As the number one entrant into the 2013 Royal Rumble, Dolph Ziggler had to know the odds were against him. However, that didn’t stop the self-proclaimed show off from letting everyone know that he intended to go wire-to-wire and win a trip to Wrestlemania XXIX.
The unwritten rules of pro wrestling say that the man who drew number two had to be someone that Dolph had an issue with. You could see it before it happened; someone’s music would hit, Dolph’s face would go from a smug smile to a horrified frown, and then it would be on. But who would it be? Dolph had been feuding with John Cena. He’d had a ton of great matches with Randy Orton. And, he’d been giving Sheamus grief lately.
Much to the delight of the fans in attendance, it ended up being the man Dolph had gotten fired five months earlier, Chris Jericho. And the reaction he got was one of the biggest of his storied career.
I spoke with the “Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla” in the days leading up to the Elimination Chamber Pay Per View. We had a chance to talk about his ability to come and go from the WWE, his big match this Sunday, and what the guys on the undercard can do to get to the main event.
NOTE: This is the first part of a two-part interview. In the near future we’ll be talking to Jericho about his exciting new “Robot Combat League.” Follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute news and info.
Gordon Holmes: You’re stepping back into the intimidating Elimination Chamber this weekend. But, this is nothing new to you, you were in the very first one in 2002. What was it like that first time at Madison Square Garden?
Chris Jericho: Well, it’s funny because when they first unveiled that, nobody had seen it before. We were trying to put on the best match we could in something that had never existed until that day. So, it’s very unforgiving. The floor is hard, the walls are hard, the pods are hard. If you’re in a ring there’s a little bit of give. The Elimination Chamber has no give. It’s almost like diving into a cold lake the first time you take a fall in there, it’s almost like “Oh my God, is it cold in there!” So, it’s a really strange contraption. There’s a different kind of art to it.
Holmes: As the guy who’s been in more Elimination Chambers than anyone else in the history of the WWE do you have any advice for someone who’s stepping in for the first time?
Jericho: The only advice I have is that it hurts. (Laughs)
Holmes: What do you think we can expect from CM Punk vs. The Rock round two?
Jericho: It should be good. Punk’s at his peak. He’s the best performer in the company right now. It should be a fun match to watch.
Holmes: You’re someone who has taken some hiatuses from the business. Is ring rust a real issue someone like the Rock is going to have to deal with?
Jericho: Of course you have ring rust. Anyone that leaves and comes back for one match a year is going to have ring rust. That doesn’t mean you’re not going to perform at the highest level. But, that’s the same for anybody. You always have to get back into the groove again, but the Rock is more than capable of dealing with it. He’s one of the best ever.
Holmes: You kind of have a sweet deal going with the WWE. It used to be back when there was more competition, if you were burnt out with one audience, say with the WWE, you could move on to the NWA, the AWA, or World Class. That doesn’t really exist now. But, you’ve kind of created your own territory system where you can do your music with Fozzy or go do TV shows like “Robot Combat League.”
Jericho: I’ve been doing wrestling for 22 years. But, I’ve never considered myself to be a wrestler. I consider myself to be an entertainer. I’m in show business. I’ve always built my career this way. And in this day and age, you have to brand yourself. It’s not about being an actor, being a rapper, being a vodka salesman. It’s about doing a little of all of that. It’s about creating a brand and that’s what I wanted to do with Chris Jericho. I do love wrestling, and I do love Fozzy. I love the opportunities I’ve been getting with “Robot Combat League,” “Downfall,” “Dancing with the Stars”, and the movies I’ve done. I don’t want to do wrestling forever, but I do what to be entertaining forever.
Holmes: Your last biography “Undisputed” had a lot to do with your debut in the WWE and the problems you had climbing up to the main event level. Obviously, that story had a happy ending. We’re heading into Wrestlemania season and it looks like we’re going to see a show headlined by John Cena, The Rock, Brock Lesnar, hopefully yourself. My question here is; what do the midcard guys, the guys like Kofi Kingston who are popular and talented need to do to break through the glass ceiling?
Jericho: You’ve just got to take a chance, man. Do something different and change it up. I don’t know what a glass ceiling is. Some people get more chances than others, but you’ve got to make your opportunities. If I lived under the threat of the glass ceiling I wouldn’t be talking to you right now. When I felt like I was doing my best work I’d make a chance and do something different. Be a little radical. You can’t be the same person every week for 52 weeks a year and expect people to not get complacent. So, I’d change it up. I’d completely reinvent myself.
Holmes: That’s a good point. You, Cena, the Undertaker, HHH, you’ve all gone through some pretty significant changes over your careers.
Jericho: I wanted to be the Madonna of wrestling. And what I mean by that is she always changed her image. She always looked different every record. Her sound always changed. It was still Madonna, but she’d put elements of flamenco guitars or dubstep or rap or whatever’s hot at the time. She’d weave that into her music. And I wanted to do that within my career. Always keep people never knowing what to expect. When they know that you’re always taking chances, that keeps them excited to continue following you. It’s like the Beatles, that’s why the Beatles are the best band of all time. They never did the same thing twice, but they always remained the Beatles. That’s what I want to be.
Holmes: Oh man, my girlfriend liked you. Then you said the Beatles are the best band of all time and now I’m pretty sure she loves you.
Jericho: (Laughs) She loves me yeah yeah yeah.
Don’t miss WWE: Elimination Chamber this Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET on Pay Per View.
Don’t miss the premiere of Chris Jericho’s “Robot Combat League,” Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 10 p.m. ET on Syfy.
Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes