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PODCAST RECAP AND REVIEW: Talk Is Jericho with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn on how The Festival of Friendship almost played out, pulling Kevin away from a falling Shane McMahon at Hell in a Cell, their relationships with Vince McMahon

Talk Is Jericho

Release Date: January 17, 2018

Recap by: Joe Aguinaldo

DIRECT LINK TO LISTEN/DOWNLOAD

0:00 – Intro

On the show today are Chris’s former best friend Kevin Owens and Kevin’s new best friend Sami Zayn to talk about their new tag team, road stories, their early days on the Canadian Indies, dressing room ping pong, Hell In a Cell with Shane McMahon and the KO’s headbutt on Vince McMahon.

1:10 – Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn

Chris, Kevin and Sami are in a secret meeting place in the Tampa Arena. Chris had no idea they were in town until he heard on the radio the WWE was in town. However, Chris didn’t want to be one of those guys that hangs around, and doesn’t want to say hi, which is why they are in a secret place. Sami didn’t even know that part of the arena existed. Chris says he always hated when guys would just show up but Sami says this is still Chris’ locker room as he was just there a couple of months ago. Chris said he wouldn’t have shown up if Kevin and Sami hadn’t been there.

Chris says the last thing you want to do when you’re in the business is hang around the business on your days off. Sami agrees but Kevin can be around wrestling all the time. Kevin talks about going to an NXT show on his day off and says if his wife and kids are busy and he has time, he’ll go to a wrestling show. Kevin is presently moving his family to Florida and tells a story about his plans to go to a TV taping while waiting for his family to come down to Florida. He had already told Matt Bloom and Triple H that he was going to do something with Johnny Gargano but didn’t end up going as his daughter was sick so he had to cancel.

Sami brings up wrestling at a bar in Winnipeg (which is famous for bar wrestling) which brings up a story about Kevin’s only time wrestling in Winnipeg in a tag team with Sami (4:55 into the podcast). They landed in the afternoon and were driven to the hotel. They stayed at the hotel and at 7:30 pm they had not been contacted by the promoter who was picking them up. They finally got picked up at 10:15 pm and the show started at 11:00 pm (it was supposed to start at 9:00 pm). Kevin and Sami were tagging but didn’t get into the ring until 1:00 am. Kenny Omega was in that match, which was a three or four way tag team match.

Sami brings up the topic of bad wrestling and their appreciation for bad wrestling. Chris says he loves it and Sami adds for them to appreciate a match it has to be really good or really bad. They all talk briefly about travelling and sometimes not knowing what town they came from or what their room numbers are at a hotel. This brings up a road story with Kevin and Sami (8:28 into the podcast). At first they talk about watching a video while on the road and the rule in their car is driver picks the music.

This sets off a tangent discussion about Kevin driving and choosing WWF The Music while driving to an event (we’ll get back to the point about the video above in as sec). After the show, Kevin and Sami get in the car and Kevin’s son is with them. They drove to a gas station and Kevin’s phone reconnected to the sound system in the car and it was still playing the WWF The Music. A weird acoustic-ish version of ‘Bow Down To The King’ was playing which they got a kick out of. At that point, Kevin’s son needed some help so they went to a gas station and Kevin went to help his son but left his door open with the music playing. Sami got out to fill up the car while singing Triple H’s theme song (and getting the words wrong). Kevin noticed a group of fans watching them who knew who they were. As Kevin got back in the car, one of the guys asked ‘Are you Kevin Owens’ and Kevin said ‘sometimes’ and drove off.  

Sami continues saying if someone asks Kevin for a picture, he’ll do it but dislikes when someone asks ‘Do you know who you look like?…Kevin Owens’. Chris mentions Paul Stanley from Kiss has the same attitude. Chris then tells a story about being mistaken for Edge (13:36 into the podcast).

Sami then brings up a similar story (14:09 into the podcast). He had gone to Iceland for vacation and after a hike, Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad was there. Aaron had done some work with the WWE so Sami introduced himself. During one of the tourists hikes, they were in the same group and bumped into each other at the end of a hike. A fan saw Aaron and started freaking out then saw Sami and started freaking out more. He asked for a picture with both of them. He puts his arm around Aaron Paul then puts his arm around Sami, looks at him and says….’Zack Ryder right’? (Sami also mentions this story got a pop when he told Zack Ryder).

