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Y2J: The mouth that roared
By TIM BAINES -- Ottawa Sun


With a snarl, a sneer and a cackle, Chris Irvine, articulate nice guy, morphs into Chris Jericho, wisecracking jackass and self-proclaimed King of the World.

From hero to heel, Y2J has become one of WWE's stars whom fans most love to hate -- an ass clown in their eyes.

And that's just the way he likes it.

"I'm very proud to be Canadian," says the 32-year-old Jericho, who now lives in Tampa, Fla. "I grew up in Winnipeg and lived in Calgary. It's always fun to come back.

"It seems like wherever we go (in Canada), I'm the home-town guy."

But then the switch flicks in Jericho's brain. The nice-guy persona is out the door, the trash talk begins to flow.

"I don't like anybody, especially in Ontario, and especially the Senators," snarls Jericho, who is scheduled to face Test in a street fight at today's WWE show in Ottawa, 2 p.m., at the Corel Centre. "(Test) is an Ontarian (from Toronto). I'll beat his ass and show him why a Manitoban is better than an Ontarian."

Jericho, whose father Ted Irvine played 11 seasons in the NHL -- with the New York Rangers, Boston, Los Angeles and St. Louis, knows his antics at the microphone and in the ring can get the crowd going.

"When I'm at a show and look out and see anti-Jericho signs, it shows I'm doing my job, manipulating their sheep-like minds,"said Jericho. "It doesn't matter to me how they react, as long as they react. It's not important whether they love me or hate me, as long as there's not apathy."

Jericho has plenty on his mind these days.

Besides his busy wrestling career, his wife Jessica, whom he's been married to for 21/2 years, is nearly five months pregnant.

"It's a non-stop grind, four days a week, 50 weeks a year," says Jericho. "My wife is very understanding."

Among the matches that stick out in Jericho's mind are last year's No Mercy battle against The Rock and the recent Wrestlemania epic against Shawn Michaels.

He likes WWE's recent attempts to dump some of the hokey storylines and place more emphasis on good old-fashioned wrestling.

"The necrophilia (Triple H hopping into a casket and simulating sex with a dead body) angle was the dumbest thing," he said. "I'd rather see Michaels and me in a 25-minute match, no run-ins, no foreign objects.

"Storylines are very important. The ridiculous storylines? People don't want to see that."

Jericho says he's a fan of wrestling itself. He watches ... and he learns.

"Who do I watch? Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle, The Rock, Rey Mysterio Jr. and everything in between," said Jericho. "I learn from everybody ... psychology, character traits. You don't ever stop learning in this business; when you do, you should retire."

Jericho is a former WWE champion, an undisputed one at that, but he says his role is just as important now.

"I'm not the champion,"he said. "But that doesn't mean I'm not in the main event, some weeks it's the first match, some weeks it's the last match."

Jericho lists X-Files and Whose Line Is It Anyway among his favourite TV shows.

He also fronts a heavy-metal band called Fozzy and lists The Beatles, Iron Maiden and Metallica among his musical influences. "I just like good melodies," he said.

Jericho also says he's a religious man, but he doesn't believe his morals are compromised each time he steps into the ring.

"If God didn't want me doing this, I wouldn't be doing it," he said.

So the fans can thank God for Jericho.