In just one short season, Viceland’s Dark Side Of The Ring docuseries became appointment TV for thousands of wrestling fans around the world. Season one of the show explored such complex, mysterious stories as the Montreal Screwjob, the death of Bruiser Brody and the real story behind the Fabulous Moolah.
The show was such a hit that Viceland renewed it immediately, and season two promises more sordid tales of wrestling’s underbelly, from the death of Dino Bravo to the disaster of the Brawl For All tournament. New this season is the presence of wrestling legend Chris Jericho, who serves as a narrator for every episode, starting with the two-hour season premiere about the life and death of Chris Benoit. UPROXX caught up with Jericho to discuss his involvement with the project and his thoughts about the Benoit family.
Like many wrestling fans, I loved last season of Dark Side Of The Ring. But a lot of those stories were older stories. This episode about Chris Benoit is the most current story the show has told. It really kind of hit home with me in a way that nothing else had thus far. When you were approached to get involved with the show this season, what made you want to be a part of it?
Chris Jericho: Really, it all started with Chavo Guerrero actually called me asking if I would be involved with the Benoit show. That was something that I probably wouldn’t have done had he not called me. He told me, “Listen, this is gonna be done properly, with the right people involved, and guys that are very close to Chris, and if we don’t do it, somebody else will.” So that kind of convinced me to go for it. I really … I’m not going to say enjoyed it. But it was very cathartic to be involved at that level. I’ve done podcasts about it, but to be able to get on camera, and knowing that the people close to Chris and Eddie Guerrero were involved as well, it just felt right. Then after I did the interviews for that, they asked some questions about Owen Hart for another episode… I watched the first season and really enjoyed it. A lot of the stories I knew. Some of them I had never known anything about. So I really, once again, felt that it would be involved with the show, and to narrate it, and to be there every step of the way, through every episode. So it was a great experience. I love learning about the history of professional wrestling
Looking at season two, there are stories in here that have been more well documented, for better or for worse, such as Owen Hart’s death. But someone like Herb Abrams would be unknown to most modern wrestling fans, myself included. Was there something over the course of this season that you had no prior knowledge of walking into and were blown away by the story?
The New Jack episode was insane to me. I had obviously knew him briefly from ECW, but that was 25 years ago, I kind of heard about the reign of terror that he went on, [and to learn more about it] was very, very interesting to me. The whole story with Dino Bravo, I kind of knew it, but didn’t really know it, you know? Same thing as the Bruiser Brody and the Von Erichs stories last year. The Brawl For All [episode] I thought was pretty amazing, because I remember that. I wasn’t involved in it, I wasn’t in WWE at the time. But it was cool to see that all kind of panning out, and I really enjoyed that as well.
One allegation brought up in the Chris Benoit episode, which I had not heard before, was that Kevin Sullivan had physically abused his wife Nancy, according to her sister Sandra, but he had declined to appear on camera for the episode. As someone who worked for WCW during the time when the alleged abuse took place, what do you think about that? Was that something that surprised you when you heard that, or had you heard rumors of that for years?
I was pretty close to that situation, obviously, because once again, I was riding with Chris at the time, and rooming with him, and that sort of thing. So I had heard those allegations before. I think it’s pretty much well known within the business that that happened, or the rumors about it, at least, talking about it happening. So it wasn’t really much of a surprise. I think it’s some of the reasons why Nancy was so enamored with Chris, why she left Kevin for Chris in the first place, sure. You don’t leave a happy marriage for somebody else. So I’m sure that’s one of the reasons why it wasn’t so happy.
You also called for Nancy to go into the WWE Hall Of Fame in the episode. Do you think that will ever happen? What do you think it would take to make that happen?
I don’t know. I mean, I think just because there is so much baggage around the Chris situation that Nancy might be kind of painted with the same brush. That’s why I find it very unfair, because she was great at what she did. She’s kind of been forgotten in all of this, her career. She’s not just a victim. Much like Benoit, she had a whole career that needs to be talked about, and critically acclaimed. Not just the end of her life, but the whole life that led her to meeting Chris in the first place. So I don’t know what it would take. They do put people in there that have passed away. Obviously they couldn’t put her in without mentioning Benoit, and mentioning the end of her life. So it was probably political reasons. But I think from a professional standpoint, and from an innocent standpoint, she didn’t really do anything wrong in that case, so why should we forget about her? When you look at her, she was very, very good at what she did, being the manager/valet role.
Absolutely. She’s almost like Sherri Martel plus Miss Elizabeth for WCW. That’s what she felt like, at least, watching her.
Yeah, it’s the combination of the two for sure. Absolutely, absolutely.
I thought one of the most poignant parts of the whole episode was at the end, when you were able to bring together Chris Benoit’s son from his first marriage, David, and Nancy’s sister, Sandra, who hadn’t talked to each other in over a decade. It seemed like you had a big hand in getting that to happen. Do you think that reconciliation would have happened without the show?
It’s something I take great pride in, that I was able to kind of reunite them and bring them together. They definitely deserved to be with each other. Nobody knows what they went through other than the two of them. So it just felt like something that I felt I thought both of them enjoy and appreciate. I think they have reunited the auntie-nephew vibe that they had missed for such a long time. If nothing else, I think that’s something I’m very proud of at this time.
So David has expressed interest in wanting to follow in his father’s footsteps in being a professional wrestler. You have a lot of sway with AEW right now. Do you foresee a time when he could be working under the same banner as you? Do you think that’s a path he should pursue?
I don’t know. I know he’s thought about it for a while, kind of dabbled in it. I mean, he trained a little bit with Lance Storm, but never really got into it as much as he needed to, to really embrace the business. I think the concept of it, for him, is something that he’s very interested in. I think the actual training, and the life, and the actual sacrifice that you have to make do it… I don’t know. I’m not sure. That’s completely up to him. I know he’s been talking about it for a long time. So there comes a point where you have to stop talking about it and do it. If he’s going to, I mean, he needs to take that leap sooner rather than later for sure.
Changing topics: What do you think the audience can be expecting from the upcoming Blood And Guts match in AEW Dynamite?
I think it’s been built up well. I think it’s a match that everybody wants to see, with the Elite versus the Inner Circle. The story continues to build week after week. So I’m excited about it. It’s going to be one of the biggest episodes in AEW’s history, for sure.
The last time we talked, it was regarding your Christmas single, and you told me you had never heard “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey. Have you had time to correct this injustice?
No, I have not heard the song yet. I’ll probably get the Coronavirus before I hear that song.
Season two of Dark Side Of The Ring premieres on Viceland on March 24 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Future episodes will air weekly at 10 p.m. ET/PT.