First rising to fame in the rough-and-tumble Canadian amateur wrestling leagues—as winningly recounted in his first book, A Lion’s Tale (Grand Central, 2007)—Chris Jericho exploded on the international wrestling scene when he defeated, on the same night in 2001, both the Rock and Steve Austin to become the first WWF Undisputed Champion.
In his new autobiography, Undisputed, Jericho colorfully details how busy he’s remained since then. You may have seen him as a pithy contributor to various VH1 talking-head programs or as the host of Downfall, an ABC game show in which contestants answer trivia questions while perched atop a 10-story building in Los Angeles. His metal band, Fozzy, is planning a worldwide tour soon and, he says, “I’ve got a bake sale down the street next month.” Kirkus recently spoke to Jericho about juggling professions and staying motivated in the perpetual Y2J.
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A Lion’s Tale was an enjoyable read about your early years in wrestling. After that, how eager were you to get started on its follow-up?
I was pretty fortunate that I actually got the offer to do the second book before the first book even came out. But the thing is it’s a long, hard task to write a book—there’s so much effort, so much work involved that it took me a while to get the motivation to do it. I had all the ground work done as far as material that I wanted to write about and that sort of thing, but to get the motivation to actually sit down and write it—I write everything, that’s why I think A Lion’s Tale was so well-received and it turned out so well because I wrote everything.
It’s the same thing with Undisputed. It took me a while to actually get up the guts to get started on it. About a year ago is when I started, so it takes about a full year from conception to completion when you sit down and put the pen to the page.
The book deals with the tragic loss of your friend and co-wrestler Chris Benoit. How were you affected by his tragedy?
There’s a chapter on that. There’s a chapter on losing my mother. There’s a chapter on losing my other close friend, Eddie Guerrero. So, there is a lot of loss. I think that is the reason this book is better, because I dealt with a few things in A Lion’s Tale, but there were some really big losses in my life in the time frame that I wrote Undisputed. All three of those losses were huge, and I think one of the good things about writing about it is that it’s a very cathartic experience. It helps you get that out of your system and make peace with it…So it really does take you on an emotional journey, as any good story should.
You made a name for yourself as a wrestler, first in Canada and then as the Undisputed WWF Champion. How’s the semi-retired life? Any plans to return to the ring?
Retired is not really the best word because I never said I was retired, it was more of just taking a break. I wanted to branch out and do other things, including working with my band, which has really grown over the last couple of years. That’s another great part of Undisputed, the fact that it’s just as much a rock ’n’ roll book as it is a wrestling book. Those same trials and tribulations that I dealt with when I first started wrestling, now I’m dealing with those as I get my band off the ground to travel the world.
I was very fortunate to have two dreams when I was kid that both came true—I wanted to be a rock star, and I wanted to be a wrestler. I made both of those happen…Because I’m a very creative person, I always have been, and whenever opportunities arise that you have to jump on, I have no problems doing that because it’s part of who I am. The door’s wide open to return to the WWE, both for me mentally and for the company itself. It's just a matter of figuring out where I want to take the next step.
Undisputed: How to Become the World Champion in 1,372 Easy Steps
Chris Jericho with Peter Thomas Fornatale
Grand Central / Feb. 16, 2011 / $27.99