You think WWE Superstar Chris Jericho's led a quirky career? That's a major understatement. Check the dude's bio: former WWE Heavyweight Champion, lead singer of hard-rockin' headbangers Fozzy, Dancing with the Stars contestant and, my favorite, he played mercenary Frank Korver in MacGruber. And now, Jericho has taken a ringside seat as the host of Robot Combat League, premiering February 26 at 10/9c on Syfy.
Since he's got a penchant for all things pugnacious, Jericho is just the guy to talk to about Robot Combat League. We spoke a few weeks ago about his involvement on the show — where he dished on George Lucas' MMA-fighting daughter, what it's like to be in a ring with 8-foot gladiator robots, and why Steven Hawking would be a great teammate.
You've reached the pinnacle of professional wrestling, so what interested you in Robot Combat League?
Giant fighting robots! Who wouldn't be at least a little interested in that? When I actually saw the robots — how quickly they moved, how hard and fast they punched — it blew my mind. When I first went into the pit, and they sent a robot out to meet me, if it hadn't have stopped in the middle of the arena, I would've turned and ran away. It was that intimidating.
Would you – or any human – stand a chance against these robots in the ring?
No! That's no joke. They've got 2,000 pounds per square inch of punching power. If you got hit by that punch, it'd knock your head off. We've literally created robots that can kill human beings. And in 15 years when they take over the planet, you can say you saw them first on the Syfy channel.
You really think these robots could take us on?
When I watch these robots, it reminded me of the scene in Terminator where they go to the future and the robots are walking over human skulls. These things look like straight Terminators. On the first day of shooting, George Lucas was there, and talking to George, it was interesting. This vision he had 40 years ago is now coming true. Who's to say that these robots couldn't take over?
Why did George Lucas stop by?
His daughter is an MMA fighter — her name's Amanda — she was one of the contestants. He was there to watch her, and he was kind of blown away. He was checking out the robots and he was pretty fascinated by it all. I mean, he had this vision that's now coming to fruition. Then he went and sold the Star Wars franchise for $4 billion the next day.
These robots are controlled by teams of two. If you were to choose your partner, who would it be?
The people who control the lower torso of the robot — they're the technical experts. We've got rocket scientists, people with Ph.Ds doing that part. And then for the jockeys, who control the fighting part, we've got MMA fighters, Olympic athletes, personal trainers. So I'd want Stephen Hawking to run the technical side of my team or Arnold Schwarzenegger circa 1984 to be my robo-jockey.
What is it about these robots that make them such finely tuned wrecking machines?
They can duck, dodge, dip and dive at incredible speeds. We've already talked about what they can do punching-wise. And they cost more than $1 million each to make! They're polished and they look super cool when they go into battle. Then after one fight, they're all bashed in — smoking, sparking, decapitated, cut in two, limbs dangling off. All of these things happen. You see these creatures in brutal combat. You want to stop it from happening! After you see them in horrible condition, you want to send them to a robot spa, you know, get an oil bath and a tin massage.
Are there heels and faces in Robot Combat League like there are in pro wrestling?
It got to that point. There were some robots, that for whatever reason, people just didn't like. There was a robot called Steampunk that kind of looked like a character from Futurama — clunky and goofy. Yet the team behind it and it's fighting abilities were really good. And for whatever reason, it always got booed. The team was confused, but I told them, "Embrace it. Go out there and kick butt and say 'Eff you.' "
In your career as a WWE Superstar, have you faced an opponent that reminds you of some of these insane robots?
Probably the Big Show, because these things are about as tall as him, and as ugly, too. But the robots are probably smarter than Big Show.
I don't want you to give too much away, but what was the craziest thing you saw happen on Robot Combat League?
We saw a robot get cut in two. The blade on the fist connected with one of the actuators, which are the components that connect the lower body and the upper body. And it made this robot collapse in two pieces. Where else can you see an 8-foot robot get cut in two on your TV set? Nowhere! Only on Robot Combat League!
Robot Combat League premieres on Syfy February 26 at 10/9c. Head here for an advance look at the robots in action.
Alex Scordelis is a writer at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and the music critic at Paper magazine.