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  November 26, 1999



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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

Jericho taming the WWF
By ALEX RISTIC -- SLAM! Wrestling

JERICHO Chris Jericho is restrained by Too Cool at a house show in Toronto. (Photo by Veronica Henri - Toronto Sun.)
Do you need an introduction? It doesn't matter what you need -- Oh wait, wrong schtick. If you don't know about Chris Jericho, you haven't been paying much attention to the wrestling world, and you should never, eeever do that again.

One of the most exciting talents in the WWF, Jericho is known the globe over through his ringside antics, and in ring ability. It was during a busy whirlwind PR day in Toronto that Jericho squeezed us in to give SLAM! Wrestling an exclusive interview.

Let's start off with Jericho's tenure in the WWF. Most of his die-hard following have been upset about the lack of true development for his character, and the prospect of his jobbing to those with lesser talents in Stevie Richards and Gangrel. Jericho expands on his lack former lack of direction, as well his status in the WWF.

"When [Ken] Shamrock got hurt that kind of took away two or three months worth of plans," divulges Jericho, "but I mean it's also hard to be thrown right into something when everyone else is kind of booked up. They didn't really have anything to do, for me, for that time period. And that was the original plan, before Vince Russo left, because the Shamrock thing kind of tied up all the other people that were available for programming. That's just part of the business. Injuries are part of the business and you have to adapt to it."

Jericho isn't revealing anything his followers couldn't have guessed. After Shamrock's injury, Jericho didn't have an angle, so they put him in one-off matches against The Rock and X-Pac, but that never truly allowed him to create momentum for his character. Now, he has an angle with Chyna, which is a slight improvement, but part of the angle has seen Jericho get the short end of the stick, always losing, to what many fans would say is inferior talent.

"It's not losing and winning anymore," defends Jericho, "it's more about the reactions from the crowd. It's kind of funny about how things have changed, because five years ago it was about winning and losing. But if you look and see after a loss, people, you'll see I get a bigger reaction. Maybe I'm being na•ve, but I don't see any big deal in it. Also, all those losses were for a reason. And things change so fast. One win over someone big and next thing you know I'm a big super-hero again. I think people kind of put too much emphasis on the winning and losing. Plus, I'm still the new guy, there's a lot of tests that you have to go through, and that's just part of the business as well."

A business that seems just as cutthroat as the rest of Hollywood. To help get his character over, advance story lines, and as well as pitting an opponent against Chyna, Jericho has had to lock horns with her over the last few weeks, leaving many puzzled. But contrary to what you may think. Jericho doesn't seem to mind, and even came up with some of the ideas for the altercations himself.

"Like I said, I'm playing a character on a show. As a matter of fact, the thing last week with the hammer and the thumb, that was actually my idea. I liked it. It was like a Hannibal Lector, Kevin Spacey's character in Seven, kind of a real calm lunatic. I thought that was kind of a neat dimension to add to the Chris Jericho character. I don't find it hard at all. She's a woman, yes, but she's also a wrestler on our show, whose gimmick is that she's a woman. It's not even really a man and woman thing anymore. It's just character versus character, as far as I see it."

It's widely known that Jericho is a devout follower of the Christian faith. Knowing that the WWF is geared toward adult content could make for some conflicts in his character, as well as his religion.

"In some ways yes," he admits, "but it's all up to you, and it's all up to the individual character to kind of regulate what he'll do, and what he doesn't do. I try not swear on the shows, I'm not going to say that I haven't, but most of the time I'll try to specifically stay away from that. As far as the sexual content, I WILL STAY AWAY FROM THAT. The violence, well, it's basically a television show that is based around violence. And I'm playing a character. My character may not be a Christian, but the real life, Chris Irvine, is. Once again, the WWF product isn't geared toward that segment, and Iām going to try and do my best to try to keep it as clean as I can, and just try to do what I can within the realms of where I live. I live in the world. I don't like everything that happens in the world, but I still live in it though."

So now that some recent events have been uncovered, what's in store for Chris Jericho in the future? How about a feud between Jericho and The Rock, the two vocal masters of the WWF.

"Well definitely, I mean it's a natural thing," says Jericho on a future feud with the great one. "I don't think anybody in the WWF can talk as well as The Rock can, besides Chris Jericho. At least in style; insulting, cocky type guys. I think there's a tremendous potential for some great verbal duels, as well as duels in the ring."

