Review – Chris Jericho/Peter Thomas Fornatale – The Best In The World
Posted by Nicholas Jason Lopez
By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Thrust once more into pro wrestling relevancy with his recent challenge to Kenny Omega slated for New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s Wrestle Kingdom 12 on Jan. 4, 2018, Chris Jericho’s career stock may be the highest it has ever been.
At this point, it’s like what hasn’t he done?
As he suffered from a popularity decline, he resurrected himself with things like “IT,” “The List,” “Stupid Idiot,” pretentiously expensive scarves and “The Gift Of Jericho” last year. He became the equivalent of a walking meme, even long after the days of “Jericho Invented Everything.”
It will always be argued though that Jericho’s true creative renaissance was between 2008-2013, when he was forced to do different things to get his now-stale character over with the fans and thus, churned out the best promo/ring work of his career.
Ever the enthusiastic writer (or at least Peter Thomas Fornatale brings it out of him here) and two previous New York Times bestsellers to boot (A Lion’s Tale and Undisputed, mentioned annoyingly ad nauseam throughout), Jericho shares stories all about his ideological reinventions and the troubled times that can come with being a rockstar/professional wrestler. There was also that six-week stint on Dancing With The Stars.
With 410 pages among 47 chapters that range from two pages to as many as 20, it’s a witty, insightful read from start to finish that starts with the hype for his 2007 return via cryptic messages that hinted towards the “SAVE US 222” movement. The less-than-stellar reaction to the old “Y2J” persona (compared to his 1999 debut at least) brought on by a horrendous shiny magician-esque vest and “edgy trying to be edgier” return promo that led to an eventual flat feud with John “Bradshaw” Layfield put him in a panic mode for the first time.
A big theme of this book is the close professional relationship that he shares with his boss Vince McMahon, who has done as much as fined him an incredulous amount of money for the “flag kicking incident” in Brazil to believe in his new gimmick so much a World Title run was in store. The two go back and forth plenty of times on storyline ideas and he has made it no secret that McMahon is someone he consults with for nearly everything.
Where the magic truly happens is his feedback on the feud that sparked his career – Shawn Michaels. The emotional build revolved around “The Heartbreak Kid” and his feign of a knee injury to get one over on the “Honest” Jericho, who was booed by the fans for the times he pointed out Michaels’ intentions that culminated in the infamous “Highlight Reel” heel turn segment where Michaels gets his face blasted through a television monitor and an injured eye.
It was noted by many that the feud got so violent and bloody that it waved in the “PG Era” and it seemed that way. Jericho/Michaels did regularly work with the writers to create constant twists and turns (like Michaels’ wife Rebecca getting punched in the face at that year’s SummerSlam, accidentally on purpose) that ended up making it the Feud Of The Year.
The key to Jericho’s success as a heel this time around was that he stripped down everything people liked about the “Y2J” character and took them away, as he instead donned suits, a lower tone of voice and a self-righteous attitude that made for some memorable promos. Snippets of that persona creeped up on him backstage when his excessive drinking habits caused conflicts with the likes of Michaels and locker room leader, The Undertaker.
Also covered are his feuds with Rey Mysterio, Jeri-Show team with The Big Show and 2012 “End Of The World” return to a lesser extent. Things pick up again when he speaks about the feud with then-WWE Champion CM Punk that “got personal” when Jericho suggested he make personal attacks towards Punk’s family and history of substance abuse/alcoholism. The book’s namesake was synonymous with his 2012 heel persona, reliant upon jealousy that others used his catchphrases and monikers as “wannabes.”
Hilarious stories are also expressed aplenty on his run-ins with Ozzy Osbourne and Bob Barker on their stints on Raw as Celebrity Guest Hosts (Jericho even admits the “Price Is Raw” segment with Barker was the closest he ever came to cracking up on live television) when it was “that” time.
Being an international rockstar with his band Fozzy, he also rubbed shoulders with the likes of his childhood idol James Hetfield of Metallica (Fozzy/Metallica even shared the stage once), Slash and others. Fozzy adventures take up a good chunk of the memoir as well. He urged a desire to change things up and the band found their biggest success afterwards.
It’s obvious that Jericho has one of the business’ best minds, as he always takes that one step to make sure the build and payoff are just as good as the other. Another proud accomplishment he flaunts is the sheer ability to surprise people in the “digital age” where storylines are easily leaked and returns accessible by way of Twitter/Facebook. The best example of that was what ends the book – his 2013 Royal Rumble return, where not a single peep of him was found on the internet until he walked on the curtain to what he calls the “biggest reaction of his career.”
If you’re a big fan of his suit-wearing heel days and want to know more about his feud with HBK, pick it up as soon as you can. It’s worth its weight in literary gold.
Of course, he has since come out with “No Is A Four Letter Word” and we’ll be sure to get to that in good time, but “Best In The World” succeeds where it needs to. It’s essentially a long Jericho promo about the ups and downs of being a professional wrestler/rockstar. Not many have a work/life balance like Jericho so to live vicariously through his memoirs, it’s a damn good thing.
About Nicholas Jason LopezJust a 28-year-old Brooklynite. Nothing more, nothing less. Currently a freelance journalist with two websites - Pro Wrestling Opinion and The Music Bugle - he has also been published on sites such as The Bensonhurst Bean, Sheepshead Bites, Review Fix, College University of New York Athletic Conference, Dying Scene, Brooklyn News Service, All Media NY, BrooklynFans.com and Yahoo Voices. He has also interned for The Home Reporter/Brooklyn Spectator based out of Brooklyn, NY.
Posted on November 18, 2017, in Misc, NJPW English, WWE and tagged A Lion's Tale, Best In The World, Bob Barker, Book Reviews, Chris Jericho, CM Punk, Fozzy, James Hetfield, JBL, Jeri-Show, Kenny Omega, Metallica, New Japan Pro-Wrestling, New York Times Bestsellers, Opinions, Ozzy Osbourne, Peter Thomas Fornatale, PG Era, Pro Wrestling, Rey Mysterio, Royal Rumble, Shawn Michaels, SummerSlam, The Big Show, The Highlight Reel, The Undertaker, Undisputed, Y2J. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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