Dot Net DVD Review: Breaking the Code: Behind the Walls of Chris Jericho
By Will Pruett
The first disk is the documentary portion, which I will cover extensively in this review. The next two are all matches and moments in Chris Jericho’s career, which I plan to gloss over and give a general impression of.
The documentary begins with an opening sequence done in the “breaking the code” style with Big Show, John Cena, Christian and many others praising Jericho as a highlight reel of his career played.
Chris discusses his childhood in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and his parents. We see some home movies of Jericho bragging about fishing and playing hockey. Jericho says that when he was a kid he wanted to be two things: a rockstar and a wrestler. He got into wrestling by watching the AWA at age 8. He got into The Beatles around the same time. At 16 Chris Jericho began watching Stampede Wrestling and he saw an ad for the Hart Brother’s Wrestling Camp. He was told that he had to be 18 to start wrestling.
While he was waiting, Jericho got his degree in journalism and at age 19 moved to Calgary to join the Hart’s training camp. The first guy he met there was Lance Storm. The two of them supported each other through the camp and became best friends. Chris Jericho discussed the fact that Keith Hart was the only Hart they ever saw there and that was just on the first day to take their money. The camp itself was ran from a book by Stu Hart about training wrestlers, which made the training valuable.
Pruett’s Pause: The early footage of Lance Storm and Chris Jericho is great. They both look very skinny, but their style, even then, was very smooth.
Jericho and Storm would practice on Saturday afternoon when no one else was around and put in a lot of extra time. Jericho would wrestle in front of two people as if it were 20,000. He began working local shows in Calgary and coming back to Winnipeg wrestling in bars and nightclubs.
Chris Jericho then went to Mexico to work in a tag team. Jericho talked about wrestling in front of 10,000 people weekly in 1992. Jericho then got the call from EMLL where he was given the nickname Lion Heart (or Corazon de Leon) and he worked there for two years. Jericho was on the cover of teen magazines in Mexico and was a kind of heart throb. He worked four shows on Saturdays in Mexico and ten shows weekly while living a rockstar lifestyle.
Jericho went to Germany and worked in Hamburg in the same arena every night for six weeks. Being in front of the same fans, he had to change up his game every night. For 42 nights, he had to be sharp.
Pruett’s Pause: As much as I love wrestling, I doubt I could go to shows for 42 nights in a row. If I did, I don’t know if I would love it anymore. This entire "around the world" segment of the documentary features a large discussion about Jericho's learning process. It shows just how much wrestlers benefitted from this kind of vetting.
Cut to Smokey Mountain Wrestling and the debut of Lance Storm and Chris Jericho, The Thrillseekers! Some of their introductory promos are extras on the disks and demand to be watched. They wrestled a high flying style, in direct contrast to the Southern laid back style. Jericho learned how to do promos in this territory and we see more young Jericho on the mic.
Pruett’s Pause: This includes a very funny promo about being shot down by chicks in 10 countries. Another gem in the upper echelon of early-Jericho work.
After SMW, Jericho went to Japan with help from Ultimo Drago to work for WAR (Wrestling and Romance). Chris Jericho talked about the strong, stiff wrestling style that he had to learn, especially since character is not as important in Japan. He mentions Ultimo Dragon being one of his favorite opponents and one of their matches getting him into ECW.
Chris Jericho’s came to ECW and was able to suplex Taz in his debut match. Paul Heyman worked hard to put Jericho over and called him “the last survivor of the Hart dungeon.” Jericho adjusted to the ECW style and learned from Mick “Cactus Jack” Foley.
At a show Antonio Inoki was promoting in LA, Eric Bischoff met Jericho and instantly offered him a job. Bischoff then discussed the Cruiserweight Division in WCW and how great of a fit Jericho was in it. Jericho talked about how bad his first WCW matches were to him and how difficult the transition was to make. Jericho was also a babyface at this time and he was not getting over as a white meat babyface, especially against the super cool NWO.
Pruett’s Pause: In a hilariously bad commentary moment, an announcer in WCW said “I believe we should call that the su-flex because he suplexed him and flexed at the same time.” You can’t write stuff this good (or bad) folks.
Jericho discussed the fact that WWE had better main events that WCW, but because of the Cruiserweights WCW had a better undercard. Footage was shown of Jericho against Dean Malenko, Ultimo Drago, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio and more.
Jericho found out that he was being turned heel and now he could now say whatever he wanted to. He talked about having a 30 second window before every match to say whatever he wants. Suddenly Chris Jericho was starting to get over with the fans with this new act.
Pruett’s Pause: This is right around when I got heavily into wrestling and Chris Jericho was one of the only reasons I taped WCW Nitro to watch after Raw.
They ran down Jericho’s conspiracy victim angle where he tried to find the rules of wrestling in the Library of Congress. This full piece is an extra on the DVD and very funny. This also lead to the legendary 1,004 holds promo (which is also available on the DVD).
Pruett’s Pause: ARMbar.
After a feud with Goldberg that went nowhere despite Jericho's work on it, Chris Jericho realized that he needed to get out of WCW. The next year that he was stuck in WCW was absolute misery for Jericho and he was just thinking about wanting to get to WWE.
Jericho discussed how he came up with the Countdown to the Millennium clock in a post office. We saw the clock expiring and Jericho interrupting The Rock. Many superstars discussed the clock and Jericho’s debut. Jericho mentions his flaws in the promo, saying he doesn’t like watching it today.
