AEW star Chris Jericho was a recent guest on the True Geordie Podcast. On the show, Jericho discussed his illustrious career in the ring from WCW to WWE to AEW and everything in between. Jericho also discussed the importance of reinvention, a backstage confrontation with Brock Lesnar, making new stars in AEW and more! The recap can be found below:
On first going into music:
There’s always going to be people that think that it’s going to be a vanity project, and trust me I have heard it all before. But that’s the thing, I wouldn’t do this for 20 years as a vanity project, and I wouldn’t do it if it sucked. Good music is good music, it doesn’t matter of the lead singer is a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker… who gives a sh*t? That lasts for the timeframe of one minute of the songs. Slipknot wears masks, ‘Oh that’s stupid. How good can they be? Kiss wears makeup, how good can they be? AC/DC has a schoolboy, how stupid is that?’ It doesn’t matter, once the music plays it is either good music or bad music. I think Fozzy has gotten to the next level now because people know for sure that it is not some kind of side project. It’s just a great rock n’ roll band with great songs and great live shows. Who cares if Chris Jericho is a wrestler? I don’t care that Bruce Dickinson is an airline pilot, when Iron Maiden plays a show I don’t want him to tell me how to fly a plane. Conversely if I am on a plane and Bruce is the pilot, I don’t want to her him sing Run to the Hills, I want him to fly the f*cking plane.
On not combining singing a wrestling:
We don’t combine the two because they are separate entities. I talked to Rob Zombie about this on my podcast. When he started making movies, people were angry. ‘How is Rob Zombie going to make a movie? He is a singer, what does he know about making movies?’ That’s such a stupid attitude to have. ‘How can Chris Jericho sing when he is a wrestler?’ What does that even f*cking mean? What does that mean, because you are one thing then you can’t do something else? I think in this day and age more than ever, people do both.
On why Chris Jericho is so good at reinventing himself:
I don’t know. So I am a huge David Bowie fan, not necessarily knowing every Bowie song and every Bowie album, but the just the concept of David Bowie always reinventing himself. You look at Ziggy Stardust to Aladdin Sane to Thin White Duke to Tin Machine to The Button Eye. It was always something new, always reinventing. You could dress up as David for Halloween and I could dress up as David for Halloween, and everyone is wearing a different costume, but you know who it is. That’s something I wanted to do with Chris Jericho. You could dress up as Chris Jericho for every Halloween, I post it every year, and there’s always different versions of Jericho. There’s 10 different versions you can dress up as, and that comes from Bowie. I never wanted to be a nostalgia act, even 20 years ago on Raw. I was looking at Raw and SmackDown and it’s live twice a week every week. That’s like 104 shows a year, if I am doing the same thing every show then it gets boring very quickly and you become nostalgia. If I leave the company for a while and come back and do the same thing then it’s boring. So I never wanted to do that. On the other side of the coin I change and evolve when I start feeling a little bit stale. I always call it reading the room, how are the fans reacting? Social media is now a really valuable tool to see how people are reacting to what you are doing. You know people complain and that’s fine, they are always angry about something. But when they start talking in a way where they start to get bored of me, then time to change it up. I never have a problem with it. People are like oh I love Y2J and I love the list, those are great moments but I will never go back to it. It’s done, if I go back to it, it doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t make it any less cool, but you have to move forward and I have to move forward with everything that I do and have these great moments in the past, but they stay in the past because they are a product of their time. I couldn’t do Y2J in 2022, because that was a product of 1999. When I did the suit thing in 2008, I said to commentary ‘I don’t ever want you to f*cking call me Y2J ever again. That’s done, we need to move forward and let people know this is a new character and a new guy.
On looking back at his illustrious career:
I mean it is always cool to look back at those things. And maybe someday, I was going to say sitting back in a rocking chair on the porch, which I’ll never do, f*cking kill me if I ever do that, I saw The Stones on Sunday at Hyde Park and that’s me. I look at Mick and he’s just f*cking good. They are a good rock n’ roll band and the best rock n’ roll band. I see a lot of concerts and The Stones are still the best. I hate that ‘The Stones are good for their age.’ F*ck that, The Stones are good for any age. Any rock n’ roll band needs to bow down to the greatness of The Stones and also to the inspiration that you get from watching them. I see Mick and the energy that he has and this is going to be me at 78. I have been in entertainment since I was 19 years old, in showbusiness, that is what wrestling is, it’s showbusiness. But looking back on all those moments is cool, and that’s one thing that I like about social media. I had a match against Ultimo Dragon in Tokyo that essentially got me into ECW and WCW, it happened 27 years ago today. I would never know that if it wasn’t for social media. So I look at that and f*ck that’s cool. And then I go and think about that match and maybe watch some highlights of it and man, that was a good match or that was a good entrance with The Rock. But I don’t plant my flag in it and think that it’s the greatest moment in my career because it was one of many. When people say ‘What’s the greatest incarnation of Chris Jericho?’ I always say ‘This one, right now.’ If I say that the Y2J was the best or the list or the suit and tie guy, that would infer that what I am doing right now sucks. So what’s the best Chris Jericho? Right now in 2022.
