Published on October 7th, 2017 | by Pro Wrestling Stories0
Why Chris Jericho Turned His Back on the Word “No”
Author: JP Zarka
“Don’t listen to people who say you can’t make it happen… because I’m living proof that YOU CAN.”
– CHRIS JERICHO
“No” is not in the arsenal of words of Chris Jericho. In fact, it’s very likely somewhere on his list. As one of the hardest working men in entertainment, he juggles the roles of a multiple time world champion professional wrestler, lead singer of the heavy metal band Fozzy, actor, three-time New York Times bestselling author, host of the weekly Talk Is Jericho podcast, media personality, businessman, master drinker, and most importantly, husband and father to three children, almost at ease. An Instagram post shared September 4, 2016, laid out his workhorse ethic best: “4 countries and 3 continents in 9 days, plus I’ve got a fourth book to finish, song lyrics to write, and at least 4 podcasts to record.” There’s no stopping this machine, maaaaan!
So how does he keep himself going on such little rest while continually finding success in all of the avenues that he pursues? Twenty principles, which is what Jericho organized his fourth and latest book around.
More on the self-help side of things, No Is a Four Letter Word travels a different path than Jericho’s previous three literary releases. Rather than recount the years since his last autobiography, as he did in October 2014’s release, The Best in the World: At What I Have No Idea, he centers his stories around how you can apply twenty principals in your life and get to the top of any field, just like he has, using his own personal experiences to back up each principle. This departure from his usual format of writing may at first put readers off from giving this book a try, though I can assure you that you will be laughing out loud just as you did reading his previous three books. At the same time, you will find yourself thinking very differently in many ways thanks to the advice given by the Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla.
Jericho’s prose coupled with his honest and humorous approach to storytelling makes it incredibly hard to put this book down. In fact, it took me less than 24 hours to read this book cover to cover, not because of it being short in length, but that it was just that good. While reading through the book, I found myself folding the corners of the pages that included anecdotes I wanted to remember and make reference to in this piece. Twenty-seven folded corners later, I’ve decided not to reference each of these memorable moments in the spirit of not wanting to give too much away. Though I will share one story from one of my favorite chapters in the book entitled, “The Keith Richards Principle.” In this chapter, Jericho recounts how he had the chance to meet one of his musical heroes, Keith Richards, with the assist from Jimmy Fallon.
Growing older, it’s hard not to find ourselves in predicaments where inticing experiences present themselves to us, but life responsibilities and excuses often get in the way of us taking part. “I’d love to go to [insert fun opportunity here] with you, but I have [insert work/money/family/having to get up early excuse here]…” We have all been there. We have played the role of that friend having to say no, despite wanting to go, and we have also been that friend asking someone to do something with us but hearing “No” in response. Jericho doesn’t like our types!
Chris writes, “If you don’t WANT to go that’s fine, but if it’s something you really want to do then don’t give me any excuses. Have to work in the morning? Then drink an extra cup of coffee if you’re tired. Don’t have somebody to go with? Go solo and make friends.”
Jericho continues, “It’s easy to think of a hundred reasons why something won’t work, but I’d rather find a way to MAKE it work. If you want your dreams to come true, stop thinking of excuses and start making realities.”
It’s these pieces of advice that really stick with you after reading his book.
So, about Jericho meeting Keith Richards? It almost never happened. Chris was a guest on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and saw on a calendar on the wall backstage that Keith Richards would be a guest on the show the following week. Jericho was told, “If you’re going to be in town, you should come by.”