Speaking of verbal duels, can you lay the smack down on us with some of the lines you've planned for The Rock?

"Well, you can't just make me do a catch-phrase on your beck and call, like I'm your own personal puppet here. It would go beyond entirely what Chris Jericho is all about to cater to the whims of every idiot on the Internet. And if you think I'd ever do that, then you have to never, EEEEVER think that again. Do you understand me?"

Yes sir, Mr. Jericho sir. Apart from The Rock, Jericho admits to wanting to work with everyone within the corporation, which is mildly surprising. Is he towing the company line? Maybe, but he explains it as having much respect in the WWF locker, more so than in others, and adds that those in the WWF are more receptive to his in-ring generalship.

"I like working with everybody. I like working with Chyna, and even with Mark Henry last night, because they trust my instincts and listen to what I have to tell them to do, so I can have a good Chris Jericho style match. I also liked working with The Rock. We had a couple of so-so matches, but one really good one in Madison Square Garden. I think Triple H would be good, Austin would be good, Edge would be good. Any different style, I mean the first couple of times you work with someone it might be rocky, no pun intended, but the more you work with somebody, the more you see. I had great matches with Road Dogg. He was a lot of fun to work with cause once again he listened to my style and he was really good at doing it. It all depends on who you work with, and take some time to get in their mindset and adapt to their style. Basically, I'm excited to work with anybody, as long as there's a good story line and a good reason for it."

JERICHO Chris Jericho wants to move on beyond his feud with Chyna.
He adds: "Most (wrestlers) have been there longer than me, but I've been wrestling for ten years, and a lot of people haven't been. I think that's always the hardest thing. You need those guys to trust you to listen to what you say. I worked with Stevie Ray in WCW, and he's not known as a tremendous worker, but we had great matches, because he listened to my opinions and allowed me to lead him through it. It just takes a while to get their confidence."

So now that he's gaining their confidence it appears much lies on the horizon for Chris Jericho. Speaking of which, when will the feud with Chyna end, so that the character can go on?

"I'm not sure. I don't really know what they have in store, as far as the story climaxing. Personally, I would like it to climax soon, one way or the other, because I think I've done pretty much all I can do with her right now. And I think people have kind of seen it, and want to move on to something else. I'm not to sure if it's going to end at the next PPV, or if it's even going to make it that far, or maybe itās going to continue."

Speaking of continuing, Jericho's character has been that of a heel for two years now, and is immensely popular. There's lots of postulation that his character is moving along the lines of a bad-ass baby face, much in the same vein as The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin characters, something Jericho admits he's thought about.

"Well I think it's all up to the fans. When I was a face the fans didn't like me, so I turned around and became a heel. Now it's almost to the point that I don't know how much farther I can go to stay a heel. I mean I smashed a woman's finger with a hammer, and the next night I got a huge response again. I'm still trying to do my heel ways, but the people are kind of really getting behind my character because he's so entertaining. Also, another thing too, when I was a heel I was the chicken-s**t coward heel, and Vince doesn't like that kind of heel, he want the ass kicking heel, because it opens the door up to become a baby-face. Everybody likes someone who totally kicks ass."

Ass kicking seems like something Jericho should be able to do, after all, he has a kick-ass metal band with members of Stuck Mojo entitled Fozzy Osborne, a power metal band that is currently performing cover material, including songs from Ronnie James Dio like "Don't Talk To Strangers." Seeing as how Jericho took his name from a Helloween song, "The Walls Of Jericho," it's not impossible to envision the Lion Heart as being a screaming frontman.

"Weāre going to continue doing that," says Jericho on his band. "We're working on other projects right now that will hopefully lead to a record deal. It's a fun, pasttime hobby that I kind of like to do, and surprisingly we're really good at it. So we're having a good time, and want to just keep it on the side, as a project. But it's something I'm very interested in, it's kind of always been a dream for me, to pursue that. It's fun to actually be a part of it, as well as itās fun also doing what I do, and meeting some of the guys from different bands who also respect that. That's really cool. As a matter of fact, the other day, I'm a big Dream Theatre fan, I just got an e-mail from their drummer, Mike Portnoy, who said how he was a fan in return. That's kind of neat."

Other than that, is there anything else in store for the Y2J problem?

"Just complete and utter world domination for Y2J. There's no reason why I can't, or won't be one of the dominant players for this company in the upcoming two, or three years. For the next five years, ten years even. Who knows?"

More on Chris Jericho




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