Recently, WWE Superstar and Fozzy Frontman Chris Jericho was a guest on You're Welcome! With Chael Sonnen. Among other things, Jericho discussed how he felt in over his head when he first arrived in WWE, how WWE's brand extension may help performers, and how he enjoys seeing people who are doing things for the right reasons succeed.
According to Jericho, whose current WWE run will likely continue through till the new year, he felt in over his head when he got to WWE in 1999. The Jeri-KO member admitted that he learned how to get real heat in 2008 working with Shawn Michaels and went on to say that he feels as though he is one of the only true heels left in WWE.
"I was doing kind of a heel character in WCW. It was more of a comical type of thing, like [Sonnen] said, a funny heel. And so, I just brought that character over to WWE. And I had been wrestling for nine years by the time I got to WWE and realized pretty quickly that I was in over my head as far as I didn't know as much as I thought that I knew. So, I think, for the first few years I was there, it was a heel at times, it was a babyface at times. I think when I first came in, I meant it to be a heel and it kind of wasn't because I didn't really know what to do to get heat at the time. I think I started to figure it out when I worked with Shawn Michaels in 2003. But I think 2008, when I turned on Shawn again, that's when I really got what being a heel really is. And that's when I was, for sure, the most hated guy in the business. There was nobody that thought I was a likeable heel at that point." Jericho added, "it's not what I'm doing all the way. I still think I'm one of the only actual heels in the company. But I don't think there's anything wrong with having that entertaining side."
Jericho said the suit-wearing, self-righteous honest man gimmick would be too draining at this point in his professional wrestling career.
"In 2008, 2009, I completely stripped myself of all of that and really dropped into the character to really make sure people didn't like me. It took a lot out of me, man. You hear stories of Heath Ledger passing away after being The Joker and from whatever it was, from an O.D., or problems getting out of that depth he dropped himself into." Jericho continued, "I didn't care who I insulted. I didn't care if I made kids cry. All I wanted to do was to make people pay to see me get beat up. And it worked! It was probably the best run of my career. The one I'm on right now is pretty close, but that type of a heel is hard to play. It's mentally draining on you and I couldn't do it. I couldn't do it anymore. If I tried in 2016, I couldn't be the guy that I was in October of 2008. There's no way."
During the podcast, the first ever Undisputed WWE Champion suggested that the brand split provides talents with more TV time while giving them a break from working both WWE Monday Night RAW and WWE SmackDown Live.
"It's a great idea because it gives guys a little more TV time and it gives you a little bit of a mental break of not having to worry about two TVs a week. That's hard. Three if you have a pay-per-view. So that might help a little bit because house shows are a lot easier than TVs, a lot easier. And not having to worry about that twice a week, that can help guys physically and mentally."
Jericho admitted that he is happy to see AJ Styles reach his goal and playing a role in getting The Styles Clash unbanned in WWE. Additionally, Jericho divulged that he helped Viktor from The Ascension secure the gift of a WWE tryout when he learned the young Canadian was living in his car to make shows.
"Well, I'll tell you, it's a cool feeling whenever you see guys that've worked long and hard to achieve their goal. And, obviously, AJ coming in was a no brainer. It was the same when Daniel Bryan came in. At first, he was kind of behind the eight ball, and I said, 'there's nothing they can do to stop him. He [has] gotten over everywhere he [has] ever been. He [has] got great main event matches everywhere he [has] ever been. Eventually, it's going to happen here.' And I said that with AJ too. My favorite thing about AJ was that it started, basically, with me. I helped him cut his teeth in the WWE. I helped him get his finish unbanned! I mean, The Styles Clash was banned when it first came in and I helped him kind of unlock that, so he can start using it. So all that stuff, I kind of take an extra special pride in helping him."
Jericho recalled, "one of the guys from The Ascension, Viktor, is a dude from Calgary [Alberta, Canada] that was living in his car. He just wanted a shot and I told Johnny Laurinaitis when he was head of Talent Relations, 'dude, this guy's living in his car. Can you give him a shot? At least, give him a tryout, give him a chance. Now he [has] got a full-time gig on the roster, so anytime I see somebody who I know is doing it for the right reasons, it always makes me happy."
Click here to check out the podcast. If you use any of the quotes from the article, please credit You're Welcome! With Chael Sonnen with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.