I was never interested in being the “next whomever.” I just wanted to be the first Chris Jericho, because I knew if I wanted to make it, I had to do something different.
A big personality, a knack for catchphrases, and flashy clothes that are literally flashy. Yup, that’s “Lionheart” Chris Jericho all right. The Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla, they used to call him. Or at least that’s what he used to call himself, among innumerable other nicknames. When I highlighted WWE Chairman Vince McMahon in last week’s Sunday Snippet, I had mentioned that the quote was pulled from No Is a Four-Letter Word, a book written by Chris Jericho. It’s only fitting that I extract a little snippet of Jericho’s own words too and so here we are, junior.
Raw Is Jericho
Born Christopher Keith Irvine in 1970, but far better known as Chris Jericho, the hugely successful professional wrestler is also the frontman of metal band Fozzy, a successful podcaster, a sometime actor, and a best-selling author. He even auditioned to host America’s Funniest Home Videos (AFV) at one point, only to be bested by Alfonso “Carlton Banks” Ribeiro for the gig. Stranger things have happened, I suppose.
His wrestling career took him from Canada to Mexico to Japan before landing in Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) in 1995, World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in 1996, and eventually the World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment (WWF/WWE) in 1999. It was hotly rumored for weeks on the Internet that Chris Jericho would make that jump and re-watching his WWF debut today still gives me chills.
The “pop” when “JERICHO” popped up on the Jumbotron was something else. It’s hard to believe that was almost 20 years ago.
Break the Walls Down
In entertainment in general and in sports in particular, we oftentimes get talk of “the next whomever,” as Jericho puts it. Remember when people said Kobe Bryant would be the next Michael Jordan or Sidney Crosby would be the next Wayne Gretzky?
In No Is a Four-Letter Word, Jericho says that he derived a lot of his early inspiration from Shawn Michaels. You see it in the long locks of hair, the flashy ring tights, and over-the-top, almost rock star-like persona. But he realized that he had to differentiate himself if he wanted to “make it.” He couldn’t be “the next Shawn Michaels,” because that’s not what people actually wanted.
As Kurt Cobain once said, “Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.”
Never, EEEEEVER, Be the Same Again
Jericho also recognizes that wrestling fans bore easily, so you’ve got to shake it up every once in a while. We’ve seen this with his various hair styles and facial hair choices, evolving from a petulant “savior” to an arrogant maintainer of lists. Even now at age 47, nearly 30 years since he first started training at the legendary Hart Brothers Dungeon in Calgary, Chris Jericho is still reinventing himself. Did you see his entrance at NJPW Dominion last month? Chris “A Clockwork Orange” Jericho? I have no idea.
But it certainly is “something different.” Drink it in, maaaaan!