On a special episode of Talk Is Jericho, Jericho brought on Conrad Thompson to give his side of stories that were told about him on Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard when they did an episode celebrating Jericho’s 20 years in the wrestling business. Jericho revealed that he had considered leaving WWE in the early 2000s after a loss to Viscera on Sunday Night Heat.
“So the week before on [Sunday Night Heat], they had me lose to Viscera,” Jericho recalled. “It’s actually a famous moment because I put Viscera in the Walls of Jericho which was quite the spectacle visually, but they had me lose to Viscera, and at the end of that match, I walked out I was like, you know what, I’m done. I’m going back there next week, and I’m gonna go talk to Vince.
“And I’m just gonna tell him I’m finished because if this is what they brought me in to start losing two big Vis on a jobber show like Sunday Night Heat, there’s no future for me here. This is nothing personal Viscera, but where you look at where he is on the card in comparison to where I was brought in at, it just wasn’t working.”
Jericho said he was getting ready to go to Vince McMahon to tell him he was quitting. However, this episode of Monday Night RAW was the episode where Jericho had defeated Triple H to become WWE Champion only for Triple H to reverse the decision and remain WWE Champion. The fact that Jericho would be winning the world title convinced him to stay.
“So I get into town. It was State College, PA, and I’m walking down the hall,” Jericho explained. “And I’m pissed like I’ve been working myself up all week, and now I’m ready to just let it out. I’m walking down the hall, and I see one of the writers. His name was Tommy Blacha. He was standing there, and he’s like, ‘Chris, what’s going on?’ I was like, ‘I’m going to talk to Vince.’ He goes, ‘well, let me tell you what you’re doing tonight first.’ I said, ‘I don’t really care what I’m doing. I’ve had enough of this place. I’m going to tell Vince I want out.’ He’s like, ‘well, you’re going to want to hear what [your] doing.’ I was like, ‘I don’t care what I’m doing. It doesn’t matter.’ He goes, ‘you’re winning the world title.’ I said, ‘wow, you better tell me what I’m doing then.’
“It’s like, ‘are you kidding me?’ He’s like, ‘no, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re doing this story. You’ll pick a fight with Hunter, and you’ll pick a fight with Stephanie. And then you’ll do the match, and you’ll win. And then you’ll have to give it back,’ and at the time, I was like, ‘whatever you want. This is great.’ And I remember feeling a little bit weird about having to just give the title back.”
Jericho said he went to Vince McMahon to ask what the reasoning was to just give the title back without much of a fight. McMahon had told Jericho to not worry about it as Jericho would have the title again anyway which peaked Jericho’s interested since that implied Jericho would be winning the world title for real next time.
“So I asked Vince about that, and at this point, my conversations with Vince, like he’s an intimidating guy,” Jericho pointed out. “He’s hard to really get to know, until you get to know him, and then it’s the easiest conversations, but at the time, I was still very scared of him. But I went to talk to him. I said, ‘Vince, I really feel weird about about just giving the belt back. Like what’s the mindset?’ He’s like, ‘it’s just the story for tonight.’ And he said, ‘you’re going to have it again anyways, so don’t worry about it. Just take it, do it and go from there.’ And I was like, ‘he said I’m gonna get it again? Like really? Was he serious?'”
Jericho went through the the insanity of the April 17, 2000 episode of RAW. The highlight was the crowd reaction to Jericho winning the title. He said “Jericho Mania” was running wild just for 15 minutes that night even if he didn’t walk away world champion.
“So we have this match, and at the time, I’d been arguing with Stephanie which is getting over huge. So the night started with me cutting this wicked promo on Stephanie,” Jericho detailed. “Hunter gets involved. He wants to beat me up. He sends his thugs after me, but I got you APA, who I’ve hired. They start the match, and he had done some stuff with Earl Hebner a couple weeks before where Earl was mad at him. And we had a killer match. It was a great great match, and it was probably the first great match I ever had in WWE, and more importantly, when I won the title, the crowd exploded.
“And you can guys go back and watch it on YouTube. You see legit explosion of the crowd like we don’t see anymore. Not just because it was me, but it was a different time. And when the young challenger that no one expected to win actually won, they went nuts for it. So it was funny because then, of course, they go back from commercial break. I got to give the title back, but for that 15-minute period it was like ‘Jericho Mania’ running wild brother.”
Jericho addressed the losing streak he went on after that match against Triple H. Prichard had said on his podcast that losing a lot doesn’t matter if you’re still in in the main event. Jericho expressed his disagreement and recalled a conversation he had with McMahon over his losing streak.
“Just one more thing about the title match that I won. People forget that I beat Hunter, had to give the title back and then later on, the main event was a six-man, and I lost to Hunter again,” Jericho noted. “I beat him, won the title, gave it a title back and then they beat me again in the six-man. So they just kept doing that, and when Bruce was kind of explaining, ‘well, of course, he’s in the main event match, and he loses. That’s not a burial.’ Well, it is a burial especially when you’re a babyface, and I’m not saying it was done on purpose. I think it was more just well, Jericho can lose. He’s still popular and not realizing it was losing after losing after losing, or maybe they did realize it. I know I sure did. I remember I went to Vince. Once, I had cage match with Regal probably around this time frame, maybe not.
“It was on TV, and I said to him, because I was supposed to lose to him, like Vince, ‘I just want to point this out to you. I’m not being a mark, but I haven’t won on RAW in 10 weeks, and I’ve had a match every week.’ He goes, ‘what’s your point?’ I’m like, ‘I’ll say it again. I’ve lost 10 matches in a row as a babyface on RAW. It’s not how you build somebody.’ You can always get over by losing, but you gotta win sometimes. You really do.
