Born Christopher Keith Irvine, the professional sports entertainer known as Chris Jericho got his big break in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in the mid-1990s, where he cut promos mocking veteran wrestling stars and staged elaborate conspiracy theory storylines when he lost matches.
In 1999, he burst onto the scene in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, which later became the WWE), blowing a kiss after being disqualified in his first match. Within two years, he became the promotion’s first-ever Undisputed Champion.
For decades, he’s thrilled audiences with his cocky attitude, painful holds, and constant schtick of having to save pro-wrestling from itself. Currently signed to All Elite Wrestling (AEW), he heads up the Jericho Appreciation Society stable and (as of October 2022) holds the Ring of Honor (ROH) World Championship belt. Here are 10 facts about the “Lionheart” who went from wrestler to Renaissance Man.
The Crash Test Dummies’ confounding “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” was on radios everywhere back in 1993. But back in 1979, the future lead singer for the group, Brad Roberts, was teaching then 9-year-old Chris Jericho how to play guitar. Despite eventually going on to join a heavy-metal band, Jericho chose to learn and play the trombone when he got to middle school.
German power metal band Helloween’s 1985 album Walls of Jericho was the inspiration behind his wrestling moniker, but only after his original idea was scrapped. “I was gonna call myself, ‘Jack Action.’ Just Jack Action,” Jericho revealed in 2019 on the Rich Eisen Show. “First name: Jack, last name: Action. I thought it was going to make me a million dollars, and then I told somebody that and they’re like, ‘You can’t be Jack Action, that’s stupid.’ And I’m like, ‘Of course it’s stupid! I would never do that.’ ‘What’s your name?’ And I was, like, uh, and I saw the Helloween album and I said, ‘Chris Jericho!’ There ya go. You could be talking to Jack Action if things had gone differently.”
The son of professional hockey player Ted Irvine, Jericho was born in Manhasset, New York, but grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, where he first saw and fell in love with pro-wrestling. When he got the chance to jump in the ring at age 19, he trained at the legendary Hart Brothers School of Wrestling (a.k.a. Stu Hart’s Dungeon), primarily with Ed Langley and local wrestler Brad Young.
Keith Hart, one of Stu’s eight sons, appeared when Jericho first started at camp, but after passing out contracts to him and the other new recruits, Hart then got the future “Y2J” star in the ring, knocked him down from behind, and placed him in a hold until he “got bored” and left.
According to Jericho, that was the only time any of the Hart brothers—including Bret and Owen—appeared at the school while Jericho attended.
Fozzy started off as a cover band called Fozzy Osbourne, with the gimmick that all the icons of metal had actually stolen the band’s songs to become huge. Jericho joined as lead singer in 1999 and initially took on the persona of “Moongoose McQueen,” a lead singer who didn’t know who Chris Jericho was, yet had a similar, over-the-top and brash personality.
It was a successful side project for Jericho as his WWE career was taking off, but he took a break from wrestling in 2005 to focus on music, and, with the release of Fozzy’s third album, All That Remains, they dropped their comic backstory (and Jericho ditched the Moongoose persona) in order to make an honest go.
In 2017, the single “Judas” off the band’s seventh studio album (also called Judas) became their biggest hit, peaking at No. 9 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart and the No. 1 spot on the Sirius/XM Octane charts. Jericho currently uses the hit song as his theme music in AEW, and live audiences frequently chant the lyrics as he enters the ring.
Jericho left WCW for WWE at a transitional moment: In March 2001, WWE purchased the struggling promotion and acquired all global rights to the WCW brand, tape library, and other intellectual property rights—including its championship titles and some of its top talents.
At the pay-per-view Vengeance in December 2001, Jericho faced off against The Rock for the (previously WCW) World Championship, and then immediately faced “Stone Cold” Steve Austin for the then WWF Championship. Thanks to a slew of interferences from Vince McMahon and wrestler Booker T, the “Le Champion” won both matches and became the first-ever Undisputed WWF Champion, which combined the top belts of both promotions into one (the brand officially became known as the WWE in 2002). After this world-shattering achievement, Jericho returned to an empty backstage area, went back to his hotel alone, ordered a pizza, and promptly locked himself out of his room.
It’s probably not a giant surprise that a metalhead is also a big horror fan, but Jericho has been able to leverage his stardom to appear in horror movies. After seeing a horrific scene from Terrifier featuring Art The Clown, Jericho appeared at a convention where Art the Clown actor David Howard Thornton would be so he could secure a role in the sequel. He’s also appeared on Shudder’s The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs, where he co-hosted a screening of the 1976 film, Blood Sucking Freaks, alongside the famed drive-in critic.
That’s not the only time he’s appeared on screen. Beyond dozens of wrestling-focused documentaries, Jericho had a brief role in the comedy MacGruber and an appropriately hate-worthy turn as a KKK leader who gets humiliated by Silent Bob in Jay and Silent Bob Reboot. He appeared in another film for Kevin Smith, acting as social media star The Gator Chaser in horror comedy anthology Killroy Was Here.
Jericho has extended his reach far beyond the ring, launching his own wrestling news (a.k.a. “dirt sheet”) publishing site called WebIsJericho, which also covers rock music. Additionally, he has a wildly successful podcast called Talk Is Jericho where he interviews “the biggest names in wrestling, entertainment, comedy, and the paranormal.”
In a recent episode, he covered all the details leading up his first-ever wrestling match on October 2, 1990 at the Ponoka Moose Hall in Alberta, including his mindset following an accident in late September of that year that left his mother a quadriplegic. He had planned to scrap his wrestling career to take care of her, but she convinced him not to give up on the dream.
It’s probably symbolic of Jericho’s entire career that he’s an eight-time World Champion (six times in the WWE, and once in AEW and ROH, respectively); a record 10-time Intercontinental Champion (including his time in New Japan Pro Wrestling); and was the WWE’s fourth Grand Slam Champion—yet has a losing record overall.
After launching a career with a perfect 49-0 record in the regional Smoky Mountain Wrestling promotion, he went on to become globally famous during his WWE stint that saw him earn 171 wins, 234 losses, and 25 draws. For a guy who lost more often than he won, it’s amazing how often he carried the big belt around his waist.
Beyond being disqualified in his first WWE match, Jericho has the dubious distinction of being fined twice for things his opponents did in the ring. For years, wrestlers would use a technique called blading, wherein they used a razor blade to make themselves bleed in the ring as part of their matches.
As wrestling gained a mainstream foothold, the practice was banned by Vince McMahon following Jericho’s literally bloody 2002 rivalry with Shawn Michaels. However, Jericho twice went against opponents who defied the rule—Ric Flair and Batista—and in both circumstances, he was fined just for being in the squared circle at the time.