Do you remember Chris Jericho’s big WWE debut? He was one of the bigger names coming over from WCW and aside from getting fed to the Rock right out of the gate, (“Who in the blue hell are you?”), Jericho established himself quickly as a fan favorite. Eventually, much to my surprise and chagrin he proceeded to defeat Stone Cold Steve Austin and the Rock to become the first ever Undisputed Champion.
Now I understand the goal was to start elevating new names to the main event scene because let’s face it, we had our fill of Austin vs Rock, Rock vs HHH, HHH vs Austin. They gave Jericho his shot and as evident by him soon dropping those belts to a returning HHH, it was clear Jericho just wasn’t quite the draw Vince had hoped he would be. Whether or not HHH already had Vince’s ear to ensure getting the belts off Jericho is a story for another day, but the fact remains Jericho was never seriously in the title picture again.
Over the years Jericho has come and gone, come and gone, come and gone as he tours with his band and then comes back to wrestle for awhile. Just like with the Rock and his movies, and the fans eat up the returns every time. But each time he returns, he does so with an even more obnoxious variation of his character. From the pompous jerk-wad with gratuitous use of large vocabulary to calling himself the best in the world at what he does (which he has picked back up) to trying to be the one to “save” CM Punk from himself as he accused Punk of being a phony in the straight edge lifestyle…..and my God that damn blinking jacket. But here’s the prevailing theme with each return: It’s always to build up new talent. Great concept but I think that ship has sailed two returns ago.
Last I checked, since he first returned from the long hiatus he was on, Jericho hasn’t really gone over in any major feuds, he hasn’t held any major titles for very long (even by WWE standards), he doesn’t even get good storylines anymore. So much so that he’s recycling his old heel characters and running with that. While it’s true, at his age (45) he’s kept himself in damn good shape and he can still “go” with most of the roster and maybe that is all the building Vince wants Jericho to do...get the new, young talent a win over a big name. But is that really helping anyone? Look at his current feud with AJ Styles who came IN hot with just as much talent.
The Bottom Line
The first time Jericho returned from his initial, long hiatus, the buzz lasted months. Any feuds he was in were near main event status. His reputation had preceded him and let’s face it, he had and still has one of the better entrance themes/acts. But with each return, the buzz dissipates a little faster. Months turn into weeks. Weeks have turned into a couple episodes of RAW and then he’s just another veteran name on the roster. He’s not Brock Lesnar or The Undertaker but I believe he deserves that kind of veteran respect.
Until next time, I'm Irreparably Jaded....and I'm the guy you WISH you were.