Chris Jericho Didn’t Know He Was Going to Beat The Rock and Steve Austin Until the Night of the Match

Chris Jericho has been wrestling for 30 years. In those decades he’s performed with independent leagues, the now defunct ECW and WCW, WWE and now AEW. Jericho appeared on Michael Rosenbaum’s Inside of You podcast on Jan. 5 where he spilled the behind the scenes secrets about one of his legendary bouts against Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Steve Austin.

Chris Jericho beat The Rock and Steve Austin in the same night 

The 2001 Vengeance pay-per-view event was a landmark for Jericho and the WWE, then still called WWF. Jericho beat The Rock for the World Championship, then beat Steve Austin for the WWF Championship. It was the first time a wrestler held both titles simultaneously. 

Chris Jericho titles
Chris Jericho | Ron Bull/Toronto Star via Getty Images

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“I found out that I was going to become the undisputed champion by beating The Rock and Steve Austin, the Rock first, Steve Austin second in the same night,” Jericho told Rosenbaum. “Which first time ever, undisputed champion, it was a big thing. You would think, ‘Okay, you probably knew about this months ahead. You were planning for it. The shows were written and scripted to build up to that point.’ No, not true.”

The way Vince McMahon let Chris Jericho know he was going to be the champion

Everything in wrestling is a performance. So WWE CEO Vince McMahon put on a little private show for Jericho’s benefit. 

“I found out about it that afternoon,” Jericho said. “We were in San Diego. I was at catering and Vince McMahon was there with The Undertaker and they were talking where Vince knew I could hear him but they weren’t talking to me. He said, ‘Hey Taker, you know how you know the business is going down the toilet?’ ‘How Vince?’ ‘We’re putting the title on Jericho.’ And that’s how I found out I was becoming undisputed champion.”

Chris Jericho | George Napolitano/FilmMagic

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It was such short notice that Jericho couldn’t even call his family. 

“My wife was like, ‘Why didn’t you invite me? You should’ve told me.’” Jericho said. “I didn’t know. I didn’t know until two hours before the show. ‘How did you not know?’ Because that’s just how the business is.”

He didn’t need a lot of time to plan the matches with The Rock and Steve Austin

Two hours was all Jericho needed with Johnson and Austin to craft their landmark matches.

Steve Austin vs The Rock
L-R: The Rock And Stone Cold Steve Austin | Getty Images

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“We can put it together,” Jericho said. “We have great chemistry so we can put together a match [in] half an hour. It wouldn’t take long. Maybe not even that long. Now, in wrestling, I have a reputation of if you have a match with Jericho, it’s really easy to put together.”

Other wrestlers might have dragged the process out, but Jericho doesn’t.

The Rock wrestling
The Rock clotheslines Batista | KMazur/WireImage

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Some guys will sit there for six hours and put sh*t together. Not me, dude. 20 minutes we’ve got it, we’re done. Then we think about it for a bit, come back and maybe put some other stuff and change a few things but there’s no reason to be there for six hours. There’s nothing you can think of in six hours that you can’t think of in 20 minutes if you have a little bit of preparation in your head… Maybe we change something in the ring during the match. That’s fine too but it should never take hours and hours and hours to put something together. 

Chris Jericho, Inside of You podcast, 1/5/21