Right back at the beginning, you could see the greatness lying in wait, Canada’s second coming of the Great One.
His name is Chris Jericho!
While setting up the archives for Chris Jericho on SlamWrestling.net, story after story shows his mind at work — right from the beginning of his career. He went from the Hart Dungeon to bestselling author and into prominent spots on TV and in movies, and, of course, in music with his band, Fozzy.
Jericho has shown how to be current and hip, but with a knowing wink, yet seemed to always stay down to earth. In short, he never forgot that his roots were in Winnipeg, Manitoba (even if he was actually born in New York City).
Since his days as a ThrillSeeker with Lance Storm in Smoky Mountain Wrestling, I have been following this creative genius. Jericho had been wrestling for four years with tours in Japan and Mexico with Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) and Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling (FMW).
Before returning stateside, we saw his first creation in the form of the Lion Heart. When he returned home, he signed with Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), where we finally got to hear the real Jericho. Unscripted, uncensored, undefiled, Jericho showed the world how distinct he could be, and continues to be to this day.
After moving over to World Championship Wrestling (WCW), he made his debut on August 26, 1996, versus Alex Wright and less than a month later, he was in a match-of-the-year candidate against Chris Benoit at Fall Brawl. (He did his first SlamWrestling interview in Sep. 1997.) Slowly turning heel while working his way towards the WCW Television Title, Jericho became The Man of 1,004 Holds — a tribute to fellow Canadian Leo Burke, The Man of 1,003 Holds.
Jericho was then called King Of The Loopholes by WCW announcer Mike Tenay after he routinely cheated or made up an excuse to get out of his matches. WCW announcers gave him a new nickname when Jericho became WCW Television champion: The King Of Television.
With the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now World Wrestling Entertainment or WWE) clearly in second place to WCW, the WWF needed a saviour. The countdown was on, and Jericho’s vignettes teased his eventual RAW debut, where he got to verbally spar right off the start against The Rock.
Then, after a hiatus, came Save_Us_Y2J, and again, Jericho reinvented himself as the man who would save the WWF. His rise to superstardom truly began here, as he became the first Undisputed Heavyweight champion after defeating The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin to combine the WCW and WWF World titles at WrestleMania X8.
Jericho’s act never got stale, as he saw fit to take breaks, and return.
The List is a great example of Jericho coming back with something new. Jericho would call out any members of the WWE’s roster to become the next superstar, and if they failed, they were put on his infamous list. His last WWE feud was with fellow Canadian wrestler Kevin Owens after the former besties broke up, and in a twist, Jericho made Kevin’s list.
Then there’s Jericho, the metal maniac, and his heavy metal band, Fozzy. Twenty years and seven albums later, they still rock audiences worldwide, most recently at Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in front of 250,000 audience members. On his podcast, Jericho bounces from talking with contemporaries in pro wrestling to marking out in conversation with metal gods.
Meanwhile, Jericho wrote five best-selling books, and tried his hand at a variety of TV shows, including Dancing with the Stars, and a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)-offshoot, But I’m Chris Jericho! (We have a number of photos from those events in our Chris Jericho photo gallery, including many I’d forgotten about.)
Always craving the in-ring limelight, Jericho’s time off from wrestling never lasted too long.
The self-proclaimed world’s hottest free agent returned years later to Japan, where he attacked fellow Winnipegger Kenny Omega after a Twitter war broke out between the two. Jericho established himself as The Alpha, making it Alpha versus Omega at Wrestle Kingdom 12 in Tokyo, Japan in 2017. This match was 2018’s first five-star rated match by The Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Dave Meltzer.
An entrepreneur since his early days of promoting himself in the wrestling world, Jericho also created the Rock N Wrestling Rager at Sea, a combination wrestling event and rock ‘n’ roll concert on a cruise ship on the seas of the Caribbean. Although the second scheduled sold-out cruise was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19, he has stated that he hopes to bring it back in 2021.
Jericho has said that he has no quit in him. Proof comes with his All Elite Wrestling (AEW) world championship, facing established names, like Cody Rhodes and Jon Moxley, but also up-and-comers such as Darby Allin and Orange Cassidy (and who else could come up with a Mimosa Mayhem Match?)
On Wednesday, October 7, 2020 will we see the next reinvention of Jericho, as AEW celebrates 30 Years Of Jericho? What I do know is that I’ll be raising a glass of “a little bit of the bubbly” while watching this tribute to Jericho, the Great One.