys as far as the companies they had. Being in ECW and WCW for me was all about getting into WWE and I didn’t really care about anything else. Vince is the best boss I’ve ever had in the business and I wouldn’t work for anyone else but him and I haven’t for the last few years.

What has it been like with your band Fozzy, going from strength to strength?

It has been a lot of hard work with people telling you, you can’t do something, you have to carry on believing in yourself and believe in what you’re doing and not listening to the haters. You just have to focus in on it, put your nose to the grind and make it happen, make it work and when you get that attitude nothing can stop you, especially if you’re good at what you do.

That is one of the things I love about Fozzy, we’re working really hard to get to where we’re at. There is still a lot of work we can do but the bottom line is it’s gratifying for us to know we’re coming back to the UK in March, it is the biggest tour we will have ever done and the buzz about the band is bigger than ever before.

It’s cool to know we’ve gained the fan base and we hope to continue to grow and continue to gain the fan base. The band kicks ass, every single step we take up the ladder we feel very honoured but there is still a lot of ground left for us to cover and the potential is off the chart, it is just a great feeling within the band.

Another project you’ve got outside of wrestling is the podcast, what has that been like?

I’m not a wrestler, I’m an entertainer and that is how I look at things. Wrestling is part of what I do as is music, acting and anything else that I’m into. If you want just a pure wrestling podcast mine isn’t the one for you, it’s more of an entertainment show, I treat it like a late night chat show – there’s an intro, there’s characters, there are songs that are played. Sometimes I will go three or four shows without having a wrestler on, my competition isn’t other wrestling podcasts and if it was I would be failing miserably because mine isn’t focused on wrestling.

Chris Jericho’s new autobiography; The Best In The World At What I Have No Idea is out now:

Buy it: UK / USA

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For more information on Chris you can follow him on Twitter @IAmJericho you can also follow Fozzy @FOZZYROCK

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