Wrestling legend Chris Jericho took time out of his absurdly busy schedule to speak with Den of Geek by phone from Florida, where he was gearing up for a couple of gigs by Fozzy, the rock band he fronts.
The inevitable future WWE Hall of Famer, is currently putting together his own celebrity cruise that sets sail in October to the Bahamas, the Rock ‘N’ Wrestling Rager at Sea (chrisjerichocruise.com), featuring a Ring of Honor tournament and a diverse lineup of music, comedy, and guest appearances from wrestling legends. Before that, he’s booked for WWE’s special event The Greatest Royal Rumble, which airs live April 27th on PPV and the WWE network.
Den of Geek: I’ve been following you since your Thrillseekers days in Smoky Mountain Wrestling. (At the beginning of Jericho’s career in the early 1990’s, he tag-teamed with Lance Storm in Jim Cornette’s territory federation Smoky Mountain Wrestling). Do you ever go back and watch those old matches?
Chris Jericho: No, not really. I’ve seen enough wrestling over my lifetime. Sometimes something will turn up on my Twitter feed of my older stuff if somebody posts something like a GIF or something along those lines. But most of the time I’ve got far too much stuff going on to hunt through YouTube and old VHS tapes looking for matches of me in Painstville, Kentucky.
Do you actually keep all those VHS tapes?
No. [laughs] But I know they’re out there somewhere.
I’d like to ask you about what’s imminent on your calendar: You’re appearing at The Greatest Royal Rumble in Saudi Arabia [available live on the WWE network on April 27].
Is this a sign of more WWE matches in the near future or is this a one-off thing?
It’s a one-off special show for Saudi Arabia. WWE offices called me up and asked me if I could do it, and it was an offer I couldn’t refuse. I happened to be off that day, and I thought it’d be fun. That’s basically the long and short of it. There’s nothing more planned. It should be a good time.
Are you doing anything with New Japan Pro Wrestling coming up? [Jericho wrestled New Japan star Kenny Omega in a much-publicized match in January]
Nothing planned with them either. This year, there’s not a lot of time to do a lot of wrestling. I just want to concentrate on Fozzy and focus on putting on the cruise and all the work that entails, making sure that’s a success. You know, after two years of working on this to get it done, ready to rock, now that it’s on sale, sell-out dates, all the different people that’s involved, all the different acts, activities that I have going on the cruise, that’s taking up all my time, along with Fozzy and the fact that we have two Top Ten hits right now, so I’m putting the wrestling side of things on the standby, which I’ve basically been telling everybody all year. Although in January I got people thinking I was coming back to wrestling, but aside from the Saudi Arabia thing, of course, I’m taking off.
On the cruise, will there be wrestling matches every day? Or will you mix it up with one day of concerts, one day of wrestling?
Well, dude, when you do these cruises, there’s so much going on, there are so many activities. So, it’s going to be a full roster, and a tournament, so there will be matches everyday. I’m going to leave it up them. I’m not going to book the matches. I thought the best way to do it instead of trying to put together a card myself—I have no idea how to do that, no idea which way to go, I thought it’d be smarter to just bring on a whole company. They can decide who’s on the boat, what the matches are, what everyone’s going to be doing, and I can just go plan everything else and focus on everything else and enjoy the show. So, that’s what’s going on.
I thought Ring of Honor would be perfect for the cruise, and it looks like I was right. Basically, everyone from Ring of Honor is on the ship at this point. We’re excited about it. The amount of talent on this cruise is insane, in so many different ways, and there’s still more people to announce. We’re really excited about it, and I think, I know, a lot of other people are, because we’ve got hundreds and hundreds, thousands and thousands of people booked for this cruise, so this great idea I had is paying off.
I saw the lineup of people set to attend, are there any matches set up yet?
That’s up to Ring of Honor. They’ll do all the matchmaking, booking for the Sea of Honor Tournament. I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with.
Do you know if it will be taped or streamed live?
No, that’s something we discussed, but I didn’t want to do that. I thought we should create something you can’t watch on a live stream. If you want to see it, you have to be there. I think I like that idea, at least for this one. For the next one, maybe I’ll see about finding a studio deal in the future, but for now I wanted to do it exclusively for the people on the boat, and if you’re not there, you’re missing out. You had your chance to go. It’s a destination vacation, everything’s included when you book your cabin. So, the idea is for it to be an annual thing for people to be excited about doing every single year—that’s my overall goal for it.
