AEW star Chris Jericho was on a recent episode of Sippin’ The Tea with Ariane Andrew and Matt Dillon, where Jericho discussed his successes throughout his wrestling career.
“I grew up in Winnipeg, Canada, and so every Saturday evening, you go to your grandparent’s house,” Jericho said. “It’s just something you did back in those days, and on a Saturday evening, I would call it the trifecta of kids programming at the time. 5:00 was the Road Runner/Bugs Bunny hour, 6:00 was AWA Wrestling, and 7:00 was Hockey Night in Canada. So, I would watch those with my grandparents. My grandmother would love wrestling, and she hated the bad guys. Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura was a bad guy at the time. She hated him, and I didn’t want to go against what my grandmother said but I loved him.
“He was super flamboyant, and he used to wear a little jewel in the dimple on his chin, and all that sort of stuff, and to me, I just got attracted to it right away because even though hockey was in my family because my dad played in the NHL for ten years, I loved the fact that wrestling was about the individuals. Hockey was about a team where wrestling was about this guy, and this guy, and this guy, and it just really attracted me to it. It was a hard-hitting sport like hockey but it was much more show business, like movies would be like, or like music.”
Jericho, who is also the lead singer of his band Fozzy, spoke more on his desire to be a wrestler and rock n’ roll star. He noted how rare it was for a 15 year old to know exactly what they wanted to do like he did.
“You know who Mick Jagger is and you know who Hulk Hogan is, and you might not know who the star on the New York Rangers is, so that right away kind of attracted me to the business as a seven, eight-year-old kid,” Jericho explained. “And then, once I started turning into a teenager, I started thinking, I want to be a wrestler and I want to be in a rock band.
“Those are the two things I like the most, so I want to do that. And anybody I told that to kind of said, ‘You’re crazy.’ And I was like, ‘Why do you care so much about what I want to do? Worry about your own s–t,’ and that’s kind of how it all started. That’s where I decided, at 15 years old, what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, which is very rare for a kid, especially for something like that. It might as well be telling somebody you want to go become a famous mime, or sword swallower, or something at the time. Like, ‘Wrestling? What? Are you crazy?’ I guess so.”
Jericho will soon reach 30 years in pro wrestling, and he shared the secret to having a long career. He noted that while moves and having a strong character is important, it’s building and connecting with a fan base that is key to achieve longevity in any industry.
“I think that people have to understand that even in this day, that wrestling is so much more about the character, and personalities, and the charisma,” Jericho stated. “To really make it in anything, especially show-business wise, is just so much attached to building a fan base. You have to connect with that fan base. You have to make them want to see you.
“Whether they want to see you win, or they want to see you lose, or want to see you play a concert, or do stand-up comedy or whatever, you have to have a connection with somebody that really draws them into what it is you’re doing. So, it’s never been about moves. Even though now, moves are so important, and everybody is so athletic. It’s incredible, but it still doesn’t mean as much as a great story.”
Jericho also noted the simplicity in wrestling, using the example of the grand battle between Jon Snow and The Ice King in Game of Thrones being the main focus amidst the other drama that made Game of Thrones work. He talked about the importance of stories and characters to get people to care about wrestling.
“It’s two great characters facing each other, just like a great movie or a great TV battle,” Jericho stated. “I mean, The White Walkers vs. The Night Watch. Game of Thrones, Jon Snow vs. The Ice King. I mean, that was what the whole show is all about from day one, and that’s why it worked. So, wrestling is the same.
“You have to tell stories and you have to have characters that people believe in and want to see, and then the moves come secondary, because if not, then you’re just two half-naked guys, slathered in baby oil, wearing spandex, wrestling around with each other, and I can go watch that on a website. I don’t even watch wrestling for that.”
Jericho spoke more on the importance of characters and personalities citing his latest feud with Orange Cassidy. He admitted that he didn’t understand Cassidy’s character at first, until he realized why fans like him.
“There’s so much more behind it,” Jericho added. “When I first started AEW and they hired Orange Cassidy for example, I hated it. ‘Who is this guy? He’s very lazy. His gimmick is that he doesn’t care,’ but then I realized the reason why people love him is because of this character that he created and it’s great. That’s what wrestling is all about, is connecting with the audience and creating the characters that people want to see.”
Ariane Andrew has made a few appearances on AEW after showing up on Dynamite and The Deadly Draw tag team tournament. Jericho gave his thoughts on Andrew’s AEW appearances, and her possible future with AEW.
“Oh yeah, I think so! I told her this and I think she did a great job after not working for such a long time, and the reason why it was great was because of the character,” Jericho said. “Moves are moves, and maybe being in the wrong place at the wrong time or that sort of thing, that’s all fine and dandy, but it’s the character that really matters, and she had it right off the bat like she hadn’t missed a step.”
Jericho also discussed if he has any trademarks he owns. He said he learned early in his career to copyright everything because you never know what will payoff down the line. Jericho has recently reached a trademark deal with WWE regarding “Y2J”, and Jericho has recently filed for the trademark “DemoGod.”
“That’s what Gene Simmons taught me: copyright everything,” Jericho revealed. “I have a copyright lawyer and I text him once or twice a week. Any stupid idea that I have, sooner or later, something will pay off where it’s like, ‘I’ll be glad I had that copyright written, wrote it, write it.’ Whatever it may be.
“That’s the smartest thing I did. When I was leaving WCW in 1999 and going into WWE, which was Ted Turner’s old company, WCW, I trademarked Chris Jericho because I’ve used Chris Jericho for my very first match but I didn’t want to go in the WWE and not have that covered because they’ll take it from you. And then suddenly, you can’t be Chris Jericho anymore and I wasn’t going to let that happen, so I was always smart about copyrighting those types of things.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Sippin’ The Tea with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Mehdy Labriny contributed to this article.