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August 20, 2009

Q&A with Chris Jericho

I conducted a phone interview Thursday with WWE star Chris Jericho, who discussed his aborted partnership with Edge and subsequent pairing with The Big Show, working with Rey Mysterio, the need for Raw to build new talent, his thoughts on Raw having guest hosts and more.

Jericho and Big Show will defend the WWE Unified tag team title against Cryme Tyme at the SummerSlam pay-per-view on Sunday.

Fans really seemed to be excited about you and Edge teaming together. How disappointing was it to have it end so abruptly because of Edge’s injury?

chris_jericho.jpg

It was disappointing because I think we had a great story line in the works, with a lot of trips and traps that were going to lead to a certain place. But it was one of those things that the moment it happened you’re like, “Well, OK, what are we going to do now? Back to the drawing board.” You can’t do anything about it. It’s part of what we do. So it was very disappointing. And then as soon as I found out that they’re going to push The Big Show, I was intrigued about it. You have to turn a negative into a positive and I think we’ve done that. We’ve made the best of the situation while we wait for Edge to heal. Like I said, it would have been great, but everything happens for a reason. You have to drop it and go on. Big Show has been a great replacement. Everyone said it had to be Dolph Ziggler or The Miz. No, this is about two world champions at the top of their game who have a certain stature. Yeah, it would help them, but it wouldn’t help me. We’re trying to reinvigorate the tag titles and reinvigorate Big Show as well. The guy is a giant. He’s a commodity and people need to be reminded of that and we need to start promoting that.

Your program with Rey Mysterio was so good that I don’t think anyone was ready for it to end. What are your thoughts on working with him?

Well, I’ve worked with Rey for years, but we never had an official program. We worked once or twice in WCW but never worked in WWE. We had worked plenty of times in Japan when we were working for Tenryu. I just thought it would be a great program between the two of us. When they originally proposed it, it was supposed to be for the Backlash pay-per-view [in April], the one where I ended up wrestling [Ricky] Steamboat. I fought it and said we should take our time and build it. I’m very happy with that story line. Each match was better than the last. The finish with the 619 where I pulled the mask off is probably something that you’ll never see again. It was very memorable. As far as feuds go, it’s a close runner-up to Shawn Michaels.

When you were in WCW, it seemed as if the guys at the top were reluctant to work with and elevate guys who had potential such as yourself. Now that you are in the position of being a top guy, did what you experienced in WCW influence how you approach working with younger guys?

It wasn’t reluctance; it was just denial. They just wouldn’t do it and it [ticked] me off so much because there was a lot of money left on the table. It’s something that I said that I would never do. We’re in a crisis period in WWE and we need to build new guys. When Shawn Michaels came back to Raw, he said, “Whose been built since I left?” On Smackdown we’ve built [John] Morrison and [Dolph] Ziggler and Cryme Tyme. The Intercontinetal title has been rebuilt now with Rey Mysterio. But I can’t tell you on Raw who has been built over the last six months. They better do it soon, because when this generation of performers is gone, who will replace them?

You’ve managed to stay injury-free for the most part throughout your career, and it’s not as if you have a soft work style. What is your secret as far as durability?

I think it’s a combination of good genetics, soul and a lot of luck. It sounds funny, but I think because I grew up in Canada and it was always cold, and you’d go out on a Friday night walking around the streets with your friends and a bottle of vodka, it toughens you and makes you a harder person. I think it makes you have a tougher soul and more tolerance to pain. I also think I’m a little bit of a genetic freak as well. You saw on Raw that it looked like I almost broke my neck, and I have no residual effects. I had torn ligaments in my knee, which usually puts you out for eight weeks, but I didn’t miss any time at all. One of these days I’ll probably just disappear in a puff of smoke and spontaneously combust like the drummer in “Spinal Tap.”

You’ve crossed over and done a lot of work in the entertainment field other than wrestling, so what are your thoughts on the Raw guest host format?

I love it. There are a lot of similarities between Raw and “Saturday Night Live” and there always has been. As far as the guest hosts, some will work, some won’t be so good and some will suck. That’s the chance you take with outsiders. Shaq really got it; Seth Green was great; and Freddie Prinze was really good. I look forward every week to seeing who is going to be on.

