Chris Jericho has been a mainstay of the pro wrestling world for nearly three decades, reinventing himself in every promotion he competes in. Jericho was a recent guest on Inside The Ropes, where he told the story of how his popular "Jericho Personal Security" guard, Ralphus, came about during his time with WCW. According to Jericho, the Ralphus character began during his mini feud with Goldberg.
"One day I showed up, and there was a PPV coming up called Fall Brawl, and I had no match on it," Jericho said. "And Terry Taylor was like, 'Oh, you got a match all right.' Well, who's my match against? 'You're going to wrestle a midget Goldberg.' (laughter) ... I was like, why? He said, 'Because it's funny!' So this is when Goldberg had his undefeated streak, so I go 'Goldberg, I challenge you!' and out comes this midget, well I guess more of a dwarf Goldberg, and I beat him, and it's all great.
"So then it started this kind of, ipso-facto storyline where I kept challenging Goldberg. And it's funny because I saw Goldberg in the airport the next day, and he goes, 'I hope it was worth it, Jericho!' and I was like, 'What?' And he goes, 'I got people calling me, texting me about your little Goldberg segment, you're little jokey Goldberg segment! I hope it was worth it!' And I said, 'Hey man, it wasn't my segment. I didn't f--king book this s--t.'"
The Demo-God says the idea was to have Jericho continually call out Goldberg, but Goldberg wouldn't acknowledge him. Jericho says from there, he had the idea to spoof Goldberg's entrance.
"Goldberg at the time, as you know, and he still does have a bastion of security with him," Jericho said. "And I thought, 'Well, I should probably do something like that.'"
While Jericho pondered the idea of making his security guards carbon copies of the ones Goldberg used, he decided to go a different route.
"So there was all these guys from like, the 'power plant,' all these jacked up students of wrestling," Jericho said. "And I thought, 'Well, I could use some of those guys... I want to use that guy.'
"There was this guy who was a truck driver, and he was always around. He was always like, 'Hey! How ya doing! Nice to see ya!' He was this fat guy, bald, and had these two really weird teeth. And I was like 'Who is this guy?' He was just the weirdest looking guy, and I was like 'F--k, I want to use this guy!' So I went up to him. His name was John Riker. And I was like, 'Hey man, do you want to do something with me on TV?' And he was like, 'Sure! What do you want me to do?' And I was like, 'Just kind of, walk to the ring with me, like a serious security guard.' And he was like, 'Sure!'"
Jericho went the spoof route with his security, from both their physical appearance and wardrobe. Fans of WCW will remember Ralphus donning a crop-top with "Jericho Personal Security" written on it in Sharpie. The idea of a spoof manager has been done in recent wrestling memory, famously in WWE with The Miz and his "stunt double," Damien Mizdow. According to Jericho, there were big differences in getting creative ideas like that approved in WCW compared to WWE.
"Here's how it was in WCW: you never had to ask permission to do anything!" Jericho said. "You just did it! If I just decided to, you know, walk to the ring with a fat guy with weird teeth and a half-shirt in WWE nowadays, I'd get crucified!"
Similar to Mizdow, Ralphus was a hit with the fans. Towards the end of that storyline, Mizdow's cheers were drum up purposefully by the stunt double, but in Jericho's case, Ralphus' popularity was never planned, and was something Jericho genuinely did not want.
"So I would be in the ring, I remember I went up to the corner and people are booing," Jericho said. "And I hear this big cheer coming from behind me. I turn around, and Ralphus is also standing on the second rope, going like this: 'Alright! Alright!' (fist pumping). And I was like, 'Ralphus! Come here! You cant't get cheers from the people! You hate the people!' [Ralphus goes] 'Why? They're nice people!' And I'm like, 'Listen! This is wrestling! You're playing a character! And Ralphus hates people!' [Ralphus responds] 'Why? They're nice people.' I start realizing, like, this guy has no concept of what wrestling really is."
Despite his frustrations, Jericho recognized Ralphus's hard work. The Man of 1,004 Holds even got him paid for his on-screen appearances, but Ralphus wanted to take it a step further.
"I was like, 'Can you give Ralphus some money? he's out there every week. Can you give him like 500 bucks or whatever?'" Jericho said. "And so they started paying him 500 bucks, sometimes they'd forget and I'd always go and help him out. One day, he came over to me and goes, 'Listen. I got to talk to you about something. When am I getting a contract?' And I was like, 'Dude! A f--king contract? You're not getting a contract!'"
WCW Monday Jericho became RAW is Jericho in August 1999, when the former WCW Television Champion jumped ship to the then-WWF. The Ayatollah of Rock-N-Rolla's first appearance on RAW is still talked about today as one of the most iconic debuts in wrestling history, but according to Jericho, it almost looked completely different.
"I was leaving to go to WWE at the time, and I was like, 'Wow, it'd be really cool, f--king Jericho shows up on RAW with Ralphus by his side!'" Jericho said. "Like, I was really thinking that. Like, what the f--k was I thinking? And I mentioned it to him! One day, like 'Hey, what do you think about going to WWE?' He's like, 'I'm in. We got to get out of here. This place is losing.' Keep in mind he's still driving the lighting truck around.
"Then, a couple weeks later he comes over to me, 'When are we going to New York?' New York is slang for WWE, old-school wrestling talk, and I'm like, 'I never once ever called WWE 'New York' to you. Where are you finding this s--t out?' Now he's all in the wrestling business, like, 'Kayfabe brother!'"
As fans know, Jericho went to "New York" alone, but Ralphus stayed in WCW and even started wrestling.
"Ralphus ended up [being] in matches," Jericho said. "I think he ended up being hardcore champion, where Terry Funk beat the s--t out of him, and I'm like, this poor guy's going to have a heart attack!"
A couple years ago, Jericho revealed a fan reached out to him on Twitter, saying he knew John Riker. The Million Viewer Man said he was super enthusiastic about having Ralphus on Talk Is Jericho, but says he got stood up by his former security.
"I sent him an email, and he never got back to me," Jericho said. "I got big leagued by f--king Ralphus!"
Jericho revealed in September that he learned the real-life John Riker passed away sometime in the last year.
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Inside The Ropes with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.