Chris Jericho appeared on Busted Open with Dave LaGreca and Doug Mortman (show information available at www.facebook.com/bustedopen). Highlights from the interview are as follows:
On him leaving the WWE for a while: “Vince knew and I knew for the entire run that I would be leaving as soon as the new record came out (Sin and Bones). We knew the entire time what my time frame was. Originally I was supposed to leave at the end of May and then I signed for another three months, and the record got pushed back. But I didn’t know until the day I showed up, actually ten minutes before Raw started in Fresno that we were doing this contract vs contract thing. So I didn’t even know this was going to happen. I just figured I would have a match with Dolph and that would be the end of it. So people who think that there is some long, drawn out, plan. I t really wasn’t. It was about ten minutes before the show started and I was like ‘Oh, we are doing a contract vs contract thing? Oh ok.’ So there you go, a little special behind the scenes look.”
Is Dolph Ziggler the next big main eventer?: “Times have changed so much in that guys are learning on the fly. Dolph is one of the best guys on the roster but he is still learning as are a lot of the other guys. People say ‘oh Damien Sandow is the next guy or Kofi’ .These guys are still learning. In time, I think these guys will be amazing, amazing performers. But right now they are still on their way up the learning tree. So, yes, I think Dolph is going to be an amazing performer. Yes I think the Miz is going to be a great performer. Lots of guys are getting into that zone, but they are still learning. It’s not like what it was in my day. I worked for nine years before I came to the WWE. There are guys now who have been working there nine months that are on the show. It’s a different world out there right now than the way it used to be. There is a lot of great, great performers or potential great performers that are on the way to getting there.”
On the importance of experience in wrestling: “It’s not so much experience time wise, it’s also experience with who you are working with. This is the cold, hard fact that nobody in the WWE has been working in wrestling longer than me with the exception of The Undertaker. I’ve been working longer than Kane, longer than Triple H. If you throw in Kane, Triple H, Jericho, Undertaker, geez who else has long term experience where you can go in with a young guy and instantly identify their strengths and weaknesses.? We can tell them, ‘you need to work on this and this is amazing. Keep doing what you’re doing on that end.’ It’s not just about having good matches, it’s about knowing what to do.
“Knowing how to put together good matches, feeling things. How to react when things don’t go the way you want them to. Right before I left there was a tag match between myself and Zack against Dolph and Miz. Putting together the match, there were things that were obvious to me that they were still figuring out, which is cool and ok with me. But I was like wow this is second nature for guys that have been around a long time and they are still figuring it out and when that light bulb comes on and they already have ninety percent, but that last ten percent is what makes you a great performer. Some guys never figure out that last ten percent and when the guys do, that’s when they become guys you can base companies around and put in main events.”
Did it bother him when a guy like the Miz who had little experience, had the WWE title?: “No, because that’s the world we live in now. It’s not like what it used to be back when I came in 1999. I bet when you look at that roster in ’99, I bet you would have at least eight to possibly twelve legitimate, main event, superstar, amazing character, amazing workers. I bet there was at least ten. Now, there is probably four and with potential for four or five more. The experience level and the character development is completely different now.”
When will the time come for the WWE to rely on their young stars instead of the older stars?: “We are pretty much at that point now. It’s more necessity than anything. When Daniel Bryan first came in a couple of years ago, you saw the evolution of the character. He came in as like the NXT nobody, then gets fired and then comes back as a nerd and as a vegan. The vegan thing came about because Vince hates vegans. Vince would say ‘how could you not eat steak?’ He made vegan into a heel tendency. I always knew Daniel Bryan would get over because once again look at his career path. He had gotten over everywhere he had been. You can make jokes that he wrestled in a bingo hall or a gym, but getting over is getting over whether it’s in front of 200 people or 20,000 people. It’s the same principle.
“How do I get the crowd on my side either as a heel or a babyface? He always had that, he just figured a way to do it. That’s what all the other guys are going to have to start doing. They are already kind of making that switch. If you look at Wrestlemania this year, what’s the top three matches? You had Undertaker vs Triple H with HBK, all part timers at best. You had Cena and Rock, one workhorse who works every show, the other part timer at best. Then you had Punk and Jericho. So three of the six were on Raw the next night. Sooner or later it’s going to have to get to that point. There is still pure business at stake. What are people going to pay to see? It does take time for people to accept some of these guys as legitimate money-making main eventers that you would pay to see.”
Talks about his creepy promos leading to his return: “It all started with the Myans saying 2012 would be the end of the world. So I thought it would be cool to come back with the end of the world as you know it in the sense of kind of like the old Y2J promos where the whole company kind of went into the tank and it’s the end of THAT world and the beginning of the new world with Jericho laying claim to what is his. It was meant to be something ominous based on the Myan thing saying the end of the world is coming. 2012 is the end of the world and this was the end of the world as we know it.