You got to interact on camera with Shaquille O’Neal when he was the Raw guest host. What was that like? Do you think he’s a natural for pro wrestling?

Absolutely. He is a natural not just because of his size and athleticism, but also because of his personality and charisma. He understood about projecting those qualities. I’m not the biggest basketball fan. I don’t really follow it at all, so I wasn’t freaking out or marking out when he showed up, but I was very impressed with the work he did on the show. He was very laid back and respectful and willing to play along. He had no problems with the Kobe Bryant line.

What’s the latest on your band, Fozzy?

Our new record, "Chasing The Grail," will be out in January. We’ve been in discussions with radio programmers to see what the first single will be. There are five or six different songs they want to choose from. This really is a masterpiece for us and I think it will put us in a different category. I think it will change people’s perceptions that this is just Jericho’s wrestling band. I mean, Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden is a pilot but that doesn’t mean that his band doesn’t kick ass. We’re doing straight-forward, great rock and roll music.

One final music question since I know you’re a metal aficionado. What do you think of the new Kiss song, “Modern Day Delilah,” that will be on their forthcoming album?

I haven’t heard it. Is it good?

It’s not bad. Gene Simmons has described the album as a cross between “Rock and Roll Over” and “Love Gun.”

Paul Stanley is one of my favorite singers, and he’s a hero of mine as far as being a great showman. There are very few Paul Stanley songs that I don’t like. I was a huge Kiss fan in the early ’90s when they did “Revenge” and “Carnival of Souls.” I was angry when they did the reunion tour because I knew what it was for. You know, they keep selling Kiss merchandise, and the biggest piece of merchandise is a new Kiss record.

Photo courtesy of wwe.com.

Posted by Kevin Eck at 8:23 PM | | Comments (31)
Categories: Q&As
        

Comments

Been a huge KISS fan since 1973. I'll be at WalMart on October 6 for the release of "Sonic Boom"! Why they are not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is unbelievable! Wonder if FOZZY will last 35 years?

Thank you both for an entertaining read.

"[T]his is about two world champions at the top of their game who have a certain stature."

_______________________________

Unfortunately, I can't agree with that. Jericho didn't look like he was at the top of his game when he lost to JTG. It 's not Jericho's fault; it's the fault of how he is being booked in this partnership with Big Show. I actually want Cryme Tyme to win at Summerslam in the hope that Jericho will go solo again and be allowed to show us the true extent of his capabilities.

Shawn Michaels: “Whose been built since I left?”


WWE Creative: O.o

Interesting choice of words when talking about the current state of building new stars. Calling it a "crisis" along with the alleged rumors that Vince has been furious about the lack of new stars on each show, really makes me believe this is a serious problem within WWE right now.

Maybe i'm beating a dead horse, but I can't help but think that until triple h retires, there will be very few new "stars" to arise. Although he is a good opportunity to put Legacy over in the next couple of months. However, I can't help but think they will be buried along with the spirit squad and rated RKO. Part of what made DX so over was the fact that all they did was bury the competition.

good interview again Eck. Keep up the good work

Very interesting stuff, Kevin! Great job on getting Jericho, BTW - that's HUGE!

There's really no other way around it, the guy is the best in the world right now. He tore the house down with Steamboat, he struck gold with Mysterio, turned a big negative into a bigger positive with Big Show as his new partner, and now he's resurrecting tag team wrestling in WWE. And that's just this year, we all know about how great he was in 2008 - he was Superstar of the Year for a reason - and then there's everything he did prior to his hiatus.

I really can't think of a better performer in WWE today, so thanks for the read!

" Shaq really got it; Seth Green was great; and Freddie Prinze was really good."

Lol. Fairly obvious why he missed out the others.

I think Chris Jericho rocked the house with JTG, because he showed that a top guy can loose to a mid-carder without losing credibility as a top guy. Honestly, I think that was JTG's best match so far, because he learned and had to work hard. If only John Cena could do the same, RAW might have a future, however he is no Jericho.

Ha, typo.
"We’ve made the best of the situation while we wait for Edge to heel."

Different meaning of Heal then you might've meant, Kevin Ecks!