Unfortunately, Raw was on Monday and he wasn’t going to be able to make it. So he thought. In this excerpt from No Is a Four Letter Word provided as a courtesy of Da Capo Press, Chris tells the story:
“Meeting Keith Richards had been a dream of mine for years, as I’d been a marginal Stones fan since I was a kid. But ironically enough, it wasn’t until I saw their reunion concert in December of 2012 on PPV—promoted by Vincent K. McMahon himself—that I got REALLY into them. Now that the Stones were one of my all-time favorites, I started thinking about the logistics of whether I might actually be able to make this meeting happen. Raw was nine miles away at the Izod Center in New Jersey, and under normal circumstances that wouldn’t have presented a problem. But Jimmy Fallon taped his show at 5:30 p.m., which meant the show wouldn’t be over till around 6:30 p.m., which meant I wouldn’t get over there until around 7 p.m. That would still give me an hour to get to Raw before it started at 8 p.m., but nine miles in New York City at rush hour could take nine hours. However, this was a once in a lifetime chance, so I decided I needed to find a way to make it work. This was a chance I had to take … after all, how many chances was I going to get to meet Keith fuckin’ Richards, right?
When Jimmy came into my dressing room before the show, I mentioned what his producer had told me about Keef.
“Dude, he’s like the nicest guy ever. If you come down here, I promise I’ll introduce you to him. He’ll be happy to meet you!”
It sounded too good to be true, so I was very direct with my retort.
“Jimmy, are you just stroking me? Is this like a Hollywood thing where you’re saying it but not meaning it? Because if you’re serious, I’m telling you right now I’ll be here on Monday.”
“Be here Monday at 5 p.m. sharp and I’ll introduce you to him. No bullshit. I’ll make it happen.”
Well, once he said that, there was no way that I wasn’t going to take him up on it. But how was it going to work? There were still a dozen things that could go wrong to cause me to be late for Raw, or even miss it completely. It would have been a lot easier to thank him for the offer and try to catch Keith the next time he was in town. But I knew there might not be a next time, so I had to find a way to make it happen now.”
After working through the steps of hiring a car to take himself to New York City and back, not to mention the tall order of having to bargain with Vince McMahon (who happened to be huge Rolling Stones fan) to get approval to go, he was given the all-clear. This, of course, was not before McMahon sternly looked at Chris and said, “You have to go. I’ll try to put you on later in the show, but don’t fuck me on this. You better have plan A, B and C to get back here on time.” Jericho promised he wouldn’t miss Raw, shook hands with his boss, and was off to meet one of his musical heroes.
“At 5 p.m. sharp, I picked up my credentials from security and went up the elevator to Fallon’s greenroom at the end of the hall.
I walked in and was surprised to see Dennis Rodman sitting on the plush green couch, surrounded by his entourage. I hadn’t seen Dennis in fifteen years, since we were both working in WCW. He was a hot commodity at the time, and Eric Bischoff had signed him for a handful of PPVs that had drawn some pretty big numbers.
(Even the one where he arrived an hour before the show and fell asleep in his corner holding the tag rope DURING the match.) But overall Dennis was a good guy, and it was nice to see him again. We shot the breeze for a few minutes, and he told the story of how he had recently been with Kim Jong-un in North Korea and had attempted to facilitate world peace by arranging a phone call between Kim and President Obama. However, the tale was cut short when Jimmy (ever the ball of energy) popped his head into the room and said, “Hey, Dennis! Great to see you, man! Chris, are you all set?”
I nodded and followed Jimmy out the door. The fact that he hadn’t invited one of the top-ten most famous players in NBA history to join us showed just how exclusive this meeting really was.
“Keith just arrived and he’s in a great mood. I know you’ve got to get out of here, so let’s go see him now before he gets busy.”
I was amazed by Jimmy’s hospitality and how concerned he was with my situation, despite the fact that he had his own national talk show to prepare for. But none of that mattered as we rounded the corner and stopped at a closed door. Jimmy knocked twice and a middle-aged lady opened it and let us inside. We walked into the small sixteen-by-sixteen-foot room, and there was Keith Richards, one of the biggest rock stars of all time standing in the corner.
He was a few inches shorter than me, with a gray headband wrapped around his tousled gray hair, smoking a gray cigarette. The wrinkles on his face were more prominent in person and there was a slight old-man’s pot belly discernable beneath his T-shirt (also gray) that displayed the slogan I ONLY TAKE THE STUFF TO STOP THE BLEEDIN’ emblazoned across the front.
He smiled and cackled his famous gargling razor laugh.
“Jimmy! How are you, man?”
