Chris Jericho is known by most wrestling fans as The Best In The World at what he does. To non-wrestling fans like me, he's known as Some Guy. Fortunately, in addition to being a WWE Superstar, he's also a pretty interesting and funny dude, and he's taken the time in his new book, The Best In The World (At What I Have No Idea) to explain some of the finer points of his career to the unenlightened (like me). The book comes out on October 14th, but you can pre-order it right here. I managed to snag an early copy (you jealous?), and even though I don't know anything about professional wrestling, it was a really entertaining, informative read.
Here are 8 things I learned from reading The Best In The World (At What I Have No Idea):
1. Shaq's appearance on Monday Night Raw was mostly improvised.
Jericho doesn’t pull any punches (no pun intended) about who Monday Night Raw’s best and worst guests hosts were. You’ll have to read the book for the full list and top honors, but our dear friend Shaquille O’Neal made an appearance on the Best Of list with a mostly improvised performance. Jericho writes:
He seemed OK with it but totally uninterested and practically blew us off, but when showtime arrived, Shaq delivered a three-pointer (#basketballanalogyfail). … Shaq interrupted me [in the ring] and said, “Hold on… CHRISTINA.” I had no idea the big man was going to say that, and I could barely keep a straight face as the fans erupted accordingly to the insult. Then at the apex of their cheers, Shaq leaned down and planted a big wet kiss on my forehead. I also had no idea he was going to kiss me. But he did it with such perfect comedic timing that it brought the house down. (p. 156)
2. Mickey Rourke actually wanted to fight him. Like... for real.
In the months leading up to the 2009 Oscars, there was a lot of buzz surrounding Mickey Rourke’s performance in The Wrestler. Rourke was supposed to make a surprise appearance on Monday Night Raw, but when this information was leaked early, Rourke’s reps forced him to back out so it wouldn’t hurt his Oscar chances. To save the storyline, Jericho (the character) went on Larry King Live and called Rourke a coward. Unfortunately for him, Rourke saw Jericho (the real person) insulting him on national TV. According to Jericho:
Rourke’s face hardened as if he’d been waiting to get to the heart of the matter from the moment I got into the ring.
‘No, brother,’ he said with his distinct New York accent. ‘You don’t say the things you said to me and not mean it. In my world, in the boxing world, when you say that sh**, it’s because you’re looking for a fight.’ …
Here I was explaining acting and the inner workings of pro wrestling to a man who had just won a Golden Globe for Best Actor for his portrayal of a pro wrestler. After a few more minutes, I was finally able to convince him that I’d been playing a role on the King show. (p. 119)
3. Kicking a flag is a felony in Brazil.
If we learned anything from the World Cup, it’s that Brazilians love Brazil. Like, a lot. So when heel-Jericho tried to get them riled up by stomping on their flag, it nearly ended in disaster.
“Seriously, Chris! You have to stop the match NOW and apologize for kicking the flag or you’re going to get arrested!”
I stopped kicking Punk and took a step back. The entranceway was now swarming with Brazilian soldiers, all of them glaring at me. …
“When you kicked the flag, that old guy went crazy. He’s some sort of colonel and wanted to rush the ring and arrest you right then and there.” (p. 380)
4. The formal definition of an "unsecured war zone."
Jericho went to Iraq in 2007 as part of the WWE’s Tribute to the Troops series. His book has a bunch of really interesting stories about his time there (including eating “chipped beef” from a tube and forming a two-man improv comedy team called Coffee and Cream), but things took a turn for the scary when some of the wrestlers went to Tarmiyah:
We were told that even though it was under control, it was still classified as an ‘unsecured WAR ZONE,” which meant that they thought they had forced all of the terrorists out of the city but didn’t know for sure. … We knew we were in uncharted waters when the first thing the commander said was, ‘What the hell are you guys doing here? Nobody comes out this far!”
It really hit home just how far into the danger zone we were, when even the soldiers thought we were crazy for being there. (p. 16)
5. How to make someone bleed for funsies.
In a match with Ric Flair, Jericho reveals an old wrestling trick:
I was surprised when [Ric] rolled over and blood was streaming down his face, but I went with it. There’s an old trick in wrestling when someone is bleeding and you want to open the cut further, you keep striking it repeatedly. So I kept punching that cut as hard as I could, in the ring, out of the ring, on the announce table, anywhere I could get ahold of him. … To add blood insult to blood injury, the camera split him wide open as well and a crimson sheet cascaded down his face. He looked like he’d just stepped out of an abattoir. (p. 112)
Uh… okay… maybe “Hit someone more to make them bleed more” is something I could have figured out on my own. But I still sort of learned it from this book.
6. What N.I.B. stands for
As anyone who’s familiar with Chris Jericho knows, the dude loves metal. So when Ozzy Osbourne hosted Raw in 2009, he finally got to learn the meaning behind some of Black Sabbath’s more mysterious song titles.
‘N.I.B.’ is a Black Sabbath classic and its meaning has been debated during late-night drinking sessions for many years. Did it stand for Not In Body? Name In Blood? Nazarine Is Burning? Or my personal favorite, Nativity In Black?
‘I don’t even know what a nativity IS, man!’ Ozzy said with a laugh. ‘I thought of that one because the drummer in Black Sabbath [Bill Ward] used to have a really long pointy beard that looked like the nib of a pencil. So that’s what I called the song… NIB.’ (p. 159)
7. How much it costs to destroy a hotel room
Before WrestleMania in 2010, Chris Jericho had a run-in with one of his most formidable opponents yet: a hotel room in Glendale, Arizona. After he “karate-chopped” a couple of lamps and ripped some paintings off a wall, Jericho had a meeting with WWE senior producer Johnny Ace:
I admitted to Johnny that I’d drunk too much on the plane and took it out on my room. He said he understood and then presented me with a bill for seventeen hundred dollars, the cost of the damage I’d caused.
Destroying a hotel room was fun, but really expensive. Next time I’ll leave the room trashing to the Keith Moons of the world and stick with stealing a couple extra bars of soap. (p. 272)
8. John Mayer can recite the whole MacGruber script verbatim
Jericho earned some major comedy-nerd points in my book with his story about improvising his dialogue in MacGruber, and apparently I’m not the only one. The movie might have bombed at the box office, but it can count John Mayer among its fans:
I was at an SNL after-party when [John Mayer] approached me, wearing a full storm-trooper outfit (it was Halloween) and talking a bunch of gibberish. I’d never met him before and thought he was just really drunk, but after a few seconds, I realized he was perfectly reciting my lines from MacGruber.
‘It’s really fun to hear them.’
‘That’s why I say them.’
‘That’s why I listen.’
Mayer finished up the scene, then gave me his critique of my performance (his favorite scene of the film), his freview of the movie (“an all-time modern comedic classic”), and his theory of how MacGruber was actually social commentary on the state of the world today.
Maybe it wouldn’t made more sense if he was just really drunk. (p. 283)