Conrad Thompson took over hosting duties on Talk Is Jericho as Chris Jericho detailed his early WWE run after leaving WCW. The episode was meant as a response to Bruce Prichard’s Something to Wrestle’s Jericho episode. On Talk Is Jericho, Jericho talked about the time he dressed up as Doink The Clown in the build to the Gimmick Battle Royal at WrestleMania X-7, and Jericho told a story about an inebriated Shawn Michaels warning him not to be Doink.
“Well, the reason why they had me do that was because they had a Gimmick Battle Royal, so they had all the gimmicks come back at WrestleMania, and they had shown Doink or talked about Doink or maybe even Doink was on the show the week before,” Jericho explained. “So it wasn’t just like this random Doink appearance. I do remember walking backstage. It was in Cleveland. This is Shawn Michaels before he went away for the last time and really got cleaned up. He was at the venue.
“He was just out of his mind, and he’s like, ‘hey, they got you playing Doink now? And I’m like, ‘no, it’s just for the night.’ He goes, ‘no, I don’t like it. It’s a terrible gimmick. Don’t play Doink.’ Yeah, it’s okay Shawn. It’s just for tonight. ‘Don’t do it, man. It’s gonna kill your career. Don’t let him make you into Doink,’ and then he walked away. He couldn’t grasp the fact that I was just dressing up as Doink for one night.”
Thompson mentioned that King of the Ring 2001 was meant to be a singles match between Jericho and Stone Cold Steve Austin. However, Benoit was inserted into the match, and Jericho talked about his disappointment over that as well as the perplexing conclusion of Spike Dudley in the feud.
“I was. I was disappointed in the whole scenario because if you look at this, me and Chris were babyfaces once again, and they needed babyfaces to work with Steve,” Jericho recalled. “And for whatever reason, Vince lost faith in me pretty much instantly. Then [they] brought in Benoit and lost faith in Benoit pretty much instantly because if you look through that time frame, Spike Dudley got involved, and Spike Dudley ended up in a little bit of a feud with Steve Austin.
“So even though Benoit and Jericho are challenging for the title, Spike’s got all the promo time. And Spike’s got all the steam. It was really really weird. I remember thinking like the second week after the match was announced, I said to Chris like, we’re done. Like he’s already given up on us. He’s got Spike in there doing all this stuff and not not us, and I was really disappointed.”
Jericho also admitted that the match at King of the Ring was not good. He cited that the dynamics between Benoit and himself did not go well, and he thought it would have been better to have one-on-one feuds instead of a three-way match.
“I thought the match was the s–ts. The dynamic is terrible,” Jericho admitted. “Two babyfaces trying to fight a heel for the title and Vince didn’t want Chris and I have any disconnection or any issues between us. So basically Austin beat the two of us the so called top babyfaces clean. I thought it would have been much better off if they just sort of stuck with me and Steve.
“You could have had Steve beat me clean, whatever. Then he could have gone over to Chris, done whatever you’re gonna do with that, but at least we would have had a chance to go one-on-one with Austin as the champion, and even as the babyface, if you lose to the champion, it’s still a title match. It’s still a main event, but Vince didn’t see it that way and didn’t see Jericho and Benoit as being main event babyfaces apparently.”
Soon after, The Invasion angle began. Unlike conventional thought, Jericho thought the Invasion PPV and angle was great. He thought so because he was included in the main event that featured top stars like The Undertaker, Austin and Vince McMahon. He also revealed that the payoff for that PPV was the largest payoff he’s ever received for any non-WrestleMania show.
“No, I thought the Invasion show was great. I love the fact that I was included,” Jericho affirmed. “Like back then, to be in that match at all was a huge honor because it showed that, once again, I was one of the top guys and still kind of on the the spectrum of, once again, having that title again. Like Vince said, ‘you’re going to have it again at some point anyways. Don’t worry about it.’
“Anytime you’re in a storyline with Vince McMahon or The Undertaker or Austin, and you’re holding your own, both in the promos and in the ring, that just solidified the fact that I wasn’t the drizzling s–ts as Vince had told me not even a year before. I was thrilled to death to be in that, and I remember something else too. When I got my payoff for that, it was the biggest payoff I’ve ever gotten for a non-WrestleMania ever. From a 10-man tag, I got more money for that than anything else besides a couple WrestleMania’s.”
During The Invasion angle, Jericho took on Rob Van Dam for the Hardcore Title at Unforgiven. RVD is known for working a physical style, which he has said he learned from The Shiek. Jericho confirmed on his podcast that RVD did indeed work stiff, and he also revealed that McMahon had asked him to teach RVD how to work a heel style, but RVD did not like being told what to do.
“I don’t recall the actual match, but I always had good matches with Rob in any way shape or form, but newsflash, he was very stiff,” Jericho confirmed. “I don’t know if reckless is the term, but when he when throws those kicks up at you, [he didn’t] really care, and I think I have more stitches in my head courtesy of Rob Van Dam than anybody else ever in the history of the business that I’ve worked. So that kind of puts a little perspective on it, but yeah, he worked very stiff, very hard. Rob is Rob.
“He didn’t want any suggestions, and I remember we had a couple issues over the years when Vince literally told me, ‘can you teach them how to work as a heel? Can you teach him how to sell?’ And Rob didn’t like being told what to do. He’s Rob Van Dam, and for better or for worse, he’s going to do things his way and part of that is being very stiff. But having said that, I also had great chemistry with him and always enjoyed working with him as long as he didn’t put stitches in my head.”
Jericho did not win the Hardcore Title, but he did defeat RVD on an episode of SmackDown to become the number one contender for THe Rock’s WCW Championship. He took on The Rock at No Mercy, and Jericho talked about the feeling of winning the title especially after comments Eric Bischoff had made towards him.
“I always had great chemistry with The Rock except for the first match we ever had which sucked, but other than when people ask, ‘who’s the best guy you ever worked with?’ He’s one of them, and people forget about that because he’s so big in Hollywood, you don’t remember the fact that he was awesome in the ring,” Jericho pointed out. “And I was one of the few guys that can go toe-to-toe with him on the microphone, so that made our matches even better.
“I remember afterwards I did a promo for WWE Magazine or for the website, and I said, ‘I dedicate this to Eric Bischoff. He can go f–k off’ because I remember when I left, he said, ‘well, Jericho will never be a star in WWE. It was different time. Both of us are different people now, and I love Eric, but at the time, I had a lot of animosity towards him. And when I won the title, I remember thinking, ‘f–k yeah. I did it even though Bischoff thought I couldn’t.'”
Jericho also disclosed more details about his No Mercy match against The Rock. He talked about how they had very little time to plan the match out causing them to call part of the match in the ring. Jericho also complimented The Rock for always putting guys over and never politicking a different finish.
“I also remember Rock that day was doing a bunch of other stuff, which he always had to do promos and pre-tapes, and we didn’t start working on putting that match together until the show started,” Jericho revealed. “Now, you think we had two and a half hours. That’s not a long time especially with The Rock. I’m not gonna say he over thought things, but he’s very meticulous in the way he did things, and I remember basically going over that, until it was time for us to go to gorilla and just saying, ‘hey, man, let’s just make up the rest of it out there.’ And Rock does not like making it up out there, but we had no choice. We ran out of time, and it worked out really good.
“I remember the beginning of that match was mostly me just calling stuff to him, and then we had a really great finish put together. And one thing about The Rock, he always put me over. He always put guys over. He was not one of those guys that would bury you or that would make you look bad or worried about winning or losing, at least not with me. Whenever it was time for him to put me over, he did and did it right and did it well. He legitimately put somebody over not just let them get a 1-2-3 on them which is a big difference.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.