Chris Jericho may have departed the WWE active roster last year, but the charismatic star who calls himself “the best in the world at what I do” is back on the radar with a brand new book that chronicles his turbulent WWE career from the time he joined the company in 1999.
In a 15-minute chat with Sport.co.uk, the Ayatollah of Rock and Roll-ah, lets us in on whether he’ll be back in a WWE ring any time soon, who he backs in the recent war of words between John Cena and The Rock, and whether the current crop of young WWE stars have what it takes to carry the torch.
We’ll also find out what he makes of HHH’s upcoming attempt to break The Undertaker’s WrestleMania undefeated streak, his favourite match on UK soil and whether he still has anything he wants to achieve in the world of pro wrestling.
Has writing Undisputed given you some perspective on your career? You’re a respected pro wrestler and rock star. Could life have turned out any better for Chris Jericho?
It’s interesting how my story unfolded, because it was such a long journey to get to the WWE and that’s why I was able to get a whole book on that with A Lion’s Tale. Undisputed picks up where that left off with, which was with my goal and dream of getting to WWE. To have all of those rough roads and trials and tribulations really helped me to grow as a performer and a person. Yes, it couldn’t have gone any better, with the overall story, but the bumps along the way make for a much better story.
What’s left for you to achieve in wrestling that could go in a third book?
This book ends in 2007 when I returned to the WWE so I still have, according to a lot of people including myself, the three best years of my career to write about. The stuff from 2007 to 2010 is just as interesting and just as much of an emotional roller coaster as anything that happens in Undisputed. I’ll definitely write a third book and it would make a perfect trilogy just like the Star Wars trilogy.
You mentioned your last three years were the best of your career. What was the inspiration behind coming back after leaving in 2005?
I was really burned out when I left, unhappy with what I was doing and with my performances and I said that if I came back to wrestling I’d be better than I’d ever been and reinvent myself. That’s something I’ve tried to do for my entire career is to reinvent myself. I decided to ditch the Y2J character completely and start a whole new thought process. Part of that was changing my look completely and changing the way I did things completely. For people who liked the Y2J character, me being serious and not clowning around really made them angry and it got great reactions.
Your sharply-dressed, serious, best-in-the-world character was something we hadn’t seen for a while, but now everyone seems to be using the same gimmick.
I think, subtly, that’s how they’ve been told to represent themselves. If you look back at 2008, then no-one was doing it. There were no suits and slow talking, it was all about that very intense style. Now almost all of the heels in the WWE are doing what I did. I think it’s a testament to me. I didn’t create it completely, but at that the time no-one else was doing that. It’s a pat on the back and I’d rather be a leader than a follower, but it also tells me that when the road leads me to come back to the WWE, if and when that happens, I’ll have to come up with something completely different all over again.
If and when you return to the WWE, having achieved so much, what would your goals be?
I don’t have any goals left. If I never wrestled again, I’d be happy. But at this point, I enjoy doing it. It’s different from 2005 when I was disheartened, this time it’s because I have all of these other things going on. I’m still a big fan, I still enjoy watching and if I came back I’d like to do what I was doing for the last three years and that’s performing to the best of my abilities and ensure that I’m doing something different that the fans don’t usually see. I’ve always prided myself on that. I always have ideas and thoughts and when you’re creative you get on a roll, get these ideas and think ‘I could do that’.
There’s a youth movement in WWE at the moment with the likes of Miz, John Morrison, Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio's rising to the main events. Which do you think has the most potential to carry the torch for the next ten years?
I think the Miz is doing a great job, there’s a lot more they could do with Wade Barrett and Sheamus is another one. Wrestling is show business and to me it’s all about who has the personalities. I think Morrison is ready to go, he just has to work on his personality a little bit and I thought Swagger was doing a great job.
Do you think a lot of the new up-and-coming acts suffer from not having worked around the world and fought their way up, like you did, before coming to WWE?
