Voice Of Reason 11.9.00: Wakka Wakka Wakka

I like to think that I discovered Chris Jericho, at least in my circle of friends. I spotted him in ECW and I loved him as “rock star face” Jericho upon his debut in WCW. He had a great look and was spectacular in the ring.

Then it started. The heel turn. He attacked David Pinzer after several matches, and had hilarious apologies. I won’t go through the whole Jericho as heel in WCW, but the feuds with Dean Malenko and Juvi, the mini-angle with Goldberg and the midget, the conspiracy theory and more. Jericho was the best heel in WCW in 1998, and he looked to be a superstar in the making.

For the first half of 1999, he had some injuries, and some problems with WCW management that basically kept him off TV until his eventual signing with the WWF. I had mixed feelings about his jump. On one hand I was upset to see him leave WCW, where he was my favorite, and it was possible that the WWF could change him. However, he had such raw charisma and potential that in the hands of the WWF talent team, he could blossom.

It started with a bang, and in August 1999 I wrote a column heaping praise onto Jericho and the WWF for a stunning and high impact WWF debut. His gimmick as trying to “save the WWF” from boredom, despite being unpopular with some, was a stroke of ironic genius. Here he was criticizing the WWF for the exact same things that WCW

However, Jericho had trouble fitting into the WWF, and floundered for a while. They tried to get him over as a heel who could snap and go crazy, with the sledgehammer attack on Chyna’s thumb, but that never worked.

Seeing the success of Jericho merchandise and crowd reactions, the WWF turned Jericho face, and that’s when the trouble began.

Jericho had always been original on the mic, but as WWF good guys tend to do, he leaned too much on a few catchphrases. Raw is Jericho. Never eeeeever do it again. And messing up the opponent’s name. It seemed like the charismatic Jericho was becoming more and more like the Road Dog every day.

But his push continued, and he actually pinned HHH for the World Title before a reverse decision struck the title win from the record. From that point on, Jericho has seen his career fall to depths not seen in years.

While a feud with X-Pac makes for some good in ring matches, it does nothing for either man’s career. Say what you want about X-Pac, his career has topped out as an upper mid level guy. He will never be a top tier player, no matter how he is pushed. Jericho on the other hand has the potential to be a top guy.

Stuck in dead end feuds, Jericho’s character has taken a shocking turn to dorky in recent months. He might be serious about wanting to be a rock star, but the manner in which his band “Fozzy” has been used on WWF TV has been downright laughable.

Personally, I am a huge fan of hard rock and metal (don’t believe me? Check out my other site Poison Online) but I realize that it is always a failure in wrestling. Appearances by KISS, Megadeth and Motley Crue on Monday Night programs have been panned by everyone. Rock star gimmicks like Heavy Metal Van Hammer and Man Mountain Rock have been unqualified failures.

Even worse than those gimmicks, Jericho is actually pretending to be a split personality. One is the regular face Jericho, and the other is a cocky heel rock singer. The good guy Jericho is being made to look like an absolute fool in his fandom of the bad guy Jericho (Mongose McQueen). To make matters worse, the band Fozzy is a parody of the music it plays, and its unclear whether they want to actually play the music or mock it. I guess the comparison can be made to Spinal Tap, but the difference in quality between that classic gimmick and this copy is striking.

Fozzy is a nice little side project for Jericho. It has been promoted on WWF and still sold a fairly low amount. It’s time for the WWF to remove Fozzy and anything to do with Fozzy from their TV shows and storylines. It is ruining the career of Chris Jericho the wrestler, who was floundering as a repetitive mid card face.

While peers like Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle have seemed to find their niche, Jericho’s attempts have all but failed.

It’s time for Chris Jericho to turn heel and realize his potential as the top cocky heel in the industry.

If it doesn’t happen soon, Jericho could be pigeon-holed as a supporting, comedy player, and never fully realize the limitless potential people saw just 2 years ago.