Chris Jericho has wrestled all around the world, and has been a part of numerous promotions that are more than thrilled to see him grace their rings and rosters. The majority of his career has been spent with WWE, and everyone thought that he’d end up back there one day.
However, Chris Jericho shocked the world in January by signing with All Elite Wrestling. Despite being part of an upstart promotion, Jericho is still doing what he wants to do — and that includes promoting the second-ever Rock ‘N’ Wrestling Rager.
While wrestling has been a way of life for Jericho over the years, it is far from his only professional interest. His heavy metal band, Fozzy, is celebrating two decades of success, boasting an ever-growing fan base. Jericho produces a highly acclaimed podcast, and is essentially doing all of the things that he loves — but can he do them all at the same time?
In October 2018, Chris Jericho’s Rock ‘N’ Wrestling Rager at Sea made its maiden voyage. The themed cruise was such an incredible success that it only made sense to do another one. The second “Jericho Cruise” is going to take to the seas aboard the Norwegian Pearl on January 20 through January 24, 2020. The awesome expedition charts a course from Miami through the Bahamas.
AEW talents will serve as just some of the featured guests on this particular sailing, but Jericho brought aboard stars from Ring of Honor and Impact Wrestling last year. The man known as Y2J has been in the wrestling business for a very long time, a reality which has allowed him to see the ups and downs — and ins and outs — of the game.
I had the chance to catch up with Chris Jericho, one of the best professional wrestlers — and biggest rock stars — in the world. The former champion doesn’t really have a lot of free time, but it is completely obvious that he’s perfectly fine with that. Jericho spoke on the state of professional wrestling today, his burgeoning partnership with AEW, and his next big cruise.
Danny Cox: AEW has truly created a great buzz among longtime wrestling fans such as myself. ‘WrestleMania’ just took place, alongside ‘G1,’ The first all-women’s PPV. With WWE, New Japan, ROH, Impact… I feel like this is the strongest the wrestling industry has been in a long time. What do you think?
Chris Jericho: Well, I mean, absolutely. Going back to the Monday Night Wars and 9 million people on a weekly basis, it may not be that way right now from a TV standpoint. But with so many options out there, and so much talent — from an in-person live event and buzz standpoint — it really is.
From that aspect, it’s the strongest it has ever been.
DC: Seeing as you mentioned the Monday Night Wars, do you think there is any promotion out there right now that could rival WWE, and start something similar?
CJ: I don’t think so, as no promotions would go head-to-head as TV has changed. Before, you had to make a choice. Now, everyone can DVR one show — or flip back and forth, or watch one now and the other later. I do believe, though, that there is definitely room for another show on a national TV basis.
That’s one of the reasons I came to AEW, and something we’re working on and are going to get very, very soon. It’s a great time for that.
We have a whole collection of guys with years of experience, but not many of them in the mainstream media… Kenny Omega, Nick and Matt Jackson, Cody Rhodes, Hangman Page, guys from China… everyone has been talking about what we’ve been doing for years. It’s very exciting to have a passionate owner with a lot of money, some great talent — untapped and unknown — combine them with a strong TV deal and former WWE names like Jim Ross and myself, and you’ve got a recipe for success.
DC: There is a lot of promising talent out there right now. Do any of them have what it takes to be the next Chris Jericho?
CJ: Don’t know, man. It’s hard to say. It took me 20 years to become Chris Jericho. It’s all up to the person. Some guys have the physical element. Some have the talking element. But there is so much more it than that, and the x-factor is the confidence in knowing — from a match side of things — to put together a proper match and grab people’s attention.
I have been constantly evolving from my side. You have to be willing to take a chance, and I don’t know — there are a lot of guys who are very talented on our roster. Who will be around for a 30-year career, and evolving and constantly changing? It’s hard to say with this business if there could be another Chris Jericho, and not just from an ego standpoint.
DC: Being so involved in both wrestling and music, is there one you’d prefer to remain active in longer?
