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The Lion roars - SLAM! one-on-one with Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho
 
By GREG OLIVER -- SLAM! Sports

Part Two

Q: So who are some of your close friends in wrestling. It seems to be a very strange business where you keep moving place to place. How do you keep in touch with old friends?

A: It's also a very small business. You may not see somebody for a while but once you do see them, you're like 'hey, how's it going!' My close friends, it's funny. Most of my close friends I had before I got to WCW have actually ended up in WCW now. That includes Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, a guy that I just met once I got there, but I really get along with is Dean Malenko. Even Ultimo Dragon. I've known him for a long time. Some of the Mexican guys that have come in, I've known them for a while. Ever Perry Saturn who just started in WCW, he was a good friend of mine from years ago in Japan and subsequently in ECW as well. Sooner or later everyone shows up in the same place, whether it's WCW or WWF. You get to see you friends more than you would think.

Q: I've got a question here from a reader in Yugoslavia.

A: Wow!

Q: Yeah, it's a great business. He's wondering if you'll ever consider changing from a babyface to a heel. He thinks you'd be better as a heel.

A: Well, it's funny that he said that. For my whole career, I've been a heel. Up until I got to WCW. Because of the way I look, and the way WCW thinks, that if you're sort of a long-haired, so-called not good-looking but not ugly, then you have to be a babyface. I've been a heel anyways, so I'm looking forward to becoming a heel. Because my work is a strong-style heelish style anyway. I'm sure, I think I'll do a lot better as a heel. You have to do what the office tells you for right now.

Q: One of the questions was when did you start growing your hair out?

A: That's from high school. I used to be, well I still am, into heavy metal and stuff. I always wanted long hair. So I've had long hair since I was in high school. Because of the music I listen to and stuff, I've just always liked that look.

Q: So who are some of your favorite bands?

A: I've always liked Metallica, Iron Maiden, KISS. Right now my favorite band is probably Dream Theatre. A band a little more progressive. Helloween. My favorite thing about going to Japan is that there are a lot of bands there that have record deals there that don't have them here. Whenever I'm over in Japan, I always buy $200 or $300 worth of CDs right away because I'm always excited to get the new releases there. That's my hobby. It's like a big bonus to go to Japan. Every time I hear that I'm going I'm excited for the wrestling but also because I can update my CD collection.

Q: I'm to understand you just came back from Japan.

A: I just came back yesterday in fact.

Q: How did that tour go?

A: It was great. I really love Japan. If I could work in Japan 25 weeks of the year, I would seriously consider working there. That style is how I like to work the best. It's a more serious style. There's more creative. In WCW a lot of the matches are really short. That bothers me. I like to take my time, take 15 or 20 minutes and explain what I want to do. I enjoy the violent style that's more strong. I really like Japan.

Q: How do you deal with the culture? Is it difficult for you anymore?

A: Not really. I just had my 30th tour. That was my 30th time there and I'm quite used to the whole way of life there. It's different, but once you can figure it, adapt to it, it's really easy. It's not that hard. Like eating and stuff, it's not very hard to get into that.

Q: Who were some of the guys you faced on this past Japan tour?

A: Actually Benoit. He wrestles there as Pegasus. This is for New Japan Pro Wrestling. Jushin Liger. Samuri. Those are the guys people would know from here. That was mostly who I faced. One Mexican guy, called Dr. Wager Jr. Hopefully we'll get to see him in WCW or WWF or somewhere soon. My biggest rivals were Pegasus, Liger and Samuri.

Q: We've got a question here from Peter Ransom. He writes 'Without a doubt, your best match of your career was against Ultimo Dragon in July 1995. Do you think that was a turning point for you as a wrestler, and did that match end up in the hands of Mr. Heyman [Paul E. Dangerously] and Mr. Bischoff when they were looking for new wrestlers?

A: It's funny because in my opinion that was one of the best matches I've had as well. That was one I always used as a resume. A video resume. And that one did end up in the hands of WCW and also in the hands of Paul E. as well. That match kind of helped me get two jobs. That's the one I always use as a watermark of 'this is what I can do.' Yeah, me and Dragon always had a good chemistry and he really helped me in Japan. I kept going to Japan so many times because he needed a rival to fight and we always had such good matches that I kept getting to go back. It was a turning point in a lot of ways. It helped me quite a bit, that match.

Q: The Pro Wrestling Torch, among others, rate your match from the recent War Games pay-per-view against Eddie Guerrero among the best matches of this year. How do you respond?

A: Oh wow. A lot of times when it comes to the ratings and stuff from the sheets, I don't really pay attention. It was one that felt good. Everything felt good. Eddie's one of the best wrestlers that I've ever faced. I don't mind saying that I really thought that was an excellent match as well. I really enjoyed it. It was one of those ones coming out from the ring, sometimes you have a match and you're sad when it's ended. Other times you have a match where you can't wait until it's over. It was one of those ones I wish it could have kept going another twenty minutes. I really enjoyed that one. It was a great crowd and a great opponent to be with. I really enjoyed that match.

Q: How do you prepare for your matches?

