OK, I’m gradually starting to panic. It’s a cold night in Portsmouth, let’s make that very cold and I have an interview scheduled with Chris Jericho who’s playing at the Wedgewood Rooms in Southsea with his band ‘Fozzy’. I have to send a text message to ‘Toad’ to let him know I’m outside but one problem, no credit on my phone as usual. So I’m chasing around looking for a phone (I used to live around the corner literally but still can’t find a phone!), then call my best mate who then sends the text message in a minute or so while I chase back to the club, yep you guessed it, the phone was all the way up the road. That’s sorted but back outside the club there’s no sign of Toad, so I ask a guy who looks as if he’s in charge and he tells me to go to the box office across the road who promptly tell me to ask someone back on the other side of the road leading to the question: Why did the wrestling journalist cross the road? Because he’s got an interview with Chris Jericho about five minutes ago that’s why! Anyway eventually it’s all sorted out and I find myself in a cramped dressing room chatting to the former Undisputed Champion Chris Jericho. It proved to be an interesting chat.
So how’s the tour going?
It’s going great, the first three shows were sold out and tonight looks good so it’s great. It’s the fifth time here in the last twelve months and it’s getting better and better every time.
Why do you think British fans love Fozzy so much?
I don’t know it’s hard to say. Maybe they’re not as much as a trendy culture as it is in the States where people like what they like and that’s it, so they’re not worried about what the music industry says or the radio says or whatever.
So how did the band get started?
I met Rich (Ward) backstage at a wrestling show back in 1998 when I was in WCW. Just thought we had a lot in common and just decided that since I was a musician and I was a fan of his and he was a fan of mine, we just started shooting the breeze and said why don’t we put together a band and have some fun, play some cover songs and it started out like anyone else does. Just got more serious about it as we worked on it and six years later here we are.
Initially, there was a storyline attached to the group?
We were playing a lot of covers and rather than it be like any other covers band we had a whole storyline, a Blues Brothers kind of thing. That was a fun thing and it made it more creative and that was fun for a while, I t just ran its course and I said that we continue playing that stuff or we just stop playing, there’s a lot we can do, a lot we felt we could accomplish.
Which is it hardest to make it in, the music business or professional wrestling?
Probably music. There are so many bands and in wrestling, there are so few talented guys that if you have talent you’ll make it eventually. It’s not easy but eventually you make it if you stick with it. In music, there are a lot of talented guys that never make it. That’s just the way it goes and I’m sure there are a million bands who think the level that we are is like playing Madison Square Garden.
People know your name from WWE do you have to prove yourself musically even more just to show you’re not making it just because of your name?
Exactly but I’ve been a musician for a lot longer than I’ve been in pro wrestling. I’ve been playing in bands since I was twelve and singing and playing bass since I was ten. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and had my sights set on. Even when I started wrestling I always had a band and wrote my own songs and I recorded my own demo’s, things along those lines, so a lot of people check on this band because of who I am and a lot of people don’t check on the band because of who I am and at the end of the day when they hear the music it doesn’t matter whether I’m a butcher, baker, candlestick maker, the point is that the music is good and the band is great.
It’s been good though to have WWE to help push your music
In some ways it was but we specifically stayed away from that a lot. We didn’t promote it the way John (Cena) promoted his record with the title belt on the cover. This is not a WWE project, it never has been. It’s my project, my band and I’ve played WWE a couple of times but then after a while, the last time they wanted us to play I didn’t think it was right for Fozzy to play as a WWE product with the idea just to be out there to be booed just because I was a heel.
This was not a wrestling project, people like my band and people like watching me wrestle and it’s two separate things. They intersect from time to time but like I said the way things are going here, we’re slowly climbing up the ladder outside the confines of wrestling and that’s the only way we can do this.
Are you enjoying your time away from WWE?
Was it a difficult decision to make?
It wasn’t difficult at all. I made the decision probably about a year ago and told Vince about it four months before my contract expired. He asked me to stay on an extra month till Summerslam and I did. It wasn’t a hard decision to make at all. I’ve been doing it for so long, for about fifteen years and I’d accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish and a whole lot more and there just wasn’t anything more for me to accomplish in WWE at that point in time. It wasn’t a hard decision to make, there are a lot of things I want to do, what I want to work on. I want to stay at home more with my family and my son. I could still be there, could be there till I’m fifty if I wanted to jus to say I’ve done it. Mentally I think I was burnt out, physically I wasn’t, and I think I was at the top level that I could be at. I went out at the top level and that’s the way it should be. I don’t want to be one of those guys who stay there just to be there, there’s other things I can do.
What did Vince think when he found out he was losing one of his top wrestlers?
I don’t think he was too happy about it but I didn’t leave him in the lurch. I gave him four months warning and I stayed on for an extra month and I stayed on for an extra show. I wasn’t supposed to work after Summerslam but he asked me to do that weekend and I did. So he can’t have any work after Summerslam but he asked me to do that weekend and I did. So he can’t have any complaints about it like I said with the way his talent roster is now, I think the level of popularity or what you want to call it or the level of professionalism I bring to the ring and to the whole show is a big loss but he survives, the business goes on.