On not being pushed:
I never like, obviously you have frustrations. But it’s business and you have to be a big boy. The WWE is a giant machine, and it’s run by Vince McMahon. It’s an audience of one, it really is. Vince has to want to make you the guy. It doesn’t matter if a million people want you to be the guy, if Vince doesn’t see it, you’re not. It doesn’t matter if a million people don’t want you to be the guy, if Vince wants it, it happens. So I had been in the business for 9 years before I got to WWE, and had worked on top of all of the companies and countries, Japan, Mexico, ECW and WCW. I wasn’t like the World Champion, but you know how to navigate and you know how to play the game and you understand the politic side of wrestling. So at times where you feel held back, yeah it was there but I also knew f*cking tough luck, pull up your pants and be a big boy Jericho, it’s just the way it is. So that’s why I always strived to do better, and that’s why I think in 2008 when I did suit and tie guy Jericho, that was the first time in 8 years of working for Vince that he saw in me what I saw in me, that this guy can be the guy. And I was the guy in the company in 2008 and 2009. I called myself the best in the world at the time, and I believed it. Not every night, but most of the time there is not another person in the world that is better than Chris Jericho as a pro-wrestler. Go to Japan and give me all of the f*cking names or whatever, no one is better than me. I think that was when Vince felt the same. So it took a while, but I earned that spot. You can’t go into it with bitterness and think they owe me this, the business owes you nothing. That’s the number one thing that we learned in the Hart brothers camp in 1990, the business owes you nothing. So don’t ever think that you f*cking worthy of a career, because you have to keep working, always. I am working my ass off now, AEW owes me nothing. ‘Oh you’re Chris Jericho.’ Who gives a sh*t? Great I’m Chris Jericho, but because I am Chris Jericho, there is still a level of quality that I have to bring to the table to continue to keep the spot that I have. I have to earn it every day, there is no sitting back and resting on your laurels in pro-wrestling or any job. Because when you start feeling that way, then you start going down. ‘Well I’m Chris Jericho, I deserve this and this…’ You don’t deserve anything. You deserve what you are getting and what you are giving at the given moment of right here and now in 2022. Yes there were frustrating times and in the background I was thinking I am better than this. They don’t see it yet, but they will, because I did it in Mexico and Japan before I got to WWE. Even there were times when things sucked, I knew they would see it soon enough and they did.
On the Vince McMahon controversies:
[Is it surprising?] Not really. Is it surprising in any industry when it happens? Really when you look at it, it’s really not illegal. He had an affair, paid the lady off to not say anything and moved on. People want to jump on it, but there is always an undertone of it’s wrestling. You look at that story it came out with a bang and then you really haven’t heard anything about it since. If this was, you know, Hollywood with Harvey Weinstein, that sort of thing. But the difference between that was he was holding women back from getting gigs, Harvey Weinstein, either bang me or you don’t get the starring role. This has never been said in Vince’s thing. There was a mutual acknowledgement of this affair and then he paid the lady to say nothing and she took the money so, you know. I really know Vince well and it sucks that it happened and it sucks that he did it but is anything really gonna happen from it? I really don’t think so. I think it’ll come and go and, once again, is it morally right? Absolutely not. Is it illegal? No. Is it something that’s gonna get him in real trouble? I don’t think so because once again, unfortunately, ‘Oh, it’s just Vince McMahon, it’s just wrestling, of course he’s going to do that’. So, those things come and go and they happen, and it’s too bad but I really think it doesn’t really matter in the long run. Six months from now, I’ll either be right or I’ll be wrong.
On Vince McMahon:
Deep down he is just a dude that likes to joke and likes to drink. He is surrounded by yes men, as most guys in that position are, but he doesn’t want yes men. I had a great relationship with him, I don’t have much of a relationship with him now because I don’t work for him, so there is a little bit of a career issue, but I texted him right now he would text me back in 5 minutes, always. I loved working for Vince McMahon, and I would love it when he would challenge me and push me. I also laugh when people say things like oh VInce has lost it and oh look at Vince, he is a terrible booker. Maybe it’s not great, but he has been doing this for 40 years. I remember when I left in 2005 because I needed to get away, he said to me ‘I wish I could get away sometimes, but I can’t.’ Of course it is hard to do this job, and what he does best, a lot of people don’t know this unless you are close to him. I would say ‘How am I supposed to do this?’ And he would say ‘I just book the sh*t, you make it work.’ OK, so then I will come back with an idea, I will come back with the perfectly formulated idea. Let’s see this water bottle is the idea ‘Here is this water bottle, it is half full, says Evian on it and it will make us a million dollars.’ Most people, if we were talking and I started thinking, after 30 seconds you feel compelled to jump in, don’t do that with Vince. Don’t jump in and let him think. He doesn’t want to hear small talk, he will just sit there. Sometimes it is 30 seconds, sometimes it is a minute, it is very uncomfortable. Then what he will do is take the water bottle and turn it 180 degrees. Then you see this idea that I came up with that I thought was brilliant, then this one little twist makes it go from a good idea to a great idea. That’s the genius of Vince McMahon. I would come up with the genesis of the idea, but he would add the one part that would make it great.”
