It was the morning of March 4, 2003. Baba Booey walked into the studio during an email segment to inform Howard Stern that Chris Jericho had called. He requested to be a guest on the show.
The veteran pro wrestler is also the frontman for a heavy metal group called Fozzy who were out promoting their third album at the time. Stern isn’t fond of “celebrity bands”, groups led by performers who are famous for doing something else, and during this period of his career he would invite them in to go head-to-head against his own band, The Losers, in a Battle of the Bands competition to prove that his ragtag group of show staffers were less embarrassing. Baba Booey suggested they book Jericho and Fozzy for this very reason.
As March 26, the day of the competition, drew near, Jericho would leave trash talking voicemail messages with the show to gain some sort of psychological advantage. Meanwhile, the aggravation of rehearsals was getting to Stern, who firmly vowed to make this upcoming battle the final one. After Fozzy’s appearance, the Battle of the Bands bit would be retired for good.
In 2010, the WWE released Breaking The Code: Behind The Walls Of Chris Jericho, a three-disc set that features a whole slew of matches from throughout his career in the ring as well a 106-minute documentary about his life and times in and out of wrestling. During the Fozzy chapter of the documentary, specifically at the 75-minute mark, Jericho briefly mentions his appearance on The Stern Show.
In one sentence, he rewrites history:
“We went on Howard Stern and blew them out of the water…”
Not quite. According to Marksfriggin.com, who detailed the segment in his March 26 write-up (the competition portion can be found under The Losers Vs. Fozzy In A Battle Of The Bands, section 3), although Fozzy did get some positive comments from both Stern and even some listeners who called in, the three professional judges (A&R Records Senior Vice President Ben Goldman, Matt Pollack from V2 Records and MTV’s Tom Calderon) who all came in to evaluate both bands were far less enthusiastic:
“Howard moved on to Ben Goldman to get his review of the two bands. Ben went ahead and said that it was difficult to judge because the songs were completely different [The Losers did Neil Young’s Old Man while Fozzy did an original called To Kill A Stranger]. He said that if he was going to sign a band it would be the…man he’d be looking at – [Stern] – and he’d have to go with The Losers. Up next was Matt Pollack. He said he didn’t have good news for Howard. He said that he wasn’t feelin’ it with them. He said he likes Neil Young and all but not through Howard. He said he didn’t have good news for Chris Jericho either. He said that he gained points because he was huge and could pummel him. He said he wasn’t a big fan of the music but their performance pushed it over the edge for him but just a little bit. Howard said he was surprised at that review.
The final Judge, Tom Calderon, gave his review and said he had to agree with the other two judges. He said he found Jericho to be very theatrical but that’s not where we are musically in the world at this time so The Losers were his choice. Howard sounded thrilled that he pulled it out again. He said Fozzy sounded great and they may have been one of the best bands to take them on. Chris was taking it hard according to what Howard could see. He said he turned red. Chris said he was trying to be cool and smile but it was tough.”
So much for blowing them out of the water, eh, Jericho?
When I screened Breaking The Code last year (which I highly recommend), I was immediately annoyed with Jericho’s blatant revisionism. Did he really think he could get away with such nonsense? Unfortunately, I didn’t write about it at the time and always regretted it.
Thankfully, I got a second chance when the segment recently re-aired on satellite radio during Stern’s annual two-week July vacation. On Friday, July 6, Fozzy Vs. The Losers was re-packaged on the fifth and final part of King Of All Judges week on Sirius XM. (Every segment involved various evaluations that have taken place on the show over the decades as a tribute to Stern’s new gig as a judge on America’s Got Talent.)
So, the next time you hear The Best In The World At What He Does brag about his Stern appearance, call him out on his bullshit. Fozzy didn’t defeat The Losers in 2003.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, July 14, 2012