Sunday 1 April 2012

The Silent Treatment

Think back a bit to a time before we knew who was behind the It Begins videos that had been plaguing WWE airwaves for months. There was so much potential in those vignettes. People were incredibly excited about them, despite the fact that they were obviously signalling the return of one of two men. Those men were The Undertaker and Chris Jericho. Ultimately it was ‘Y2J’ who was revealed to be the returnee (Undertaker returned a month or so later to set up his rematch with Triple H).

All that hype, all that excitement, was for Chris Jericho. Was all the buzz and chatter and anticipation worth it? In my opinion: no.

For the first few weeks of his return ‘The Highlight of the Night’ remained mute, interacting with audiences only through facial expressions and body language. It was an approach we’d never seen before and something Jericho, with his decades of experience in the business, was capable of doing and doing right. In the hands of a rookie or a less emotive performance (Davey Richards for example) the gimmick would have bombed. ‘Y2J’ made it work and got it over. One week he’d laugh and cheer the next he’d break down into tears and weep uncontrollably.

WWE and Jericho should have stuck with that approach. It is by far the most interesting and entertaining contribution the man has made to WWE in the last two and a half months. Jericho uttered his first words on the pre-Royal Rumble, enigmatically stating that the world as we knew it would end at the pay-per-view.

The world failed to change but the same can’t be said of Jericho’s wrestling persona. Since babbling that meaningless gibberish he has reverted to the cartoonish antics he moved away from during his last WWE run. Gone are the suits and scathing, heat-grabbing promos, replaced by embarrassing leather trousers (Jericho is 41) and smug, whiney promos about other wrestlers stealing from him. We’ve had all of this from him before. It’s not new or excitement. It’s the same old return in a pair of embarrassing trousers.

Jericho signalling for fans to be quiet. He should have taken his own advice

Is Jericho really the best in the world at what he does? If “what he does” is fail to live up to the expectations of a lengthy hype campaign then he possibly is. If you’re talking about wrestling ability then no, ‘Y2J’ is not the best in the world. He’s far from it. In fact he’s not even the best in WWE.

The company either should have used the It Begins videos to introduce a completely new wrestler or stuck with Jericho’s silent treatment for far longer. Think of the impact his first words would have had if he’d remained silent for longer than three episodes of RAW. Had he conducted his entire feud with Punk without uttering a word, opting only for heelish motions instead, he could have been doing something unique. A post-‘Mania RAW segment in which newly-crowned WWE champion Jericho swaggered out to the ring, held up the title and said “I won” before leaving again would have been great TV with three months of silence behind it.

As things stand right now Jericho is likely going to disappear again after WrestleMania XXVIII because he has a tour scheduled with his rock band Fozzy. That doesn’t completely rule out a victory for him over CM Punk at the big event but it does make it slightly less likely. I won’t be sad to see him take another sabbatical. Hopefully he can use the time off to refresh his act and come up with another new idea. Preferably one he won’t abandon halfway through.

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