Chris brings them back to the topic of bad wrestling which brings us back to the video they watched above which was Survivor Series 1996 (17:12 into the podcast). Sami thought the opening match was atrocious but Kevin thought it was different than what their used to doing. Kevin said it wasn’t a bad match but the execution was different and Sami thought it was like they were wrestling on a house show. He also says depending on what stage he has been in his career, he’ll view wrestling from that point of view. Right now he watches through the WWE goggles and when he watches of his old stuff, it doesn’t look right. Chris talks about watching house shows in Winnipeg and says that nobody did anything, which was how the wrestlers used to work at the time.

One of the biggest kicks Kevin got out of that match Survivor Series match was Owen eliminating Henry Godwinn who kicked out after 3 (19:26 into the podcast). This leads into a discussion about how the business has changed. Wrestlers in the past use to kick out at three to stay strong. Chris mention JBL used to do this. Sami says nobody cares if you kick out after three. Chris says that’s what guys back then would do and shows how this is an example of how the business has changed. He adds matches at house show now would be a PPV quality back then and house show match now would have stolen the show in Survivor Series 1996. This shows the business has evolved as work rate has become more important.

Kevin brings up that in the past, people would always critique the product, which hasn’t changed. Chris adds the three most hardcore fans are wrestling fans, Star Wars fans, and Kiss fans. They love and hate everything. Chris brings up that he hates the acting in the original Star Wars movies especially Mark Hamill but back then it was genius. Sami says it’s all context. Things are good for in a specific time and the place and are magical because it existed in that time and place.  

Back from break, Chris talks about when they first start wrestling in Montreal and finally getting to the WWE. He asks them if it was ever their plan to become a tag team in the WWE (25:37 into the podcast). Kevin says it was never the plan and every territory they worked, they got there at the same time (or around the same time) except for the WWE. He continues, it wasn’t their idea to start teaming together. They would get booked together everywhere and eventually would be booked as a tag team. Sami adds they never teamed in Canada but would be booked as a tag team when they wrestled in the States as they were two Canadians coming into the territory. Additionally, both guys would be booked at the same time so it made sense to make them a team. They would go to team in CZW, PWG, Europe, and Japan. When they got to ROH, even though they had teamed in the past and their names were linked together, that was the first time they became and actual team and specifically said they were going to win the tag team champions (which they did, although it took awhile).

Years later, Sami got signed to WWE but it took some time for Kevin to get signed. When Kevin finally did get signed, Sami was already doing his thing so they couldn’t be booked as a team. However, one of the first angles Kevin did when he came into WWE was attack Sami so even as rivals, their names were still linked together. Sami says they’ve used each other as a measuring stick and to pull each other to the next goal.

Chris asks if they had a tag team name in ROH and Kevin says he doesn’t like having a name. Even when Jericho and Owens were teaming, he hated the name JeriKO. He even doesn’t like simultaneous entrances and brings up the Riott Squad’s entrance (29:34 into the podcast). They are three individuals who come to the ring and all do the same thing when they slide into the ring. When Kevin saw that, he was exasperated. Then he talks about The Bar’s entrance and describes and is amazed by all the steps in their entrance but at least they are still individuals. (Quick aside, Kevin describing the Riott Squad and especially The Bar’s entrance is hilarious). Coming back to the question about the tag team name, Kevin says they don’t need a name, they’re Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Chris said he hated the name JeriShow and told Big Show to never use that in a promo. Chris asks what they would have done if they had to come up with a name and Kevin said he would have been OK with The Sami and Kevin Show as that’s what they’ve been calling each other on TV.

Chris asks if they’re having a good time as a team. They both say yes but Kevin says it’s funny to see Sami as a heel and turn up the annoying features of his personality (32:11 into the podcast). Kevin is still the same as he’s always been but Sami is bouncing around and being as annoying as he can be. Sami talks about playing foosball in high school and being obnoxious and running his mouth whenever they would score a goal. He uses that as inspiration for his current character.