On giving back:
You have to be giving and you have to create new stars. I remember when I first started I was like no one is going to take my spot and it’s all about the spot. Nobody is taking Chris Jericho’s spot, because nobody can do what I can do. There is only one Chris Jericho. So to continue to stay relevant and continue to contribute and be a top guy, the definition is to be giving and to create new stars. When we first started AEW, it was solely on my back, I really believe that. When you look at the roster, unless you were a hardcore wrestling fan, no one knew any of those f*cking guys. People were like ‘Jericho is there? Let’s check it out.’ And then you see all of these great guys. I knew right away that I have 3 to 6 months to make as many stars as I can. If not, as great as I am and as great as I think I am, if I’m the only guy in the show for 6 months and the only star, then it’s going to die. It is, I can’t do it all, I’m not Michael Jackson or Elvis, I knew we had to make new stars right away. That was why I had to concentrate on reinventing Cody. Think about who Cody was, he wasn’t who he is now. Kenny Omega, Darby Allin, Scorpio Sky, Moxley, he was not the guy he was when he came into the company. All of those guys I worked with when we first started the company. The Inner Circle, the first night that we started the company there were these new guys. Sammy Guevara, I didn’t know who Santana and Ortiz was, Jake Hager wasn’t who he is now, he was a useless character in WWE. So we built these stars in 3 months and that’s when we got a television deal for $160 million for 4 years. When we started we were an ad revenue share, that means that any company buys advertising on our show, we split it from the network. In those 3 months, we built the company so that the demos were so good, which is the most important thing, that is how we got the tv deal. Solely because of all the work I did to build the new stars. If I didn’t do that then we might not be in business today.
On the Brock Lesnar confrontation:
He was doing a match with Randy Orton and he was basically butchering him with elbows to the head. I didn’t know if it was planned or not, no one would tell me. Wrestling is a hard hitting sport, but elbows to the side of the head can kill you. When he was hitting him with the elbows, if this is real then it is bullsh*t, but if it is called, it is still bullsh*t because he is taking liberties and it is p*ssing me off. I was in Gorilla and I was angry about it, he came back and saw me and saw I was angry about it and wanted to challenge me. We got into a bit of an issue, I was like f*ck this guy I don’t know how big he is I will take him on. I will fight to the death and stand up for what I believe in to the death. I was nose to nose with the guy and he is there laughing and saying things that would get him cancelled, homophobic things. I was like I am going to bite his f*cking nose off. I see this big fat nose in front of me, and if he takes a swing at me, I’m not saying this as a tough guy, I am literally going to bite his f*cking nose off and see how tough he is. He might kill me, but he will walk around for the rest of his life with no nose. I don’t care about the homophobic thing, I wasn’t falling for it. This has gone to the next level now, this has f*cking become kill or be killed. I’m going to bite your f*cking nose off. Triple H tried to break it up and we both told him to f*ck off which was hilarious. Then Vince got involved and basically broke it up and told me that he had told Brock to do that. No one else would say anything before that, but that was all down to Vince and Randy and Brock and whatever. But when it got down to the confrontation, it was real. Had it gone to the next step, I would have, he might have broke my face, but I will bite his nose off.
On the term botch:
The wrestling term that I hate fans using is botch. ‘Oh you botched that one.’ Shut the f*ck up. This is a live wrestling show, mistakes happen. Why? Because we are human beings and it is live. If it’s a movie, there is take 5, 10, 15, 20. We have one take, if someone falls down and [people say] you f*cked up. F*ck you, I will punch you in the face for saying that. It’s embarrassing and it sucks, we wish it didn’t happen, but it’s live. You watch a hockey game or a football game, the guy takes a shot at an open goal and it misses the net, how does that happen. If you go to a Broadway play and someone misses their line, you don’t chant ‘You f*cked up.’ That’s disrespectful. Hall of Fame, people are booing The Bushwhackers, well f*ck you. People were making fun of them, how dare you? I love wrestling fans, but you guys have got to keep it in check and show some respect. So botch? There is no botch, there is just mistakes that happen on a live show.
On wrestling Chyna:
Terrible, she was terrible to work with. She wasn’t good but she thought she was. And she was also in a position where she was being pushed really big so she could beat up guys. She couldn’t, and like I never got that credit. No one ever said I made her look good, it was the other side of the coin. I got in big trouble because at one point when I first started working with her, Vince said to me ‘Don’t treat her like a woman, treat her like a wrestler.’ And she was really stiff too, worked very strong. I’m not stalking bad about her it is just the truth. When we worked together, it was a solid fight in many ways. I remember one time she got a little bit of a black eye from me, and you would have thought that I cut her arm off with a chainsaw. I’m like f*ck, I didn’t do it on purpose. But what do you expect? It was a tough position for me to be in, it was my first real angle in the WWE, but I did the best that I could. I hope that I proved some things, but there were a lot of issues with working with her.
The full video interview can be found below:
Featured image: Wrestling Inc.