April 6, 2011

As a performer, there's a goal I set out to accomplish every time I step onto the stage. Whether it's making people cheer (or boo) in the WWE, having people sing along to my songs with Fozzy or engaging people with my books, there's a certain magic that comes with knowing that you've affected people.

When I first agreed to do 'Dancing With the Stars,' after two previous invitations, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. The concept of ballroom dancing was as foreign to me as a Werner Herzog film, and I had no expectations of what I could or couldn't do on the floor. Would I actually be able to do it? Could I entertain people with my moves, my charisma and my showmanship? And, more importantly, could I make them feel something special while they watched me?

The first week I was a jittery jitterson and happy to get it over with. The second week I felt much more comfortable, and I think I surprised some people with the lightness of my footwork. But I still hadn't created any magic.

That changed Monday night, when I danced the rumba to 'Let It Be,' by the Beatles, as a tribute to my mother, Loretta. She passed away in 2005, after having traveled a hard road for the previous 15 years of her life. But she always supported me in anything I did.

It's funny 'cause I don't think she really understood wrestling. She watched the wrestling matches because I was on, but she had no emotional attachment to what I was doing. But she loved dancing! I remember watching 'Solid Gold' (a musical variety show that was on every Saturday night in the early '80s) with her, and she was always impressed with the Solid Gold Dancers, a troupe of hot chicks (or "gals," as she called them) who would appear throughout the show like a glittery version of The Fly Girls. (Carrie Ann Inaba, represent, yo!)

"I would've made a great Solid Gold Dancer," my mom always said. And she would've. My mother was beautiful and sexy -- am I allowed to say that about dear old mum? -- with a dancer's body and a great personality. It's because of this that I know she would be a HUGE 'DWTS' fan and would've watched the show religiously.

She would've been so proud of me for doing the show, and that's one of the main reasons I wanted to dance for her. Doing the 'Let It Be' performance was amazing for me. To dance such a beautifully choreographed routine to one of the best songs by my favorite band, for my mum, almost moved me to tears.

What I didn't expect was that it would move others to tears. All I heard after the show from family, friends and pure strangers was how they had shed a tear when they watched Cheryl Burke and I perform. They felt what I was feeling. They related to it. They empathized with it. They were moved by it.

The atmosphere in the studio Monday night was electric. There was magic in the air. And, for the first time since I began this journey almost six weeks ago, I felt like a dancer. Pure, raw emotion that moves people and provides them with a magical moment is worth more than any score. And Team Chericho felt like we scored three 10s when it came to creating such a special moment. As a performer, that's all that I strive for.

March 30, 2011

A lot of a people have been asking me why I decided to do 'Dancing With the Stars.' There are many reasons, and the feeling I had Monday night when I finished in first place was one of them. (
Technically I finished in a three-way tie for first, but that's nitpicking now, isn't it?)

a case of the jitters in week one, I was ecstatic with my performance in week two. I really felt in the groove, in the pocket and in the moment. I also felt like I was wearing a World War II army helmet with all of the goop and greasy-kid stuff that was squelched (fun word!) in my hair.

But that's part of the fun of 'DWTS,' isn't it? Every day is a veritable Halloween, where everyone can wear as much spandex, rhinestones, guyliner and hair products as they want and still look somewhat cool doing so. It's the epitome of show bizness, baby!

It was also gratifying to hear the judges' positive comments, especially when Bruno Tonioli upgraded me from a "dancing beast" to a "dancing gazelle," which I assume means I have much better posture and stepping qualities. Next time I party in the Serengeti, I'll make sure to check out some gazelles.

It was also good to hear Len Goodman say that, while he was expecting me to be a plodding lump farting across the dance floor, he was pleasantly surprised at how light on my feet I was and how effortless I looked. While I've made a career off of low expectations, being light on my feet could be my secret weapon. It's actually one of the most important qualities of a good wrestler, and I was a good wrestler.

But now I am transforming into a dancer. I am the Black Swan of 'DWTS'! I may be a little beefier than Natalie Portman (and not as pretty), but you get where I'm coming from.

This transformation was evidenced by my 7-year-old son Ash's reaction to my performance. You might have seen him -- the cute little blond guy in the dapper suit who was sitting between two hot blondes (my wife Jessica and WWE diva Maryse) in the front row of the audience. He was holding his arms up in the air and screaming as if he was signaling for a field goal in the world's most exciting football game.

Ash has always appreciated my wrestling career, but he never really paid too much attention to my matches. However, after the 'DWTS' show, he ran across the room and jumped into my arms with the biggest smile on his face. He said, "You were awesome, Dad! You've got nothing to worry about. All my friends are going to vote for you! You were great!" My heart melted.

So that's the real reason why I decided to do 'DWTS' -- I wanted to have my son sit in the front row and tell me I did great. As a father (and a dancing gazelle), it's a moment I'll never forget.

March 28, 2011

I've performed in front of crowds of up to 70,000 people for more than two decades, but last week I experienced a whole different animal. Something so foreign, so terrifying, so intimidating that, beforehand, I was as nervous as a 12-year-old girl meeting Justin Bieber for the first time.

Yes, kiddies, I was about to make my ballroom debut on 'Dancing With the Stars'!

After rehearsing incessantly for more than three weeks with my partner Cheryl Burke, it was finally time to do the first show. My dress rehearsals had been a bit shaky -- performing my routine in the
actual 'DWTS' studio was scary. Suddenly the guy who had a so-called advantage because of years of performing live was behind the eight ball.

Sure, I'm as calm as a cucumber when it comes to wrestling or performing with my band
Fozzy, but ballroom dancing? Are you crazy? I'd never done that before. I was a complete novice. The whole experience was as foreign to me as stand-up comedy is to The Situation.

I spent the day of the premiere hanging in my trailer, listening to Metallica and getting mentally in the zone. (Yes, 'Enter Sandman' and 'DWTS.' Somehow I think Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich would appreciate the irony.)

When my costume was ready, it helped a little to put it on and get into character. It made everything more real. I got the idea for the leather vest -- pleather, actually -- from the old Mel Gibson movie
'The Road Warrior.'
Although it also had a gay biker / Village People–type vibe to it, as well.

That night, after 90 minutes of waiting in the "celebriquarium," I was so amped up and high on nervous energy (and whippets), I would've bum-rushed the dance floor and started cha-cha-cha-ing during the commercial break in Hugh Hefner's face. I couldn't have waited any longer.

When I hit the stage, all my nerves went away. The energy from the crowd and the sound of the orchestra helped me become Chris Jericho: The Performer! I was once again at home.

The routine went well, the judges were fair, and I ended up being ranked number five for the night. Not great, not terrible, but solid ... good even. It was a cool place to be after my first show.

Now that I've gotten my feet wet, I have some confidence, which can be a dangerous weapon for someone like me. So, bring on the quickstep, baby!

Until next time, I'm MC Hammer ...

Chris Jericho
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