So, fair warning to my regulars who may not know. This post is partly about my fondness for watching half-naked men pretend to hit each other.
I don't talk about wrestling here a lot, mostly because it doesn't have a great deal to do with my writing. But what you see here is me and my friend Dave [that would be the Dave that was just married to the lovely Carrie Kirk...well, Humphreys now, huh?] meeting one of my favorite pro wrestlers ever, Chris Jericho. You can tell he's one of my favorites because, try though I might to put on a "too-hip-to-smile" smile and not act like a total fanboy, my face is about to explode from the sheer awesomeness of this moment.
Jericho is one of those guys who I can honestly say I've been watching almost as long as I've been watching wrestling, and as big of a fan of professional wrestling as I am, it's safe to say he's one of only a handful of guys that I honestly thought would be awesome to meet. No offense to any other wrestlers meant, of course, I'd just rather get to see them perform than talk to them/have them sign something in most cases, in the same way you'd probably want Emeril to fix you a meal instead of just write on all your cookbooks. But again, Jericho was a special case.
Now Dave had talked me into seeing a WWE show in Huntington, and the cool little bonus to going [as if getting to see a wrestling show with one of my good friends a few weeks before his nuptials wasn't enough] was that "Y2J" was signing copies of his new CD [yep, dude's a wrestler, and in a metal band] at the local F.Y.E., along with one other item if you were willing to get in line and wait. Now, just meeting the dude, getting his CD, having a picture, all while hanging out with Dave would have been fine. But along with all that, I also got to get this signed.
Wrestling biographies are generally a pretty mixed bag, with some of the best being penned by Mick Foley. And while I don't think Jericho's book is quite as good as Foley's, it's always been one of my favorites because he's just so pragmatic and down to earth in it -- the book's about wrestling, but it's also about this kid with a dream, with family, with friends, and a really well-stamped passport. I mean, Jericho has wrestled everywhere, and gives a pretty good account of the different places and the eclectic cast of characters he tended to be surrounded by. It's a fun read, and with his next book looming [this seriously only covers to his entrance into the WWE, which was about... high school for me? Around there], I thought it would be a neat to get him to sign it.
What with being a, you know, writer and all.
Pretty cool, huh?
Where I got him to sign it was of some significance to me too, considering I sort of consider myself, as a writer, in the "Mexico" point in my career -- by that I mean, I'm hardly getting paid anything, I'm living on a diet of mostly fried food, and the majority of my accomplishments are small but I celebrate them hard. Seriously, I'm a mask and some cheetah-print spandex away from being "El Escritor Enmascarado."
Anyway, he was a really nice guy, more than willing to actually take a little bit time to speak to each person despite how long the line was, and we talked a little bit about his upcoming book, which was actually pretty cool, and he seemed really eager to do when I told him "I was kind of a writer myself" [okay, seriously, I used to watch this guy on TV when I was 13... cut me some slack]. Also, totally unable to get through a conversation without saying something incredibly nerdy, as Dave and I were making our exit, I mentioned how cool I thought it was that in the year previous, during the WWE's tour of Japan, Jericho took the time to do this:
Now for those of you who don't know [the only person I can think of who'd be reading this who would know would be John], the guy with the snow white hair who's getting all up in Jericho's grill is Yoshihiro Takayama, a Japanese professional wrestler and ex-MMA fighter, not to mention a widely-renowned legitimate bad-ass who is tough as he is ugly, and as the time this picture was taken, was the All-Japan Triple Crown Champion [This world champion, only older, and with three belts]. This was a big enough deal to make a lot of Japanese papers, as they treat wrestling like a legitimate sport [despite knowing it's not real], and made waves on the internet in the U.S. because it's rare for anyone in the WWE to acknowledge any wrestler outside of the big, Vince McMahon owned corporation.
Upon mentioning this to Jericho, he looked at me, puzzled for a second, and then, quite matter-of-fact-like said "Oh yeah -- the ugly dude." Which, as you can tell from the picture above, is a pretty accurate description of Takayama.
It was one of those humbling moments when you realize you might be taking something a little more seriously than even the people involved do. And honestly, I expected the whole experience to be kind of mortifying, one of those "oh god, who is this dork?" kind of moments, but instead, Jericho smiled, seemed really pleased to find out he'd made the Japanese newspapers and not heard, and was just a sincerely gracious about being told about it.
I mean, it can't just be me, right? Weren't all our heroes supposed to think we were crazy, and act like jerks, and let us down? And isn't it really, really great to be wrong about that? Maybe it's a sign I'm getting older, but it's so nice to occasionally be reminded I'm too cynical, as opposed to the other way around.
The whole day was a great time, and I want to thank Dave for the experience. Probably never would have done it had he not suggested it, but it was just so cool going to show, and meeting Chris Jericho, and there were just a whole of host of cool things that happened that day. Thank you Dave, and thank you for sending along this picture too.
Because yeah. I am a total dork [in case this whole rant, and the SiP shirt didn't tip you off]. But if Chris Jericho didn't mind, why should I?