Undisputed: How to Become the World Champion in 1,372 Easy Stepsby Chris Jericho
The eagerly awaited follow-up to the New York Times bestselling A Lion's Tale documents Chris Jericho's meteoric rise to wrestling glory in the WWE.
A Lion's Tale gave readers a portrait of Jericho as a young man. Fighting his way through Mexico, rinky-dink leagues and a battery of thieving, sleazy promoters/managers, the book ended with the/i>/i>/i>
The eagerly awaited follow-up to the New York Times bestselling A Lion's Tale documents Chris Jericho's meteoric rise to wrestling glory in the WWE.
A Lion's Tale gave readers a portrait of Jericho as a young man. Fighting his way through Mexico, rinky-dink leagues and a battery of thieving, sleazy promoters/managers, the book ended with the author's WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) debut. Never one to leave his fans hanging, as demonstrated by his recent return to wrestling glory, Jericho now tells the story of life in the big leagues. But "making it" in the premier wrestling league in the world comes with its own set of obstacles and hard lessons. Jericho, in his witty, hilarious, and surprisingly endearing manner, lays it all out: the good, the bad, and the spandex.
- Grand Central Publishing
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.60(d)
Read an Excerpt
UndisputedHow to Become the World Champion in 1,372 Easy Steps
By Jericho, Chris
Grand Central PublishingCopyright © 2011 Jericho, Chris
All right reserved.
W hen I stepped out into the bright arena light from the darkness of the Gorilla position, I had only two things on my mind: Judy Garland and my promo segment.
I now knew how Dorothy felt when she escaped out of the black-and-white monotony of Kansas into the garish colorful wonderland of Oz. I could relate because I was also escaping, from the bland world of WCW into the glimmering land of opportunity that was the WWE.
As soon as I breached the curtain and interrupted The Rock mid-promo, the crowd response was unbelievable. JERICHO signs were everywhere and people were jumping up and down with huge smiles on their faces, ecstatic that it was me that was the big surprise at the end of the countdown and not the return of the Gobbledy Gooker.
It seemed that half of the arena had been sent personal invitations from Vince McMahon himself alerting them to the fact that Jericho was appearing tonight. I hadn’t really known what to expect from the crowd, but the moment I heard their reaction I knew that I had made the right decision in leaving WCW. Due to the buildup of my debut, I was already a bigger star in WWE after thirty seconds than I had been in WCW after three years.
I had been planning this moment for months and knew exactly what I wanted to do. I had seen Michael Jackson in concert in 1993 in Mexico City and had never forgotten the monumental entrance he made. He propelled up from underneath the stage and froze with his back to the crowd and his arms in a crucifix position for what seemed for hours as the crowd went nuts with anticipation. He didn’t rush the moment or move a muscle. He just stood as stiff as a statue and took his sweet time before turning around and revealing himself. I wanted to do the same thing for my debut. So I stood with my back to the crowd in a Jesus Christ pose and let the crowd rumble. Even though the Titantron read JERICHO in ten-foot-high letters, it wasn’t until I spun around and people saw my face that they really exploded.
I turned with a Paul Stanley pout on my face, although a shit-eating grin might have been more apropos. I surveyed the crowd, lifted the mic to my mouth, and bellowed, “Welcome to Raw Is Jericho!” a takeoff on the Monday Night Jericho catchphrase that I had used in WCW.
The Rock was less than thrilled that this petulant pansy had interrupted him mid-speech. Unfazed, I launched into a five-minute soliloquy about how the WWE had become boring and stagnant and how both the company and the fans were in desperate need of a savior, someone who would take the company into the new millennium. Someone like me. I proclaimed myself to be the party host, the man who would inspire the entire world to chant, “Go Jericho Go!” whenever they saw me.
At this point The Rock cut me off and asked, “What is your name again?”
“My name is—”
“It doesn’t matter what your name is!”
The fans in the arena, who didn’t know who I was or what I was doing, erupted with glee that I had been shut up. The Rock continued his verbal assault by addressing my Y2J moniker.
“You talk about your Y2J plan, well, The Rock has a little plan of his own, the K-Y Jelly plan, which means The Rock is gonna lube his size 13 boot real good, turn that sumbitch sideways, and stick it straight up your candy ass!”
