As previously noted, Chris Jericho recently sat down for an in-depth interview with Inside The Ropes and during the discussion, he went in greater detail about the various WrestleMania moments he's had throughout the years. In this installment, Jericho revealed that the original plan leading in to WrestleMania 25 was for him to have a one-on-one match against Hollywood actor, Mickey Rourke.
Vince and Jericho both knew that a match with Rourke wouldn't result in the most athletic contest, but they were determined to put on an entertaining match that was more to attract attention to WWE.
"Vince called me in to his office and said here's what we're going to do: you're going to have a match with Mickey Rourke at WrestleMania, it's going to be an attraction,'" Jericho recited. "Which is what I said, 'Certain matches at WrestleMania are earmarked to be the classics, or at least given the shot to be, others are on the show just to give everybody a reason to be on the card, the others are attractions. Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania last year was the attraction."
Unfortunately, that plan slipped through the cracks when Rourke revealed to a red carpet interviewer that he planned to battle Jericho at WrestleMania before Vince strategically wanted to announce it after the Oscars. With the threat of losing certain awards he would otherwise win if not affiliated with the WWE, Rourke took more of a backseat role in the storyline.
"Then, because he called me out at the SAG Awards, his agents flipped out...[they told him] that you're not going to win an Oscar if you're involved with the WWE - the dirty scumbags of the WWE," Jericho said. "You can't do this match, you have to pull out. And Vince was so mad because he wasn't going to announce the match until after the Oscars, but Rourke, whatever happened, I think he got excited, maybe he's a little loaded, he announced it himself. Vince was like, 'Fu--!' I knew as soon as he announced it that the match was off."
Vince's new approach was to mirror what the story of the film showed, wrestlers that are hanging on to the profession for too long. Jericho's role would have him taking out the legends that refused to let go of WWE, which allowed him a lengthy program against one of his heroes, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat.
"Vince's motto is take a negative and turn it in to a positive, and he was spinning his wheels, and the idea of The Wrestler was these guys that hang on too long, and I would now wrestle with three guys that have hung on too long...Snuka, Piper, and Steamboat, and I'm like, 'Sh--, this is great!' I know I can do something with Steamboat because Steamboat is one of my heroes when I was a kid, along with Owen Hart and Shawn Michaels. I never got to work with Owen, but I had this great thing with Shawn, and then I got to do something with Steamboat," Jericho said.
"We did the match and it turned out so great and Steamboat was so good that Vince signed him to be, like, a player coach, and we ended up having about six or seven more matches... Roddy was great and I know he was mad because I beat him in, like, a minute with an Enziguri," Jericho continued. "I beat Snuka with the Walls and I beat Steamboat with the Codebreaker, but at least with Steamboat, it was really cool. And we built it up well - Flair was out there, and Rourke came in at the end and punched me in the face and gets the celebrity [spot]."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Inside The Ropes with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.