So, you plan for this to be every year?
That’s the idea. I don’t want it to be a one and done. I’d like it to be on a yearly basis.
You got this idea from going on a Kiss Kruise, right? [The rock band Kiss has hosted annual cruises since 2011.]
Yeah, I went on a Kiss Kruise back in 2015, and the moment I got off the ship, I said I can do this, but combining music with wrestling, which people know me for, and I thought I really want to make this a total Jericho brand. So, the moment I got off the boat, I called my manager and we started working on it. We had some ups and downs, and in-betweens, but we got it rolling and now here we are.
Are you going to be playing shuffleboard with Mick Foley?
You never know. It could happen. That’s the beauty of it. You could be playing shuffleboard with Mick Foley or be with Jerry “The King” Lawler or see a rock concert from Phil Campbell of Motörhead. It’s going to be really cool, and it’s the first one, so there’s a lot of people still wondering what it is. Once the first one is done, people will be super-stoked about the amount of value they’re getting from this and how much fun everyone is going to have.
And Diamond Dallas Page is going to lead a yoga class everyday?
Yeah, DDP will be leading a yoga class. He’s one of the first guys I brought on.
There’s so much stuff, whether it’s music or comedy, live rock acts, wrestling, DDP yoga…All the stuff I enjoy will be represented on this cruise. Live girls too, which is great, people from all over the world, so it’s really starting to shape up. Everyday I get emails telling me about which demographics and people are coming to see what and etc., etc. It’s really exciting, man. We still got a long way to go. We still have to fill up some cabins, but even today it’s already successful. There’s still more people to be announced.
I don’t know how many more people I can put on this damn boat. You got Corey Taylor, Fozzy, Phil Campbell and The Bastard Sons—I’d see that concert anywhere in the world—Brad Williams and Ron Funches are doing comedy, Kenny Omega, Cody Rhode, The Young Bucks and more from The Bullet Club, Diamond Dallas Page, Mick Foley…You got Hall-of-Famers, live podcasts…I don’t know if have much more room, if I have to put some lifeboats chained on, so there will be room for everybody.
Will you be wrestling too?
No, that was never the plan. That was never discussed. I have so much to do on the cruise already. There will be a contest where the winner will sit in the front row during the Sea of Tournament contest with me. I’ll be sitting there watching with everyone else. That’s exactly the way I wanted it.
You brought up podcasts on the cruise, and I’m a big fan of yours [Along with his own Talk Is Jericho show twice a week, he has an entire network of podcasts that features hosts like X-Pac, Raven, and Lance Storm and Cyrus]. I think my favorite guests so far are probably Henry Winkler and Method Man.
Thanks, that’s cool, man. I always like hearing people’s thoughts on who their favorites were. Some that you expect to be great, aren’t. Some that you don’t know much about turn out to be awesome. I’ve also had everything in between. There’s a lot of diversity on my show, which I like about, and seeing peoples’ response about interesting guests like “How in the hell did you book Method Man on your show?”
What would you say keeps you going with wrestling? I wouldn’t say you’re an older man, but you’re probably older than most other talent on the rosters you’re on.
Well, I guess it’s the same reason why when someone asks Mick Jagger why he still plays for the Stones—because they’re still great. So, I’ve never looked at it by age. I’ve never ever once said I’m an old man, I don’t feel old at all. My production—I don’t wrestle full-time, which is probably one the reasons why, and right now I’m not wrestling. I think that’s the longevity, so when I go back, in good shape, probably in better shape than I was ten years ago…I love doing it. It’s not a job to me. It’s fun. I don’t do anything for money now. I do it because it’s fun. And when you’re stimulated creatively by all these other projects going on, it makes it when I go back to wrestling a refreshing, fun thing.
There will probably be a time be a time when I pack it up, but right now I’m enjoying, and I’m it still great at it. So, why stop now?
You’re last run with WWE was one of your best, and your New Japan match with Kenny Omega was amazing.
Thanks, man. It lined up, timing-wise, all great, it worked out really well, it was a lot of fun, and we had a great match.
Did you reach out to Omega for the match, or did New Japan contact you?
Kind of a little bit of both. It was an idea pitched to me and went through a whole system , so it worked out good.
Was it your decision to start the whole feud on Twitter (before the match was officially announced)?
Yeah. I kind of just wanted to do things the way they go these days, to build something before it started, and it worked out.