Chris Jericho may not be the biggest, strongest, or even flashiest wrestler to ever step between the ropes, but he’s certainly one of the most influential. Jericho’s training was as old-school as it comes, and he went on to earn his stripes wrestling all around the world. He was also a cutting edge “love to hate ’em” comedy heel, and arguably the first true Internet darling. Really, you can pretty much divide pro wrestling history into Before Jericho, and After Jericho periods.
Of course, being a pioneer isn’t easy, and Y2J wasn’t always considered a sure thing. Here’s a few facts about Y2J’s long climb to his first World Championship even Jerichoholics may not know…
Chris Jericho’s dad was an NHL veteran.
Chris Irvine was born November 9, 1970 in Nassau County, Long Island. One of the few successful pro wrestlers to come from a legit sports family, Chris’ dad was Ted Irvine, a hard-checking left winger who played 11 seasons in the NHL for the New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues. Chris was never much of a hockey player, but his dad — who went by the nickname “The Baby-faced Assassin” — passed down plenty of toughness that came useful in schoolyard brawls (and Chris’ later career).
He didn’t know wrestling was fake until he was 18.
Poor baby Chris Jericho, more mullet than mind.
When Chris was around seven, his dad decided to hold onto his few remaining teeth, hang up the skates, and move the family back to his hometown of Winnipeg, Canada. The land of gray skies, frozen ears and chili fries doesn’t always have much going for it (trust me), but Winnipeg was a good wrestling town during the ’70s and ’80s, with the AWA and WWF making frequent visits.
Chris would go to all the shows, and once he got old enough to forge a driver’s license, he hung out at their favorite bars, meeting the likes of Hulk Hogan, André the Giant and Shawn Michaels. When not stalking the stars, Chris also worked ring crew for local shows and staged elaborate fantasy wrestling shows with his friends in his high school gym. Despite all this, it somehow, some way, remained real to young Chris. Finally, at age 18, Chris was smartened up by a journeyman wrestler named Catfish Charlie, and needless to say, he was aghast. Chris got over the shock soon enough – the embarrassment took a bit longer.