March 7, 2011
Jericho ready for Dancing With The Stars limelightGives scoop on life inside WWE in latest book Undisputed
By MARK DANIELL - QMI Agency
Chris Jericho is a man in flux.
For the better part of the last 11 years he’s been one of the most recognized wrestlers in the WWE, fronted a hard rock band named Fozzy and tried his hand at acting.
"When I said I wanted to be a wrestler, people were like, 'C'mon.' And when I told people I wanted to be a rock star, they said, 'Get serious,'" Jericho said while discussing those who didn’t approve of his chosen career paths on a wintry February morning. "But I don't care what people think. I knew that I could do it and it was very gratifying to see both those dreams come true."
His steely can-do determination to be a success is the backbone of his latest bestselling memoir, Undisputed: How to Become the World Champion in 1,372 Easy Steps, in which he chronicles his rise through the ranks of the WWE, the epic matches he had with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Shawn Michaels and Triple H, and his desire to become a certified rock 'n' roll star.
"When I was a kid I wanted to be a wrestler and a rock star – those were my two dreams," he said. "[Music] is part of who I am and always has been, so when we had the chance to start Fozzy in ’99 there wasn’t much of a difference for me to be wrestling in front of 15,000 people at the Air Canada Centre and then playing in front of 50 people in Hamilton because I had a huge passion for both."
In a similar vein to its predecessor, A Lion’s Tale, Undisputed isn’t just a wrestling book.
Sure, Jericho delves into pivotal WWE storylines involving the Rock, and gives readers a glimpse into the mind of promoter Vince McMahon. But he wanted to write a book for anyone with a dream.
"I can probably now go on positive speaking tours," he said, with a smile. "These stories, whether it's about wrestling or music or something else, it all comes from the same place where you just need to believe in yourself. If you have a goal, a dream, follow it and make it happen no matter what. Never listen to someone who says you can't do it.
"That's the biggest underlying message of both my books."
In the shifting landscape of wrestling, in which the entertainers seemed to grow dramatically with each passing year, Jericho admits he had to take a different approach to ensuring his longevity as a performer.
"I always treated wrestling as show business," he said, sliding back into a deep-seated leather couch. "When I first started it was about the giants. But I wasn't a big guy. I was 5’11, 200 pounds; I was never going to be the biggest guy on the show. So the way I figured I could beat the system was to be the one with the biggest personality."
So he became the Paul Stanley-meets-David Lee Roth of wrestling. And it worked.
"Because I wanted to be a rock 'n' roll star I brought some of that into wrestling and that’s what helped me stand out a little. It helped me connect with fans in ways that went above and beyond a body slam. That’s why I think people enjoyed my work."
Undisputed covers the first phase of Jericho’s WWE years, his departure in the mid-2000s, the death of his close friend Chris Benoit (who killed himself and his family), and ends with his return to the squared circle in 2007.
"I stop on the verge of my comeback because if I do a third book I can continue from there," he said, adding that he has some juicy storylines he’d love to write about. "I had some great matches with Shawn Michaels in 2008 and one with Rey Mysterio in 2009. A lot of people say the last three years of my career were the best, so I have a lot of material I can cover."
Right now Jericho is on hiatus from wrestling, but he's convinced he'll be back and that the business he has been a part of for almost all his life will continue to grow in popularity.
"There's something in wrestling for everyone. The characters, the stories, the athleticism, those are the things that people enjoy. It's like sports and a movie put together and it's the only business in the world that has that."
He knows in today's UFC-obsessed era wrestling needs to have storylines and entertainers that are constantly evolving. But what he can't stand is when people still point to the fact that it's fiction as a reason to dismiss it.
"I just hate the word fake because there’s nothing fake about what we do. When you go and see a movie like Pirates of the Caribbean you know it's not real, but that’s not the reason you are going to see it. You go because of the action, the costumes, the acting and the story…You know it's not real and that’s the same with wrestling. So people who say 'I can't pay attention because it's fake' must not like TV or movies."
His break from the WWE to concentrate once again on his band is only one step in his latest career rebranding. Jericho has just signed on to the latest season of Dancing With The Stars.
An obvious favourite to thousands of screaming wrestling fanatics, Jericho is eyeing a different kind of adulation, one that he'll have to work for from the ground up.
"When all these opportunities present themselves, I like to take advantage because that's what life's all about, challenging yourself. That's why I left the WWE last September."
Even though he’s sure he will return to wrestling once again, he isn't guaranteeing he will win the mirror ball trophy when season 12 of Dancing premieres March 21.
But he promises to do his best for all his Jerichoholics.
"If Chris Jericho is doing it, it’s 100% believe in it and I will give 100% to do the best I can to entertain people. That’s the bottom line."
Mark Daniell is the Senior Editor, News, for Canoe.ca.