“I didn’t think you were in here, Keith. I couldn’t smell any cigarette smoke,” Jimmy remarked with a smile
“Yeah, man, I just got this new ashtray that sucks up the smoke so you can’t smell it,” he said with wonder, despite the fact that my grandma had the same contraption in 1977.
“Keith, this is my friend Chris Jericho. He’s with the WWE and just wrestled in MetLife stadium yesterday in front of seventy thousand people!”
Keef took a drag of his smoke and slurred, “Far out, man,” with a nod. I’m sure he was thinking, Wow, you played one stadium? Congrats, kid, that’s a good little accomplishment for you.
I nervously mumbled a few words about how much of an honor it was to meet him, then recovered quickly and asked him about his grapefruits. Keith launched excitedly into a detailed description of his special produce and how he cultivated them. Then he reached into the mini-fridge on the floor and pulled out a glass bottle for Jimmy.
“This is the soda from Jamaica I was telling you about, man. I brought you a sample. You’re going to love it.”
After more small talk, I mentioned that I’d seen the Stones PPV a few months earlier and one song, in particular, had stood out to me. They had done a smoking rendition of Freddie King’s “Going Down,” featuring a high-powered four-man guitar duel between Gary Clark Jr., John Mayer, Ronnie Wood, and Keith himself. I mentioned that while the other three guys had pulled out their most dexterous solos, when it was Keith’s turn he merely played one note, bent up the string and struck a kickass pose. Then he swaggered back to the drums like a fuckin’ boss with a shit-eating grin. It was the coolest thing I’d ever seen, and I asked him about it.
“Well, everybody was playing so busy, I decided to just pick one note and stick with it. But I had to make sure it was a good one!” he quipped before barking another barrage of his boisterous laugh.
I joined in and mentioned how cool it was to see the Stones back on stage after a lengthy layoff, and asked if they were thinking about doing any more shows.
“Absolutely! I knew if I could just convince HIM to play one show, that HE would get the bug again and HE would want to do more, and that’s what happened. HE was on the phone with me the next day to talk about a tour.”
I realized of course that the HE and HIM to whom Keith was referring was Mick Jagger, who’d famously feuded with his pal over the last few years. But now that the heat had apparently blown over, I’d just been given the exclusive news by one of the Glimmer Twins that the Rolling Stones were ready to do some more dirty work, baby!
We chatted for a few more minutes as Jimmy explained what they had planned for that evening, including a bit where Keef would be sitting in the audience heckling himself as he got interviewed (“Whatever you want, Jimmy, anything for you, man”). Then Jimmy asked if he could take a picture of me with Jumpin’ Jack Flash himself.
“Of course, man! Just make sure you get my good side,” Richards said with a grin. “Wait a second, I’m sixty-nine years old . . . I don’t have a good side!” (Insert rusty-blade chuckle here.)
He slid his arm around me and I laughed as Jimmy snapped the photo. It was a great shot and I’ve gotten more comments about that picture than any other I’ve taken. As a matter of fact, when I sent it to Guns N’ Roses guitarist and my bro Slash, he dug it so much that he said he was going to print it out and save it.
Keith then told his assistant to give me one of the exclusive Keef T-shirts they had brought with them, stacked in small pile in the corner.
“What size are you, man?” he asked. When I told him large would be fine, he said, “Take a medium too, just in case. Give the one that doesn’t fit to your grandma … she’ll know who I am!” He cackled once again.
We thanked him for his hospitality, and I shook his hand and proclaimed my eternal respect for him and his band as we left the room.”
It’s endearing stories like this one that fill the pages of No Is a Four Letter Word. There are many other memorable stories, too, such as the tale behind Chris having to dish out thousands of his own dollars to create his infamous light-up jacket (“You have to spend money to make money!”). And how can we forget the time Chris tried to pitch the idea of Shawn Michaels joining Jericho in a fight against the Wyatt Family to Vince McMahon while he was hungry? If there is one piece of advice for current WWE employees to take from this book: Never, e-e-eeeever approach Vince McMahon alone when he is hungry!
Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this book. You wouldn’t want to make the list alongside the word “No,” now would you?