Chris Jericho released his third autobiography on Tuesday titled The Best in the World: At What I Have No Idea. As part of the release, he allowed for one of his fans to pen a bonus foreword for the book. The winner was Claire Curran from Manchester, UK, however, I submitted an entry that I wanted to publish now that the contest is officially over.
Congratulations to Claire for having her foreword included and congratulations to Chris on yet another book release. You can order his latest from Amazon at this link.
Below is my story as a Jerichoholic:
The first time I saw Chris Jericho perform was on August 26, 1996 when he made his debut on WCW Monday Nitro in a match against Alex Wright. Entering to a song I could have swore I heard just nights earlier on an Atlanta Braves highlight package, I watched this charismatic blonde-haired international superstar refuse to take a count out win against one of the top cruiserweights in WCW. Jericho told "Mean" Gene Okerlund after the match he had a lot of respect for Alex Wright and he wasn't going to take a victory like that. He then declared war on Hulk Hogan and the nWo. I was enthralled. I was 11.
Throughout the years I watched Jericho go from a young charismatic cruiserweight to the first ever Undisputed WWE Champion. The rise from an underutilized super talent to defeating The Rock and Steve Austin for WWE's biggest prize was a story that could have only been written in pro wrestling. From an afterthought to beating the two biggest superstars of the Attitude Era in one night was quite the feat and one that helps illustrate the story of Jericho.
Chris Jericho is one of the most underrated professional wrestlers of all-time and the fact he was the "champion of champions" before Randy Orton signed his first WWE contract speaks volumes. Bret Hart wrote in his book that he evaluates talent on a three point system, looking at a worker's look, their in-ring work and their ability on the mic. Chris is one of the rare guys to possess high marks in all three and it was evident from the start. The norm is for a worker to possess one or two of the three and struggle in at least one of the other areas.
Jericho has always been extraordinary, with the ability to play the protagonist that can elate a crowd to plead for him to "save us," with an equal ability to get over as the hated antagonist where he refuses to even speak out of fear of satisfying the masses. Couple the diversity of Chris' character along with a level of in-ring work on par with greats like Bret Hart and Kurt Angle and it's no wonder he's been so successful.
When I chose to pursue a career in the wacky world of professional wrestling after I graduated from West Virginia University in 2007, Chris' first book, "A Lion's Tale," was one that I clung too early on. As a self-proclaimed Jerichoholic, I appreciated Chris' perspective on the business and loved reading his funny stories. The difference in Chris from so many other pro wrestlers is his ability to make others laugh, while at the same time remaining humble and not blurring the lines from Jericho the person to Jericho the performer.
In pro wrestling, humility is generally perceived as weakness but Chris is able to not take himself too seriously while also bringing a level of talent few are able to match. In an era where guys are looking for the most money for the least amount of work, Chris spent 2013 giving back to the business. He agreed to "do the honors" to a new up and coming superstar in Fandango at Wrestlemania 29 and worked with Ryback at WWE's Money in the Bank pay-per-view. Here was a guy on the level of some of the greatest names to ever walk through the curtain, putting over new talent in matches he didn't have to work.
Watching a pro wrestling icon come back to help the business rather than himself is unheard of and one of the things I respect about the most about Chris Jericho. Jericho is more talented, more famous and more established yet he's not above giving back. I look at Chris as an inspiration for being multi-faceted and not being defined by any one area of his life. For most, becoming one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all-time would be enough but not for Jericho.
Chris had another dream and that was to be a rock star. The first time I heard of Chris' band Fozzy, one of my friends (now deceased) who was as well versed in music as I am in pro wrestling, told me about this pro wrestler playing with this ultra talented guitarist named Rich Ward. He explained Ward's history as a member of Stuck Mojo and how legitimate "this wrestler" must be to be paired with a guy like Ward. It was no wonder he was talking about Jericho. We would often get together and talk about the similarities between the life of a pro wrestler and the life of a musician and would marvel at the work of Jericho and Ward. I gained as much respect for Ward the musician as my friend did about Jericho the wrestler.
It was of no surprise to me when Jericho wowed the audience on ABC's Dancing with the Stars after becoming a successful author. Chris is a rare breed of talent that can have success in anything he does. He's passionate, hardworking and grounded. He's not afraid to speak up for himself or admit when he let Drunkicho on Twitter. When it's been a tough day at the office, I'll often find myself in one of his books so I can laugh about just how crazy the pro wrestling business can be. It's not easy "fitting the mold" in a career in which I will always be viewed as an outsider. However, watching Jericho go from wrestler to author to dancer to game show host is a clear reminder of what happens when one makes the most of talent and refuses to be held down by stereotypes.
Chris traveled the world in spandex and turned out to be a pop icon. When I started my first website with nothing more than a computer and an Internet connection in November 1999, all I had was a dream that someone from the other side of the world could have the ability to read what I had wrote. Never did I think I would be able to take that dream as a 14-year-old and turn it into a career where hundreds of thousands of people read my work.
Chris Jericho is one of the biggest inspirations of my career and for that I am thankful. The fact I even have a shot at penning this foreword is proof alone of his unmatched humility that has been maintained despite his extraordinary rise to fame. It's a level of humility that can be tracked all the back to the first time I saw him in that contrived angle with Alex Wright in August 1996. I have a lot of respect for Chris Jericho and am eager to follow his next journey, whatever it may be.