There are quite a few guys ready to come through, but you can’t teach experience and there’s a lot guys that haven’t really done a lot of work in the past that WWE are heavily focusing on right now. They’re expected to carry the load and they’re not prepared for it because they just don’t know how to do it yet, but they’ll learn. It’s just a matter of time on the job.
Heels like Miz and Del Rio are really on a roll, but it seems harder for the likes of Morrison to break into the main events. Is it harder to be a popular babyface character these days?
It’s a lot easier to make people hate you than it is to make them like you, that much is for sure, but like I said it’s important for these guys to work on their personalities and charisma. That’s what it’s all about, whether you’re heel or babyface. That’s what’ll make you a better performer.
What excites you about the WrestleMania card this year?
I think it’s going to be great. I was really excited to see Rock come back and to see Undertaker and Triple H start to set things up.
Who are your sympathies with in the recent war of words between The Rock and John Cena?
I would not like to go face to face with The Rock in any way, unless I was a stone cold heel – no pun intended. One of the reasons Rock and I had such great chemistry is that I was a perfect foil for him, but in a babyface versus babyface war, I don’t know whether I’d want to go toe-to-toe with him in any situation like that. I don’t sympathise with John though, because I think he’ll be looking forward to the challenge. Just because I said I wouldn’t like to go toe-to-toe with him doesn’t mean to say that he wouldn’t so I’m sure John’s salivating at the chance to show what he can do and who knows, maybe he’ll surprise people and blow The Rock away. That’s part of the excitement of it and it’s going to be great. John needs to be challenged, and that’s the thing and there’s not a better challenge in the business than going up against The Rock on the mic.
You mentioned HHH and The Undertaker. How do you view that match? Do you think HHH could be the man to finally end Taker’s 18-0 WrestleMania streak?
I don’t know anything about that, man. People will believe that HHH can beat the streak. If Undertaker was going up against Wade Barrett at this point in his career, people wouldn’t buy it, but they will with HHH. I’m just a fan like you now, I know no more or no less than anyone else at this point.
What are some of your best memories of wrestling and performing in the UK?
The UK has great fans for both wrestling and music and Fozzy has built a second home in the UK. We’ve been there eight times over the last few years, and the people are very passionate. It’s a lot of fun to perform there no matter what the genre.
As far as great matches in the UK go, I know there are tonnes, but the one that really stands out is the match I had with The Undertaker on SmackDown. It was the first time we had ever worked with each other and to me it was a classic. It was so good that I put it on my DVD. It was a great performance in front of a great crowd.
You say that you don’t have many goals left in Wrestling, but you’ve never had a lengthy feud with Taker. Do you fancy a shot at the streak someday?
We had a short programme which involved that match in the UK, which was awesome and I’d work with him at any time. As far as a specific goal goes, I’d have to come back before I can have any feud with the Undertaker, but he’s definitely a guy that’s easy to work with and a guy that’s a lot of fun to work with as well.
Fozzy, your band is doing better than ever at the moment. What’s given you the most satisfaction? The music or the wrestling side of your career?
When I was a kid, I wanted both. I wanted to be a rock star and I wanted to be a wrestler. Those were the two things in life that I devoted all of my time and passion to and those dreams just happened to come true. Wrestling just happened to take-off first so it’ll always be important to me. Now the band is catching up to where I am as a wrestler, I’m very fortunate that I have both of these dreams. It has been a lot of hard work over the years – I’ve been doing Fozzy 11-years now – but it’s paying off. We’re coming back to England for a festival in the summer too so there’s exciting times ahead.
And what of the rumours linking you with an appearance on Dancing with the Stars? (The US version of Strictly)
The rumours seem to continue to do the rounds. Just like the rumour that I was going to be the lead singer for Velvet Revolver, so maybe I’ll just go dancing to Velvet Revolver songs.
(nb – Jericho has now been confirmed for the show)
Thanks Chris. Good luck with the book and we hope to see you back in a WWE ring soon.