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By Michael Campbell on 1/17/2008 1:20 PM
The Cynical Literary View
Chris Jericho: A Lion’s Tale
  By Michael Campbell

Welcome back to the Cynical View, or in this scenario, Cynical Literary View. We don’t see enough of these things around, in comparison to DVD reviews. So after failing miserably to actually get off my ass, say a few words, and review Bret Hart’s outstanding autobiography, I though I’d make amends by having a look at the printed page of Y2J, Chris Jericho. 

Before long, one thing became apparent as my eyes scuttled through the pages in a watery, excitable frenzy… Chris Jericho just isn’t a writer. He’s a wrestler, a rock star, a performer, a sexy beast… I could go on here, but it would be dipping my toe in obsessive waters. But he’s not a writer. Mick Foley is, yes. And after reading Bret Hart’s absolutely gob-smacking autobiography, I’d categorize him right up there, thanks to what I found to be the finest wrestling tome I’d ever read. But Jericho isn’t, and I becomes almost immediately apparent when reading “A Lion’s Tale”.

Jericho breaks all the rules. Hell, I don’t even know if he knows the said “rules”. Crap, what the hell do I know about rules? Thus his book doesn’t read like the memoir of an author. Bruce Campbell’s autobiography, “If Chins Could Kill” (Ace- read it!) featured on its sleeve a quote that suggested “Bruce is like the dinner guest you wish would never leave”. And that’s exactly the spirit that Jericho transmits with his work. The err, spirit, of erm, Bruce Campbell.

As most of you chicks know, Jericho’s turn doesn’t include his run with the WWE, you know, the one that made him an international mega-star. Instead, it begins with his birth (well, not the actual moment, but you know…), speeds through his childhood, and awkward teenage years, and zaps into his early wrestling days. As the small lettering on the cover says, “Around the World In Spandex”, the focus is squarely on his travels as wrestler throughout his journey to the land of Vince McMahon. Thus, we follow the Ayatollah through his training in Canada, his early meandering career in North America, a hugely successful run in Mexico, and his many tours of Japan. Towards the end, we uncover his ECW and WCW runs, but perhaps not in as much detail as one might expect.

Jericho isn’t especially confrontational in his dialect. He doesn’t take constant cheap shots, like those that appeared in Flair’s book, nor is he bogged down with a sort of bemusing obsessive dislike for anyone (which occurs in both Foley and Bret Hart’s memoirs). In fact, the only recurring trouble-maker for Y2J appears to be good ol’ Scott Hall. Let’s be honest, that’s not much of a surprise. Hall comes across like a drunken, lazy mess, who would perhaps be likeable if he didn’t have so little respect for himself, and consideration for others. Like everyone else, Jericho is full of good words for the likes of Goldberg, and follows the much-used notion that the guy only became disagreeable thanks to the political climate to which he entered the business. 

Even that walking political mine-field, Hulk Hogan, is deemed “a friend”! Fortunately, although he doesn’t court controversy, Jericho doesn’t shy away from it either. He regularly, openly discusses popular rumours and stories, not afraid to “protect” people by glossing over details. Particularly of note, are the dealings he’s had with the likes of Mil Mascaras, and Atsushi Onita. Throughout “A Lion’s Tale”, it’s especially absorbing uncovering Jericho’s personal dealings with overprotective veterans, and jealous has-beens. As per usual, those who bury others are the most talk-worthy of folk. The balance of honesty and willingness to discuss sometimes foul-tasting incidents, without overdosing on bitterness on attention-seeking is in all probability, the strongest aspect of the story. Jericho materializes as a real human, rather than a rose-tinted tribute to himself. Mind you, some of the stuff he mentions is absolutely shocking. There are some crazy, oddball people lurking in the world of wrestling. 

Some of the finest moments, and chapters in the book emerge from the periods of his career I knew nothing about, such as his time spent in Germany. Here, Jericho’s outrageously easygoing personality and modesty shine through. He introduces us to an eclectic ensemble of characters, and happily takes the piss out of them, but only in a good-natured manner. This stage of his career was clearly quite the eye-opener, and is a hugely entertaining source of light-hearted tales, and also the grimier aspects of life on the road.

Meanwhile, Jericho's experiences working with Genchiro Tenryu and WAR, are absolutely fascinating, as in fact, most of the discussion of working in Japan. There are little anecdotes scattered everywhere, in which Y2J recalls the good times and great memories with his own unique sense of humour. I think this may be the thing with his on-screen work as well. No matter what the character he is playing is doing at any given time, there’s a difference between just enjoying his work, and really, understanding him. He has his own quirky sensibilities, and admirably individuality, and this is surely why he is such an interesting chap.

So yeah. Chris Jericho, the Sexy Beast, is no writer. But he damn well does the best impression of one I’ve maybe ever read. This is an awesome book, and I can’t recommend it more. Bret’s is of course, more comprehensive, and devastating, and Mick Foley’s is more explanatory, and covers much more ground (well his first two books anyhow). Flair’s is arguably more valuable thanks to the sheer volume of work he discusses, and William Regal’s is a more interesting, moving story. But this is pure entertainment from start to begin. You’ll learn a few things along the way, and you’ll be wet with laughter. Not that I was… Ah never mind..

Cheers if you read this, If you have any questions, hate-mail, or comments about the “Cynical View” column, feel free to email me at If there’s any other ’rasslin’ related books anyone would like me to discuss or recommend, let me know. Thanks for reading!