How Chris Jericho’s Book Made Me Re-Think My “Fan-hood.”
Amidst a full time job and all of my other hobbies (including writing for Wrestlezone), I found the time to read Chris Jericho’s new book in roughly 8 days. Actually, it’s more accurate to say that Jericho’s book continuously drew me in for 8 consecutive days. The work that he’s done in his two books never cease to amaze me, as they both give us a very solid and humorous insight into pro wrestling, rock music, and above all else the challenging life a pro wrestler leads while away from the prestige and glamour of the squared circle.
I got teary-eyed when Jericho talked about the passing of his mom and smiled when I heard about how Vince McMahon had a way of "just making things right." I laughed when I read about what a train wreck Chyna was and I felt the emotional pain when Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit died. And now, even I am scared of Sharon Osbourne. It was more than I expect from a biographical sequel. It was better than Foley’s 2nd book.
But, as I have a habit of doing, I over thought it. And because misery loves company, I am going to share these thoughts with all of you and hope to make you all miserable too. Think of me the way you’d think of TNA’s booking team. You’re welcome.
When Aaron Rodgers, my beloved Green Bay Packers’ quarterback, suffered a concussion during the 2010-2011 NFL season, I about panicked. I’ve seen concussions ruin the careers and livelihoods of too many athletes. But there Aaron was, a week later, playing. And there he was playing Chicago in the NFC Title game, getting hit in the head and clearly not recovering all the way. Even with the title in hand, it still makes me nervous.
So when fellow wrestling fans ask me my feelings on Chris Jericho coming back, I would always talk about how excited I was about the prospect of my all time favorite superstar back in the ring. "Can’t wait." "I hope so, they need him." Take your pick. THEN, I read his book. I read about how Chris Benoit’s attitude slowly devolved and jumped back and forth in a bi-polar fireworks display from quiet stoicism to exuberant joy. I read and turned page after page as Chris Jericho talked about how Benoit broke down one day on the phone crying because so many of his closest friends in the business were dead. Jericho described the longest hug in his life – an awkward embrace that Benoit seemed to not want to surrender. For the first time since that fateful night, I didn’t feel anger at Chris Benoit. I didn’t feel disgust. No, my friends, for the first time ever I felt pity.
Don’t get me wrong – I am not making excuses for truly sickening crimes. But at the same time, I am not so blind as to ignore the fact that what was going on in Benoit’s body and mind was similar to a disorder suffered by many NFL and NHL athletes who have had histories of concussions. It’s a deadly cocktail of head injuries and pain medicine, steroids and slams, booze and bruise. The NFL is attempting to be proactive with this issue by making blatant head shots illegal. The WWE banned chair shots to the head. The whole thing makes me worry about Mick Foley if only for his "I Quit" match against the Rock.
I put down Jericho’s book last Saturday Night at roughly 2:00 am, thrilled I had finished it, but with a new feeling. As I ignored the pleas from my wife to a) shut the f- up, b) turn off the damn light, and c) go the hell to sleep, I flipped back to the front page of "Undisputed" and stared at the autograph. "To Chris and Rebecca. Best Wishes. Y2J." I’ve met the guy 5 times, sang into a mic with him at a Fozzy show, and have two of his books autographed. I’ve followed his career since the mid-90’s in ECW and obtained rare VHS tapes of Smokey Mountain Wrestling and Japan. I’m a true Jericho mark if one every existed.
Ask me today how I feel about the idea of him coming back…
I’m not so sure. I feel guilty wishing him back in the ring. Why I never thought of my favorite wrestlers the way I do my favorite football players is beyond me, but for the first time, I felt ‘fan guilt.’ The more I cheer for these guys, the harder they want to work. And the more that may put them in harms way. It’s a juxtaposition we can never escape as fans. We can only hope that they try to keep each other safe and that the wrestling world has seen the end of 20- and 30-somethings dying in hotel rooms or legends erasing their legacies through murder-suicide.
So whether Chris Jericho is wrestling John Cena, rocking out with Rich Ward, or Dancing with Hines Ward, for now I feel good knowing that he’s healthy. And I hope he, and the rest of pro wrestling’s entertainers, remain that way.
Chris "IrishCanadian25" Fitzpatrick
Wrestlezone Forums Moderator
*feel free to e-mail me at IrishCanadian25@yahoo.com or visit us on the Wrestlezone Forums! Don’t forget to join the Smackdown Live Discussion tonight at 8:00 pm EST!