A: How do I prepare for my matches? Well, usually right before I warm up, throw a few kicks and stuff and get in the right mind-set. I usually say a little prayer. I always pace around, I usually pace right before I go. Usually about ten minutes before the match until I walk out the door you'll see me walking back and forth. I don't usually talk to anybody. You've got to get into the right, proper psychological mind-set.

Q: What are some of the toughest finishing holds that you've been in?

A: That I've been in?

Q: Yeah, that's one of the questions we got mailed.

A: Okay. It's actually funny. Somebody asked me a couple of weeks ago, a couple of months ago, if I've ever submitted in a match. I was honestly trying to think. I don't think I've ever submitted in a match. ... I think a couple of times when I wrestled against Taz in ECW, I don't think I submitted, I think I passed out before submitted. Well, anyways, Taz's hold, the Taz-mission I think it's called. In WCW, I don't recall ever submitting in WCW. In Japan, some of the holds are pretty strong, where you feel like submitting. Like the Boston Crabs, they're always very high-angle - a lot of power on your back. I can't remember ever submitting much. I could be wrong but as far as I can recall.

Q: How have some of the real veterans of WCW like Flair or Hogan. Guys who've been around forever basically. How have they been to the young lions coming in?

A: That's a good question. Some of the guys there are not all that cool to the younger guys. There's a lot of cliques around, as there are in any business. A lot of the guys there don't always act all that friendly towards you. A lot of the guys do. Macho Man is always cool. Hulk's always nice. Sting is cool ... Ric's actually quite cool too. Arn Anderson. They each have a little bit of advice. That's the only thing that I can ask from someone who been around for a long time and who's like a huge star and been on top for a long time. That's to give advice so you can get better. Especially in WCW, a guy like me doesn't get to wrestle Ric Flair often, so to have him watch a match and give pointers is the next best thing. That's the only thing I can ever really expect from those guys is advice from them. I really appreciate it. That's the only way to get better.

Q: The next question, also from readers. Are you going to go after the cruiserweight title again? Obviously that's one of your goals.

A: Yeah, that's one of my goals. To be honest with you, I'm not really that sure what's going to be happening. I don't know if I'm going to be getting any re-matches against Eddie. I'd like to hope that I would, especially after the match we had at the War Games. Sometimes the obvious thing doesn't take place. Whether I will or not, it remains to be seen. But I hope so. I'd love to get it back, of course. I think I'm the biggest cruiserweight in WCW, but whatever.

Q: Would you eventually like to have a world title run? Is that something you're aiming for?

A: Definitely. Before my career is over I would be very disappointed if I didn't have a world title at some point, whether it be in ten years or whenever. Especially when I turn heel. I'm looking in the next eight or nine years. I'm 26. I'd definitely like to have a chance before, you know. I used to thing I was too small, but small or big is irrelevant nowadays.

Q: One of the reader questions from a guy in B.C. is what would your strategy be against Hollywood Hulk Hogan?

A: Well, if I had to face Hollywood Hogan, let's face it. Hogan, he has more experience than me. He's been around a long time. He's probably seen and heard and taken everything. But at this point in his career, I don't think that speed is a real aspect of his game. He's bigger than me. I don't think he's 30 or 40 pounds bigger, which compares to some of the bigger guys I've faced. I'd just try to take him off his feet. The typical David and Goliath thing. I have a lot of experience worldwide. I've been a champion in Japan, Mexico and Canada, United States. I've worked in Germany as well. I'd just have to use my head. I'd just have to be smarter. Sometimes that's harder with the lack of experience compared to him. But I also have a lot of experience of my own as well.

Q: Here's a question from somebody in Australia. Who do you believe, pound for pound, is the best wrestler in WCW and WWF?

A: Best wrestler pound for pound in WCW, Chris Benoit. Best wrestler pound for pound in WWF, Bret Hart. Chris Jericho

Q: How did the name Lion Heart come about?

A: Very good as well. This is actually a good story. My dream was always to work in Japan. It's all I ever wanted to do, because I used to watch a lot of tapes from Japan. Before I went to Mexico, I knew that I needed a name because they couldn't pronounce Jericho. You know Yericho or whatever. So I came up with the name Lion Heart. Now I came up with that name because all the guys I used to watch in Japan, they all had the name of an animal. Eddie Guerrero was Black Tiger. Chris Benoit was Wild Pegasus. Too Cold Scorpio. Jushin Liger. Ultimo Dragon. Tiger Mask. So I thought if I was a junior heavyweight, I had to have the name of an animal. So I came up with Lion Heart for Mexico and Japan. Of course, Mexico changed it to Corazón de Léon, which is Spanish for Lion Heart. But I always kept the name Lion Heart.

Q: Is there anything you think your fans would want to know?

A: Just that I'm not on the web now, or involved on computers. But I will be soon. I was actually talked to a friend of mine today about creating a web page for myself. So keep an eye out for that. Once I do get on the Internet, I'd like to keep in contact with everybody. Keep my ear to the ground and find out what's going on. Once again, I always appreciate anything like this. I always work hard in the ring, and whether people like me or not I always try my best. And I appreciate that.

Q: I really appreciate your time, Chris.

A: No problem. Anytime. It was a good time. Thanks a lot.


What did you think of the interview? Feel free to email your comments to me at goliver@canoemail.com

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