Kudos for Chris
Hometown wrestling champ honoured with Buffalo award
By CHRIS KITCHING AND ROSS ROMANIUK, STAFF REPORTER AND CITY HALL REPORTER
Chris Jericho is accustomed to hearing crowds of screaming fans chant his name. It's the norm when you're a World Wrestling Entertainment superstar who performs in front of thousands of people each week.
RANKS RIGHT UP THERE
The ovation he received yesterday on the south lawn of the Manitoba Legislature in his hometown, according to Jericho, ranks right up there with the cheers he hears in stadiums and arenas around the world.
Dozens of pro wrestling fans snapped pictures, waved signs and chanted "Y2J" as the former Winnipegger received the Order of the Buffalo Hunt.
"It's the best thing that's ever happened to me in my wrestling career," Jericho, 33, said of the honour he received for his achievements in pro wrestling and charity work for children.
Jericho, the WWE's first undisputed heavyweight champion, is a regular participant in SuperSkate, an annual charity hockey game in New York City that raises money for Cheering for Children and the Christopher Reeve Paralysis foundations.
That makes him a fitting recipient of Manitoba's highest order, Premier Gary Doer said.
"Chris has always maintained his roots and has been an individual who has given back to his community, especially underprivileged children," Doer said.
Many of the fans who attended the morning ceremony said Jericho is an ideal role model because he's a loyal Winnipegger who's managed to remain humble during the height of his popularity.
"He's a hometown hero," Chris Rankin, 24, said. "He's a good guy and he puts on a good show."
Jericho, whose real name is Christopher Irvine, patiently drifted through the crowd after the ceremony, posing for pictures and signing autographs for fans, including Elise Patyn.
"I've always wanted to meet him because he seems really down-to-earth," said the 17-year-old.
"He was really nice when he signed my shirt."
Jericho, a Westwood Collegiate and Red River College graduate who returned home for last night's live broadcast of WWE Raw at the Winnipeg Arena, was also honoured at City Hall during the afternoon when he received the key to the city from Mayor Sam Katz.
"It all started for me here," Jericho told the crowd after receiving the tribute previously bestowed upon Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II and Sesame Street's Big Bird.
"To receive such a huge honour is something that I'll always remember and always cherish."
Katz, a longtime wrestling fan, was clearly excited at the opportunity to present the honour.
"I'll be asking Chris to share his tips with me," the new mayor said, "in case I need them on the floor of council."
Jericho said he'll always be grateful for getting a chance to make his mark.
"It's not the level of fame you achieve, it's what you do with it. I could be finished wrestling tomorrow, and that's it, and be cutting the lawn next year at the Legislature instead of getting an award from it."