#WWF262 – Chris Jericho – Break Down The Walls
James Dixon: We open the profile tape deal with a bunch of fans (each subtitled “Jerichoholic” and then a number), who talk about how much they love Jericho. I feel the focus group used may be slightly biased. One of the marks says how they like Jericho because of his “charasma”, which about sums up the bunch that were interviewed.
The best place to start is… the start. Or at least Jericho’s WWF start, with his much anticipated debut on RAW covered extensively and accompanied by talking heads the Rock, a jealous Edge (“Damn!” he thought, when hearing the reaction Jericho got), a tired looking Michael Cole and of course Jericho himself. For those unaware, Jericho’s debut was hyped for a month with a mystery “Countdown to the Millennium” clock which didn’t mention him by name, but pretty much everyone had it figured out. It was Jericho’s idea, one he got while in a post office when he saw a real countdown to the Millennium clock on the wall, and thought it would be a cool way to bring someone into a wrestling company. He was absolutely right; the idea and debut is absolute genius because it builds anticipation, gets people talking and has an exact time and place that people can write in their diaries to make sure they tune in and don’t miss it. The countdown just happened to climax during the middle of a Rock promo, and the pop for the word “Jericho” appearing on the Titantron is something else. It is one of my favourite crowd reactions ever. Jericho’s subsequent promo is decent, but he does an anti-WWF gimmick which was clearly going nowhere because there are too many holes in what he was saying. He makes outlandish claims such as the WWF’s ratings and buyrates plummeting, which all the fans knew was bullshit because the company was on its hottest streak in years and interest in the group was through the roof. Perhaps the idea was that he was delusional or something, but that was always doomed to failure. Rock counters Jericho’s proclamation of being the “Y2J problem” by talking about his “KY Jelly solution”, which of course involves a boot in the ass. The pervert. Automaton Michael Cole thinks the best way to make an impact in the WWF is to interrupt the Rock, but Rock actually ended up promo-schooling Jericho with his retort, which rather undermined him from the off. Within a few weeks Jericho was shunted into the midcard working a feud with Road Dogg, as he quickly became yet another example of the WWF’s inability to use talent correctly and to the best of their abilities. Don’t get me wrong this is a fun promo from both and a wonderful way to debut, one of my favourite debuts ever in fact, but it should have propelled Jericho to the main event right away and it just didn’t do that. It would be two years before he won the WWF Championship and even then he was treated as something of a joke champion, playing second fiddle to Stephanie McMahon and Triple H. It wasn’t until his WWF return years later and program with Shawn Michaels that he finally became accepted as the man, briefly, and given the respect his talent deserves.
We go back to the start of Jericho’s career, and he tells a cute story about meeting Ricky Steamboat at a convention and asking him how tall he was. When he found out they were the same size, he realised he had a shot of being a wrestler, though he was some 70lbs short of his weight. Jericho went to train at the Hart Brothers’ school in Calgary, where he and Lance Storm (who is not mentioned) were the standouts. Jericho says how pleased he was that he came through a good school that taught him the proper values of the business and also beat him up day after day to see if he had the heart for it. A far cry for the WWF Development Center then, which churns out manufactured, cookie cutter robots. Jericho’s career in Japan and with ECW is touched upon very briefly, with Mick Foley giving himself credit for recommending Jericho to Paul Heyman, having seen him work for WAR in Japan. WCW is not brought up at all.
From there we cut abruptly to Jericho’s feud with Chyna, a battle based around misogyny but that echoed the views of many fans. Chyna as Intercontinental Champion was a disgrace to the rich history of the belt. She was an average at best worker by WWF women’s standards, never mind compared to some of the finest workers of a generation. Guys should fight guys and girls should fight girls, it just isn’t realistic for a women, even one like Chyna, to beat a highly trained male athlete at the top of their game. There is a reason that literally every other physical sport in the world separates the two genders. Could Chyna beat up some random dude on the street? Sure, but that is different. I thought this whole feud was lame and the matches were invariably poor. It was a waste of Jericho and a bastardisation of a once great belt.
We once again delve into Jericho’s personal life, as his discusses his father Ted Irvine, a former hockey player for the New York Rangers in the NHL. Hockey continues as the focus, with a bunch of actors talking about a charity hockey game that Jericho played in. I couldn’t give two shits about hockey, so let’s move on…
…Unfortunately moving on proves to be tough as the hockey thing last forever. Honestly, the segment has been going a legitimate ten minutes now. I thought this was a wrestling profile tape!?
