For Your Consideration…The Misuse of Chris Jericho

Welcome to week 45

For those of you who missed it, I wrote a column that went up last week discussing the firing of Dave Lagana. Based on the response that I’ve received, people really seemed to enjoy what I wrote and were pleasantly surprised that I didn’t jump on the “oh good, he’s fired” bandwagon and almost made a compelling argument why you shouldn’t do that in the first place.

Well, all that good will I had towards Creative could only stand for so long before the dam burst and out poured more of the contempt and bile that I generally feel for a lot of their decisions. Today’s column will be no exception, as I will be looking at one of the colossal screw-ups that the E has made. And, without further ado, here we go…

For Your Consideration…The Misuse of Chris Jericho

I will start this off by admitting that I am a fan of Chris Jericho. While I have always been a staunch supporter of the WWE, I would occasionally click over to Nitro just to see Chris and his “zany antics”. Whenever he was on the microphone, he was pure gold; Stinko Malenko, Man of a Thousand and One Holds, getting lost on his way to the ring and of course the time Chris served as special ring announcer for the cruiserweight battle royal (with a few more wins, he’ll be gold king). When Jericho moved over from WCW to WWE, his debut became one of the biggest moments in RAW history. For months people watch the Millennium countdown and finally when the countdown struck zero, the Y2J era began.

Now when Chris Jericho was in WCW he was not a top tier guy. He was a cruiserweight who was able to elevate his status and compete in the ring with main eventers, but the outcome was almost always a certainty. If you don’t believe me, look at his feud with Goldberg. The most impressive thing that Vince McMahon did was that he allowed Jericho to appear to be a main event guy by having his first interaction be with The Rock. Suddenly, this wasn’t the guy feuding with Super Calo and Juventud but rather a guy verbally sparring with one of the biggest superstars in the industry. On top of that, Vince was so enamored with Jericho that he let him be the first ever undisputed champion.

Sure, Vince and Co. didn’t exactly always handle Jericho properly. His title reign was a convenient way to make sure that neither Rocky nor Austin felt like one was being slighted for the other and his main event match with Triple H at Mania became fodder for the Hunter/Stephanie storyline, but no one can take away the fact that he was a world champion headlining the biggest show of the year. Chris later was treated to fluctuating levels of success mainly due to circumstances beyond his control. He was given a great match the next year at Mania against Shawn Michaels and participated in a hot feud with Christian and Trish. Hell, he even made the best of his final feud with John Cena, allowing Cena to get one over on him before he left for semi-retirement.

When Chris Jericho decided to come back to wrestling, it should have been a huge deal. Jericho was one of the most over guys with the IWC community, and thanks to his unique offense and distinctive entrance he was pretty over with the masses as well. His return was met with the same mysterious hype that his first debut in the WWE had. We were given cryptic messages that you needed to pause to get the clues to (namely the fact that the “codes” were in fact taken from the computer instructions for Jericho’s pyro), and for months we sat and waited in anticipation for our Savior.

The mystery around the promos died pretty quickly when the WWE braintrust let the cover of the WWE Magazine leak with Jericho on the cover. What that meant was that Chris’s debut was going to be nothing but an anticlimactic mess. Sure enough, when Jericho made his “surprise” return in Sunrise, the fans were anything but shocked. Then, despite being gone from the public view for over two years, Chris was immediately thrust into the world title picture with little to no explanation. How could the fans instantly get behind Jericho when the WWE Title has been in such flux in the first place?

Randy Orton as WWE Champion has forced Creative to open up the doors and try something…gasp…new. We were given that bizarre three-title-change night at No Mercy where Hunter won and lost the belt over the course of three hours. Then we got the return of Shawn Michaels only for him to lose to Orton. And then we get the return of Jericho. And his return was to “save us” from Orton?! This is kinda like the big reveal when we found out Rikishi took out Stone Cold despite not being part of the company. Jericho and Orton’s match at Armageddon was rushed and had zero backstory. It was the kind of heavy-handed rushed feud WCW used to force-feed us back before their collapse. Why did Jericho really hate Randy Orton? Because he was the champion and had a lame haircut? At least let him spill some coffee or hock shampoo or something.