Pruett’s Pause: Still a classic Raw moment. This entire promo is a special feature and well worth watching. I still remember being shocked to see Jericho show up and how excited I was.
At No Mercy 1999, Chris Jericho was left off of the card. Jericho talks about not living up to the hype. This leads to Jericho’s program with Chyna and his first Intercontinental Championship win.
Chris Jericho then discussed working with Stephanie McMahon and their awesome chemistry. He said that this was the first time in WWE that he really felt like Chris Jericho. This lead to his feud with Triple H, who was on the top of his game at that time. Jericho winning the WWE Championship from Triple H and then surrendering it was shown. Michael Hayes questioned the decision to take the belt from Jericho instead of letting him keep it. He called this a career defining moment.
Pruett’s Pause: It’s always easy to say what if, but one must wonder where Jericho’s career would have gone in his first WWE run if they kept the belt on him here. The entire match and following segment is a special feature in the set.
Chris Jericho got his groove back after that night and was a major star in WWE. At Vengeance 2001, we see Jericho winning the Undisputed Championship by beating The Rock and Steve Austin in one night. The great moment of winning the Undisputed Championship was followed by a very weak title reign which ended in the main event of Wrestlemania X-8 in Toronto against Triple H. Jericho discusses being the last match, but not the real main event because of Hogan vs. Rock.
Another video package of Jericho highlights brings us to the introduction of The Highlight Reel. Chris Jericho says that he sees himself as a modern day "Rowdy" Roddy Piper.
What follows is the Shawn Michaels match from Wrestlemania XIX and the build to it. Jericho talked about convincing Shawn to come back and have that match with him. Highlights of the match are then shown. The entire match is available in the set, along with special commentary from Chris Jericho. This feature is very highly recommended.
Pruett’s Pause: I just want to point out again how great this match is. It’s a true Wrestlemania classic and a big part of both men’s body of work.
Brief highlights of Christian and Chris Jericho's tag team and rivalry were covered (Vitamin C foverever!). Then we see Chris Jericho’s goodbye program against John Cena in 2005. Jericho’s goal in this program was to get people to respect Cena’s in ring work. Jericho mentions that he asked to be carried out kicking and screaming at the end of their Raw match. John Cena mentions everything Jericho has done for him and how there was something missing when he left.
Pruett’s Pause: This was a great exit from Raw. I have nothing but respect for Jericho for walking away when he did. There would be fewer injuries in the business and longer careers if more guys were able to take time off like Jericho did.
Jericho’s time away from WWE was covered including his work with The Groundlings, the formation of Fozzy, writing his first book, and everything else he did. He covers Fozzy’s original gimmick and how that added extra dimension to their act. He talks a lot about the problems with this gimmick in his book.
Briefly mentioned is Chris Jericho losing his mom in 2005 and how difficult that was. The next thing mentioned was John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania and on Raw weeks later. Chris Jericho began to feel a pull in his heart that made him want to return. WWE then made the “Codebreaker” videos and Jericho eventually returned.
Chris did not want to do anything the same when he returned, but was forced into the box of being Y2J once again. Jericho worked to change his act and drop everything about his former character. This came in the classic feud with Shawn Michaels. This lead to a discussion of Jericho’s willingness to evolve as a character and his World Championship win at Unforgiven 2008.
Pruett’s Pause: This is really Jericho’s greatest accomplishment to me. How many guys completely change their acts in the middle of their careers? It was a major risk for Jericho to take and it showed how great of a star he is.
Rey Mysterio said that some of his best matches were against Jericho. Jericho mentioned that he understands best how to work with Mysterio because he knows his style better than others in WWE. Matt Hardy and Edge discussed how great the matches were in this program.
Michael Hayes said that Jericho and Edge were supposed to be a huge dominant tag team, but Edge got injured. Chris Jericho said that Big Show was his favorite tag team partner he ever had. Big Show said that he learned a lot while working with Jericho. Edge’s return at the Royal Rumble in 2010 was shown as was the build to Edge vs. Jericho at Wrestlemania XXVI. Edge talked about how getting into the ring with Chris is always one of his favorite things to do.
Wade Barrett then talked about being mentored by Chris Jericho on NXT. Jericho discussed how many young guys there are on the roster and how he is willing to talk ideas and thoughts with the young talent. Jericho said he wishes that he had someone to guide him like he did for Barrett when he came in.
Jericho talked about how he wishes he could improve as a wrestler and how he does not think he is the best yet. He says he does the best he can every night and tries to live up to being “the best in the world at what he does.” As the documentary ends, Jericho said that he doesn’t want a legend’s goodbye. He would rather be dragged from the ring kicking and screaming.
Pruett’s Pause: Just a great retrospective on Jericho’s amazing career. This documentary was definitely one of the best that WWE could have put together. Based on this alone, the set in completely worth buying. Of course, there are still two disks of amazing Jericho matches (which I won’t review quite as extensively).
As far as bonus features go, there is a host of classic Chris Jericho matches and promos. Many people have said that they could never imagine a Jericho DVD without Chris Benoit and his absence is not felt here. The bonus commentary on his Wrestlemania XIX match against Michaels is one of my favorite features. Also, his bonus promo from after a Raw in 2003 with Steve Austin is a modern classic that begs to be watched.
Pruett's Pause: This is a great DVD. Disks two and three are just as good as disk one. As a bonus, if you read either of Jericho's books, this DVD is a great companion piece that shows you many of the moments that Jericho focuses in on. If you're only going to buy one DVD set released by WWE (or get one on Netflix), this should be it.
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