Chris Jericho: Break Down the Walls
October 13, 2001
The first time I saw, or rather read of, Chris Jericho was during the summer of 1996. I recall there being an article on him in Pro Wrestling Illustrated, which I regularly read at the time. After reading the piece, I was impressed. Here was this up-and-coming young wrestler out of the famed Stu Hart Dungeon who was quickly making a name of himself in both Japan and ECW.
Jericho arrived in WCW that August and it would take him nearly a year and a half to make a noticeable splash in the big time. Once WCW did hand him the ball, he ran with it and became one of the company’s most hated wrestlers. He was a guy we all loved to hate. Whether he was facing ‘Ron Mysterio’, ‘Deano Machino’, ‘Air Quasi’, or even ‘Greenburg’ himself – we booed Jericho, yet at the same time could easily admit he was stealing the show.
After his successful yet difficult run in WCW, Jericho entered the WWF in August of 1999 to a huge amount of fanfare. Immediately he was put in programs with established stars – usually interrupting such men as the Rock or the Undertaker as they attempted to cut an in-ring promo. Fast-forward 2 years later and Jericho is one of the most popular superstars on the WWF roster – along the same lines as the Undertaker, Rock, or Kurt Angle.
This video, which runs a little over an hour, showcases Chris Jericho’s career since joining the WWF – as well as shedding some light on Jericho the person. I have to say upfront that I don’t care for many of the WWF’s newer spotlight videos (focusing on Triple H & Chyna, Kurt Angle, the Rock, Stone Cold, etc). What could we possibly get out of this video that we haven’t already seen? Most of the time I just see it as a poor excuse to release another video and make some money for the company.
However, I actually liked this tape…
The video begins with several comments from self-admitted ‘Jerichoholics’ (the fans of Jericho that follow him like sheep).
Chris Jericho, who we hear from throughout the tape, begins by talking about how the idea of his debut came to fruition (that being the ‘Millennium’ clock that was used to build up his surprise debut). The date was August 9, 1999 and the site was Chicago, IL at the All-State Arena. The Rock stands in the ring, cutting a promo on the Big Show…and then… ‘Raw is War’ became ‘Raw is Jericho’, with the Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla leading the way. For anyone to make their debut in the WWF opposite the Rock is a huge shot in the arm.
One thing I like about this video is that we hear comments from other WWF personalities. Michael Cole, Edge, Christian, and the Rock all speak about how hot the Chicago crowd was and how memorable a moment it was for the WWF and Jericho.
The Early Years
Jericho goes into detail about how watching AWA and WWF TV shows at an early age set him on the path to become a pro wrestler. After seeing smaller wrestlers like Ricky Steamboat, the Rockers, and the Dynamite Kid excel in wrestling, Jericho knew it was for him.
At the age of 18, he packed his bags and traveled to Calgary from Winnipeg to train at the Hart Brothers Wrestling School (alongside fellow WWF wrestler Lance Storm). Much like many other stories of how the big name star learned how to wrestle, this was far from easy – three months of grueling punishment as he not only strived to learn all that he could but also to survive the actual training.
Mick Foley, one of wrestling’s most respected stars, then talks about the first time he ever saw Jericho in the ring – during a show held at Tokyo’s Sumo Hall. Jericho explains how working in Japan was a wake-up call as he had to learn to fight back or face getting beat up legit every night. From Japan he traveled to ECW (after Foley himself recommended Jericho to the company).
The Intercontinental Title
Within months of debuting in the WWF, Jericho was in line for a title shot against the then-WWF IC Champion Chyna. After attacking Chyna week after week on Raw, Jericho would have his second title shot at the 1999 edition of Armageddon. Of course this was a time in which Jericho was a huge heel after using the old ‘I’m a man and I’m better than you’ phrase time and time again. Despite Chyna's strong offense, Jericho emerges victorious by using the Walls of Jericho submission hold.
Super Skate 2000
Jericho, the son of a former NHL player and an avid hockey player himself, laces up once again to participate in a celebrity charity event held at Madison Square Garden. On his team – Tim Robbins, Dennis Leary, and Scott Wolf (among others) while the opponents include Keifer Sutherland, Mark McGrath, Jason Priestley, Boomer Esiason, and Cuba Gooding Jr. Throughout the entire event, on and off the ice, Jericho is at his best at instigating chaos.
