We’re all about comics here at Panels on Pages, but a geek cannot live on comics alone. Outside the Longbox is our chance to spotlight something outside our typical four-color realm – be it movies, music, TV or whatever.
The first ever Undisputed Champion in World Wrestling Entertainment. Multiple-time World Champion. Record-setting Intercontinental Champion. Numerous Tag Team Champion. Television personality. Best-selling author. Rock star. Only one man can lay claim to all this, and his name is Chris Jericho. And he finally has a DVD set that’s nearly worthy of his talents. I’ve been a fan of his for a very long time, so I’ve been eagerly anticipating a Jericho-centric set for awhile now. As usual, the Ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rolla didn’t let me down.
The main bio/documentary traces the journey of Chris Irvine as he transforms into Chris Jericho. His stories of his early years are interspersed with interviews with his father and friends. This soon gives way to his training at the Hart Brothers School of Wrestling, where he bonds with fellow aspiring wrestler Lance Evers, the future Lance Storm. The outgoing Jericho and the dour Storm might have been at opposite ends of the personality spectrum, but they complemented each other well and became frequent tag team partners and in-ring rivals. After learning the basics in Canada, Jericho traveled the world wrestling and honing his craft, learning everywhere he went and picking up new skills. In Mexico he added to his already high-flying style by adding lucha libre maneuvers to his arsenal. In Smoky Mountain Wrestling he tagged with Storm as the Thrillseekers and worked on his mic skills. Japan stressed the more technical style of pro wrestling. A run of shows in Germany to mostly the same crowds every night taught him how to vary his matches to make them more exciting. This lead him to ECW, and from there to mainstream exposure in WCW, and finally to a headliner in WWF/WWE. All of these things are discussed at lengths by Chris himself, and extrapolated on by friends and coworkers. It’s a great piece that covers everything from his beginnings up through today. The rest of the first disc is filled with the interviews, promo spots, and skits that show off Jericho’s talent on the mic and his sense of humor that endeared him to fans.
The other two discs contain matches throughout his career handpicked by Jericho himself. Included are his first match, against friend Lance Storm, the duo’s debut in SMW, and a championship match from Japan against Ultimo Dragon. From his ECW days is a bout against Cactus Jack a.k.a. Mick Foley. A trio of cruiserweight matches from WCW featuring Eddie Guerrero, Juventud Guerrera, and Dean Malenko round out this stage of his career.
His years in the WWF/E bring high profile opponents like Kurt Angle, Triple H, The Rock, Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels (twice), John Cena, Jeff Hardy, Rey Mysterio, Undertaker and Edge. Some of the matches are fantastic (both of the HBK ones, Mysterio, Rocky) and others have great significance in Y2J’s career (the “erased” world title match against Triple H, the title unification match against Austin, the “You’re Fired” match against Cena). Y2J and Matt Striker also provide alternate commentary for three matches: his debut against Storm, the Japanese match with Dragon, and the Wrestlemania XIX match against HBK. In one of these, Chris answers a lingering question I’ve had as to why he changed his Liontamer submission into more of a traditional Boston Crab.
Though close, the set isn’t perfect. Jericho’s entertaining whether playing a face or heel, and I would’ve liked to see more of his promo work, especially from his 2008 feud with Shawn Michaels. Some of the match choices are a bit odd. The one against Hogan, for instance. It’s not bad, pretty good for a Hogan TV match actually, but it doesn’t serve much of a purpose other than to see Y2J wrestling a legend. Why include this, and not his match against Ricky Steamboat, one of his admitted idols? And then there’s the elephant in the room named Chris Benoit, who’s name is never mentioned. I wasn’t expecting a match of theirs to be included, but one line about how he was one of Jericho’s best opponents would’ve been nice.
Aside from those minor flaws, the set is fantastic, and I highly recommend it to anyone who calls themselves a Jerichoholic. I give Breaking the Code: Behind the Walls of Chris Jericho 5 out of 5 old-school Liontamers.