Next up Jericho’s strength; his promos. Chris watches a promo of his from 1990 on a lavish big screen in his house, and mocks his accent and cheesy babyface nature. It’s pretty terrible. We cut to modern times, with Jericho mispronouncing everyone’s names on purpose. Kirk Angel (Kurt Angle), Raisin (Raven) and countless others feature. Jericho is a funny guy. He then tells Vince McMahon he has a small penis.
We continue with Jericho’s excellent feud against Chris Ben-oyt (Benoit), which featured some brutal matches full of manly striking and reckless abandon. One such bout profiled is from Backlash 2000, which clocks in at ***¾. We get extended highlights set to an upbeat, high-tempo, generic rock track, which encapsulates the action and drama nicely. The finish is a disappointment, with Benoit going over on a DQ when he goes for his flying headbutt and Jericho belts him with the IC Title. Benoit got his nose legitimately broken and bloodied from the shot, and on SmackDown! a few days later where Jericho finally won the belt, his nose juiced another gusher. Watching these matches back the difference in the tightness of the work and the level of intensity and execution compared to flailing limb specialists like Kofi Kingston or our favourite target, the faker than fake John Cena, is striking. The feud between Jericho and Benoit continues into SummerSlam and their slightly underwhelming by their lofty standards 2/3 falls bout. Again we get highlights, though thankfully this time we are spared the bad music. At first anyway. We join things at the end of the first fall with Benoit tapping out Jericho with the Crossface, and then trying to do the same thing instantly, only to end up caught in the Walls of Jericho and tapping himself. 1-1 then and now the music and sped-up footage kicks in, all made to look more exciting with clever editing that repeats the key spots, before Benoit finishes with a cheeky pin.
Back to Jericho’s massive home, and Christian is randomly there watering his plants like a house boy. Jericho shows off his self-mark wall, which has a bunch of magazine covers framed that feature him, including two covers from TV Guide that he marks for big. He then shows off his CD collection and kayfabes about Fozzy, acting like he is just a big fan rather than the lead singer. Jericho puts over Fozzy lead singer Moongoose McQueen (himself), and that leads to a Mick Foley esque split personality spot and an interview from Moongoose. My wife loves Fozzy, which about sums them up. Personally, I think they are the drizzling shits. I love heavy metal, but Fozzy are neither of those things. Man, this is like Jericho’s second book Undisputed, where he spent half of it droning on about his crappy rock band instead of wrestling, which no one reading cares about. This is now just a Behind the Music parody, with Moongoose purposely acting like a clichéd rock star diva asshole. From what I have heard from some people who have met him, it’s no act.
Finally back to wrestling, and Jericho’s vicious barbs at Steph McMahon that resulted in a classic bout between Y2J and WWF Champion Triple H on RAW with the belt on the line. This is out of sequence mind, but sure, let’s go with it. This was Jericho’s night, with a rabid crowd firmly behind him in his quest to smash through the glass ceiling and lift the gold. And that is exactly what he did, pinning Hunter to a huge pop after Hunter and replacement referee Earl Hebner had a shoving match and Earl got knocked on his ass, causing Jericho to catch a pin and Earl to count quickly. Unfortunately, two-faced pussy Earl got forced into reversing the decision, and the result was stricken from the record. Poor decision, WWF. This was the time for Jericho, the proverbial iron was hot. Once he had pulled a Lex Luger and missed out on his big shot, it took him an age to rebuild his status. In fact, I would be tempted to say this was the most popular that Jericho was at any time in his WWF/E run. The Triple H feud carried on, with Jericho continuing to verbally humiliate Steph gleefully, leading to a sledgehammer beat down from evil DX that left Jericho bloodied. The blow-off came at Fully Loaded 2000 in an epic Last Man Standing match. It is bloody, brutal and intense, and in 23-minutes they assemble a highly physical encounter that often gets forgotten about, but is one of their best outings opposite each other. There was just so much that was good in 2000 that it became hard to differentiate between the plethora of ****+ matches on offer seemingly every week. Once again no full match here, but the highlights are done well again and sum up the action nicely. Triple H is modest about the bout, calling it a match of the year candidate. Not that he has a major ego that needs stroking constantly or anything.
Jericho closes out the tape by saying he is here to entertain, and then bedecked in a suit, jumps into his pool.
Summary: This is an excellent profile tape about Chris Jericho’s early WWF career, though anyone looking for anything deeper that covers his pre-WWF days is looking in the wrong place and would be better off seeking out his 2010 Breaking the Code: Behind the Walls of Chris Jericho DVD. This tape offers plenty of entertainment during its 60-minutes of runtime though, with the majority of the wrestling on display ranging from stellar to superb, and the stick work from Y2J always entertaining, especially that killer debut. I could have lived without the tedious hockey and Fozzy segments, but the top quality action more than makes up for it. As far as WWF bio tapes go, this is one of the better ones.