The title of Chris Jericho's new book is the truth.
"Undisputed" is indisputably one of the best pro-wrestling autobiographies ever written.
The same was said of Jericho's first foray into the literary world in 2007. "Undisputed" ($27.99; Hachette Book Group) is even better. The story picks up where "A Lion's Tale" left off, with Jericho making his 1999 World Wrestling Entertainment debut and the laugh-out-loud anecdotes about the mistakes he subsequently made that almost derailed his career.
Thus, the book's subtitle: "How to become the world champion in 1,372 easy steps."
"The whole crux of the first book was my dream to make it to WWE and how Jericho the hobbit got to Mordor to get the ring," Jericho said Tuesday in a telephone interview. "I liken ('Undisputed') to if Bruce Springsteen wrote two books and the first book dealt with his days in the clubs and making demo tapes. I'm sure those are some great stories, but it's not the same as reading about Bruce making 'Born in the USA.' People will be more involved in this book emotionally because they have their own experience they can relate to, like Chris Jericho winning the championship or the whole (WWE) 'Attitude' era."
Jericho also shares funny anecdotes about touring with his heavy-metal band Fozzy and trying to forge a Hollywood acting career during a two-year break from wrestling. "Undisputed," though, isn't all laughs. Among the serious topics he tackles is the death of his mother, Loretta, as well as that of fellow WWE performer Chris Benoit.
Jericho said writing about those issues was cathartic because he was able to release some of the anger he had harbored about the circumstances surrounding both. Jericho describes Benoit as being his "best friend in wrestling."
"I trusted him more than anybody as a human being," he said. "I had some of my best matches with him."
But since Benoit killed his own wife and 7-year-old son before committing suicide in 2007, Jericho said he "now can barely even talk about the guy. It's a terrible situation."
At several points in "Undisputed," Jericho broodingly acknowledges the fact that some of his classic bouts with Benoit as well as any footage of the latter will probably never appear again through any WWE medium. Jericho doesn't blame WWE owner Vince McMahon for taking such a stance.
"If I were Vince, I would probably do the same thing," Jericho said. "I would never want to see that name or that person again. He almost brought the entire industry down.
"He was one of the best of all time, but I don't know how you can ever watch a Chris Benoit match and get into it knowing what this man did. I now watch my matches with him with a cold heart. I hate to say it, but it's almost like listening to a Charles Manson album. The guy was a talented writer and singer, but is that really what you want to listen to?"
Upon his post-Benoit return to WWE, Jericho emerged as the company's best overall talent with his combination of ring work and interview skills. Jericho, though, began another indefinite hiatus in September. He now plans to pursue increased touring with Fozzy. European tour dates are already booked this summer, with the group's fifth album set for production later this year.
"When I left (WWE) in 2005, I was a little disenchanted and losing my faith as a performer," Jericho said. "I didn't know if I had what it takes to still be at a top level. Now, I have been back at that top level. When I say I'm the best in the world at what I do, there are some nights that I am. I'm that confident as a performer.
"I didn't walk away from wrestling. My contract ended and there are other projects I want to do."
The 40-year-old Jericho, whose real name is Chris Irvine, admits he will probably return to WWE at some point. And if precedence holds, a third Jericho memoir will be in the offing. Jericho said he is scheduled for contract talks later this month about inking another book that would cover his latest WWE run.
"It's not like the clock is ticking and I'd better come back now or I'll be in big trouble," Jericho said. "My (wrestling) experience is more than anybody else in the company has except for Goldust and The Undertaker. That's a blue chip I have in my corner that nobody can ever take away. That's also why I got to the place I did when I came back. I had a different way I wanted to do my character.
"When the time comes for me to come back, you're not going to see the suits and slow-talking Jericho anymore. Now when you turn on WWE, every heel is talking like that and wearing a suit. I refuse to do it. It's not about what happened in the past. It's about reinventing yourself for the future.
"I've only been gone four months. WWE is doing fine without Chris Jericho. I've just got a lot of things going on that are very important to me. Wrestling is one of them."
For more information about "Undisputed," upcoming Jericho book signings and Fozzy tour dates, visit www.chrisjericho.com.