Chris Van Vliet recently sat down with AEW star Chris Jericho to discuss his 30-year career and how he is able to manage his schedule when he appeared on The Chris Van Vliet Show. Jericho said that his schedule is easier now than it ever was in WWE, and he spoke on how he manages his work in wrestling, with his band Fozzy, and writing his fifth book.
“Well, I mean, it’s not as hard as you think because these things come in chunks, and obviously, my schedule is way easier now than it ever was in WWE. Even before the corona and all that, we were only working once a week, and sometimes, we work twice a week and then we get the next week off now, because we tape a show here and there. This year has just been the easiest year in the world because there’s nowhere to go,” Jericho explained. “I mean, touring with Fozzy, you can’t even think about that, but once we can tour again, I mean, that’s the thing.
“If you’re doing something that you love to do, you pick your spots. And the cruise – I mean, there’s chunks of work. There’s a bunch of work when you’re putting it together, there’s a bunch of work right before it happens, there’s a bunch of work when it does happen, but we got moved from February to October. So, there’s really nothing more that we can do. We booked the lineup. We’ve got everybody a contract, and now we’ve sold the thing out, so now, you just sit back and wait. And just like the book – the new book, The Complete List of Jericho – and my four previous books, you’re spending hundreds of hours writing those things.
“This book wasn’t as hard because I’ve been writing it for 30 years, so just slap some window dressing and put some cool pictures in it. And like I said, ‘make it more of a coffee table souvenir’. So, that didn’t take a lot of time either, so there’s always lots of projects. But like I said, if you have a passion for it, you’ll always find the time. And the things you don’t have passion for, you keep pushing them off, and you just don’t do them anyways and get rid of them. So, I’m in a really cool position where everything I do is something that I believe in what I want to do, so it makes it that much easier to be involved with it.”
On the topic of Fozzy, Jericho was asked if he ever considered using one of his band’s songs for his entrance music in WWE like he does now with AEW and NJPW. Jericho said he considered changing up his music but agreed with Vince McMahon that your music in WWE is consistent. But when he left WWE, he decided to take the opportunity to use “Judas” as his entrance music for his Tokyo Dome entrance.
“No, that didn’t feel right to me because I had dabbled with the change in my music a few times and Vince was always very against it,” Jericho revealed. “I even had one when I came back in 2007, I wanted to use; it was 2007 or 2010 maybe where it was the– after 2010, it was kind of like ‘the end of the world as you know it’ Jericho. That’s where the Code Breaker came. Can you break the code, or something like that?
“Anyways, I wanted to use Avenged Sevenfold Nightmare, and Vince didn’t want that. So, I tried to get Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society to do a version, and they did, and Vince didn’t like that. He said, ‘Your music is evergreen’, and he’s right. And if I’m in WWE, that’s my music. But the moment I left WWE, it’s like, ‘Hey, I don’t want to deal with trying to get the rights to Break The Walls Down, nor do I even want to use it.’
“This has to be a different character, and if you look at the first time I used ‘Judas’ in the Tokyo Dome in 2018, one: I wanted something different, and two: I wanted something– we were trying to go to Japan with Fozzy, and I thought, ‘Well if I can play the fu–ing ‘Judas’ in the Tokyo Dome in front of 50,000 people, at least they’ll start hearing this music, and maybe somebody will bring us over here.’ They still haven’t yet, which is another story altogether, and when I heard that music, [I thought], this is perfect. It’s [similar to] Break The Walls Down, and it’s mine.”
Jericho continued talking about how his presentation changed throughout his time in NJPW. He explained his thought process behind his “Painmaker” persona.
“So, I thought that was a really cool representation of something new – a new Jericho. And even though that first match with Kenny [Omega], there was still a scarf, a light-up jacket, and tights,” Jericho said. “It didn’t feel right to me, and that’s when I continued on to work with [Tetsuya] Naito. I thought, ‘I need to change this a bit’, and that’s kind of where the Painmaker idea came. What would a serial killer be if he was a wrestler? Some kind of a horror movie villain, like Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers, or what would that be? And somebody had sent a picture of me as The Joker, and I just liked the idea of the makeup.
“He was wearing kind of a fedora type thing, and it just kind of morphed from that. So, all of the changes come from eternally thinking something’s got to be different here. I don’t know exactly what it is, but it needs to change. It needs to change right fu–ing now. Not next week, not two weeks from now, we need to do it now.”
At the All Out post-show, Jericho celebrated with champagne using the line of “a little bit of the bubbly” that went viral on social media. Jericho was asked if he could have used the “a little bit of the bubbly” slogan in WWE.
“I don’t know. It’s hard to say because I don’t want to say anything, because WWE, once again, I’ve worked there for 20 years and they have a way of doing things, and it’s awesome,” Jericho said. “It really is. It’s a great place to work, but I grew out of it. I don’t need to be coddled and be told what to do. Everything you’ve seen basically since the beginning of the Cody angle, which was back in, I guess, mid-October, was written by me or written with Cody and Tony.
“With me, the whole thing with Orange Cassidy in 14 weeks; that was all my stuff. I send it in, get some suggestions, reconfigure a few things. But, I mean, all of it – Mimosa Mayhem – I don’t think I would ever be able to think of that there. Maybe I would have, but the point is, I’m on a roll now and I’ve got collaborators that appreciate my vision, and nobody f–ks with it. That’s the best thing.”
Jericho noted that everything in WWE goes through McMahon. However, in AEW, he’s expected to be creative, so some lines in AEW are allowed on air unlike what would have happened in WWE, where something might get cut.
