I first met Chris Jericho in 1991, although he will tell you that he used to come up and talk to me in 1989 at the old Gold's Gym, when I was a first-year rookie and he was a student at Red River College. The fact that I have no recollection of this in no way means that he is mistaken, but Jericho is not someone you easily forget. Chris had trained in Calgary at the Hart Brothers camp and was coming out to Winnipeg for the famous Tony Condello tours. Chris and I likely wrestled each other in every small arena across this province for little or no money.
It was a great chance to see the province and a better opportunity to make the type of friends that last a long time.
Chris later got himself booked in Mexico and did what he went on to do everywhere he worked: become the biggest star in the territory. Chris ended up in WCW shortly before I went to WWF and we would often chat on the phone about when we would actually be in the same company at the same time. Right before I left the company to go to ECW, the WWF folks began asking me about Chris, knowing we were friends. It was the easiest recommendation you could ever make. Chris was and is one of the few guys who had it all and could make others look like stars as well.
Chris went on to become the first ever undisputed World Heavyweight Champion and remains one of WWE's top stars. The truly amazing thing about Chris is that through all of his fame and success, he has never changed from the guy I was wrestling in front of 100 people back in 1991. Chris still comes up to Winnipeg several times a year and you can usually find him hanging out with his St. James buddies in one of their old hangouts, or jamming in someone's basement in Westwood. He puts on no airs and if it weren't for the trademark long blond hair he would melt in quite easily with a Winnipeg bar crowd.
When Chris and I were rookies on the indie circuit, he announced himself as being from Los Angeles and I was from North Carolina. We both went on to acknowledge our actual Manitoba heritage once we hit the bigs and Chris has continued to be a great ambassador for Winnipeg and for Manitoba. When WWE wanted to begin announcing him as hailing from New York (his actual place of birth), Chris spoke up about it, and even said on the NHB Radio show that they could say whatever they wanted, but that he would always be from Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Chris is a Manitoban we can all be proud of. He does great charity work with kids, and always treats people with respect, always excels at whatever he does and always promotes the province wherever he goes.
Tomorrow Chris will be receiving the Manitoba's highest honour, The Order of the Buffalo Hunt. Jericho will be presented the award by Premier Gary Doer at 10.30 a.m. at the Manitoba Legislature on the south lawn. The public is invited to attend. Jericho will also be honoured at City Hall by new Mayor Sam Katz at 1:30 p.m.
More on Chris Jericho
Following tomorrow's WWE Raw show at the Arena, Chris Jericho's band Fozzy performs live at Cowboys at Canad Inns Windsor Park. Tickets are available at the hotel front desk or call 694-SHOW (7469). ... On the subject of Jericho, a reader was inquiring as to why anyone would suggest that he was "arguably" the most famous Winnipegger. Let's face facts: as far as entertainers go, Jericho tops Nia Vardalos, Monty Hall, and yes, even Burton Cummings. ... Chris' dad is former NHL star Ted Irvine, who is a tremendous guy and phenomenal financial adviser.
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Old-school Chris Jericho:
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