Breaking the Code: Chris Jericho
-Since I probably won’t get to Raw tonight due to the Steelers Monday Night Football game (aw, dry your eyes), I’ll jump into this instead…
-So the latest DVD offering from WWE happens to be dedicated to one of my all-time favorites so therefore this was a natural choice to review. The match listing looked pretty solid and it’s unfortunately rare to get a biography with the collection nowadays, so huzzah. Off we go…
Childhood and Indys
-We get the token childhood back story (with mullets RUNNIN’ WILD, BROTHER!) and quotes from family members. On a side note: I absolutely HATE this sidebar crap that boxes in the non-HD videos and picture…this one has blueprints which I guess fits the theme but is still distracting.
-Chris meets Jesse Ventura at a celebrity hockey game and decides to get his Communication degree before heading off to the Hart Wrestling School in Calgary (dramatic pause) Alberta, Canada and meeting Lance Storm. Cool, rare footage here of Jericho bouncing around the ring as a 19 year old skinny kid with Shawn Michaels knock-off tights.
-He bounces around the Canadian indys (Moosejaw baby!) before a contact gets him into Mexico and eventually he lands in CMLL. It’s kind of weird to see Jericho as the teen idol again after watching him as the character he’s been for the last 10 years or so. In a very PG way, he lets us know that the women loved him and he *ahem* enjoyed every second of it.
-So Jericho gets bored in Mexico and heads off to Germany to live next to a McDonald’s and strip club (sounds like my friends). We gloss over the European stuff (thankfully) and jump to the Thrillseekers team in Lance Storm in Smoky Mountain Wrestling. It’s not included on this set, but if you want to the goriest bladejob I’ve ever seen you have see Jericho’s during SMW’s Night of the Legends event. Jericho had broken his arm practicing shooting star presses in Jim Cornette’s pool and decided to blade the living shit out of himself to try and make the match better. Needless to say, when he was done, the entire ringside area was covered in blood and Jericho himself looked like a horror movie victim.
-Jericho, always the world traveler, goes to WAR (Wrestling And Romance) in Japan courtesy of the Ultimo Dragon where he learns that character is just as important as workrate. He credits his world travels with teaching him every aspect of the wrestling business and he eventually ends up in the Land of Extreme…ECW.
-So Heyman loved Jericho’s stuff and even allowed him to *gasp* SUPLEX TAZ (yes, this was a big deal back in 1996). Paul was also smart enough to promote that Jericho was from the Hart Dungeon and made him wet his hair to avoid the “pretty boy” look. That’s one of those little details that some bookers might overlook but not Paul E.
-Jericho works a joint indy-WCW show and Uncle Eric offers him a job on the spot. Geez, how many interviews did Eric Bischoff give before he left the company? He’s been in TNA for awhile now and they are still cranking out the file footage. Chris talks about the tough transition and how his white-bread babyface act wasn’t getting over at all.
-We quickly move to the WCW cruiserweight division and yes, this was absolutely REVOLUTIONARY for American wrestling. While the nWo might have been the draw, the Jerichos, Malenkos, Guerreros, and Mysterios were the ones that rocked the ring and warmed up the crowds. You younger fans might watch the matches now and say “so what?” but rest assured, the IWC was going berserk for this shit back in the mid-90s.
-So finally Jericho gets the news he wants to hear: He’s going to turn heel. So Chris transforms himself into a whiny, arrogant, conspiracy-obsessed, pain-in-the-ass…and, in the process, a superstar. Basically, Jericho tried to annoy the crowd in every single way possible and mocked those who dared to cheer him, even using the old-school “tearing up the sign” bit. Some of those hair styles were enough to get him almost killed in the South.
-During a feud with the Man of 1000 Holds Dean Malenko, Jericho proclaims himself to be the Man of 1004 Holds, which is causing me to laugh all over again. Chris helpfully brings a list of all 1004 holds to the ring and reads them live on Nitro (“Number 5 – The Saskatchewan Nerve Hold!”). He also mentions “arm-BAR” about 50 times and has me almost crying on my laptop. You just don’t see stuff like this anymore…genius.
-So all these shenanigans gets Jericho over huge, something the main eventers in the back definitely did not want to see. We move to Fall Brawl and the program against Goldberg which SHOULD have launched Jericho to the main event but the glass ceiling welds it’s ugly head again. One plus: Jericho gets lost on his way to the ring a la Spinal Tap and almost cracks up on live TV.