As a heel, my job was to sell his oral beatdown, and that I did. The problem was, I sold it like a scalded dog (Jim Ross™) and got this look on my face like I was about to cry. It was a trick I picked up in WCW, but I was soon to discover that the type of heel I was used to playing didn’t fly in the brave new world of the WWE.
As a result, in the course of a couple of minutes within my first promo, I went from a confident, cocky Y2Jack the Lad to a whining, huffy crybaby. I was trying to go all out to be the bad guy, but in doing so I turned myself into a comedy figure—the type of heel that can’t be taken too seriously. Even though it was a great entrance and a classic WWE moment, watching it now makes me cringe because I would never act that way anymore. But in 1999 I didn’t know any better. Instead of keeping any badass credibility, I became a cowardly cartoon. It should have taken a lot more than one insult to turn me into a sniveling baby.
The worst part came at the end of the promo when The Rock unleashed his patented “If you smel-l-l-l-l-l what The Rock is cooking!” For some reason, I contorted my face into a sulky Popeye-like grimace, as if I’d just found Bluto snorting spinach off of Olive Oyl’s naked ass.
It was the wrong card to play on my first night in the WWE. My cowardly heel routine made it hard for the audience to believe that I was a credible opponent for a megastar like The Rock, even though that was the initial plan. Because of my Popeye puss, that train was derailed before it left the station.
However, there were a few other reasons why I didn’t get into a program with The Rock right from the get-go. For one thing, I was coming from WCW, which, being enemy territory, automatically put me under a giant microscope. Another problem was that matches in the WWE were constructed in a totally different way than they were in WCW, a way that was completely foreign to me. In WCW, we pretty much did whatever we wanted in the ring, but in the WWE the style was much more serious and structured. In WCW, I was able to keep my head above water by acting as ridiculous as I could and performing whatever comedy bits I could think of to get noticed. But now that my head was above water and the spotlight was on me, I still kept doing what I did best, and that wasn’t my role anymore. It wasn’t what Vince wanted from me, even though nobody ever really told me what it was that he did want. On top of all that, I had this huge buildup coming into the company that left me with a target on my back bigger than Val Venis’s penis. I found out very quickly that it didn’t matter what I had accomplished or what my reputation was outside of the WWE walls, I had to prove myself all over again from scratch. And I’d failed round one with my goofy reactions to Rocky’s words.
I spent weeks writing my debut promo, and afterwards I kept writing my promos unassisted, only going over them briefly with head writer Vince Russo before each show. I decided it would be a good idea to go into full-on creep mode and insult the other superstars in the WWE, accusing them of being boring and only half as talented as me. I was never really given a specific directive to insult people, but I knew that my character thought the company was boring and stagnant, and I was there to shake things up. Russo listened to my ideas and told me, “Great, go with it.”
After each promo I didn’t get any feedback from Russo (or anybody else), so I figured that meant everything was good. I was intimidated by the aura of Vince McMahon and I never asked him what he thought I should do, even though in retrospect that would have been a good idea. Wrestling is like a giant high school clique, and if you’re the new guy who comes in looking different and acting different, you’re going to get blasted for it—mostly behind your back. With zero allies in my new company, I had nobody to stand up for me when my back was turned. Even worse, because I didn’t really ask Vince or any of the boys for advice, I came across as an arrogant prick who thought he knew it all. Unbeknownst to me, I was stockpiling massive amounts of nuclear heat in the process.
After a few weeks in the company, I was in a difficult spot. On one hand, insulting everybody else was a great way to come in and make a name for myself, sharing screen time with the company’s biggest stars and showcasing my promo skills. On the other hand, the more I verbally buried the big names, the more trouble I amassed for myself. To them I’m sure I was this little peon who’d been feuding in WCW with Prince Iaukea and was now getting this big push without the know-how to back it up.
When I first signed with the WWE, I asked Vince, “What do you want me to do?” He said, “Don’t worry, I’m going to be watching you like a hawk. I’ll tell you what I want you to do and what I don’t want you to do. If I don’t like something, I’ll let you know. You are going to be one of my pet projects.”
He had spent a lot of money to get me; a guaranteed contract of $450,000 was a very big deal at the time. He had heard great things about me, and seen a couple sparks that convinced him I might be the real deal; but he wasn’t exactly on the Jericho Ho Train yet. I didn’t suspect that something might be wrong, because if there was I figured Vince would tell me.
But he didn’t and there was.
