He may have stepped away from appearing on our screens each Monday night (for now), but a multimedia maven like Chris Jericho doesn’t just disappear. Jericho’s a storyteller, and a sharp wrestling mind who knows that a substantial part of his fan base comes from his work in WWE.
So it should come as no surprise that while he’s on the road promoting his new book, No Is A Four Letter Word: How I Failed Spelling But Succeeded In Life - this before his next tour with his band Fozzy starts - he’s hitting us with some great tales from his most recent run in WWE. During a recent chat with Baby Huey & Bimbo Jimbo of 107.7 The Bone (listen to the whole thing here), he did just that.
There’s an interesting thread to a couple of the stories he tells his San Francisco-based hosts, and it’s something Y2J’s discussed in previous books and interviews: how to get Vince McMahon to let you execute your creative vision.
One way is to finesse the CEO, as Jericho explains when describing how he helped get AJ Styles’ Styles Clash finisher cleared for use in WWE:
“When A.J. came in I believed he was going to be a huge star which of course he is. He had this finishing move called the Styles Clash which was kind of unofficially banned in the WWE because there was rumors that people had gotten hurt from it and all that sort of thing, but I knew it was a great move. I knew it was an easy move to take. I knew it was something that could give AJ an extra color to paint your pictures with.
I basically…started using it [taking it] during matches just so Vince could see it. I figured if he saw it and didn’t want me to do it then he would know…and people were so mad at me because I was kicking out of the move like ‘Jericho’s burying A.J...’ It’s like shut up you idiots I have a plan here...
Eventually I went to Vince and said ‘Did you see that move that AJ Did?’ Never using the words the Styles Clash because I knew…that name is taboo. Oh, the Styles Clash you can’t do it. So, I said ‘You know that move where he picks me up and dumps me on my face?...He should use that as a finish!’
‘Yes, absolutely use it as a finish.’ So, I was able to kind of indirectly able to get the move unbanned by just doing it, and not asking for permission, and never using the name Styles Clash when I talked to Vince about it. Now it’s one of AJ’s biggest moves. I believed it could work.
I wanted to stand up for it, but once again you have to be kind of sly about it sometimes. It was actually a pretty cool process and it makes for a great story in the book for sure.”
Another is to be willing to go to battle with the boss, as he says he had to in order to get his “Festival of Friendship” segment with Kevin Owens from the Feb. 13, 2017 Raw - something Jericho calls “definitely one of my favorite things that I have done, maybe even the crowning jewel of what I’ve done in all these years of being in the WWE” - to go the way he planned:
“Once again it goes back to the principle of standing up for what you believe in.
I had that idea months earlier to do a big spectacle with dancing girls and the whole thing. And then it constantly was being changed even the day of the show it was changed, and I didn’t like it and I knew that my way was better. I stood up for it even to the point of calling Vince when he was on a plane in the middle of the air and pitching my case. Not taking no for answer. Not allowing my vision to be changed.
I wanted to go from the campiest ‘Just a Gigolo’ David Lee Roth to a complete scene change of this almost murder like the red wedding from Game of Thrones was resonating where you have this brilliant, beautiful, fun moment, and then it just goes south in such a quick fashion where you can’t believe it. And that to me was the brilliance of it.
One of the suggestions that was pitched was for Owens to just attack me, and I was like that’s not how you do it…The best parts of the [horror] movie is when the guy opens the door and the killer is standing there and he has that moment of realization like oh, I am so dead in the next 2 seconds…and that’s what I wanted to do with the reveal of like how come my name is on this? The list of KO…Turn around, look at him like no, no don’t do this, don’t do this, and boom there comes the murder.”
A lot of it comes down to believing in yourself, too, as he explains in discussing other elements of his latest reinvention, including trying to make the word “it” popular just to prove to himself he could:
“Well a lot of it is just confidence right? Believing in your ability... The scarf works because I would say it’s cool because I am wearing it. Like why is this guy wearing a scarf in the middle of the summer? Ya know because I think it’s cool. I just believe in myself and then make that happen.
All those things you’re talking about how there is a lot of reinvention, and the last principle of the book is the David Bowie principle: Reinvent yourself. Keep things fresh. Because if you’re getting stale…it makes you yesterday’s news. I’m never going to be yesterday’s news. I am always wanting to do something different. Especially for me being in this business for 27 years if I’m not constantly changing and evolving you see what happens. You get nostalgia acts you get people that rely on their past.
When I came into the WWE last year I wanted to throw everything out the window. Everything that I had done before that got over just stop doing it…You know the ‘it’ thing that you mentioned was just an exercise for myself to see I bet you I could get the word ‘it’ over. Let me see if I can do it, and lo and behold I did it. So, that’s all part of the reinventing yourself that I’m talking about. Keeping yourself fresh so you never end up in a rut in your life or your career.”
No Is A Four Letter Word is part self-help book, and it sounds like it will contain some good advice. Unfortunately, we’re not all Chris Jericho - not even every WWE Superstar is, or more people would have Vince’s trust.
But we’ve got more good stories coming our way in his fourth book. And we already got some great wrestling television out of it, so it’s working out pretty well for us.
Listen to the whole interview at 107.7 The Bone’s website here.