I’ve had a strong bond with pro wrestling since I was seven years old. The great matches with Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage, Andre The Giant, and countless others are still fresh in my memory. While the years have passed and I have since discovered pro wrestling is somewhat staged (gasp!), it doesn’t matter, because I still find myself enthralled with the athleticism and pageantry.
With its many stories (aka angles) in which wrestlers are involved, it becomes a soap opera geared for the sports fan. While it’s obvious wrestling has changed a lot in the last 30 years, what will always remain are the memorable characters that have come and gone.
Enter Chris Jericho.
He is one of most charismatic wrestlers to grace the wresting ring in the last 20 years. Jericho has made the leap from wrestler to author, penning his autobiography A Lion’s Tale: Around the World in Spandex (Grand Central Publishing).
My outlook on all things Jericho has changed dramatically. I wasn’t too fond of him during his days in World Championship Wrestling WCW), but what I admired the most about him was his uncanny ability to play the role of babyface (good) or heel (bad) at any time. In retrospect, he reminded me why World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) welcomed him back in 1999 to compliment their already superstar-filled roster.
This book tells the story from his humble beginnings in wrestling school in Calgary to his exodus from WCW and into WWE. Like many wrestlers, his tale isn’t one where the success was immediate. He goes in depth about his descent into the Hart Brothers School of Wrestling (aka “The Dungeon”) and paying his dues.
There are many entertaining stories of the people he encountered while touring Canada and the United States. There is even an interesting story about a drug purchase in Kansas.
While he is obviously not condoning the use of drugs, the mere thought of Jericho telling you this story as only he can is quite amusing. He has a natural way of getting to the point of his stories without going into a million details.
He goes on to talk about his stints in Mexico and learning the art of Lucha Libre, and heading out to Japan and learning their style as well. With plenty of humorous stories of a young athlete discovering new cultures and cuisines, you also have the down side as Jericho tells of encounters with a couple of “fans” In Mexico City who turn out to be thieves in disguise.
What I did find admirable is how genuine and sincere Jericho is when talking about his fellow wrestler, Chris Benoit. Instead of talking about the obvious (Benoit took his life after murdering his son and wife back in June 2007), he chose to showcase his friend as a big influence, both professionally and personally. He talks of stories on the road and of their classic match up in the Super J Cup tournament in Japan in 1995.
The only downside to this book is that it stops in 1999 as he was making his debut in the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE). I would like to have heard of his great matches with The Rock and Shawn Micheals. I mean, this is the guy who became the WWE’s first undisputed champion back in 2000.
Overall, this book is essential for anyone who calls themselves a wrestling fan. Jericho doesn’t go off into pointless rants, but rather gives you clear insight into what happens behind the scenes and away from the arena.
Throughout his many years in pro wrestling, Jericho became a natural storyteller and he used this to his advantage while writing this book. Mick Foley (aka Mankind, Cactus Jack, Dude Love) may have become a best-selling author, but I foresee Jericho following the same path and going even further.