My second night in the company was at a Raw taping in Milwaukee. The plan was for me to interrupt The Undertaker, the most respected wrestler in the locker room and one of the biggest stars in the company. He was calling himself the Personification of Evil at the time, so I began my promo by calling him the personification of boring and proceeded to tell the crowd how bland and mediocre he was.
Maybe this wouldn’t have been such a problem if Taker hadn’t just cut a fifteen-minute promo about how he and Big Show were riding their motorcycles in the desert and they ran out of gas and Big Show picked up a scorpion and ate it or something… a promo that really was incredibly boring.
He knew it was boring, the crowd knew it was boring, Vince knew it was boring, Funaki knew it was boring. So when I came out and called him on it, I made things even worse because I was kicking him when he was down.
Taker responded to my claims by saying that he had more shower time than I had ring time. At first I thought he was bragging about his personal hygiene (maybe he was a clean and freshly scrubbed Deadman), until I figured out that he was really saying I was wet behind the ears and should know my role and shut the fuck up. Backstage afterwards, I walked past Shawn Michaels, who glared at me incredulously and offered the following advice: “The next time you cut a promo, maybe you want to avoid calling the biggest star in the company and the leader of the locker room boring.” It was a friendly warning from HBK to watch my mouth.
I’d told Taker before the promo that I was gonna stick it to him and he’d told me to go for it. However, I crossed the line and insulted him by saying what I said. I can’t believe the lack of respect I showed him and so many of the other guys in the locker room during my first month in the company, especially since I knew how important the hierarchy of the business was (and still is). Respect your elders. That aphorism had been drummed into my head my entire career, but I was so caught up in trying to be revolutionary and controversial that I forgot. And my absentmindedness cost me.
In just two short days I had more heat than Al Pacino and Robert De Niro combined. I was playing a character and didn’t really believe the shit I was saying, but everyone thought I did and assumed I was an arrogant prick who thought his shit didn’t stink (believe me, it does).
The original plan for my appearance in Milwaukee was for me to cut a promo on Steve Austin where I was going to talk about how he was a drunk who shaved his head bald in order to hide his receding hairline. In retrospect I’m glad that it changed, because Steve is a lot less diplomatic than Taker and I’m sure he would’ve opened a can of political and verbal whoop-ass on me. But things were bad enough as it was and my Walls were cracking.
I just had no idea how quickly they were about to come tumblin’ rumblin’ down.
The fact that Vince didn’t give me any insight or guidance to what was expected from me or my promos is still confusing, especially since he was so hands-on regarding every other aspect of my career right down to the name of my finish.
I’d started to use the Boston Crab in WCW and dubbed it the Liontamer. But Vince didn’t like the name because he thought it was too close to Ken Shamrock’s Lion’s Den training facility. “I’ve got too many lions running around here,” he said.
So the edict went out to creative to come up with a new name for the move. You could hire one hundred monkeys and have them type for one hundred years and they wouldn’t have come up with the shit I was presented.
I was handed a list of some of the worst names for a finish ever: the Salad Shooter (a takeoff on the Sharpshooter, named after an infomercial product), the Rock and Roll Finisher (because I was a rock and roller and this was my finisher… get it?), and the Stretch Armstrong. You read that right—the Stretch Fucking Armstrong (you want to take a crack explaining that one? Cos I got nothin’… ). Someone was actually getting paid to think of this stuff. Then again, these were the same brainchildren who suggested changing Billy Gunn’s name to Billy Bitchcakes.
After eating the list, pooping it out, eating it again, and vomiting it back up, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I thought about calling my hold the Vertebreaker (pre–Shane Helms), but Vince didn’t like that. I asked HHH for suggestions and he came up with the STD—the Standing Torture Device. I have no idea if he was ribbing me or not, but while it wouldn’t have been a bad idea if I were Val Venis rocking the pornstar gimmick, it didn’t seem quite right for me. So I went back to the German power metal well and took another idea from Helloween, whose first album was called Walls of Jericho. I suggested that to Vince and he liked it, even though it didn’t really make sense. But it was better than Billy Bitchcakes.
Excerpted from Undisputed by Jericho, Chris Copyright © 2011 by Jericho, Chris. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Chris Jericho lives in Los Angeles and Florida. He has been named one of the 50 greatest wrestlers of all time by the WWE.
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >