Chris Jericho autobiography - A Lion's Tale: Around the World in Spandex
If you're looking for a book with seedy gossip and mass burials of top stars written from the perspective of someone who is bitter with the pro wrestling business, then Chris Jericho's autobiography is not for you. However, if you enjoy a well written feel-good story on a kid who entered the business he spent his childhood obsessing over, then move "A Lion's Tale: Around the World in Spandex" to the top of your wish list for new books.
Anyone who grew up a diehard fan of pro wrestling during their childhood can relate to the stories Jericho tells early in the book. He designed homemade title belts and had matches with his friends, attended AWA and WWF events whenever they came to town, felt pain when he missed big show, and worked up the nerve to approach the stars he idolized at the hotels after the shows.
Although I consider Bret Hart's autobiography a true gem, there were times in the first section of the book that left me wishing he'd hurry up and get to his WWE years. I never had that feeling while reading about Jericho's childhood or his early days in the wrestling business, which is a good thing since most of the book focusses on his life before even ECW and WCW.
The same sense of humor that made Jericho so popular as a performer shines through in the book. Although Jericho didn't really bury anyone, he did share some hilarious stories about people he encountered in the business who made ridiculous claims. I literally laughed so hard I cried at one point as he recalled some of the tall tales that one of his colleagues told.
The endearing part of Jericho's humor is that he's not afraid to make himself the butt of the joke. At the same time, he expresses no regret for some of the "mark out moments" from his childhood, which in turn makes diehard fans feel like he is a member of their tribe.
Not all fans are spared, though. Jericho told a story about "Strange Kentucky People" that is both laugh out loud funny and skin crawling creepy. Without spoiling the fun, let's just say the story involves an redneck (and possibly inbred) wrestling fan who had an unhealthy obsession with Chris Jericho and decided to make an appreciation video for him that featured her entire family of misfits. I'm disappointed that the video apparently hasn't found its way to Youtube yet, so please let me alert me immediately if anyone has stumbled upon it, although I have a feeling I will have trouble sleeping once I see it.
Jericho also recalls working for Jim Cornette and shares a story about a classic Corny meltdown in a fast food drive-thru (which is available on Youtube). Although he has good things to say about Cornette, he did encounter plenty of sleazy wrestling promoter types along the way. Jericho would have every right to be bitter about some of the stories from his early years, but he seems to look back on those days fondly, and you come away with the feeling that he'd have the same perspective even if he hadn't found so much success later in his career.
Once Jericho finally made it to WCW, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at the dysfunction he described. I guess nothing should shock me at this point when it comes to WCW. Jericho didn't have much positive to say about working with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. Likewise, his hilarious history with the neurotic Vampiro is also a riot in the sense that Vamp was nice to Jericho's face and buried him behind his back due to his own insecurities over his spot in various companies. Jericho resisted the urge to run down these performers in a vicious manner and instead let the stories with them speak for themselves.
The final pages of the book cover Jericho's decision to leave WCW for WWE. In another classic WCW move, the fact that he never signed his first contract with the company slipped through the cracks for months. He also told a great story about meeting Vince McMahon for the first time and sitting in on a Raw booking meeting even though he was working for WCW at the time.
Did Jericho write the greatest pro wrestler autobiography? No. This was the first installment of his story and the subject matter made that an impossible feat. He wasn't part of monumental moments like Bret Hart had with the Montreal incident, nor was he a World Champion or pushed as a top wrestler at any time during the book.
Nevertheless, Jericho's book has the same charm that made Foley's books so enjoyable. It was a fun read and I highly recommend it. Like any good first installment, it left me anxiously awaiting part two.
The hardcover version of the book can be purchased for less than $20 on Amazon.com. A paperback version has also been released.
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