Chris Jericho is on one his frequent breaks from pro wrestling and WWE (kind of, since he's promoting a book that focuses heavily on his work with the company, and he'll be back for a brief European tour next month), but it seems like his name is the news more than at any time during his recent post-WrestleMania 30 run with the 'E.
Some of that is promotion of The Best in the World: At What I Have No Idea, his third memoir, but a lot of it is because the Ayatollah of Rock 'n' Rolla is just a great interview. Case in point, his recent sit-down with Bryan Alvarez on the free Figure Four Daily podcast at The Wrestling Observer website. Just when you thought nobody could have any new, relevant, first-hand information about CM Punk, Jericho comes through.
And, to use Y2J's own words, it's kind of a drag:
I don't know (if he's coming back), I don't know really anything about Punk. We used to talk quite often and not really about wrestling stuff. ... We always had great chemistry and he's one of my favorite guys to work with. And then when he left the WWE he never talked to me again. I never heard one peep or squeak or anything from him again. I reached out to him a couple times just about, you know, 'hey, I'm watching The Clash from '78' or whatever and nothing. That's his decision, and it's kind of a drag. I understand professionally not wanting to be open but kind of leaving your friends behind? I don't give a fuck if he wrestles or not. It doesn't matter to me; it never did.
While that's the extent of the "news" that Jericho has concerning another wrestler who called himself the Best in the World, he can relate based on his own experience in the middle of the last decade:
You know, I went through the same thing he did in 2005. I was burned out, did not want to wrestle. The only difference was I kind of timed it out so I knew my contract was coming up and this is it. And they even came to me to re-sign me but I cut them off at the pass. I said 'don't even say anything because I'm not re-signing'. Because I didn't want them to think I wasn't re-signing because of money, because I knew they were going to cut my salary. I knew it, I could tell, I could just tell. What I was doing, I was getting lower and lower on the card and they were having a meeting with Vince and Johnny Ace, 'we need to talk to you about your deal; we would like to re-sign you but...' 'Stop right there. Don't even say a number because I'm not coming back.' 'Really?' 'No.' 'You sure?' 'Yes.' 'Well, when can we see you again? Five months?' 'Nope.' 'Six months?' 'Nope.' 'A year?' 'Nope.' 'When are you coming back?' 'I don't know, but it's not going to be anytime soon,' and it took two and a half years. People forget that. Two and a half years I was gone, and didn't watch wrestling, at all.
Punk probably wasn't in danger of getting his pay cut, but that's not the only difference in their stories - Jericho's making a point to say that he waited until his contract was up will probably fuel the fires of fans who believe that Chicagoan was in the wrong for walking out with time still remaining on his deal. We'll most likely never know the particulars of that, but one place where the Fozzy frontman still thinks there might be similarities between he and Punk is something he thinks all wrestlers, and most people, share:
As a professional and as a passionate person, you know people always say 'man, I wish I could win the lottery because then I wouldn't have to do anything'... if I won the lottery I wouldn't stop a damn thing, because you can't. If you have a desire to be something or create something... I'll tell you something else, man, and I don't care who you are, it doesn't matter to me -- there is a euphoria that you get from being great at something, especially something where you're in front of a crowd and manipulating a crowd into doing whatever you want, the power that you have. I can do that, I can manipulate a crowd. I can get them to cheer or boo, I can get them to do whatever I want and it's a magic.
When you don't have that, it's one of the reasons why I know The Rock comes back, even if it's just once in a while, because you can go film 100 movies and make 17 gazillion dollars and win 55 Oscars but you don't get that instant electricity and the gratification and the feedback from a live audience. And that's why with me, like, you know, when I'm not in the WWE I still have that with Fozzy, it's there. I step off one stage right onto another. Some of the stages aren't as big, some of them are bigger but it doesn't matter; 10 or 10,000, you get that drug. And for Punk not to have that in any way, shape, or form... I know he goes to hockey games a lot, and I'll bet cha that's why, because it's fun to be a part of a large audience and enjoying the emotion and the energy. But sooner or later he's going to need something to replace that.
And maybe he'll come back to wrestling and maybe he won't but I'll say this: if you would have asked me -- how long has he been gone from the business now? Eight months? Nine months? If you would have asked me nine months after I left am I coming back I would have said 'I don't think so.' A year and a half? 'I don't think so.' The only time I decided to come back was when I saw Cena vs. Michaels at WrestleMania and just happened to watch it because it's WrestleMania and I'm a big Shawn Michaels fan -- he wasn't supposed to be in the main event, Hunter got hurt, Cena-Michaels, I'd like to see that. It was the first match I'd watched in two years and I was like 'oh my god, here it comes'. And then the next night they had that, or a week later, they had an hour long match on Raw in Italy and that's when it was like 'all right, I better start going and getting a new workout regime and start dieting because I'm going back.
Will Punk be back? As Jericho would probably be the first to tell you, who knows? But as time goes by, you have to wonder if what drove the only other guys who have experience dealing with what he's going through to come back will reel the Straight-Edge Superstar back to wrestling.
Y2J, The Rock and Shawn Michaels came back - and continue to on occasion. Will CM Punk?