What’s Vince McMahon like to work for?
He’s great, the best boss I ever worked for.
How did WWE compare to working in WCW?
There’s no comparison. In WCW I didn’t know who the boss was. There were about sixteen different bosses because Hogan was the boss, and Nash was the boss and Savage was the boss and Eric who was supposed to be the boss was kind of boss but not really the boss. You go into WWE and see how Vince’s ship is run ad that’s the way you run a business. There’s ups and downs and they have their faults as well but as a boss, as a leader, when you work in the WWE you know who the boss is. There is no doubt about who the boss is.
So are you going to go back to WWE?
I’m not sure yet. I’m in no rush. I don’t miss it, I still watch it, not all the time but from time to time, some things I like and some things I hate.
What do you hate?
There’s a lot of stuff I don’t like. I don’t like the live sex. I don’t like the whole thing about Eddie and how they’re kind of prostituting that but that’s Vince he has no inhibitions. He’ll do whatever he thinks he can. To get controversy and get business but that’s not why I got into wrestling to watch a live sex show, it’s a waste of time, a waste of my time as a fan, as a performer but wrestling is still fun to watch and I enjoy it but I’m in no hurry to return at this point.
How will you feel when it’s Wrestlemania, will part of you wish you were there?
I don’t think so. I haven’t felt that way for Royal Rumble or for anything else. Wrestlemania is a great time, there’s no doubt about it but I stole the show at Wrestlemania 19 with Shawn Michaels and I headlined Wrestlemania 18 with Triple H so it’s not like I have any reason to go back for personal goals. I’ll watch it but I won’t miss being there.
Is there a part of you that doesn’t want to go back?
I wouldn’t say I don’t want to go back but if I never went back I probably wouldn’t be sad because there’s no unfinished business that I have. If there was something that I wanted to do, like if I hadn’t been champion or maybe if I wanted to wrestle a sixty-minute match or something that I hadn’t done but there isn’t anything like that, that I haven’t done so like I said, when the time is right I’ll know if I’ll go back but I’m happy doing what I’m doing now.
What was it like when you found out you were going to be Undisputed Champion?
It was really cool. I didn’t find out about it until a week before. I did a match with Steve Austin about two weeks before and he beat me clean and I didn’t understand why we were doing this four-man tournament if he beat me clean two weeks before but now I know why.
Is it easier for champions in WWE now when there are two champs?
It’s changing and you forget that I was the first undisputed champion and I had it for the longest. I had it for four months, Triple H had it for a month, Hogan a month, Undertaker had it for a couple, Rock for a couple and then Brock had it and that was it. Only a handful of guys had it but I had it the longest. Yeah man the two champions make it a little bit easier for the champion now, with the one champion it rested on his shoulders. It wasn’t just like it was me at the top but it was definitely a big part of the puzzle and the buy rates while I was champion were great buy rates. There’s other reasons for that but I was the champ in the title match for all three of those PPVs.
What do you feel about the brand split?
I thought it was an experiment maybe worth the try. I kind of understood why they did it but I thought it was a bit weird. In retrospect now they’ve tried it, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I think maybe It’s time to go back together again. I don’t think what they’ve wanted to achieve has been happening. They’re trying to create the stars but it’s not like they have the star quality on the roster.
You mentioned about the Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero storyline, why do you feel they’re doing this?
I don’t know, I don’t understand it. I understand there’s the respect factor and Eddie was a popular guy with the crowd but there’s only so far you can go before it starts feeling dirty. It starts feeling why are they doing this? Why is he allowing it to happen? But I’m not there so it’s just my opinion and what do I know I don’t work for Vince.
So going back in time, how did you get started as a pro wrestler?
I just grew up watching wrestling. I watched it with my grandmother all the time. It was just something I wanted to do, enjoyed the athleticism, the character’s individual personalities and thought that’s the way I want to go.
How difficult was it to get started?
It was really difficult. Back in 1990 there was a lot of places to work, a lot more places to work than there are now. It was still the big man era and that didn’t start changing until 1995 when WCW started using some of the cruiserweight guys and ECW brought in the guys who had made it in Japan, the Junior Heavyweights. So it was kind of hard to break in. I broke-in in Canada, started out at a small level, built a name from there and got the chance to work overseas. That was the way in and I wouldn’t change it for anything. The guys today, they’ve been in OVW for about six weeks or six months and I feel sorry for them because they’re not ready.
That’s kind of what happened to Paul Burchill who didn’t really have a tremendous amount of experience even before joining WWE
And the thing is that I f Paul Burchill came and punched me in the face I wouldn’t know who he was. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him on TV. I knew everyone in the business because you saw them around but good for him, if he trained over here he’s probably better than half the guys.
To find out more about Fozzy see: FozzyRock.com
To find out more about Chris Jericho see: ChrisJericho.com