Chris Jericho
Total Wrestling Magazine|January 2017

Laurel and Hardy.

Abbott and Costello. Morecambe and Wise. Ant and Dec. The world of entertainment is rife with great double acts. Two partners, individual identities, and just a smidgeon of playful tension between the two can create a compelling fun dynamic that is a joy to behold.

Phil Austin explains why in the world of sports entertainment, Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho have taken up this mantle.

Back in September’s issue of Total Wrestling Magazine we looked at Kevin Owens and discussed why his rise to the top of WWE has been as unconventional as his look, but what of his best friend Chris Jericho? Is there a reason these two are friends? How has Jericho got to this point in his career? And more importantly is this his best run in WWE yet?

By all rights, Jericho should have grown up a great ice hockey player. As the son of New York Rangers star Ted Irvine, the athletic Jericho would have been presumed to naturally follow in his father’s footsteps (or skate tracks). But at a very young age, Jericho began watching a different breed of athlete, professional wrestlers such as Ricky Steamboat, Shawn Michaels, and Owen Hart.

Enamoured by these high fliers, Jericho enrolled in the Hart Brothers wrestling school, where he met lifelong friend Lance Storm, and he was soon learning the skills that would start him on a career that took him around the world, and a career that would have many different paths for him to travel down.

After touring Canada, it was only a year into his career that Jericho (and Storm alongside him) found himself in Japan for the Fronter Martials Arts Wrestling organisation (yes, the same one with Atsushi Onita and all of those crazy exploding barbed wire death matches). He and Storm would return to Japan in 1994 to work for Genichiro Tenryu’s wonderfully titled Wrestling and Romance promotion.

One year after his first tour of Japan, Jericho was competing in Mexico as ‘Corazon de Leon’ (‘Lion Heart’). Jericho found some success in Mexico, as the fans took to this blonde highflier, and he soon found gold around his waist as he became the NWA Middleweight champion in CMLL. However, success in the United States still eluded him.

Jericho got two minor breaks into the US wrestling scene. First of all, Jim Cornette brought him and Storm into Smoky Mountain Wrestling, where they had a memorable feud with the Heavenly Bodies.

Then, after recommendations from Mick Foley, Perry Saturn, Dave Meltzer and Chris Benoit, Paul Heyman brought Chris Jericho into ECW as a singles performer, where he won the ECW TV title. Jericho was now on the road to US stardom, but he was yet to break down the walls of the big two promotions of the time, WCW and WWE.

In 1996, on the heels of an influx of international talent, Jericho was signed by WCW. But this was the same Jericho character that had been in all the other places he’d wrestled. Blonde babyface character, with all the character of a generic 1990's midcarder. Jericho – that Jericho – was never destined to break free of the crowded midcard scene, or to shine brighter than others such as Dean Malenko, Stevie Ray or Billy Kidman.

Jericho’s character needed a real change (and a brief failed stint as ‘Super Liger’ in New Japan in 1997 was definitely not it). This change started when, after several losses, Jericho began losing his temper. The villainous Jericho would then then beat Rey Mysterio Jr for the WCW cruiserweight title, after which he attacked Mysterio’s knee, cementing his heel turn. Jericho’s heel turn gave him a different layer, and he began to morph into the first real national success of his career.

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