Monday 15 September 2014

Jericho, the Countdown Tolls for Thee

We’re told Chris Jericho is the best in the world at what he does. Unless he means he’s the best in the world at making short returns to wrestling in between album recordings to produce boring matches and even more boring promos I think he’s wrong. And he probably doesn’t mean that. Because the thing with Chris Jericho, the thing that shines through in any interview he gives or any comment he makes on his podcast, is that he really believes he’s something special.

Back in the Attitude Era, yes, ‘Y2J’ was a man worth watching. The same can be said of the ultra-serious Jericho of the mid- to late-naughties. With the right opponent he’d put on a great match. With the right topic he’d give a cracking promo. He had a positive contribution to make and he was keen to make it.

Nowadays things are different. Jericho still seems eager to contribute, an attitude which is to be applauded, but he’s only willing to do so on his terms, which isn’t. By allowing ol’ ‘Lionheart’ to saunter back in whenever he fancies and pick who he works with (because he only agrees to return if what’s being offered is of interest) WWE ensures they have someone on TV who can’t build up any real momentum and who can’t fully draw people into a feud because it’s known that he won’t be sticking around for long. This can, and does, lead to people being shuffled into a rivalry with Jericho when his schedule permits, as opposed to when it feels natural.

You're 43, mate.
Jericho’s most recent return has seen him mostly working with Bray Wyatt. I don’t think anything about the programme enhanced Wyatt’s standing (or Jericho’s for that matter, not that that was the purpose of the exercise). He lost a poor match at Battleground, won a better but still not great return at SummerSlam, and then walked out of an enjoyable cage match victorious on the September 8 RAW. The feud also saw some forgettable matches pitting Jericho against Erick Rowan and Luke Harper and some weak verbal outings between the rivals.

The disappointing promos are the fault of both men. While they were never horrendous I think it was fair to expect more considering the reputation of both. Ultimately their feud was revealed to be about Wyatt taking exception to Jericho having called himself a saviour over the last fifteen years. It’s not the worst reason for two guys to wrestle but it’s also not the best, and they rambled around the topic a lot.

The match quality is also the fault of both men although Jericho, as the senior party who insists on coming back to work with the younger guys, should shoulder a little more of the responsibility. They improved over time but they never really clicked. It was also frustrating that WWE ended up giving away what turned out to be their best encounter on free TV instead pay-per-view.
And now Jericho's been slipped into a meaningless spat with Randy Orton. Because why not?

At this point I really wouldn’t mind if Jericho moved away from wrestling permanently. I’d like to see him return for a final, well planned run culminating in a retirement angle, ideally at a WrestleMania, because he’s earned that, both with his career in general and contributions to WWE specifically. But it’s been years since his work has been of the quality we should be able to expect of his experience and position on the card. It’s great that he’s willing to lose to younger guys clean and make them look strong, but how much does that mean when he’s not fully capable of doing it?

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