“WWE, they always have to go through a system of Vince and then whoever’s in Vince’s ear last, which might change his mind for something you just said earlier. There’s still a lot of sneaky, stinky political machinations there,” Jericho explained. “Here at AEW, I’m expected to do that, and I’m expected to come up with s–t. I’m expected to give my opinions. I’m expected to do what I can to make the show better, knowing that everything I’m coming up with comes from that attitude. So, ‘a little bit of the bubbly’, I don’t know. They might have re-cut it, or they would be given me some script that maybe Vince doesn’t like that phrase or doesn’t know what ‘Dumb or Dumber’ is, or doesn’t care, and that was not a script.
“The idea was you come from the backstage, you go into this room, you take the champagne, you spray it all over the backstage employee. Well, the problem was, there’s f–k ups with sound and camera. I had to do that four or five times. I was getting pissed off. I was like, ‘I don’t like this. I’m a one-take guy’, and doing it four or five times – my improv lines, which are hilarious the first time you say them – when you say them three or four times, it becomes like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s not even funny anymore.’ So, we did it. It’s the last one.
“When I finally got the dress, I was so excited that I remember seeing the deli train. To me, the big joke of that bit was a smile attack joke. I mean, ‘Look at this deli train! Who’s in that? Nobody. This little guy in there with the olive’, and I thought I was so entertaining myself, and ‘there’s a little bit of the bubbly’. No one paid attention to the Spinal Tap/Nigel Tufnel reference, they just went right to the bubbly and somebody made a meme. I think the first one was a terrible song of Mambo No. 5, and they posted a meme like that or GIF – whatever you call it – video on Twitter, and when I see that sort of stuff, I always jump on it, retweet, and say, ‘Hey, this is great.’ If you make your own, send it in and maybe I’ll retweet it.”
Jericho discussed how he wanted to capitalize on the social media buzz and get a real wine made, which he has done. “A Little Bit of the Bubbly” has sold over 100,000 bottles, and Jericho also discussed how it came about organically.
“Suddenly, literally dozens, if not hundreds, of those things– and, once again, when I saw that, I called my manager,” Jericho revealed. “I said, ‘we need to find a place to make some bubbly champagne’, and we were able to get through AEW and through the connections that they had. Get it made and get it up and running, and less than a month later – which is amazing when you think about it – we sold 30,000 bottles of it, to where people are looking for it now. We’re going to release a second edition very, very soon.
“So, we’ve created something from nothing, and that’s what wrestling’s all about. Organically, creating something that people get into. So yeah, all of those things are organic and you jump on it, you stick with it, and you go with it, and fans appreciate that. They really do. They appreciate when you have the creativity, and I almost feel like I have a responsibility for people to live vicariously through me at this point, and expecting me to come up with cool stuff that they’ll be able to use in their lives and enjoy.”
Jericho was later asked if he carries around a list of ideas for promos and segments. Jericho admitted that he does not, and recalled his debate segment with Orange Cassidy where Eric Bischoff served as guest moderator. He explained how the segment got put together and the process behind some of the big moments of the segment.
“No! That’s the thing, I don’t,” Jericho remarked. “I’m not that type of guy. I plan for the moment. When we did the debate with Orange Cassidy and we were able to get Eric Bischoff to come in, I’d never seen a debate in wrestling. I don’t think I’ve ever really seen a debate at all. So, I watched Hillary Clinton vs. Trump from 2016 and watched the debate, and kind of saw how it worked and saw that the moderator was Lester Holt, who played everything straight, and that’s what I told Eric. I sent him the clip.
“I said, ‘This is what we’re doing and you’re Lester Holt. I want you to be the straight man of the piece.’ He goes, ‘got it’, and he was fu–ing great. It was so great, and we’d never heard Orange Cassidy talk, so here’s this a–hole Jericho, ‘I’m going to catch you in your whole game and do a debate,’ and then, of course, he can talk. But he didn’t know that; I didn’t know that. We didn’t know what we were going to discuss. Cody came up with the idea of doing some kind of a ridiculous scientific line.
“Kind of a Wayne’s World thing – Milo Lockett – and that was basically it. And so, we came up with it, wrote some stuff down that I Googled off of what climate change was, gave that to Orange, and his promo, we worked on it briefly but there’s no writing it down. And we just kind of made it up literally three or four hours before the show, came up with some questions to give Eric. ‘Here’s your questions’, and I had some retort. ‘I haven’t liked you for 30 years’. He’s like, ‘I know the feeling’. That was all him. This is how we do it – it’s a bunch of talented people.”
Jericho said that having a script and trying to memorize for hours does not make your product better. He revealed that he has a notepad that lists out what he has planned for himself until Nov. 7. He said he does plan out storylines and what the twists and turns along the way, but he said he does not plan out what he wants to say in promos.
“You don’t need a script. You don’t need to pour over it for hours, and hours, and hours,” Jericho pointed out. “That doesn’t make it better. That makes it worse. And so, yeah, my notebook – my notepad consists of, ‘OK, I know what I’m doing from now until November 7.’ That’s great, but it’s only a month away. Now I got to come up with what we’re going to do from November 8 to the next PPV. How many weeks is there, what’s the storyline, who’s involved, what are the twists along the way?
“So, that’s kind of where I spend my time thinking, and planning, and booking, if you will. But when it comes to individual promos, I don’t have time for that. I’m not that type of guy. I need to feel it; I need to be in the moment and feel what is going on today. How do we want to work on this today? Because if not, then I’m just writing scripts, and I’ve become a WWE writer, and that’s not helping anybody.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit The Chris Van Vliet Show with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Mehdy Labriny contributed to this article.