“We did a whole storyline with it when I worked with The Rock. If you don’t win the big one, you’ll never be taken seriously, and then you just become an upper mid-card job guy. I don’t know why they did that. I’m not sure what they were trying to prove. Once again, you got a guy who is over to the point where there was a riot when he won the title, and then punish me by making me lose a lot more. I don’t know if it was a personal thing, but there’s definitely someone who’s still out to get me that didn’t believe that I could that I could get there.”
The discussion then went into Jericho’s feuds with Triple H and Kane and the differences between the two. Jericho said it was much easier to work with Kane rather than Triple H, and he explained why.
“Triple H, the matches that we had were always great if you look at it. He was a great worker,” Jericho noted. “[It was] just the finishes. The agenda of like, well, it’s a last man standing which is a gimmick match, which to me, if you’re a top guy and you’re working with a guy that’s on his way up, you do matches like cage matches, last man standing matches and to some extent ladder match.
“Your doing matches where somebody doesn’t get pinned, and a last man standing match is perfectly booked for Jericho to beat Hunter because ‘well, he never pinned me. He never really beat me. He just stood up earlier than I did. Big deal.’ A heel can play off that, and it just really confused me why there was that agenda.”
Jericho said there was never an agenda with Kane. While Jericho has said that while he and Triple H did have heat back in those days, they are friends now, but Jericho talked about why he was not a fan of those politics as he was being treated and groomed into being a top star for WWE.
“With Kane, I never felt that,” Jericho revealed. “I mean putting together matches with with him was easy, but if he’s supposed to win, it’s because he’s supposed to win. If I’m supposed to win, he’s not going to go behind my back and politic to Vince that I should lose. I’m not saying anybody did that, but if you look at the track record there for a guy they brought in with a lot of steam that then went down the hill because I got jobbed out. Maybe I wasn’t as good as I thought I was, but at this point in time, I worked myself back up into a respect position. Like listen, I went through it. You know I’m good. You know what I can do. So when it’s storyline-wise smart for me to win, then I should win.
“There was still the politics of like, ‘well, that’s fine. He can win, but he can never beat me, or he can never beat him,’ and that’s not how you build somebody especially someone they were expecting to be in a main event spot because I was headlining most of the house shows because we were doing B crews and A crews. So you’d have a Sunday show, and there’d be an A crew in Stockton. And a B crew in Sacramento, and there’d be a strong headliner for A and a strong headline for B. I was the headliner on B every single time with Kurt [Angle], with Kane. You name it, so obviously there were grooming me for this position but just not booking me in that way. It bothered me after a while.”
The podcast then jumps ahead to after Judgement Day on the May 21, 2001 episode of RAW where Jericho and Chris Benoit defeated the team of Triple H and Stone Cold Steven Austin, the Two-Man Power Trip, for the WWE Tag Team Championships. The most notably part of this match was that this is the match where Triple H legitimately tore his quad, and Jericho detailed the match and Triple H’s efforts through his injury while also pointing out that if Triple H truly did want to bury him, then he could have during this match, but he did not.
“People have said it’s the best RAW match of all time. Whether you believe that or not, it was a damn good match,” Jericho expressed. “It’s one of those moments similar to when I won the title the first time in State College, and the idea was Austin and Hunter were the Two-Man Power Trip, and they were kind of taking over the whole company. It was when they had that brilliant idea of making Austin a heel which really never took, but it worked when he was with Hunter because people generally hated Hunter, and they needed babyfaces.
“So they were bringing me and Chris up to do that, and it’s one of those famous matches, but it’s so crazy because at the time, it was, whatever, a five-star match, until the last couple minutes when Hunter legitimately tore his quad. He hit me from behind. He fell down. We continued our match. I remember the ref saying, ‘Hunter’s hurt,’ and I go over to the announce table. I was supposed to put him in the Walls of Jericho. And he goes, ‘I tore my quad,’ and I said, ‘do you still want to do this?’ And he said, do it.’ So I turn him over, and think about the Walls of Jericho, it’s a Boston Crab.
“And imagine having a torn quad, you know it couldn’t have felt good, but he still wanted to do it, and then at the end, he had to come in to hit Austin with a sledgehammer. I move. Benoit takes him out. I hit Austin with the lionsault 1-2-3. How he was able to continue that, and if anybody ever says, OK, maybe there was a time when Hunter wanted to bury me or thought about burying me. If you wanted to bury us, he could have just not have done the finish, and we just do something else. He went out of his way to make those spots with a torn quad, and that to me was like, this guy, A, is super tough. And, B, whether he likes me personally or not, he’s a pro, and this is the job that he had to do. And he did it.”
Many plans were changed due to Triple H recovering from his torn quad for almost a year. Jericho said that the idea after that match would have been for himself and Austin to feud for the WWE Championship and for Triple H and Benoit to feud for the Intercontinental Championship implying that Kane would have lost the title to either man since Kane had defeated Triple H for the IC Title at Judgement Day.
Jericho also noted that a feud between himself and a heel Austin would have done a lot of money during that time due to them selling out house shows most notably making history at Winnipeg.
“What I heard the day before, was that we were going to win the titles, then branch off. So it would be Jericho vs. Austin to feud for the World Title, and H vs. Benoit in a feud for the Intercontinental Title,” Jericho revealed. “At the time, Hunter was IC champ and Austin was World Champ, and that’s the way it was supposed to go from what I heard, which if you look at what was going on at the time, it certainly would make sense.
“Jericho vs. Austin as a heel for the world title would have been massive for me because we had done a bunch of house show matches. We did one in Winnipeg that did the biggest gate and would have made history with me challenging Austin for the title. I lost, but it was one of those nights where all the stars aligned, and we had whatever our gate was. It showed that we can really make some money with this, but everything changed when Hunter got hurt.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.