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Pro wrestler and author Chris Jericho: 'I'm not a Long Islander'

Manhasset-born Chris Jericho, son of former New York

Manhasset-born Chris Jericho, son of former New York Ranger Ted Irvine, lived on Long Island only a couple of years before his family moved to Canada. Photo Credit: AP

He's an accomplished pro wrestler, the front man of a successful rock band, and a New York Times bestselling author. But, despite living in Manhasset until he was 4, there's one thing Chris Jericho says he is not.

"I'm not a Long Islander," said Jericho, whose Long Island memories are mostly limited to sitting on the steps of his house with neighborhood kids, and going to the hospital because he stuffed a Smarties candy up his nose.

"I think some people might know that I was born there, but it's not like I ever really trumpet that. I remember in the mid-2000s Vince [McMahon] decided for some strange reason that nobody from Canada was allowed to be from Canada . . . so it was, 'You're from Manhasset, NY.' But it didn't feel real," said Jericho, who grew up in Winnipeg. "I'm a prairie guy from Canada."

Nevertheless, Jericho said he looks forward to returning to Long Island this Tuesday to sign his new book, "The Best in the World . . . At What I Have No Idea," at the Carle Place Barnes and Nobles from 7 to 8:30 p.m..

Despite it being his third autobiography in seven years, Jericho said he had no shortage of stories to tell.

"All three books don't have any fat in them. They're all very, very good stories from page 1 to page 400. I even had to start cutting stuff in the third book, because I didn't have enough room. So I've got 15 or 20 stories socked away for book four, if that ever happens," said Jericho, adding that "Best in the World" may be his favorite of his three books. "It's a little bit more diverse than the first two. I took a couple extra chances ... I went into depth on my catch phrases and my entrance themes I had. It's really cool in that it ties up all the loose ends of my previous books."

"Best in the World" also gave Jericho the opportunity to recount what he considers to be the best work he ever did in his 25-year wrestling career -- his 2008 feud with Shawn Michaels. Jericho said the intense rivalry, which was awarded Feud of the Year by both Pro Wrestling Illustrated and The Wrestling Observer, remains "the template" for a successful wrestling storyline.

"Wow, what a story. Every week there was something new and monumental and cool. We had perfect chemistry, Shawn and I. And the storyline was off the charts, especially after SummerSlam," Jericho said, recalling the incident during which he legitimately punched Michaels' wife in the mouth in a scripted angle gone wrong. "She really got punched. He and I were mortified about what happened, but in retrospect, it just took that angle to a completely different world. It was something you can't plan . . . Obviously, it was the last thing either one of us wanted to happen. But she was OK, and we realized, that's the best thing that could have happened."

And while Jericho said he really believes he was "the best in the world" throughout much of his 2008-10 WWE run, he's also candid about various times in his career when he came up short. That includes his much-hyped return to WWE in 2007 after a two-year hiatus.

"It was obvious when I came back that I did fall flat, for whatever reason, and I had to realize that and change it quick, or else I would have become a footnote, and afterthought," said Jericho, who bounced back by transforming into a villain he says was inspired by Javier Bardem's portrayal of Anton Chigurh in the movie "No Country for Old Men." (Bardem won an Academy Award for his supporting role and the movie was named Best Picture.) "People would ask, 'Why did you change to black trunks?' 'Why did you drop the countdown?' 'Why did you stop the catch phrases?' 'Why did you stop calling yourself Y2J?' It was because I was letting everyone know that this was a change . . . I was changing my set list. I wasn't going to be doing any more of my hits . . . And people would say, 'We don't like this guy. He's nothing like Y2J. We hate it.' And that's what they were supposed to think."

Jericho has since resurrected his beloved "Y2J" character, including during his brief return to the WWE over the summer. In July, Jericho wrestled in Madison Square Garden, the building where his father, Ted Irvine, spent much of his career as a left wing for the New York Rangers. And, when Jericho wasn't in the ring, he was spotted by some fans watching the action from the arena floor.

"The reason I watch from there is that I like to hear reaction and see what the crowd is responding to and who they're responding to. And you could watch that from a monitor in the back, but I don't like to do that. I like to be in the arena as much as I can," Jericho said. "The only way you can really feel it is to be out there."

When he's away from WWE, Jericho keeps busy pursuing his other passions, including recording and touring with his band Fozzy and hosting his podcast, Talk is Jericho.

"I like doing it because I like talking to people . . . To sit down with anybody for 45 minutes in this day and age is such a hard thing to do, because everybody's walking this way and that way, going here and going there. So, to actually get to talk to Ace Frehley for 45 minutes or William Shatner for an hour or Triple H for 90 minutes -- a guy I've worked with for 15 years and never talked 90 minutes with, ever -- I really do enjoy doing it," Jericho said. "And people enjoy it, because it's a fly on the wall. The best podcasts aren't interviews. They're conversations."


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