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Alpha versus Omega. Jericho versus Kenny. It’s a match that has the world talking. But what can we expect from Jericho on January 4? We talked to his old friend Jado to gain an insight into the mind of pro wrestling’s Alpha!
— So, Chris Jericho has made a huge impact in New Japan. You and he go way back..
Jado: Right. We first met in Mexico so.. it must be about 26 years now.
— Would Jericho have been in Mexico with Ultimo Dragon at that time?
Jado: No, no. I was over in Mexico as a freelancer and had a match with Jericho. Then I went to W*ING but he stayed in Mexico. Then it was around 1994 and WAR that Dragon brought Jericho to Japan.
— After all that time, on November 5, Jericho appeared on the big screen in Osaka. How did seeing that video message make you feel?
Jado: It was a huge shock, and not just to Japanese wrestling, but the whole world. I mean, here’s this guy that unified the WCW and WWE heavyweight belts… do you know what the most important thing in wrestling is?
Jado: It’s timing. Just the combination of absolute best time and absolute best place to do something nobody would think possible. Jericho, with the influence he has on the wrestling world, and Omega. This year it couldn’t happen; Omega was with Okada. 2019 maybe they couldn’t do it. Jericho just has a great sense of timing, of knowing ‘2018 is the time to do this’.
— You mentioned timing. Do you think Jericho’s wild, unpredictable side is another special talent of his?
Jado: Right. Jericho’s always been a hungry guy. And he really feels right now that he needs to face Omega. He said it himself, it’s Alpha versus Omega. He’s put together such a huge match for the worldwide audience.
— You and Jericho seem to get along well on Twitter, too..
Jado: (laughs) Well, he’s absolutely an old friend.
— Do you and he ever talk on a personal level?
Jado: Well, I think if we want to we can.
— Did he get in touch with you when he showed up in Osaka?
Jado: No, not really. If he came to me it would be ‘shall we go out for dinner’? That kind of thing. He’s the same way. But when he was touring Japan with WWE, we’d definitely meet up. Once a year or so.
— When he was in Japan for WWE, you’d always tweet out a photo with you and he going for dinner. Did you ever talk much about what was happening in New Japan over those dinners?
Jado: Not in much detail; he didn’t have a clear vision of coming to wrestle here at the time. But he was pretty clued in. He’d know Okada was champion, ask about Tanahashi and if he was hurt or not. These days you can find out about all sorts of things online pretty easily, so he’s definitely keeping up I think.
— His antenna is always working, so to speak.
Jado: That’s Jericho. I think his radar picked up that Kenny’s doing big things and that they’re from the same home town of Winnipeg, so he decided something had to happen.
— The ‘big superstar’ Jericho being a challenger is an interesting situation.
Jado: Again, I thought that it’s really like him, to have the intuition to choose Kenny who’s on such a rise. And he did it on NJPW World so the whole world could see. He wanted to send that message, ‘I’m number one in Canada, and I’m number one in the world’.
But I think this is a bigger topic in America than it is here. I mean, with this match, New Japan is doing something that WWE couldn’t hope to put together. There’s probably a lot of pissed off people over there right now (laughs).
— Back in WAR, Jericho wrestled as Lion-do, and teamed with you and Gedo. What do you remember of that period?
Jado: He was on the road with us, eating with us and everything, and honestly, he was thinking about wrestling all the time, 24/7. Mind you, we were the same way.
— You really hit it off?
Jado: I’d say so. We’re about the same age too, he’s a couple years younger.
— You were like brothers.
Jado: Absolutely. I mean, we were together all the time, on the road and off.
— Did you feel like a teacher, a senpai to Jericho?
Jado: I wouldn’t say so, there wasn’t a hierarchy at play. We were equals.
— And did you feel that he was going to become a big deal one day?
Jado: Oh, yeah. I just had a feeling that if he got a break he would really go far.
— What about him really captures the audience do you think?
Jado: First of all, if he’s in the ring, the whole crowd is paying attention to him. A little hand motion, a little footwork, anything and the crowd is completely focused on him. There’s not too many people that can suck the crowd in like that.
— Is that something he’s worked on, do you think? Or does it come naturally?
Jado: Hmm, to go back to timing, it’s down to that I think. Even if he’s just in the corner, on the apron during a match, the fans’ eyes are just drawn to him. That unique aura he has is what makes him great.
— Is that something other people can hope to learn?
Jado: Well there are some people it comes naturally to, and some that work and work and work at it. With Jericho it’s a little of both. You look at him, and he isn’t a huge guy by any means. But he was in the mix with, and beating guys like the Rock, or Steve Austin. That’s special.
— Were you following Jericho on his path through the different promotions from WAR to WWE?
Jado: Oh, yeah. I was always watching. I thought it was amazing for him, but at the same time it wasn’t a surprise. I knew he would make it sometime.
— Is there any other wrestler you think is similar to Jericho?
Jado: Hmm. Maybe Eddie Guerrero. But looking at how things have gone, I don’t think even Guerrero was better than Jericho.
— Jericho won a lot of his matches with a Boston Crab, the Walls of Jericho. He was able to get a lot of success with a very simple hold. What do you think about that?
Jado: As you get further into your career, you gradually cut out wasted movement. You learn what best draws the people in and stay with that. I think that simplicity came from him as he mellowed out.
— Is that something you can relate to in a way?
Jado: I think so. For him it’s not like he can’t do something, it’s that he knows he doesn’t need to, so he won’t. He can do a second rope moonsault, but only if he wants to.
— How do you think that will play into the match with Kenny then, when he has such an abundance of moves at his disposal?
Jado: Well, Jericho’s bag of tricks is far from small. I think in a lot of ways, we’re going to see the real Chris Jericho in this match. Not necessarily the Chris Jericho we’ve seen in WWE, but someone willing to pull out absolutely all the stops. It’s going to be awesome, I think.
— Is there something in particular about Jericho you want people to take notice of?
Jado: Like I said, people’s eyes are just drawn to him. I don’t need to say anything because he is just that magnetic and you’ll be able to see for yourself.
— Even his entrances are very spectacular and draw people in right away.
Jado: As soon as he steps through the curtain, he has you. That goes for his entrance and his matches.
— Is there anything else that really separates him from any other wrestler?
Jado: Hmm, I’d say he has a unique ability to make long matches seem short. He can make twenty minutes seem like the blink of an eye.
— That’s how much he really dominates his space.
Jado: It’s more that he has the ability to completely change the atmosphere. All through the match that will go on before this, the crowd in the Dome will be thinking ‘Jericho’s next!’. When that match is done ‘he’s coming up!’. When he enters ‘he’s here!’. During the match everyone will be focused on what he does, so when it ends they’ll think ‘it’s finished already?’. I think the only person that has that similar ability is Okada. As soon as that coin drops on his entrance, he has you.
— You’re Jericho’s good friend. This is his big New Japan return. Do you want to be in Jericho’s corner?
Jado: No way. I want it to really be a Jericho match. I don’t want to throw that off. Just, when the match is done we’ll probably grab a few beers together (laughs).