Jericho could put on a match with anyone on the roster and I gurantee it'll be entertaining. Randy Orton and Cena are both relatively young (although they should wrestle not-eachother), and having a solid new set of stars is simply a function of putting on more matches during Raw! Please end Chavo/Swoggle, put on Chavo/Swagger. Give Evan Bourne some 10 minute matches on Superstars, team him with Kofi...the USA title is as fresh as I've ever seen it. They filled up a six man match for the last PPV, don't tell me there's no talent in there.

RESPONSE FROM KE: Freudian slip on "heel." LOL
Thanks for alerting me to it. Man, I hate typos.

Smackdown and ECW are doing great with bring up new talent. RAW is just a lazy brand that always steals the superstars built by Smackdown and ECW. Example: Jack Swagger built as the face of ECW, and now is feuding with MVP in a mindless feud. Another example, MVP built by Smackdown and is now in a pointless feud. RAW has a whole mess of guys that can be built even higher: Swagger, MVP, Bourne, Henry, Masters, Primo, Carlito, The Miz, Kingston. But what does RAW do? They focus on Orton, Triple H, and John Cena. We've seen this senario play out a thousand and one times. No one cares about it anymore. There was a poll conducted on WWE.com to see what match are people most interested in SummerSlam - Jeff vs. Punk, Cena vs Orton, or DX vs Legacy, half of the votes went to Punk vs Hardy, WHY? Because people have seen Punk built as a heel and want to see more of it. Imagine the title matches that Orton could be having with guys like Swagger and MVP? It's time for a new era of Superstars seeing as it was HBK and Taker that had to carry Wrestlemania 25 and keep it from being a total failure. It's pathetic to rely on the two eldest members of the company to show us what real wrestling is about.

@Christopher

Jericho's lost can be attributed to something else he also said in the interview about building up new talent. A win for JTG over him was a nice little extra for his resume, how much young guys can say they have a win over the 1st Undisputed Champion

It wasn't mentioned in the interview, but is their any word on when Jericho's next book is coming out? I heard it would be out this fall, but I haven't seen any advance notice.

Thanks a lot Kevin. This was great to read. But then every Jericho interview is great to read. I've just finished reading his book (though a little late but whatever) and I found out the great man that he really his. Jericho is an inspiration to all those who dare to DREAM. And as J.R. said "Happy endings still exist. Dreams do come true. This book (A Lion's Tale) proved it."


And yeah Jericho said something in that interview about disappearing in a puff of smoke. I hope that day never e.e.e.ever comes in my lifetime. Prowrestling is a JOKE without Chris Irwine aka Chris Jericho aka Aayatollah of rock n rolla aka Y2J aka Lionheart... And I can go on and on...

Thank you Jericho!!!!!!!

I think that the problem with raw not being able to develop new stars is that none of the young mid card talent is any good, per example Jack Swagger, that guy is lame, his ring attire sucks, there is little known about his character's personality and they will put him over a guy like m.v.p. who was primed and ready to be pushed to main event status but they are keeping him down so the chris masters of the world who I also think is a good talent, obviously better than swagger can waste away in boring five minute cool down matches. Another thing how in the hell is wwe going to build up new stars when they are wasting developmental time with chavo vs hornswoggle? Will Mark Henry ever be thrown into the main event mix? Jericho is the greatest in the world today! I enjoy his tag team with the big show who is very underutalized, also big kane has never been allowed to reach his full potential.

Thanks for the infomative interview. It's new to hear things from his perspective.

One thing I did want to mention to you in your review of "Legacy crashes DX" post in regards to the Gail Kim/Mickie James match...

The match was a spotfest and wasn't given ample time to build momentum. Was it just me or did it appear to you that Mickie James looked winded throughout the back half of the match?
The end spot was as bad as you said and there was a look on her face that she had been made to look bad, as The King in the background tried to explain the glancing blow to the tv audience who what had already happened....The Spot got blown.

Have a Good Day.

"On Smackdown we’ve built [John] Morrison and [Dolph] Ziggler and Cryme Tyme. The Intercontinetal title has been rebuilt now with Rey Mysterio. But I can’t tell you on Raw who has been built over the last six months. They better do it soon, because when this generation of performers is gone, who will replace them?"

chris jerichos the man!

I can't help but notice he didn't mention Piven and that annoying Dr. Ken in his comments about special guest hosts.

RESPONE FROM KE: I think he did mention when he said "some shows will suck."

