WWE legend and current New Japan Pro Wrestling IWGP Intercontinental Champion Chris Jericho discussed a variety of topics concerning his time in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) on a recent edition of Talk Is Jericho.
Giving Eric Bischoff the nickname "ATM Eric":
“I basically sat down with him, and what I meant by ‘ATM Eric’ is that I remember when I sat down, I had been working in Japan full time and thought, okay I was making $50,000 a year in Japan, and WCW is full time. I have to pay road expenses so I am going to take a chance here. I am going to ask him for $100,000. Just thinking that number and saying it out loud was like asking for $20 million. When he sat down I remember him asking what kind of money I wanted. I couldn’t believe I was going to say that it but I told him $100,000. I thought that I was going to be screwed because of the amount of money I said, there’s no way, he’s going to tell me to get out of here. He then said to me that he was going to give me $135,000. I was like, really? He then told me that he wanted me to move to Atlanta, Georgia and that he was going to pay for my moving expenses and he’ll give me $165,000 a year for three years. I couldn’t believe it, $165,000.
"I remember that I called my dad and I told him and he goes, ‘You should have asked for more.’ He did the same thing when he negotiated with the New York Rangers where he went in there wanting a raise from $20,000 to $25,000 and they gave him $30,000. He was like, ‘I should have asked for $50,000.’ We have the habit of the Jericho/Irvine family negotiating for less money. I remember walking out of there with $165,000 thinking that I was rich. I couldn’t believe it.”
Bischoff wanting Jericho to have a rivalry with Brad Armstrong:
“He (Bischoff) didn’t remember that, but why would I make that up? Brad isn’t with us anymore, and was an unbelievable guy and a great worker. He was one of the sweetest guys you would ever meet in the business, so this isn’t a cut down, but if you look at where Brad Armstrong was at during that time period, because he did say to me that he envisions me as their version of Shawn Michaels. I know he kept harping at the fact that he was going to make me a big part of the Cruiserweight Division, which he did. That is where I started, but you have to remember that the Cruiserweight Division is not where Shawn Michaels would be.
"Those words were used that they wanted to make me their Shawn Michaels and that was the first thing that he said, which I couldn’t believe. Then he told me that he couldn’t wait for me to be in a feud with Brad Armstrong, you know, to me I was thinking that it’s not kind of being in the same vein as WCW’s version of Shawn Michaels. I know we talked about the Cruiserweight Division, but he did say the Shawn Michaels comments, so to me, I kind of thought that maybe I am coming in more than just a Cruiserweight, which is fine because at the time I was the Junior Heavyweight at the time even though I was 225 lbs. Everybody is a Junior Heavyweight now with the exception of Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns, but look at everyone else like, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Sami Zayn, they all would have been in the Cruiserweight Division in WCW in 1996. So it wasn’t like I was a small guy, but that was what he said to me and the Brad Armstrong thing was kind of confusing.”
Feeling mentally drained from working in WCW:
“This is the pro wrestling business. Filled with backstabbers and gypsies. You need to have a boss. That is why WWE still exists today and recently signed a $2 billion dollar deal with Fox and WCW has been gone for 15 years and that is because Vince McMahon is the boss. You work for him. Like I said, you know where the bucks stops. Nobody, not The Undertaker, not Triple H, not Shawn Michaels in his heyday of being a terror, none of those guys. If Vince McMahon doesn’t want you to do it, you don’t do it, you’re done. You have Scott Hall and Kevin Nash doing cannonballs from the ring into the pool at Club Lavela. That’s not in the script. They were taking a piss on the business. They’re doing cannonballs in the water rather than what they were supposed to do. You lost control of the inmates and you can’t do that in the pro wrestling business because you give guys an inch and they will go 10 miles. I just remembered seeing Eric Bischoff in the bar with the guys gathered around. You just can’t do that as the leader of the company I didn’t think that hanging around in the bar with Johnny Fairplay slapping you in the back is something that should be worthy because there were people going up to him and just telling him.”
“Like I said, maybe I just had a bad attitude because I wasn’t happy with what I was doing there. When I think about WCW overall I am very glad that I went there. It was a great experience. The good experience much outweighs the bad, I wouldn’t change it for anything, but when I was there it really did drain my love for the business; as it did for Eddie [Guerrero], as it did for Chris [Benoit]. I remember talking to Eddie, who grew up in the business and loved the business. Chris Benoit too. Benoit never had a job, he never had a job. His only job was pro wrestling. That was the only thing they gave him a check for. He never worked at a grocery store or at a McDonalds. When those guys were saying that I would rather quit the business and work at McDonalds then to spend another day in WCW that shows you what the atmosphere was like over there.”