A few months back, I was given the opportunity to receive an advanced copy of Mick Foley's Countdown to Lockdown and subsequently interview him. It was a huge honor and thankfully, I've been lucky enough to have a sequel with the man whom Mick Foley has yet to defeat. It's time to breakdown Chris Jericho's soon to be New York Times Bestseller...
UNDISPUTED: How to Become the World Champion in 1,372 Easy Steps
As expected, this was another easy read due to my high level of interest and the high quality of the product. In an era of the mid-90s where WCW wasn't interesting me enough to stray away from the WWF, the Lionheart was one of the few beacons of light in an otherwise dimly lit show, and I've been a fan of his ever since. Whether it be a backstage segment or the main event, Jericho's always been a consistent entertainer and this book is yet another notch on the figurative belt. The perfect segue for myself was in place as going from Mick's book to Chris's was a transition made easier with a foreword written by Foley. He touts Chris's abilities and expresses his forecast that Jericho will "crush it", and indeed he does.
A followup to his previous book, A Lion's Tale: Around the World in Spandex, this chronicles the stories of his debut and latter career in World Wrestling Entertainment. No matter the subject matter (see what I did there?), Jericho brings a refreshing, open and honest account to a world we're otherwise shut out from. If the fans loved something that he hated, he says why. If he loved something that was met with a poorer response, he argues his position. He is willing to point out the successes of the past without overlooking the flaws (both those others made and those he made himself). Never does the criticism come off bitter or mean-spirited. Instead, the regrets are met with the maturity of a man who can look in retrospect and acknowledge mistakes and what he's learned from them. He keeps things in the professional yet relaxed, playful style that we've all come to love from him over the years. It can be quite difficult to state facts or opinions and remain objective, but Chris pulls it off. He takes you backstage and fills you in on what we didn't see on screen - Vince's ability to be a shrewd businessman but also a stern father figure, locker room rules, his part-time enemies such as Chyna and Goldberg to his friends such as the Rock and a rambunctious little balloon named Ziggy. Naturally, he gives his insights on the Benoit tragedy, but like the rest, it isn't sensationalized and over-the-top. There's been enough glamorization of the situation and Chris merely offers what he can: the facts he's aware of from his own life's accord and his opinions on the man who was one of his best friends. But as he states himself, that is not the primary story here.
The book is a two-for-one deal as it is as much a biography of a wrestler as it is a biography of a rock star. Even if you aren't the biggest fan of that chapter's focus, it isn't a burden. I myself am by no means the man to ask about music, yet I still enjoyed reading the sections about Fozzy and I assume those that feel the same about wrestling will have a similar outcome for those chapters. The Ayatollah of Rock 'n' Rolla reveals an interesting rollercoaster of his experience in the music industry from backstage shenanigans and road stories to shady deals and a certain "Hungry Bunch".
You'll find your comedy in the legendary tales of Drunkicho and hilarious one-liners all throughout the book. My original intent was to count them all and reference the 1,372 and 1,004 numbers, but I eventually lost count. On that note, anyone who can reference Reservoir Dogs, Glengarry Glen Ross, Batman, Terminator, and Star Wars in a wrestling book nonetheless wins major brownie points for me.
With tears of laughter come tears of sadness. I've said it before and I'll say it again, always a great attribute to bring attention to is the amount of heart presented in the book. The disappointment from poor shows and the excitement from good ones is one thing, but it is a different level when the topic is his family. One of my favorite chapters was "Sweet Loretta Modern", about his mother whom the book is dedicated to. He shares his thoughts on being a husband and a father, giving us insight on who he is outside of his character that invades our homes through the television set.
On your time off from the TV juggernaut that enslaves us all, I highly suggest picking up Undisputed. To say this book is well worth the read is not saying enough, yet it can best be summed up with one simple word: froot.
For more information, visit www.chrisjericho.com, www.fozzyrock.com, or you can catch Y2J's tweets @IAMJERICHO