Chris Jericho explained that it’s like father, like son when it comes to Vince McMahon’s approach to size in wrestling.
On a recent episode of his Wrestling with Freddie podcast, former WWE writer Freddie Prinze, Jr. spoke to Chris Jericho and recalled how he had trouble pitching ideas for stories for smaller wrestlers to Vince McMahon. He recalled a conversation with Jericho that changed his perspective on how to approach McMahon with his ideas.
When I went to pitch ideas I would run into walls a lot, and then you and I had a conversation, and again I don’t know if you’ll remember this, but I was having a hard time pitching some of the smaller guys. And you just kinda smiled, and looked away like you were remembering something way back when, and I didn’t know what it was but I’m like staring at him like what’s he gonna say, what’s he gonna say?
And whatever you were gonna say you changed to ‘Freddie, he’s his father’s son.’ I went ‘What do you mean?’ I grew up with no dad, so it didn’t click with me. And you said ‘His dad loved the big guys, and he’s his father’s son, so he’s always gonna see the big guy able to beat up the small guy, no matter how much evidence you show him, because his father told him it was that way.’
And I remember like, getting on the plane with Vince, and kinda like looking at him, and it changed my whole philosophy on how I pitched things.
Later on in the episode, Chris Jericho expounded on the idea of WWE always being a big man’s territory, and that he didn’t fit into that landscape when he was beginning his career as a professional wrestler.
WWE has always been a big man’s territory. It started in the 60’s and 70’s with Vince’s dad, and Vince loves big guys, that’s just the way it is. It’s the culture he came up in, and even when some of the smaller guys get a shot, it still goes back to bigger guys more often than not.
Having said that, so in the early 90’s when I first started, I was very small, you know, 5’11”, 220lbs. This was the Hulkamania era still in 1990, which was 6’8″ 300lbs. So how do you get into the business? Well, I knew starting on Canadian independents I’d never be the biggest guy on the show, but I could have the biggest character and the biggest personality and the biggest charisma. So I started kind of focusing on that, which very much helped me throughout the years, even to this day.
Chris Jericho continued, saying that if he couldn’t work for Vince McMahon’s company, he had to look elsewhere and find where the more athletic and charismatic guys were working, which led him to follow in the footsteps of Owen Hart and wrestle in Mexico and Japan.
Then, where do you go? Well, you could go to the indies around Canada, but if you wanted to go to the big leagues, which for me was always WWE, it just wasn’t the place at the time, everyone was too big.
So I was also really into Stampede Wrestling, which was in Calgary, and all of those types of guys, which was your Owen Hart, Chris Benoit, Brian Pillman, the smaller guys that I could tell, like these guys are probably my size, plus 30lbs of muscle but they’re very athletic and acrobatic. Especially Owen Hart, I was very connected with Owen and what he was doing, and what does this Owen Hart do? He wrestles in Japan, he wrestles in Mexico, well that’s interesting to me, how do I do that?
Chris Jericho eventually debuted with the WWF in 1999 and worked there on and off over the course of many years, last performing for them in 2018. He has been featured in AEW since the company’s creation in 2019.
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