The Man, the Microphone, the Legend
Even in WCW it was obvious that Jericho has a knack for cutting promos. Since his debut in the WWF he has cut some great promos on the likes of Kurk Angel, the Big Show, Edgeward, Kane, ‘Mr. Roboto’ Chris Benoit, and even the boss, Vince McMahon himself.
You created this entire phenomenon known as sports entertainment. You sir, are a multi-billionaire. But you did it all to make up for the fact that you have a very small penis!
This is perhaps my favorite segment of the video as it showcases the great rivalry both in the U.S. and Japan between Jericho and Benoit. These two men, both trained at the Hart Dungeon, put on great bouts whenever they meet and had one of the best feuds of 2000.
Their first battle took place during the 1995 Super J-Cup tournament held in Tokyo. It was a classic battle, with Benoit emerging with the win, and would be a foreshadowing to their later wars in the WWF. We hear from both men regarding their thoughts on the rivalry and why their matches are always memorable.
The first match featured of this feud is from Backlash in April of 2000 as Benoit, the defending IC Champion, faced Jericho in one of the best matches of the year. This was a back and forth battle with each man giving it his all in an attempt to upstage the other. Jericho is eventually disqualified for defending himself with the title belt, which had been brought in the ring by Benoit. Shortly after this bout, Jericho won the title on Smackdown! – and left Benoit with a bloody and broken nose in the process.
I will fight Chris Benoit on a boat…or Chris Benoit with a goat…Chris Benoit when the score is tied…or Chris Benoit as a blushing bride. I will fight Chris Benoit while he is taking a quiz…or Chris Benoit as the total jackass that he is. You see, junior, I will fight you any day because, baby, I am Y2J!
There are some hilarious pictures to go along with this segment but I really can’t do it justice with words.
The rivalry would continue to the 2000 edition of Summer Slam as the two would meet in a Best 2 out of 3 Falls contest. This really isn’t one of my favorite bouts between the two because the falls were rushed and including the stipulation in the first place put a damper on what could have been a great one-on-one match.
Life in Tampa, FL
Jericho moves to a new topic as he discusses living in the Sunshine State instead of his native Canada. Many of the WWF stars actually live in the same area – such as X-Pac, Edge, Dean Malenko, the Big Show, and Christian (who actually makes a cameo as he is watering Jericho’s bushes outside).
The tour of Jericho’s house is pretty cool as we get to see all the magazine covers that Jericho has appeared on – from his work in the WWF, ECW, Japan, and Mexico (including two TV Guide covers). From the wall of fame, we turn to Y2J’s CD collection, full of big hair bands.
Jericho, being such a big fan of big hair band rock and heavy metal, has his own rock band known as Fozzy – and he is the lead singer known as Moongoose McQueen (although he’ll never admit to it). Moongoose claims that Iron Maiden, Ozzy, and the Scorpions stole all of Fozzy’s music and made lots and lots of money off of it…now Fozzy is back and ready to take their rightful spot atop the music world.
The Billion $ Princess and The Game
If I would have to pick one person to name as Jericho’s longest standing rival in the WWF it would have to be the boss’ daughter – Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley.
Triple H, the husband of Stephanie and then-WWF Champion, attempts to fight for the honor of his wife in April of 2000 – but is talked into defending his title against Jericho in an impromptu battle. With the crowd backing him, Jericho puts on a great match with Triple H and actually emerges with the world heavyweight title. Due to the controversial call, the title was later returned to Triple H but the feud was far from over.
For months and months, Jericho continued to egg on Stephanie by calling her every name in the book. For his actions, Triple H and DX attacked Y2J with a sledgehammer – making him a bloody mess. Their feud would culminate in July of 2000 with a Last Man Standing match.
This would be a chance to step up for Jericho as he would be facing the most respected wrestler in the entire world, at the time. We hear from both Triple H and Jericho as to their thoughts going into the match and what goals they had in mind for the battle. This was a brutal war and the world saw how much punishment Jericho could take. Triple H won the battle, barely, but Jericho’s career also was elevated because of his performance. He proved to the world that he could go toe-to-toe with a main eventer.
Overall I think this is a great tape. Maybe I wouldn’t spend top dollar ($15) on it, but it’s definitely worth a view even if you have to rent it. It’s a great look at Jericho the wrestler and Jericho the person from his earliest years to the summer of 2000. There are many comments straight from the man himself as well as from other members of the WWF.