-Goldberg offers his opinion (even though I didn’t ask for it) and basically says Jericho was too small to hang with him and should have lost in under a minute like everyone else. Sigh, do you see why WCW was so frustrating to watch? Jericho says “the hell with it” and he heads off to the…
-We get the Countdown to the Milennium and one of, if not the best, debuts in wrestling history. It’s a damn shame that the booking afterwards didn’t live up to the debut. I said it then and I’ll say it now, if they would have ran with Jericho after that interview with the Rock he wouldn’t have the record for most Intercontinental championships because he would have been World Champion material his whole WWF career. Surprisingly, Jericho doesn’t like the interview but, rest assured, it’s money.
-In a little under 2 months, Jericho is already sitting out a PPV, which pisses him off. Vince’s solution? Booking him in that stupid Chyna program. Hey, do you remember when people actually thought Chyna was hot and BOUGHT her Playboy issue? Holy hell, what did Vince do to us? Jericho rationalizes his participation saying he would eventually have to win the title, which he did. Unfortunately, her brutalness in the ring dragged Jericho under *** every single time. One plus: It allowed Jericho to interact with Stephanie McMahon for the first time and basically make every single slut joke he could of. It’s very interesting to see Steph’s boobs grow almost like MAGIC!
Nah, must be my imagination
-Thankfully, Jericho moves on to a program with HHH and wins the world title courtesy of a biased Earl Hebner which drew a MONSTER pop from the Penn State crowd. Of course, they stripped Jericho of the title later in the night but then dropped the ball AGAIN by failing to follow up.
-We skip over all the Alliance-WCW bullshit (thankfully) and move to Vengeance and Jericho winning the first Undisputed title. In a booking move which made absolutely no sense, they refused to call the WCW title by name, thereby making the title look absolutely worthless.
-So, since Vince McMahon couldn’t go 2 seconds in 2002 without sticking a family member on television, Stephanie joins forces with Jericho against HHH. Vince blamed Jericho for the angle failing but, let’s be honest here, the booking absolutely SUCKED. They basically promoted the match around HHH vs. Stephanie and relegated the first Undisputed Champion to second fiddle. Jericho and Michael Hayes blame Rock-Hogan for sucking the life out of the crowd at WrestleMania.
-A montage puts over Jericho as a great worker.
-We move on to the Highlight Reel interview segment which they put over as something great but is really quite forgettable.
-So we continue skipping through 2003, which is good because the year really sucked, and Jericho starts his first feud with Shawn Michaels. Hey, remember WrestleMania 19? If not, here’s some highlights. Jericho loves this match and I respect that because it’s about ****. Jericho’s kick to the balls after feigning emotion really brought the match up in my eyes.
-Merrily we roll along to the Christian/Jericho team-up which brought a tag title reign and a cool angle with Trish Stratus. This culminates with a match at WrestleMania XX (a very underrated WM) and Trish showing off as much boob as she could.
-Fast forward to Jericho getting burned out a little bit and wanting to take some time off, so he gets into a program with John Cena that gets him “fired”. Jericho is still shocked that stupid marks believe he was really fired…no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the public, Chris.
-So Jericho takes some time off and gets to do all the stuff he always wanted to do such as working with the Groundlings improv group. We get some Fozzy clips, which allows Moongoose McQueen to emerge from Jericho’s psyche.
-Jericho’s next project is his book Lion’s Tale, which is a great look at Y2J’s career and a must-read for any hardcore wrestling fan.
-Chris finally watches his first match since his break, the Cena-HBK main event from WrestleMania, and it causes him to get bit by the bug again….Save Us, Y2J.
-So Jericho returns, wearing a sequined cocktail waiter’s vest, and pretty much immediately turns heel to launch his awesome program with Shawn Michaels. Jericho changes in his rock star look for a businessman’s suit and becomes the hottest heel in the promotion. Vince sees the writing on the wall and puts the World title on him in a very smart move….not long enough of course.
-We move to a feud with Rey Mysterio and Jericho’s obsession with removing Rey’s mask.
-Onto the Jeri-Show team and Chris proclaims Show his favorite tag partner. We are really flying through the recent years here which I guess makes sense but it’s hard to keep up.