This brings up a story about a ping pong game in China with Ho Ho Lun who was in the CWC and NXT (34:20 into the podcast). Sami got the entire locker room behind Ho Ho Lun during this ping pong game. They were on a crazy world tour and Chris remembers being in another room and hearing yelling and screaming (he says it was worse than the New Day playing video games). Chris went into the dressing room and saw Sami playing Ho Ho Lun.

Chris asks how Sami got everyone on Ho Ho Lun’s side. Sami says whenever Ho Ho scored he would make excuses but when he scored a point he would dance around and run his mouth (he was also shirtless and sweating). It was a tit for tat game and came down to match point and when Ho Ho beat Sami, the pop in the locker room was huge. Kevin says at one point after Sami scored, he looked at the ball and said to it ‘give me a little kiss’ which is what Brock said to Jericho when they got into the locker room altercation after SummerSlam. Sami has no recollection of saying this as he gets into a zone where he doesn’t know what he’s saying or doing. Sami says this is the same attitude he wants to bring with his heel character.

Kevin says during one entrance on Smackdown, Sami was bouncing around and almost knocked down Owens (37:56 into the podcast). Kevin had to tell him to stop. Sami said Kevin telling him to stop didn’t really do anything, however, he said a friend texted him saying the last thing Sami wanted to be was the Martin Prince of the WWE, which is where Sami realized he needed to find adjust his character. Sami says he worked some small shows in Canada as a heel but this is the first time he’s truly been a heel and he’s still learning how to do it. Sami goes on to say he needs to find the balance because he doesn’t look like a Brock Lesnar and he wants to be a mouthy heel but also wants to be a guy who would be considered for the World Title. He doesn’t want to be a guy Vince looks at and says ‘no he can’t be champion.’ Sami brings up Vince and says he doesn’t know how Vince views him in that regard.

Chris brings up up the story of Vince and his mom (41:11 into the podcast). Kevin and Sami were waiting to talk to Vince when Vince comes out to see his mother. Sami says he doesn’t have much of a relationship with Vince. Chris sees Vince and they give each other a hug and start talking, then Chris says ‘Hey…Happy Birthday’ and Vince says thank you. Then Sami says Happy Birthday and Vince blew him off. Chris laughed when that happened. After that, Vince introduced both of them to his mom.

Chris brings up the Festival of Friendship and says it was a great piece of business (43:10 into the podcast). Sami says there aren’t many promos that are memorable years later and  that was one of them. Kevin says one of the things that helped tremendously was how Kevin Dunn shot the segment and specifically when Kevin attacks Chris (click here to see the segment and go to about 2:30 into the clip when Jericho says ‘how come my name’s on this’). Owens says Dunn deserves credit for that part. Chris says he remembers thinking about this months before it aired. Kevin says they ironed it out the afternoon they were getting ready for the Highlight Reel in Toronto where they were going to blame each other for the loss in Survivor Series but ended up blaming Roman Reigns (click here to view this segment).

Sami says that Highlight Reel is his personal favorite thing Owens and Jericho have done. They go back to talking about the Festival of Friendship and how it almost didn’t happen how they wanted it. Chris had talked to Vince about the Festival, however, Vince wasn’t at that RAW and people wanted to change it. Originally, other people wanted to get rid of the List of KO portion and have Owens attack Chris suddenly but that had been done so many times. Chris had to contact Vince to make sure it wasn’t changed. Sami said there were few turns that people remembered and mentions Shawn superkicking Booker T out of the NWO (which ironically enough, Sami didn’t remember and Kevin had to remind him). Sami thinks Kevin turning on Chris during the Festival is unique and people will remember it.

Chris says when he looks back on his last run in the WWE it was a great run. Kevin says each one of Chris’ WWE runs are like a chapter in a book and that gives Chris clear memories of angles he’s been in, whereas Sami and Kevin are constantly going and may not have as clear memories. Sami says if they had some time off, they may be able to reflect on what they’ve done but because they are on this perpetual schedule, they don’t have that time to reflect and are only looking forward. This also brings up a brief discussion of having to work over Christmas and New Years.

