Monday, October 11, 2010
What It's Like To Be a Wrestler
Chris Jericho: A True Story of Wrestling with Dreams
One of the hardest things we can do in this life is find our true vocation, a career or art or science or sport or something that we can put our muscles and mind into and excel, enjoy, and make a difference. When I was growing up, I wanted to live and die in a punk rock band, live a rock and roll existence, and did a cosmic ton of work to make that dream come true. And I came close before the flame of interest was snuffed out, and while I have no regrets about hanging up the guitar in favour of the written word, I learned a lot about the hardship, struggle, and strain of life as a professional musician. It’s one of the hardest jobs in the world, up there with writer, poet, and stand-up comic.
And all of these are easier than trying to cut your teeth in the world of professional wrestling, and no one knows that better than former world champion and success story Chris Jericho. In A LION’S TALE: AROUND THE WORLD IN SPANDEX, Jericho chronicles his boyhood dream of being one of the stars of the squared circle, to actually becoming a internationally recognized world champion in a profession known for its tragedies as much as its heroes.
In a voice that’s funny, caustic, and brutally honest as well as jovial, Jericho recalls his madcap adventures to become a professional wrestler, learning the ropes from the dying embers of Stampede Wrestling in Calgary, Alberta, the promotion made famous by Stu Hart and his wrestling family, to his adventures wrestling in the US before becoming a teen heartthrob in Mexico, and become a star in Japan. Along the way are a few thousand hilarious and scary stories about the insane characters and world of pro wrestling, a profession of athletic performers and con men, a place where true friendship is almost as hard to come by as a three dollar bill. Jericho gives even the casual fan and uniformed but interested reader a behind the scenes look of the hardships and dangers associated with “sports entertainment.”
For fans of wrestling, perhaps the most eye opening section recalls the now defunct World Championship Wrestling (WCW) promotion in the 1990s. At the time, WCW was a serious rival to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), now the only game in town. But while winning the ratings war, the behind the scenes politics and personalities that dominated the shows kept guys like Jericho from ever getting a chance to shine. So, in the chaos and confusion, Jericho started creating his own ideas for goofy and fun matches where he challenged Bill Goldberg, then the biggest name in the league, only to have a midget with the same name come to the ring. He claimed to be the master of a thousand and four holds, and then took the mic in the ring to demonstrate the awesomely boring “hold number 567: the wrist lock!” as if it were as deadly as a power bomb. The fans dug his personality, his serious talent, and humour. And the best “workers” in the back loved to work with him. But the power players all thought Jerich, who only clocked in over two hundred pounds, was merely a “vanilla midget” in a game of giants, and chastised or ignored him.
So Jericho ignored them, their career-suicide advice, and cut his own way to the top when he joined WWE.
A LION’S TALE is a crackerjack memoir of growing up, sacrificing for your dreams, and enjoying yourself along the way. Jericho survived dangerously stupid youthful adventures, learned quick, and surmounted some rather awful personal tragedies that might have broke lesser fellas. His passion for wrestling and his first class sense of humour meld oddly with his faith, another aspect of his life that he’s proud of. This memoir, which you will devour in fast clip, will give you one of the best young man adventure stories ever told, and it’s all true. Well, as true as pro wrestling! Unless you’re afraid of rude words, I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in a rollicking true story in the unbelievable world of pro wrestling.