“The world has now changed because I am back to reclaim what is mine. It started with ‘the best in the world thing’. It was a natural feud with CM Punk. But sometimes people read into these things too much. People still ask me ‘who was the girl?’ I worked on this with a guy named Adam Pennucci who worked on all of my promos since 1999. I asked him the question ‘who’s the girl’? He said ‘I don’t know, I just find her really creepy and I like the idea of it’. So I was like, ‘cool, put it in there.’ Then people were asking, ‘was it Stephanie McMahon, was it AJ Lee, was it Kharma, was it Michelle McCool?’There was no girl. It was never anything to do with a girl. It was just another creepy imagery to have two creepy kids conspiring with each other. People were finding clues that didn’t exist.
“People were pausing it and looking at the Bible quotes and how it leads to Jericho. They were pausing it frame by frame and this girl is supposed to be Stephanie McMahon and the boy is Shane McMahon. There is a book on the floor that says Jericho on it. It was all speculation and people getting into it. I didn’t want to come back the same, I wanted to come back different. The viral thing was my idea, where the YouTube thing on Raw on the bottom of the screen, where it’s very subtle. I like stuff like that where it makes people think.
“The silent treatment was all Vince’s idea. I had a big long promo that would have explained it right off the bat why it was the end of the world as you know it and why I was coming back to reclaim what was mine. Vince said ‘no I don’t want you to say anything.’ It worked so well that we said let’s not say anything for a whole month and see what happens. We are not as smart as you think by putting messages on the tiles of the floor. This was all done on a shoestring budget and I never saw the clips until they were done.”
On his feud with Dolph Ziggler: “Originally I was supposed to feud with Sheamus, and then it was Daniel Bryan. Then the day of Raw, they said I was doing something with Dolph. I was like ‘what happened to Daniel Bryan and Sheamus?’ They said it changed and I was fine with it. I’ve been doing this long enough that I roll with the punches. I couldn’t wait to work with Dolph but I needed a story. What’s the story? They said ‘we will think of one later.’ I said ‘I don’t like that’. I need to think of one now since I have a promo tonight with Dolph. We cant think about this next week. That’s when I came up with the concept of everyone was bitching that Jericho never won a match on PPV. I don’t think of things that way. I win if the match is great. I win if people enjoy the match. Winning and losing, who cares? It doesn’t matter.
“As a heel especially, you can win one out of ten matches and you’re fine. Once I came back from suspension, the tide had already shifted. The heel was gone. People wanted to cheer for Jericho. When that finally happens, you just got to go with it. I thought it would be real interesting to go with the ‘you can’t win the big one’ scenario. But sometimes the writers will write ‘this old broken down guy who is on the last legs of his career.’ I’m like ‘wait a second, broken down? I’m in the best shape of my life, never been hurt, I’ve never missed a match and it’s not like I lost EVERY match. I beat Sheamus on TV, I beat Punk on TV and I beat Kofi a million times. I wanted to focus on the storyline of ‘he can’t win the big one.’ It gave us a great place to go. You always have to have a good storyline. Without a storyline, it’s just two guys in their underwear rolling around half naked.”
What he thought was his best run in his career: “When I came back in 2007, I thought that was the best work of my career as far as really showing who I was as a performer. The story I did with Shawn Michaels and I’m not bragging when I say this, but to me it’s one of the best storylines in WWE history. Blackjack Lanza told me that the last time I saw him a few months ago. I thought that was the best example of storytelling in wrestling. I was working with the greatest of all time.
“When that angle was done, I went into a thing with Mysterio which I thought was one of the best things I’ve done as well, then did the thing with NXT guys. When I came back this time I was like ‘who am I going to work with?’ There is Punk and Cena, but there is no more Shawn Michaels or Undertaker or Triple H, or Eddie Guerrero. I still want to have great matches, but I also want to pass of the experience, pass the knowledge that I have on to these guys, so when I go they can become the main event guys of tomorrow. Just like Shawn did with me.”
On Triple H’s legacy: “He is a great worker. I think he is almost underrated as a worker because of all the side baggage that people have put on him. I worked with him when I first came in. He is a great worker and really helped me out. I’ll be honest with you he is doing a great job behind the scenes. It’s not an easy job. He is being thrown in all the way. Vince is making him do everything. He is in charge of all the meetings, he is in charge of all the side projects, and I think what people forget is the ‘Attitude Era’ was a lifetime ago.
“When I started being Y2J again, a lot of people didn’t know who that was. That was ten years ago. There are a lot of new fans and kids watching and girls, and new people just starting to watch 3 or 4 years ago, so they don’t know the legacy of Triple H. The ‘You tapped out’ chants at Summerslam was not what they wanted, but his legacy to me is one of the best workers that was in the company and he is going to be the guy to take the company to the next level in the next 10, 20 years.”
Photos – Kelly Kelly with Chris Jericho