By Amy Phelps, Special to the Times
Picking up where he left off in his previous memoir, "A Lion's Tale," wrestler Chris Jericho talks about his experience in the world of World Wrestling Entertainment in his sequel memoir, "Undisputed."
Jericho starts with his journey in the WWE in 1999, expecting to get a better push there with a company that was foundering and instead finds himself under a lot of heat from his boss and his co-workers. Jericho, who comes across in his book as a nice guy, albeit a stubborn and opinionated one, once again shows the drive that it takes to make it that far in a business that seems to chew up its employees and spit them out emotionally battered and physically bruised. He fights and scraps for respect from his boss and among his peers. He takes whatever storyline the boss gives him, even when he thinks they are stupid and ridiculous, He tries to get along with his coworkers, but won't back down when they try to treat him shabbily.
There's an especially memorable story that perfectly sums up the dymanic of Jericho's beginning relationship with the WWE, the boss and the "boys" in the back. Jericho is set to wrestle a female bodybuilder, Chyna, who happens to also be dating one of the head wrestlers, for a title match. Jericho has mixed feelings about the match but is told by the boss, Vince McMahon, not to "go easy" on her because of her gender. He works hard to help make the match a good one, and when the match is over and he goes to congratulate her, he finds the response lukewarm. The next day, he is pulled into the office to be screamed at by the boss - in the midst of the match, the female wrestler accidentally got hit in the eye and now has a small black eye. McMahon goes on to verbally lash Jericho, telling him that he isn't worth the paper his contract is printed on, they never should have hired him, he's never going to amount to anything, etc. And Jericho has to stand there and take it.
And yet, that kind of thing is somewhat "normal" in the world of wrestling.
After the Chyna incident, Jericho continues to work hard to impress McMahon and his co-workers and gradually makes progress. He also talks about a side project of his, a cover band by the name of Fozzy Osbourne that took on a life of its own and ended up becoming a metal band called Fozzy, complete with record contract and tours. When frustrated with the wrestling world, Jericho took a break, toured with Fozzy full-time, and worked on becoming an actor in Hollywood.
His story changes from one of taking hard bumps to playing tiny bars to large festivals, to small towns to touring Europe. His acting experience is more of the same, a short stint on a reality show and one very memorable red-carpet snafu.
Jericho also speaks warmly about his family and his devotion to them, including making sure he was there for his children's first birthday parties, even when receiving irate phone calls from his boss and getting docked pay for missing a show. He talks about meeting some of his own childhood idols and getting to hang out with them, including a memorable encounter with Sebastian Bach.
He also writes about the tragedies in his life, including the death of his mother after living for years after a debilitating accident, and the terrible tragedy involving the Benoit family.
All in all, all I have to say is Chris Jericho is pretty froot. (It's a slang term for cool he came up with.)