Then, just to cement the inevitable, the card also had Triple H versus Jeff Hardy in a Number One Contender’s match that saw Hardy get the shot at the Rumble. Did anyone really think we would get Hardy/Jericho? Really? Now what that means is that the crowd knew Chris was going to lose before he stepped in the ring. So we’ve got a rushed back superstar with little true buildup (the videos were great but we needed a little more Chris to remind the fans that he was more than the guy who was fired by Bischoff for losing to John Cena in storyline-land) fighting a lameduck champion in a foregone conclusion match. Oh, and Creative tied his entire return to him winning back the WWE Title. The match itself was blah because Chris only fought one pre-Armageddon match against Umaga and you can only do so much with the can of vanilla pudding that is Randy Orton. Then came the finish. Here was a guy who was hyped for months and doesn’t win the title because he’s attacked by an announcer? What the hell? It’s not like Jericho and Bradshaw have a really longstanding feud that would make this make any sense. So instead of doing shenanigans that would have at least allowed Chris to win the belt and then maybe get screwed over the next night, we get a DQ finish, no rematch and a go-nowhere feud with ANOTHER returning superstar. And this returning superstar is about as not over as it gets.

After failing to win the belt, Jericho was given the short end of the stick in his feud with JBL because suddenly he was the guy responsible to getting Bradshaw over again. Ugh. Two styles that don’t mesh all that great and one guy who’s gold on the microphone matched up with another guy who’s gold on commentary but still can’t get it done in a promo does not make a big time feud. Even worse, this took Jericho out of the Rumble which meant he couldn’t fulfill his “mission”.

Where does that leave Chris right now? He was the odd man out at No Way Out in the Elimination Chamber because no one expected Hardy to get over as quickly as he did, and anyone not rooting for Jeff was town between the two members of DX. Even worse was the fact that Jericho seemed to still be tied up in a feud with JBL. Chris by now should have been a legit main eventer but instead was shuffled to the number four face in on the roster. Then John Cena came back. Have fun being the number 5 face on RAW. Thanks for coming back.

Jericho wasn’t even on RAW on Monday night. In fact, since his return he either hasn’t been on at all or has been on in a bit character role. Look, I’m not saying thrust him to the top spot just because, but you have to wonder why he even bothered to come back in the first place. Jericho was one of those guys who was smart with his money and he’s got his band and-ahem-“acting” career to entertain himself with. Instead, he has chosen to come back to the soul crushing world of the WWE where he’s right back under that glass ceiling that was his home for the majority of his career. What is his motivation? His return has really done nothing more than to marginalize his legacy and cement his place as a midcarder who got the occasional shot at the top, kind of like a less over Rey Mysterio.

Now the logic seems to dictate that Jericho’s downfall is all John Cena’s fault. The “Save Us” promos started to air when Cena was champion, which meant that we could have gotten the absolutely electric Cena/Jericho feud that we should have been given two years ago. A tweener Jericho playing up the smart fans against the Cena marks could have carried the WWE all the way from Survivor Series through the Rumble and made Jericho the top heel on the show. Instead we got a watered down Chris going against a bland Orton. Maybe it’s time to hang them up for good, Chris, because sticking around is only going to hurt you.

Jericho staying at this point would mean that he is going to be putting guys over left and right. If they turn him heel they could use him to continue to get Jeff Hardy over with the fans while Hunter builds up a title reign. They could move Chris to Smackdown and allow him to feud with Edge over the title, assuming Edge reclaims it from Taker (or he suffers yet another Summer-long injury), but then Chris is competing with Batista and Mysterio for time. Hell, he could wind up on ECW and then we could just get weekly Punk/Jericho matches which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When I think about, Jericho/Chavo could be fun for Mania. Will it happen? Nah. Jericho will probably enter MITB, take some bumps, lose and then wind up feuding with the Big Show in an effort to put TBS over again as a legit monster.

Forget saving us, Chris, save yourself.

This has been for your consideration.

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