Vince Russo had a new blog, talking about the origins of Chris Jericho in WCW.
Breaking Down The Walls Of Jericho
by VINCE RUSSO & BLAKE MITCHAMORE
Now that I used that clever headline to grab your attention, don’t think for one second that you’re going to find me making one negative comment on this page when it comes to Chris Jericho.
When I was working as the Head of Creative for the WWE, part of my job was to constantly be scouting talent in an effort to make the “team” roster the best that it could possibly be. Honestly, most of my suggestions came from ECW, where I suggested the likes of the Dudley’s, Taz, Al Snow and the BWO. Through whatever working relationship Vince had with Paul Heyman at the time, the “idea” was for me to tell Vince who would be an asset to the WWE roster from ECW, triggering Vince to inform Paul who we were interested in. Unfortunately, this rarely worked out the way Vince had planned, for whenever we told Paul we were interested in one of his talents—he told Vince they weren’t interested back. This routine caused some back door maneuvering on both my part, and certain ECW talents at the time, but eventually we got who we wanted and they came to the destination of their choice.
The situation in acquiring WCW talent was much more difficult being that there was no working relationship in place–and both sides hated each other. Vince McMahon was always one to try and stay as far away as possible for lawsuits, so he rarely crossed the line when it came to purging WCW talent. However, even knowing Vince’s limitations, the first time I ever saw Chris Jericho—I KNEW that I had to be writing for him in a WWE uniform!
From the moment he ever walked through that WCW entrance, Jericho absolutely dripped with charisma. And, I’m talking about PRE-Attitude Era, when it wasn’t yet even “cool” to be “cool” in wrestling. Jericho was light years ahead of the curve. There were no unbelievable “heel faces” when he was shopping boos from the fans, and there was certainly no kissing babies when he wanted you to like him. Chris Jericho was simply being Chris Jericho–a bona-fied superstar in the wrestling business, to become iconic in the years to come.
Honestly, I can’t remember that initial conversation with Chris, I’m sure he probably does. I can’t recall whether he reached out to me, or I to him. Either way, it didn’t matter, all that did was that WE WERE TALKING!
What I do recall is how nervous Chris was. Even though his contract was expiring with WCW and he clearly just was just wanting to look at his other options, talking to “the enemy” was just taboo at that time.
After several conversations, Chris decided that he was going to be WWE bound once his WCW contract expired. From there, JR took over in the negotiations, because that was never my job–nor did I ever want it to be–and television product went into full “LET’S IMMEDIATELY GET JERICHO OVER” mode. I have to give Kevin Dunn and his entire staff an ENORMOUS amount of credit for making Jericho “special” from the moment we saw him. To this very moment I see it, feel it and STILL pop for it! What incredible vision Dunn’s staff had—a vision that is far and away the standard bearer when it comes to sports-entertainment.
It goes without saying that Chris was over in the WWE from the start—however—what many people don’t know is that when Ed Ferrara and myself wrote our last WWE show, which was delivered to Vince before we made the decision to go to WCW, we had Jericho defeating “The Rock” in the middle 1-2-3, which Ed and I felt would have almost immediately brought Jericho to a new level, without hurting “The Rock” in doing the job. Unfortunately, once we said our goodbyes to Vince, the finish of the match was changed and Rock beat Chris Jericho. For there, I felt that it took the WWE much longer to get Jericho to that next level–compared to if he would have beaten Rock that night.
Regardless–it didn’t matter. Chris was destined to become one of the biggest stars in the business—and he achieved that. And, at the end of the day let me make this perfectly clear—THAT WAS ALL ON HIM!
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Tags: Vince Russo