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"The Lion" Is Back In The Ring

Actor, radio host, musician and wrestler Chris Jericho attends the Trump Vodka launch party at Les Deux on Jan. 17, 2007 in Los Angeles.
GETTY IMAGES/Chad Buchanan
By Leo D. Rommel

Look out, Randy Orton. There's an old face back in the mix.

Eleven days ago, Chris Jericho interrupted Orton on "RAW" during Orton's orchestrated "passing of the torch" ceremony and revealed to him his intentions to "save" wrestling fans by reclaiming the WWE Championship.

Heck of a way to make a comeback.

"I stepped back for two years to get away, just to take a break," Jericho, 36, told The ShowBuzz. "I now felt the time was right to come back, and I was excited to do so."

Especially after the completion of his New York Times best-selling autobiography "A Lion's Tale: Around the World in Spandex," a critically-acclaimed 412-page positive spin on wrestling that details Jericho's historic transformation from no-name amateur to the first undisputed champion in WWE history.

According to Jericho, writing the book reminded him how much he loves the business of wrestling and how much fun he had while participating in it.

"There were so many reasons why I should have quit over the years but quitting was just never an option for me," he said. "People said I was too small, and I would think to myself, 'Small? I don't get it?' But I still believed in myself and my strengths and I just went for it and I think remembering those things for the book convinced me to come back."

This time around, Jericho says he'll be able to sidestep many of the stresses that he experienced earlier in his wrestling career because of several other lures in his life, such as stage acting, being a rock musician and hosting a radio show.

"I worked on a lot of things in the two years I had off, some things I wanted to work on creatively," Jericho said. "I wanted to take myself outside the wrestling box and more into the entertainment box. And that's why I came back to wrestling, because I didn't have to give any of those other things up."

Given the recent negative frenzy surrounding other wrestlers, including the highly-publicized murder-suicide involving Chris Benoit, and the sport's ongoing steroids controversy, Jericho says now was an ideal time to return.

"It's a good time to expose some of the more positive assets of the profession," Jericho said. "When I got into wrestling at age 8, the things that attracted me to the sport were its personalities and its characters. That's why people get into it, and they need to be reminded of that."

When asked if he ever tried steroids, Jericho said yes, but noted that he took them at the very beginning of his career and that his usage was brief.

"I dabbled with it early-on but I quickly realized that it wasn't going to make a difference for me either way," Jericho, who started his career in 1990 as a 5-foot-11, 195-pound rookie, said. "It didn't matter what kind of a drug I took. I wasn't going to be 6-foot-8 and 350 pounds, and it wasn't going to help me make a connection with the fans.

"For me, it was about being faster and quicker that was going to make me stand out."

Jericho also feels that wrestling is taking the appropriate steps to eliminate steroid usage.

"It's a problem that needs to be dealt with and (the WWE is) dealing with it," Jericho said. "They should make steroids illegal and get Congress involved if that's the way to go."

However, steroids, he explained, do not determine how good an athlete is.

"There is a misconception that if someone takes steroids, all their skill and talent comes from that and that's not true at all," he said.

Regardless of what may come, Jericho is committed to continuing his wrestling career.

"My life is a story both wrestling fans and non-wrestling fans can enjoy, a story about someone working hard to achieve their dream," he said. "I think that shows in me as an entertainer and I look forward to doing more of that in the future."

By Leo D. Rommel