Wrestling fans hear “Shane McMahon” and “Hell in a Cell” in the same sentence, and we almost take it for granted he’s diving off the cage. It’ll never not be impressive, but it’s not exactly shocking.
But hearing about the logistics of being involved in the spot, as Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn told the story of their involvement in his 2017 leap on the latest Talk is Jericho, can give you a whole new appreciation for everything involved - and how close one of these things come to disaster:
Zayn: That was a really stressful day for me.
Jericho: What was your task for the day?
KO: Well, he had to save my life.
Zayn: Not one life. There’s three lives essentially on the line. There’s Shane, obviously. There’s Kevin if I don’t get him off in time. And there’s me because if I ruin it, I’m dead... And this brings me back to, we could get into a bigger conversation about this subject, about what we do and how ridiculous it is when you look at it from any other medium of entertainment on Earth. So, to me, this is an elite Hollywood-level stunt and they were just kind of like, ’Well, just pull him off.’
‘Well, hang on. When? When EXACTLY do I pull him off?’
‘When you see Shane’s foot come off…’
‘No, hang on, look, I have 1.8 seconds to make sure I go from invisible to grabbing him. He’s lifeless. You don’t understand the margin for error of this.’
Dude, I had knots in my stomach all day. Not only that, but the one or two times I actually tried pulling him off the table earlier in the day, he’s like ‘Just grab me’, right? But I grab him and I slip right off.
KO: And something else that didn’t help - my back at that time had been bothering me a lot. My lower back was a real issue. So even for him to grab me and just me to sit up, my lower back would kill me. So it wasn’t like one smooth motion. It would be like, I would almost have to turn to the side and then sit up. So that added... when there’s a giant human falling toward you...
Zayn: And his life is on the line. Dude, if you actually watch it back now, if you watch it in slow motion, Shane’s body at that velocity comes maybe, tops, three feet away from Kevin’s head when he’s sitting up.
KO: I think you’re overshooting. I’m pretty sure it came within a foot.
Zayn: It’s crazy how close it was.
KO: I felt the wind.
Jericho: That’s a crazy spot, though.
Zayn: It’s a crazy spot. It’s a crazy stunt. If this were Hollywood and we’re doing this for a movie, it would be rehearsed ad naseum, you would have professionals...
Jericho: There would be a giant crash bag...
Zayn: An air bag... and for us, ‘When you see his foot kind of go’.
‘Lives are on the line here, man!’
KO: But that was the only part of the stunt that wasn’t meticulously - and like, the thing is, I don’t think there would have been a better way for us to prepare for that part of it. But there was all those things. There was the giant crash pad, there was concern for how Shane was gonna go down and where...
Zayn: Yeah, they didn’t just wing it. I’m just telling you how I perceived it cause I was such a minimal...
KO: The only part of that thing we couldn’t really try until we did it was that. You know, cause we’re not gonna ask a human to do it.
Setting aside for a moment that Owens was dealing with a bad back which made it difficult for him to sit up - but with which he took a table bump off the side of the cage himself earlier in the match - this story gives us a glimpse at how intense it must be for these guys to take part in spots like that.
That, and the whole interview, also gives us a sense of how the two friends (and especially Sami) could be seen as “annoying” by folks who aren’t used to having their directions questioned a bunch of different ways.
Annoying enough to get sent home from a European tour? That topic isn’t addressed by Chris Jericho on the podcast, but even without getting into controversial topics, it’s a fun listen for stories like this one - and less eventful ones between a couple old friends who’ve been doing this whole pro wrestling thing for a long time.
Check it out here.