April 16, 2004
Jericho all Fozzy
By SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun
Title belts and top billing on the marquee have got Chris Jericho to a point in his career when he can unequivocally declare that he's done it all in a World Wrestling Entertainment ring. But there's lots left in Jericho, who has held every major title in the WWE and was the first undisputed world heavyweight champion.
"I've accomplished everything I've ever dreamed of doing as a wrestler, so now I want to just entertain the fans and make sure they're enjoying themselves watching on TV or buying a ticket,'' said Jericho, in a recent interview.
Jericho is a born entertainer. If there's a microphone within his reach, Jericho (real name Chris Irvine) is a lethal weapon. No one, save for The Rock, can work the mic with a stinging satirical bite like the product of Stu Hart's Calgary "dungeon.''
The 33-year-old has found another outlet for his outrageous flair, which fans can witness Sunday, following the Backlash event at Rexall Place when Jericho's band, Fozzy, takes the stage at the Starlite Lounge.
"We've developed a real international cult following. We've got a manager, a booking agent, the whole show-business thing with all the hangers-on,'' said Jericho, who fronts the "harder edge metal'' group, influenced by Iron Maiden, AC/DC and Metallica.
"When we started out, we were called Fozzy Osbourne and did all cover tunes. On the T-shirts we had a picture of Fozzy (from Muppets fame) biting the head off a bat. We've evolved over the last five years and play our originals with our favourite covers.''
The band has come a long way since putting on a show for 30 fans in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
But Jericho went down a similarly lonely road before, back in his early days with Hart's Stampede promotion, grappling in front of 10 lost souls in Rimbey. Fozzy has sold over 100,000 albums, with its videos earning airplay on MTV and MuchMusic and featured guest work from Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins fame along with Ozzy guitarist Zack Wylde.
Not too shabby at all for the self-proclaimed "Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla.''
"There are some similarities between the band and wrestling. Both are very hard-hitting and physical,'' said Jericho.
"I've been wrestling for 14 years, but I'm still more nervous performing in the ring than I am with Fozzy. It's just a no-brainer with the band. We're so cool and confident that we're going to tear the house down. We started this project and it hasn't been easy, but I think maybe I can make both (wrestling and the band) last.
"Maybe I can be like Mick Jagger and performing in Fozzy till I'm 60. We've started to build up our name and I think we're just starting to scratch the surface. It's been very fulfilling and it's starting to take off.''
WRESTLING NOT ON BACK BURNER
But all of Fozzy's blossoming success doesn't mean Jericho is setting wrestling on the back burner. In fact, his current storyline - which leads him into facing former "best friend'' Christian and his love interest Trish Stratus during Sunday's pay-per-view event - was in large part conceived by Jericho and Stratus and seems to have re-energized the fans' fervour for Y2J and his Highlight Reel.
"I've always had some input, but this was basically started by us almost seven months ago,'' explained Jericho, who has worked closely on the angles with WWE writers and kingpin Vince McMahon.
"We started with nothing but a love triangle, and it led to a Wrestlemania match and now another match on a pay-per-view. I really enjoy it. I've dabbled before but this is the first time I've done anything for this long.''
And Jericho, like fellow Canuck Chris Benoit, wanted to reassure his fans in the Great White North who were outraged by the WWE's decision to have all their "face'' (good guy) characters lose their Canadian roots in favour of introductions which make reference to their U.S. addresses and not their Canadian hometowns.
"It's a new attitude but it doesn't change the fact that I grew up in Canada,'' said Jericho, who was born in New York (when his father played for the Rangers), grew up in Winnipeg and currently lives in Tampa.
"You can take the guy out of Canada but you can't take Canada out of the guy. I've drank way too much beer not to be Canadian.''