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On a recent episode of Drunken Gamers Radio, John stated they could not get enough of my wrestling articles. So I figured it was about time to write a new one. Today, I will review one on the newly-released DVDs chronicling the career of one of my all time favorite wrestlers, Chris Jericho, with WWE Home Video’s Breaking the Code: Behind the Walls of Chris Jericho. This three-disc DVD features a near two hour documentary on the career of Chris Jericho on disc one, and nineteen of his best matches, handpicked by Jericho himself, on the final two discs.
The documentary starts off like most previous WWE produced efforts, highlighting Jericho’s childhood years where he aspired to be a wrestler and rock star. The feature does a modest job at describing his early years in wrestling, from breaking into the business with Lance Storm at the Hart Family Dungeon to his days of being an international superstar in Mexico and Germany and getting his first break in the USA in ECW. I was hoping for a little more expansive look at this stage in his career since his autobiography, A Lion’s Tale, put a lot more emphasis on it, but the DVD does a decent job at covering a couple of his standout moments that he learned from. It is worth noting here that Jericho’s book is also the place to find his interactions and memories of Chris Benoit, who served as a big influence on Jericho’s career, but is understandably erased from WWE history (and is nowhere to be found on this DVD) after the double murder-suicide tragedy from 2007.
His exposure in ECW eventually landed him a job in WCW. During the infamous “Monday Night Wars” between WWE’s RAW and WCW’s Nitro from 1995-2001, one of the reasons I would usually tune into WCW was because of the high-flying action its Cruiserweight division delivered. I was more of a RAW fan, but Nitro usually started an hour before RAW, and that happened to be the hour most of its Cruiserweight matches took place so I got into the habit of seeing tons of incredibly athletic matches from classic Cruiserweights like Rey Mysterio Jr., Psycosis, Ultimo Dragon, Juventud Guerrera, Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko, to name a few. The DVD gives an accurate account on how WCW’s powers that be viewed the Cruiserweight division as nothing more than a preliminary attraction. If a wrestler was a Cruiserweight, than they may as well kiss any chance to climb their way up the ladder into the main event scene goodbye.
One of the few stars that escaped that stigma was Chris Jericho. After a couple years as just another faceless Cruiserweight, he took his opportunity to emerge out of the pool of high-flyers. Jericho talks about how he took every chance he got to cut a promo and develop his new bad-guy personality. The DVD goes into depth on two of his breakout feuds in WCW with Dean Malenko and Bill Goldberg. WWE used its archive interview footage with Goldberg and former WCW President Eric Bishoff to help flesh out a lot of his WCW years, and give their side of the story on why they held back Jericho from reaching true superstardom in WCW, which resulted in Jericho leaving the sinking WCW ship for higher ground into WWE in 1999.
Naturally, the WWE-produced documentary goes into the most detail during his WWE years, and it does an awesome job at retelling his classic WWE countdown debut and his early WWE feuds with Chyna which resulted in him winning his first of nine Intercontinental Championships. Jericho goes on to explain how he gave it his all in his early WWE years no matter what the angle was in hopes of a main event run, and eventually he got his wish in 2001. Current wrestling fans are probably aware of how Jericho is constantly reminding fans that he was the WWE’s first Undisputed Champion and how he beat Steve Austin and The Rock in the same night to achieve that honor. The documentary pays a lot of attention on this important title run, mostly because Jericho states that he was not too happy with how it went down with his teaming with Stephanie McMahon and how his main event of Wrestlemania X8 with Triple H was a flop because they had to follow Rock vs. Hogan, which was the match everyone else wanted to see that night.
Jericho felt he redeemed his Wrestlemania X8 performance by stealing the show the next year at Wrestlemania XIX with Shawn Michaels in a match for the ages. Now even though Jericho felt he was riding high at this stage of his career, he elaborates on why he was burnt out from wrestling and eventually needed a break in 2005. During his two and a half year hiatus from wrestling, Jericho spent more time focusing on his music career as the front man for Fozzy, and landed a lot of work as a Best Week Ever regular on VH1. Jericho kind of glosses over his attempt at this stage in his career to be a reality show star, and fails to mention his horrible effort on the reality show Celebrity Duets, where he was first contestant eliminated. Jericho went on to say one of the main reasons for him getting the itch to come back to wrestling was John Cena and Shawn Michaels wrestling for nearly an hour on an episode of RAW.
The documentary winds down with Jericho patting himself on the back for reinventing himself in his second run in the WWE. Jericho said one of his primary influences for changing his on air persona was Javier Bardem’s performance as the soft spoken, yet deadly hitman character in No Country for Old Men. Rounding off disc one is a collection of Jericho’s best promos and other snippets of interviews that did not make the cut into the feature. The 19 matches that make up discs two and three of this set features some of Jericho’s best in ring work against the likes of Cactus Jack, Eddie Guerrero, Kurt Angle, Triple H, The Rock, Shawn Michaels, Hulk Hogan, Undertaker and more.
This is yet another great WWE DVD set. WWE interviewed many of Jericho’s friends and peers that really helped flesh out Jericho’s story and made for a very thorough and entertaining documentary. I would have liked a couple of more areas expanded on, but Jericho’s book is always there for all the bits of minutia. The collection of matches are some of his best work and a tremendous supplement to the documentary dedicated the man who claims himself to be the best at what he does. Breaking the Code: Behind the Walls of Chris Jericho is an easy recommendation for all Jerichoholics and wrestling fans.