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THE HOST WITH THE MOST MUSCLES

Chris Jericho is the renaissance man of the wrestling world.

In addition to holding all the titles World Wrestling Entertainment offers, the dishy inventor of the "Walls of Jericho" hold is a best-selling author of a favorably reviewed memoir (A Lion's Tale), the frontman for the heavy metal band Fozzy, host of a weekly XM Satellite Radio show, a frequent talking head on VH1 pop culture shows likeI Love the '80s, and he has acting and improv credits.

Now he can add reality show host to his resume. Redemption Song is an Idol-meets-Project Runway competition airing Wednesdays at 11 p.m. on the Fuse music network (fuse.tv). The show challenges 11 down-on-their-luck singers to endure tests, such as ambush music performances and choreography challenges, to win a Geffen record contract.

Jericho and all the other stars of the WWE will be at the St. Pete Times Forum on Monday night for a live broadcast of WWE Raw. But first, he chatted with us about his new gig and why so many pro wrestlers live here.

So you seem to be the hardest working man in showbiz - author, musician, actor, wrestler. Are you ever home?

Yeah, I am. I live here in Tampa actually.

I know. You may be Canadian, but we are claiming you as one of many Tampa Bay area wrestlers. Can you tell me why so many WWE stars live here?

I think it's because when you work in WWE you can live anywhere you want and I guess it's because its sunny and there's tax credits. I moved from Canada to Orlando back in '97 and in '98 my wife's family was here so we moved to Tampa.

Is it true you took the stage name Chris Jericho because of your Christian faith?

It's one of the reasons, but there was German heavy metal band, Helloween, that had an album (Walls of Jericho). I actually considered the stage name Jack Action.

That sounds like a porn name!

I know, good choice, huh? You could be talking to Jack Action right now.

There's been criticism that wrestling is a bad thing to let kids watch, that it's too violent, and in recent years it's gotten much more sexualized with the female wrestlers. Doesn't that conflict with your personal beliefs, or bother you as a parent?

It's one of those things where you are in charge of what kids watch and don't watch. There's certain elements that I won't let them watch. Plus, nowadays it's very PG-13, especially with John Cena and other guys who are heroes to kids. The WWE always mutates with what evolves in society, and now it's more of a kid-friendly product. If you'll notice in the last year you won't hear swear words, won't see any blood.

Does this new show stem from your own music background?

It's a combination of music, being on camera and knowing how to hold together a show. The WWE is like a showbiz boot camp, you learn about all aspects of it. ... The crux of the show is it has a really big heart to help (the contestants) turn their life around.

Are you going to be like Simon Cowell or Paula?

I'm more like a Ryan Seacrest - except I have a set of balls.

swynne@tampabay.com

Monday Night Raw

The WWE celebrates its 800th episode of WWE Raw with a show broadcast live from the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa. Chris Jericho will take on the new champion Batista in a steel cage. Tickets are $20-$70 for the 7:30 p.m. matchup on Monday.

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