"...while we wait for Edge to heel"

I thought he was going to be a face?

RESPONSE FROM KE: OK, I know. It's been fixed.

I can't agree with you Christopher.

Jericho did his best to elevate JTG in their match but unfortunately JTG wasn't holding up his end thus making Chris look bad.

It wasn't Jericho's fault that the match was bad, that ball is firmly in Cryme Tyme's court.

Christopher, it's scripted. Being "at the top of his game" is a reference to the fact that he's skilled and popular.

Thanks, Kevin. I enjoyed this interview tremendously. His thoughtfulness and eloquence makes him a great interviewee.

I agree 100% with Jericho on the difference between Raw and Smackdown has been the building up of young guys. I'd even throw CM Punk in with Morrison and Ziggler. He's been pushed to be a main event superstar on Smackdown, something that clearly wasn't the case on Raw, even when he held the belt.

Jericho finally checked out the new Kiss song. The following is from his Twitter account:

IAmJericho: Modern Day Delilah is the best Kiss song since Unholy. Paul Stanley still rules and is still my rock n roll hero...

Kevin,you should have asked him why are they mixing his entrance song with the big shows when they are entering the ring...has to be the worst mix ever!!

Great interview with a great profession.
Christopher, I only think Jerishow is being booked to lose to make Cryme Tyme look like a contender. It would be nice if Cryme Tyme would tone down the stereotype gimmick they do, it's really irritating.
I think it would be great to see Jerishow retain the titles and have other superstars team up to try and beat Jerishow (Burchill/Regal comes to mind even though they're heels).

The comments he made about pushing new stars is absolutely true! Smackdown has done a great job of creating new stars with Morrison and Ziggler. If Vince could just get his head out of his ass and push stars on Raw, then maybe they'd have a chance of surviving this "crap crisis" they''re in.

Great interview. I love these interviews with guys that just give honest answers and not try to "stay in character." There are several guys I'd LOVE to get the chance to just sit and talk with them as people, not wrestlers.

I'm not trying to sound arguementative, but I got several responses to what I posted, so I would like to respond in turn: I am all for building new talent, and if JTG were an up-and-coming singles star, I would have no problem with Jericho putting him over. However, JTG is not a rising singles star. Maybe someday, he will be, but right now, he isn't. And yes, I understand that Cryme Tyme has to go into Summerslam looking like they have a shot at victory, thus Jericho getting pinned by JTG, but in my opinion, that job has devalued any future putover of John Morrison by Jericho. I realize that it is all scripted, so to clarify myself, Jericho can show us his true capabilities by putting over a young star like Morrison, one-on-one, not by advancing a tag team program.

Wow! I'm sure you do enjoy everytime you interview Chris. He seems like the most down to earth person in the world. It so cool how open and willing he is to talk to about anything. I think some other pros need to learn from him and see that it is not all about them. He is such a great proffesional and also seems to be just a great person overall. Once again thanks Kevin for the great read as always.

"We’re in a crisis period in WWE and we need to build new guys."
I think this quote and the paragraph surrounding it show all that is wrong with RAW in general and Triple H in particular.
Its only going to get worse as it looks like Triple H has to much pride to sell and add to this the fact he is married to the bosses daughter he may never be forced to do so.
I can see a 70 year old HHH wrestling a much younger wrestler and not selling.

It's 2004 and Chris is doing a radio interview where he lives, in Tampa. Calgary is playing the Lightning in the Stanley Cup Finals. The radio guys ask him about the series and he says that if Calgary wins the Cup on Tampa ice he is going to get on the ice and just go absolutely crazy having fun. The night of game 7, RAW was in Vegas or LA, and Chris was booked in some nothing happening match. I always thought Vince was a jerk for making Chris work that night. Instead Tampa won (a good thing) and we got Hogan on the ice begging to touch the Cup. His daughter sang the anthem during the whole playoffs and it was classy that the Lightning let them on the ice for the celebration. It was also pretty funny seeing Hogan begging and being ignored and basically being looked at like he was crazy by the hockey players!

this is more of a quition cn you tell if chris ievine aka chris jericho is a christian thanx

RESPONSE FROM KE: That's what he says in his book.

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About Kevin Eck
The Baltimore Sun's Kevin Eck blogs about professional wrestling.
E-mail Kevin.
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