CJ: Music is definitely… just look at the Stones, KISS, McCartney… they were around in the late ’60s and ’70s, and are still around in a big way today. Music is still very physically taxing and hard to do.
I’m going to wrestle until the moment I feel I can’t be at my best — or on any given night, can’t be the best match on a show. If that changes tomorrow or next year or in the next five years from now, I will know it is time to be done.
Music is less of a physical pounding, and more about connecting with the audience — which I know I’ll be able to do for a longer period of time.
DC: So, coming to that lovely place where the two meet, we have Chris Jericho’s Rock ‘N’ Wrestling Rager at Sea: Part Deux making waves in January 2020. Give me the details!
CJ: The first one was a great time, great vacation, and had never been done before. It combined all of the things that I enjoy — wrestling, hot girls, hot guys, music, podcasts, the paranormal. I worked very hard to choose a lineup that reflected that. We sold out the first one, and no one was happier about that than me.
It was a three-year process to get that up and running. Now that we did it the first time, my goal was always to make it a destination franchise vacation. I wanted it at least to the point of getting to a second one. We are 82 percent sold out with nine months to go, and now, it’s a matter of just continuing to grow with something for everyone to enjoy.
DC: Since you’re now officially signed to All Elite Wrestling, do you see this second cruise being primarily AEW — or cross-promotion with companies like ROH and Impact, as was seen on the first sailing?
CJ: On this one, it’s going to be AEW, but it is not an AEW cruise. If I decided to work with Impact or New Japan next year, that’s a whole different ball of wax. I pay AEW talent to be on the cruise, just like I do with every other talent. No one has any stake of ownership in this but me, and it’s going to be done the way I think is best for it to be done.
DC: How important to you is the closeness between the fans and performers that these cruises bring about?
CJ: It’s a cruise. There are only so many places you can go. If you want to hang out in your cabin the whole time, that’s fine, but there is so much to do. One reason that mine was such a success is that I made sure to check out every activity. If it was five minutes or 10 minutes or 20 or seeing the whole thing, I wanted people to see that. I wanted them to see me walking around and enjoying and knowing that I took a lot of time to pick these talents.
Connecting with the audience and fans is one of the main reasons that everyone enjoyed the first cruise. I put a lot of time into making sure people know that if I choose this, I’m going to have a great time. I want people to trust me. A lot of people saw Chris Jericho walking around and interacting, and they realized that this was a fan-accessible cruise.
It was a cruise for the fans, by the fans.
DC: Have you found your ultimate comfort zone with these cruises in being able to combine wrestling, talking to people, and your music?
CJ: Again, I want to make this a destination vacation. KISS has 10 cruises now. This was never going to be a one-year thing. Anytime anyone starts something new, it takes a while, and then everyone says, ‘Where has this been all our life?’
Wrestling is also always a revolving door of talent. This is not an AEW cruise. This is not a Fozzy cruise. This is a Chris Jericho cruise. I choose the template and it remains the same, but I am able to keep making changes and word of mouth will continue to spread.
DC: I see you’re staying loyal to Norwegian for the second go around, taking out the Pearl. Is there anything particular about that cruise line that keeps you coming back?
CJ: I work with Sixthman and they have a relationship with Norwegian. The first was great, and everyone made money off of it, except for me. The second cruise? I wanted to make sure that wasn’t the case. My goal was to create a franchise.
Norwegian and Sixthman made a better play and a better deal this time, or else they know I’d take it somewhere else. It was the Jade last year, and the Pearl this time. The whole boat is the Jericho Cruise. It’s 2200 people with the same mindset of having a great time.
DC: Well, Chris Jericho, I don’t have any more questions for you. Is there anything else you want to tell me or all of the Jerichoholics out there?
CJ: We had a great time on the first cruise, and there were a lot of people suffering from FOMO. They’re going to be changing that this time, and we have even a better reaction this time around. It’s going to be a fun vacation with a lot of great activities and cool people — and something that all can enjoy.