-So we FLY through the Royal Rumble and Jericho’s latest world title reign before heading to the WrestleMania match against choke artist extraordinaire Edge.
-Hey Wade Barrett, what do you think of Chris Jericho? Well, he thinks he’s just dandy. Jericho gives Barrett credit and says he only offers advice to nudge him in the right direction.
-Finally, the Usual Gang of Idiots gives Jericho the usual verbal BJ but this time it’s appropriate. Chris proclaims he does not want a big retirement ceremony, he wants to be dragged away kicking and screaming and people saying “wow, I’m glad he’s gone”….I’d be fine with that.
-Jericho talks about being starstruck at early WWF events.
-Chris talks about how he always wanted to be called “Jack Action” as a ring name until Lance Storm told him how stupid it sounded. He then reveals how he came up with Chris Jericho in one of those stories that every worker seems to have. His excitement is immediately extinguished when the promoted reveals he’s going to be called “Cowboy” Chris Jericho from Wyoming and he’s going up against Lance “Thunder” Storm…gotta love indy wrestling.
-Jericho goes to Mexico and wants to be called the “Golden Lion’ and this segues into a really funny story about the promoter’s idea for a He-Man character and an American Idol-esque vote to decide Jericho’s new name.
-Promo video for the Thrillseekers in SMW…gotta love early 90s “rock music”.
-Another promo video for the Thrillseekers, this time with them being total dorks.
-Christian let’s us know that everyone knows Chris Jericho.
-What would a Chris Jericho DVD be without a Paul Heyman story? This one isn’t as good as the one from the ECW DVD when Paul bought Johnny Smith and Jericho a bereavement plane ticket because their “cousin” Chris Benoit died but it’s OK.
-Joey Styles relates the story of calling a Chris Jericho match and having no idea what to call a submission move Jericho locked on. Styles settled on Mister Salty because his opponent was twisted like a pretzel. Hey, that’s better than anything Michael Cole could come up with.
-Nitro March 1998 – Chris Jericho taps out Marty Jannetty and reads his list of 1004 holds for the WCW audience. Absolutely genius. Prince Jobber comes down to break up the party and Jericho cries about his hold list being disrespected.
-Nitro June 1998 – Jericho gets turned loose in Washington DC to bitch about a conspiracy against him and basically annoys the entire city.
-Thunder June 1998 – JJ Dillion books Jericho against nemesis Dean Malenko and his dad calls him a coward.
-Thunder September 1998 – Jericho makes his security-aided (Ralphus of course) ring entrance but gets lost….really, really funny stuff. You also get the benefit of seeing a trademark WCW screw up as Jericho gets “locked” outside and bangs on the door trying to get in. Not only does the “locked” door open when Jericho yanks on it but a clueless security guard opens a door about 10 feet away, thinking someone is really locked outside…God, I loved to hate World Championship Wrestling.
-Raw October 2000 – Check out Michael Cole’s highlights! Another classic back-and-forth by Jericho and the Rock…hey, remember when interviews used to be entertaining?
-Raw August 2003 after the TV cameras have shut off – Jericho and Austin share some promo time and Chris has some fun with the crowd. Just basically two awesome promo guys improvising a 15 minute act and having a blast. Mucho props to Jericho for his sweet spit-take sell on the Stunner.
-Smackdown November 2009 after the TV cameras have shut off – Jericho gets pissed at the crowd and has a senior citizen thrown out of the building for using profanity….great stuff.
-Montage of all of Jericho’s wacky hijinks throughout the years. This might be the best 8 minutes on the DVD. (Fan: “Go back to Toronto!” Y2J: “I’m from Winnipeg, you idiot!”)
-A Fozzy music video closes out our first disc.
Biography Final Word
So the biography offers us some cool rare footage and a good recap for fans who maybe haven’t been following Jericho since the early 1990s (but why the hell wouldn’t you?). Staying in tune with recent WWE biographies, this one really glosses over a lot of stuff and misses some key moments of Jericho’s career. However, the special features are absolutely awesome, with lots of gems that many new fans probably haven’t seen before and a great montage that shows how good Jericho really is. During the bio, Jericho is really cool and laid back, making him a good host and keeping things rolling along. But really, we all didn’t get this for the biography did we? Nope, we got it for the kickass matches, so we’ll cover those tomorrow in discs 2 and 3.