Chris Jericho celebrates 25 years in sports- entertainment with his ‘Canadian Crew’
Chris Jericho may have celebrated the 25th anniversary of his debut match at Live from MSG: Lesnar vs. Big Show, but Y2J’s evening wasn’t just about challenging Kevin Owens for his 10th Intercontinental Championship. The first-ever Undisputed Champion made a party of the weekend by flying his oldest friends in sports-entertainment — Lance Storm, “The Natural” Don Callis (aka WWE’s The Jackyl and ECW’s Cyrus) and Len Olsen (aka “Luscious” Lenny St. Clair and Dr. Luther) — across North America to The Big Apple. The result was part reunion, part tribute, and part introduction, at least for Olsen.
“It means a lot to have my friends here. What better way to celebrate tonight than with my oldest friends in the business?” Jericho told WWE.com. “Don hasn’t been in the Garden since 1996 or 1997, Lance hasn’t been here for 10 years or so, and Lenny has never been here. I wanted them in the front row because this means something to me.”
“The fact that Chris is healthy enough today to compete at this age at the same level he always has is impressive,” said Storm, who was Jericho’s very first opponent. “I’m still amazed that when we broke in there were the NWA and WWE World Championships, and he was the man to unify them by beating The Rock and Steve Austin in the same night. That’s the most amazing footnote in his career.”
“Chris is one of the last old-school competitors who worked regional territories, and if I were any of the young Superstars, I would be begging Chris to let me travel with him so I could learn,” added Callis, who competed against Jericho during one of The Lionheart’s first-ever tours across Winnipeg, when both men were “green as grass.”
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“In Canada I competed against Chris and Lance as ‘Luscious’ Lenny St. Clair,” said Olsen. “I remember the first time I saw Chris and Lance walking through downtown Calgary and I thought to myself, ‘Who are these two Aqua Velvas?’ We hit it off immediately and I spent a year competing against them.”
I'll never have a night like this again.The significance of The Canadian Crew’s gathering in New York went beyond a reunion, however: Madison Square Garden is in Jericho’s blood. His father, Ted Irvine, is a beloved New York Rangers Hall of Famer who was known during his five-year tenure with the Blueshirts as “The Baby-Faced Assassin.” Jericho claimed his father “looked like a kid” but would brawl with noted tough guys like Dave Shultz, Keith Magnuson and Kerry Korab. The elder Irvine also received an award from Eunice Kennedy Shriver for his work in helping to start the Special Olympics in both New York and Winnipeg.
“He was a great player on the ice and a great person off the ice,” Jericho said. “It means a lot to me to still be able to have good matches and not squeak by. I really feel that I could go another five years at this level. I wear my 25-year career as a badge of honor. To go from Ponoka Moose Hall, making $30 in front of 50 people, to Madison Square Garden, competing for my 10th Intercontinental Championship, means so much to me. It’s a special night.”
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Unfortunately, Jericho was unsuccessful in defeating Owens, who retained by poking Y2J in the eye and rolling him up. But even that didn’t dampen the mood. Jericho, Storm, Callis and Olsen were all smiles as they left the arena Y2J once hated because it was too loud (“I had to cover my ears,” he said of watching his father play). The Canadian Crew even presented the quarter-century competitor with a custom-made poster marking his anniversary (pictured below), and the night ended on the note of a happy reunion rather than a sour loss.
“We all started doing this together,” Jericho said. “My favorite part about tonight is that later, we are going to record a podcast just telling stories about 1990 and laughing about all the stupid stuff that happened to us. Again, this is a very special night for me and I’ll never have another one like it.”