Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mini-review: Chris Jericho's 'Undisputed'

It's no secret that I used to be a big wrestling fan.

I'm talking '80s WWF through '90s Monday Night Wars stuff.

One wrestler was, and is, my favorite: Chris Jericho.

What made Jericho stand out from the rest was not only could be wrestle, but he was extremely good on the mic. That is a rare thing in wrestling, it's usually either or.

When his first book, "A Lion's Tale," came out in 2007 I bought it right away and devoured it in just a few days. Not an easy feet for me at 432 pages.

I could not wait for this new one to be released. Somehow I had lost track of the release date and was surprised to find out it was in bookstores this past week.

I almost ran to Borders, yes ours is still open, and bought it.

At 448 pages it seemed like I would be doing nothing but reading "Undisputed."

It's technically true. I spent all day Saturday reading it and finished it in two sittings.

And it's great.

While "A Lion's Tale" chronicled Jericho's journey to the WWF, this book starts out with his debut facing off against the Rock to the death of Chris Benoit.

One thing stands out from the start, not only is he a great wrestler, but also a great storyteller. Inter cut with stories about wrestling are stories about his music career with the metal band Fozzy.

It's funny how I remembered all of these moments, like his fantastic debut to winning his first World Title. But, the actual stories behind them shocked me. It was basically a cluster-you-know-what. It wasn't an easy walk in the park for him.

The best parts of the book are when he gets into the personal aspects of wrestling. His interactions with Vince McMahon and the Rock are the highlights. He states numerous times that he had his best matches with the Rock and considers him to be his best opponent.

Talking about wrestling other people also can be the low lights of the book too. He mentions numerous people like Chyna and Kevin Nash (the stories about them are good) and when he looks back on the matches with them, he almost annoyingly states that his matches with them were probably the best of "their" careers. Kind of a-hole-ish. Probably true, but still.

The chapter about getting arrested for drunk driving also shocked me. He was 100% in the wrong, but writes the chapter like we should feel sorry for him being in that situation. Sorry, you did the crime you can do the one day in jail.

That is not to say all the book is bad, just about 10-15 percent.

The chapters about the deaths of his mother, Eddie Guerrero and Benoit are poetic and engrossing. I burned through those pages like crazy.

The most heart wrenching part of the Benoit chapter is when Jericho calls Benoit's teenage son and gets this exchange:

"I was trying my hardest to be comforting, but my words felt hollow. I sounded just like the cop who talked me out of killing Danny after my mom's accident seventeen years earlier, and I wonder if that guy felt as much of an asshole as I did right then.

When I was finished David responded with one question.

'Can I still go to the wrestling matches?'

It completely broke my heart to think that David's whole life was his father and wrestling and in one night he lost them both. Quite honestly, that's the reason that I'll never be able to forgive Chris for what he did. As horrible as it was that he killed Daniel, it's even worse that he forced David and his daughter, Megan, to deal with his unexplained crimes for the rest of their lives."

Fans of wrestling should pick this one as soon as possible.

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