Don't be alarmed if there's a lot of scolding in Chris Jericho and Cheryl Burke's Dancing with the Stars rehearsal packages. The wrestler wants to get an earful. "Some people might be offended [to be yelled at], but to me, it's not offensive to be talked to that way," he tells TVGuide.com. "That's the only way to get better — and I need to get better quickly." That does not mean he and Burke are not getting along. See what else Jericho has to say about their partnership and why he's down for a Solid Gold routine.
Dancing's Kendra Wilkinson: Don't pick me to win
Why'd you decide to do the show? Have you been approached before?
Chris Jericho: This was the third time actually. I was approached for Season 10, then 11, then now for 12. The first time, you know, professionally, you say, "Oh, my schedule's too busy right now." But personally, you say, "Wow, I don't know if I could do that. It's a big commitment." The second time, I said, "This could be pretty cool." The third time, I was like, "I'm going to do it for sure." Now's the time. You've got to be 100 percent mentally and physically committed. I wanted to make sure I had nothing else going on and kept everything wide open so I could focus my whole effort on this show.
What's harder: dancing or wrestling?
Jericho: [Laughs] Well, I have no dance experience at all. It's funny because when there are a lot of things about them that are similar. There's a lot of leverage and weight distribution and balance. Then there's performing in front of a live crowd, your marks, choreography and as a musician, following the beat. It's not that foreign as it seems at first. The training's really hard. It's probably the hardest training I've ever done, but it's not futile. ... There are moves in dancing that I've never done before — you're turning your knee outwards, your elbow on the side. And hunching over — dancing's very elongated, very regal. Your neck stretches, your shoulders are down. So I'm focusing on getting rid of those bad habits.
How are rehearsals going?
Jericho: Good. The choreography is not that bad because it's like putting together a wrestling match. ... I'm good friends with Stacy Keibler, who did the show in Season 2, I believe, and she said it's super-hard. Now I understand. It's so easy to downplay dancing ... but when you get into it and understand what it takes to be good at it, it's very, very difficult. But it's also a lot of fun.
Athletes have fared well on this show. Do you feel pressure to keep the streak going?
Jericho: [Laughs] Not really, but yeah, they've done well! They've been Super Bowl champions or gold medal champions. You can see why because you need a lot of mental strength to do this. I think another advantage athletes and musicians have is experience performing live in front of a studio audience. I'm an athlete, but I'm also an entertainer. Wrestling is show business and I've always treated it that way, so when you're not a live entertainer, it's a whole different world to not be scared of that. In the WWE, things can change last minute and the show must go on.
Read Maks' Dancing blog
So you're not nervous for the first week?
Jericho: Nah. But that first week is very important because ... there's no elimination, so it's also about who's got the best personality, who's connecting with the fans. That's show business — connecting with the crowd. A lot of people have no idea who Chris Jericho is. I've got millions of fans worldwide, but there are millions of people watching who will be like, "Who's this wrestling guy?" And they might have a certain perception of what it is I'm going to be acting like and I'm pretty much the opposite of what they'd expect. So I think people will see that and it will be an eye-opener the first week to see "Who are these people?"
I hear you call Cheryl the Dancing Yoda.
Jericho: Yes, she's a master in teaching! She doesn't mess around. There's no ego-stroking. There's no shameless pandering, but I don't need that. I need to know what I'm doing wrong. She's a great coach. I love working with her. We gave ourselves a name: Team Chericho. And all of our fans are the Chericho-holics. And you've got to have chemistry with your partner. It's such a sensual type of art, you have to be locked in and be vibed in with your partner.
People always say they won't, but they usually end up doing a dance incorporating their career or best-known role, so will we see a wrestling-themed dance?
Jericho: [Laughs] I don't think you can incorporate any wrestling moves, at least right now. If we get to the freestyle, I think there will be a bunch of cool things I can do, like lifts and stuff. ... My mother passed away in 2005 and was a big dance fan. She loved Solid Gold. She was always like, "I wish I became a Solid Gold dancer." She always respected and was proud of me, but she wasn't a die-hard wrestling fan. So this is a tribute to her. I know this is the one thing in my career that she really would be flipping out for. She would want to see every minute. That gives me a little bit more of a drive too. I'd really like to do well for my mom.
Well, you could do Solid Gold for TV theme week.
Jericho: Maybe! I could pull out the yellow satin pants, open shirt with the huge medallion. We won't even do a dance; we'll just stand there and air out my chest! It'd be awesome!