For those who don’t know, Chris Jericho is a professional wrestler and one of the best.
I’ve kind of fallen off following wrestling, and honestly couldn’t tell you who the current WWE champion is, but back when I was in uni I got into wrestling in a big bad way. One of my mates had an impressive library of wrestling DVDs and through him I caught up on the 10 years I’d missed since I abandoned Hulk Hogan and co. having discovered that it was fake. Or kind of fake. They know who’s going to win, and how, but I’ve watched and read enough about wrestling to know that the bumps they take really hurt and that its a tough business to get ahead in.
Chris Jericho definitely got ahead. This is his second autobiography and picks up where the first book, A Lion’s Tale, stopped with Jericho about to make his debut in the WWE. The book then follows his struggles to adjust to the new company, the back room politics and crises of confidence before he finally found his feet and became one of the company’s big guns. The Rock, HHH, Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley, Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, John Cena, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, The Undertaker- Jericho went up against the great and good of the wrestling world.
The book covers all this along with his life outside the ring, his personal struggles and triumphs. There are anecdotes from the road both as a wrestler and with his band Fozzy. Fozzy have managed to get fairly big and I have one of their albums, All That Remains, and it is aces, have to check out some of their other stuff.
The book is really well written, Jericho writes with honesty and wit. He recounts the anecdotes in a funny way and doesn’t shy away from the stories when he himself is a bit of a tool, but what I really admired is the way he’s completely open about the people he has a problem with, its never cruel or petty, there’s usually a reason behind the animosity and he does a good job of explaining why he takes against people.
I expected the book to be funny, because Jericho was one of the best guys on the mic in the WWE, he’d make this great, funny interviews and promos. He seemed able to improvise and bounce off of other wrestlers in amusing ways.
But its not all gags and funny stories, and when things get tough he writes about them in a heartfelt way that never devolves into “woe is me” whinging. He covers personal upheavals, in a way that reveals how much he struggled with them but also the way over the years he’s managed to come to peace with most of the things and laid his demons to rest.
There’s also a really well written chapter that focuses on the tragic and horrifying death of Jericho’s friend and fellow wrestler, Chris Benoit (for those who don’t know about the incident there are more details here). Jericho discusses his friendship with Benoit and also expresses the anger, grief and confusion that ran through the wrestling community following the event. Its an incredibly moving section and truly heartbreaking.
For the most part, though its a very lighthearted, amusing autobiography and Jericho ensures its utterly engaging and well structured, there are running jokes and repeated references to songs and music. You don’t have to be a wrestling fan to enjoy some of the stories, but if you are you’ll probably get more out of it, as you’ll get a lot of references he makes and also know the supporting cast. As a big wrestling fan, and a Jericho fan in particular, I loved it.
Verdict: A well written, entertaining look at the world of wrestling and touring. Jericho is a wonderfully funny and charming narrator. A must for wrestling fans. 8/10
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.