So why the sudden mention now? I’m currently working on a novel that has quite a big dose of pro-wrestling in it, so I’ve spent a while researching it. One line of research was reading wrestler autobiographies. And though I wasn’t expecting it, one really spoke to me (no, not in catchphrases).
Chris Jericho: Undisputed is the second biography of Chris Irvine, a.k.a. Chris Jericho. It picks up right after he’s joined the biggest wrestling company in the world, World Wrestling Entertainment or WWE (though back then, it was called the World Wrestling Federation, until the World Wildlife Fund took issue with the initials). It’s the story of a guy who’s truly passionate about pro-wrestling struggling to make it in an industry which is hard to break into, harder to stay in, and nearly impossible to become a breakout star in–especially if you’re one of the smaller guys around. And it’s a story of a guy who became the first Undisputed World Champion, and has also won just about every other belt in the company–a sign of how much faith the WWE put in him.
He’s very frank about all his failures along the way (and there are many), but each time, he picks himself up and tries again. He doesn’t let criticism get him down, but uses it as motivation to continue improving his skills so he stands out from everyone else around him. Not just pro-wrestling skills either–he also becomes the lead singer of a metal band, and tries to break into acting. Each time, he faces new challenges, and even more failures. But not once does he tap out and end the match.
As Chris Jericho was one of the wrestlers I respected the most in my wrestling-watching days, it was eye-opening to see just how much he had to struggle to get to where he was. And even once he’d attained what he thought was his dream, he had to continue struggling to keep it.
For me, going through a rough patch with my writing, it was especially inspiring. Constant failure is something you know you should expect, but it can wear you down over time. So to read such a detailed and honest account of Chris Jericho’s failures (he even details a dressing down he got from the boss, where he’s told he’s not worth the paper his contract is printed on) is a great pick-me-up. Ah, schadenfreude. Yet he tells the stories in such a hilarious and self-deprecating manner, it’s easy to go along for the ride.
Some people have the talent and lucky breaks from the beginning. Others need to work their butts off, fail, then proceed to work their butts off some more–and for that, you need some serious drive and determination. I didn’t make it with the first book. I may not make it with my second or third ones, either. The question is whether you throw your hands in the air and give up… or you take the hits over and over until you find yourself the world champion.
I think I’ll try the latter.