Chris brings up the Hell In A Cell with Shane McMahon (54:15 into the podcast) and asks how it was like working with Shane. Kevin says they had a blast and talks first about how he worked with A.J Styles over the summer leading to the Shane angle. Kevin says he didn’t feel that he and A.J hit it out of the park and none of their matches connected. When Shane got involved, it brought a different element to the feud. Kevin goes on to say the three way between he, A.J and Jericho was arguably one of the best matches he and A.J had. He even says he wasn’t thrilled with the SummerSlam match with A.J (although the fans liked it). Kevin says all the stuff after that with Shane and Vince was as big as it got leading up to the Hell In The Cell and Sami’s turn which was really stressful for Sami.

Sami talks about his involvement in the Cell match and says there were three lives he had to save, Shane’s for obvious reasons, Kevin if he doesn’t get him off the table quick enough, and his because if he ruined it, he’d be dead (57:00 into the podcast). Sami brings up how ridiculous this stunt is if you look at it from the perspective of any other medium of entertainment. To Sami, this was an elite Hollywood level stunt but in sports entertainment, the attitude was ‘just pull him off when you see Shane’s foot leave the cage’. Sami had 1.8 seconds to go from being invisible to grabbing Kevin and pulling him off the table. Chris says this is a lot of pressure and Sami had knots in his stomach all day.

Sami and Kevin had rehearsed pulling Kevin off the table earlier in the day but that was made more difficult because Kevin was having back issues and couldn’t just pop off the table. Sami says if you watch the match, Shane comes 3 feet away from Kevin’s head but Kevin says it was within a foot because he felt the wind. They all agree this is a crazy stunt and if it was done in Hollywood it would have been rehearsed ad nauseum. Even though they did rehearse parts of the spot, what they couldn’t rehearse was the actual jump which was done the first time during the match.

Chris asks if they were on top of the cage and Kevin says yes. Chris says when you’re looking up it doesn’t look so bad but when you’re at the top it’s crazy. Sami said when he looked up at Shane at the top of the cage he couldn’t believe how high he was. Chris mentions the Hell In A Cell he had against Triple H match (Judgement Day 2002 I think) where he had talked about jumping off the cage onto the UnAmericans but when he got up there he said eff that.

Sami understands that feeling because it was the same way he felt when he did his first ladder match with the Briscoes (1:01:03 into the podcast). Originally, they had talked about doing spots off the ladder, however, when they tried the ladder prior to the match, it was not stable and Sami didn’t want to do spots off it. He says if you watch all his ladder matches, you’ll see him bump onto ladders but not off ladders.

Chris asks Kevin about the headbutt on Vince (1:02:11 into the podcast). Chris says when Vince was younger, he would take moves like the Walls of Jericho but these days, at 72, Vince doesn’t do those sorts of things anymore. Chris asked if Kevin was worried about it. Kevin says he wasn’t too worried but says it was pretty crazy. He and Vince had talked earlier in the day but says talking to Vince in his office compared to Vince the character coming to the ring is a different animal.

After they shook hands and put the mics down, Kevin said Vince started talking ‘so much sh*t’. Kevin was legitimately taken aback by Vince who was swearing like crazy. He says nobody can accuse him of taking it easy on the boss. Kevin says it was so surreal and something he will never forget. He also says it put him on a different level especially because Vince was not pleased with Kevin months earlier in the way Kevin was portraying himself and how he was working. Kevin made every effort to give Vince what he wanted and feels he succeeded, which is why Vince was willing to do the headbutt angle (click here to watch the angle). After the headbutt, a lot of people started comparing it to the Shibata headbutt (which was brutal) but Owens said they aren’t going to do it again.

Vince took a calculated risk and at the end of the day it’s his company and if Vince wants to take a headbutt, he’ll take a headbutt. Chris adds that if Kevin had went light on Vince, Kevin would have been in trouble. Kevin is pretty sure this is why Vince talked sh*t to Kevin before the headbutt. People have asked Kevin if Vince was telling Kevin to make the headbutt good when the mics were down. Kevin says in a way but not in those words.

