Alternate Reality by Vin Tastic

Conveniently coinciding with his return to RAW, Chris “Jericho” Irvine released his autobiography, chronicling his childhood and pro wrestling career, up to his debut in what was then the World Wrestling Federation on August 9th, 1999. As luck would have it, Jericho’s book tour took him to my humble hometown of Toms River, NJ. Unfortunately, I don’t live there anymore, but I pre-ordered a copy and had it shipped to the Worlds Greatest Dad who stood in line amongst the hundreds of Jerichoholics in order to get my copy personally signed. I finished reading the book on Christmas Day and thoroughly enjoyed it.

TODAY’S ISSUE: A Lion’s Tale: Around the World in Spandex

Starting and ending with that fateful night when he splashed onto the WWF scene by interrupting the Rock (of all people) in mid-promo, Chris Jericho’s A Lion’s Tale tells the story of a young Canadian’s long, arduous, and sometimes comical trek to the top of his chosen profession.

Filled with warmth, accessibility and humor, Y2J’s autobiography is hard to put down. He vividly describes training at the Hart Brothers wrestling school (which, except for one first-day appearance by Keith Hart, had NO “Hart Brothers” involvement whatsoever), his freshman training and performing partnership with Lance Storm, his exploits in Canada, Germany, Mexico, Tennessee and Japan, his miserable experiences in WCW (did anyone ever have GOOD experiences there?) and the eventual landing of his dream job in the WWF.

Jericho takes the reader on an emotional journey from cover to cover. It’s easy to root for the Lion Heart as he learns his craft, pays heavy dues, and works his way up the ladder of success in a business which can be less than forgiving, especially considering the “Jericho Curse” of always having a bad match on his first night in a new company. It’s also quite sad to read about his friendships with wrestlers who passed away before their time, like Eddy Guerrero, Art Barr, and Owen Hart.

On that topic, throughout the 400-plus pages Jericho discusses in great detail his close relationship with Chris Benoit, who was an important influence on Y2J. Irvine chose to face the recent Benoit tragedy head-on and early in the book, explaining why he decided to leave in the many words he’d written about the Benoit family before their deaths. Jericho states, “I felt that to (remove them) would suggest that Chris and Nancy never existed. But they did exist and they loved each other and I loved them…” and “The man I knew and loved exists within these pages, not the man that existed during the final days of his life.”

Unless Benoit’s presence throughout the book turns you off, you’ll find Jericho created the same entertaining vibe found in Mick Foley’s first two autobiographies, with a brass-tacks style and conversational rhythm. Jericho’s wit and fun-loving personality course through the pages, but his determination to achieve his goals is never in question. Obviously, wrestling fans know he eventually winds up living his dream of becoming a top star in the WWF/E, but his journey never fails to capture the imagination.

The book includes some insights into the behind-the-scenes truth of our beloved pseudo-sport and the characters (both shoot and kayfabe) therein. A funny example is when legendary promoter and manager Jim Cornette once said to Jericho about former ECW kingpin Paul Heyman, “He’d rather climb a tree and lie then stand on the ground and tell the truth.”

Jericho shares gems about tag teams such as “The Thrillseekers”, “Eh and Wey”, “Northern Lights”, and “Fuyuki-Gun”, the head of the JPS, late-night Japanese cuisine, Dean Malenko’s infamous yet unheralded sense of humor, the Smoky Mountain Flophouse, ring entrance music and wrestling gear, Goldberg’s failure to understand who was the one “doing comedy” in their ill-fated and short-lived program, the German indy scene, his horrible flop as Super Liger, Vince McMahon’s brownies, saying stupid things upon meeting big-time players, working with Ultimo Dragon, his interesting conversations with Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Dick Murdoch, Mil Mascaras, Lex Luger, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Eric Bischoff, and his relationship with his unique parents (his father, a former NHL star, and his mother, a paraplegic with an incredible will to overcome her handicap). He even shares a bit about his Christian faith and his relationship with his lovely wife, Jessica.

This book radiates positivity and good vibrations, as Jericho has a true appreciation for the people in his life who enabled him, one way or another, to become the Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla and one of the great wrestlers of the modern era. He earned his spot, made his own way, and worked very hard to achieve his goals. Plus he’s a funny guy with a lot of great road stories to boot.

Currently available from Amazon.com for only $17.15 plus shipping, I recommend A Lion’s Tale: Around the World in Spandex to all Jericho fans, especially those who enjoyed autobiographies from the likes of Foley, Heenan, Lawler, the Hardys, Edge, and Chyna (just kidding). As Y2J himself would say, Chyna’s book was simply “ricockulous”.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled reality.

p.s. – “The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible.” – Arthur C. Clarke

I’d like to take this opportunity to say “Happy New Year” to our devoted Pulse Wrestling readers, and while you’re here, please check out Jake Mulligan’s Spotlight on Japan, Mark Allen’s Historically Speaking: The Year That Was, and ROH World Flyweight Champion Pulse Glazer’s Ring of Honor Weekly.

Best wishes for a happy and safe 2008. – Vinny

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