Chris brings up a quick story about how Vince swore on-air when Shane came back in Detroit and felt bad about doing that (1:07:18 into the podcast). He also tells another quick story about how he (Chris) swore after RAW went off the air. Backstage, Chris told Vince what happened and Vince said ‘dammit Chris’ and walked out. Kevin had a similar moment with Vince. Kevin swore on TV because he got hurt. When Kevin came backstage, Vince said they had caught it. Kevin said he was sorry and Vince said ‘you’re going to have to learn dammit.’

Chris asks Sami if he’s cultivated more interaction with Vince since he’s become a heel (1:09:19 into the podcast). Sami says no, but it’s on him for not making more of an effort at cultivating that relationship so Vince can guide you. Sami says when he turned, Vince told him to smile more. Chris says Vince probably said that because it’s annoying. Sami adds that Vince probably thinks the way Sami normally acts is aggravating and doesn’t want Sami to change a thing. The difference is now the context with Sami’s character in that Sami doesn’t have the weight of the world on his shoulders trying to please the fans. This is not a departure from Sami’s babyface character but now when he smiles it means something different. Sami says it’s not something he would have thought of on his own but when he did it he totally understood.

As a final question, Chris asks what their favorite matches were as fans before they started wrestling (1:12:33 into the podcast). When Kevin first started, he says it was Brock vs. Big Show where Heyman turns on Brock at Survivor Series 2002. At this point, Sami jumps in and they go off into a tangent onto the Taker vs. Mankind match from Survivor Series ’96 and how Mick Foley could move back then. Sami says the first match that comes to mind is Austin vs. Bret from Wrestlemania 13. To Sami, that was a level of storytelling that was beyond his comprehension and couldn’t believe the emotions they made him feel. Sami also mentions Hardys vs. Edge and Christian in the first ladder match. Chris says Steamboat vs Savage is a classic but he brings up the Rockers vs the Orient Express from SummerSlam 1990s.

Chris asks who they’re wrestling tonight. Kevin and Sami will be teaming up with Baron Corbin against Shinsuke Nakamura, Randy Orton and Bobby Roode.

1:18:40 – Show wrap

Chris thanks Sami and Kevin for being on the podcast and plugs his Rock and Wrestling Rager at Sea. He says they had the best sales week ever and goes through who will be on the cruise and plugs the second season of ‘But I’m Chris Jericho’ (www.butimchrisjericho.com) . And that’s a wrap.

Rating – 9/10

This podcast was great. The fact that these three are friends is evident throughout the podcast. It was a little difficult recapping this as they would jump off into tangents then come back to the main topic they were talking about. The stories were great and all three were hilarious, especially Sami Zayn who is definitely out there (and I mean that with the utmost respect). I totally recommend this podcast, especially if you’re a fan of any of these three. As a final piece of advice, if by chance you see Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn or Chris Jericho, don’t ask them ‘Hey…do you know you look like…’. They’re OK if you just ask them for a picture.

Timestamps

0:00 – Intro
1:10 – Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
4:55 – Tag Teaming in Winnipeg
8:28 – Sami and Kevin on the road
13:36 – Chris gets mistaken for Edge
14:09 – Sami meets Aaron Paul in Iceland
17:12 – Discussion about Survivor Series 1996
19:26 – Kicking out after the three count
25:37 – Getting started in the wrestling business
29:34 – Kevin doesn’t like the Riott Squad entrance
32:11 – Sami as a heel
34:20 – Sami as a ping pong heel
37:56 – Kevin tells Sami to stop during Smackdown
41:11 – Chris and Sami meet Vince McMahon’s mom
43:10 – The Festival of Friendship
54:15 – Kevin vs. Shane – Hell In A Cell
57:00 – Sami’s involvement in the Cell match
1:01:03 – Sami’s first ladder match
1:02:11 – Kevin headbutts Vince
1:07:18 – Swearing on TV
1:09:19 – Sami’s relationship with Vince
1:12:33 – Kevin and Sami’s favorite matches as fans before they got into wrestling
1:18:40 – Show wrap

Writer Bio

Joe lives in Toronto, Canada with his wife and two boys. He’s been watching wrestling for about 40 years (give or take) but don’t consider himself any sort of expert. He just likes wrestling.  Check him out on twitter and instagram @ja113.  

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