Squared-Circle Science: The Road Is Jericho – Epic Stories & Rare Matches From Y2J

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Chris Jericho. Lionheart. Y2J. The Ayatollah of Rock’n’Rolla. The Best in the World at What I Do. Call him what you want just know that no other sports entertainer has made playing the villain look so enjoyable.

Back in September 2010, World Wrestling Entertainment released Breaking the Code: Behind the Walls of Jericho. The compilation, released only on DVD, included a retrospective of his career – from his days in Canada (in 1990), through lamenting himself as being the best in the world at what he does (in 2010) – and some of his best matches. A little more than four years have passed and fans of Y2J have been eagerly awaiting a new compilation.

With the new DVD/Blu-ray The Road Is Jericho: Epic Stories & Rare Matches From Y2J, the WWE universe is treated to more Chris Jericho goodness. The format of the compilation is closer to what is found on Shawn Michaels’ Mr. WrestleMania. So Jericho introduces the compilation and explains that he’s on his way to a Fozzy performance a few hours away from New York.

He begins by acknowledging that he doesn’t take off time from the sport of wrestling. When he isn’t wrestling he’s not thinking about the squared circle. Jericho has other interests outside of sports entertainment. He’s a musician, he hosts a podcast (Talk Is Jericho), and has made a number of TV appearances away from WWE television, including participating on Dancing with the Stars in 2011 and hosting the short-lived reality programs Downfall and Robot Combat League.

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Because Chris Jericho is so multifaceted it means he isn’t beholden to World Wrestling Entertainment; he is at a point in his career where he can let Vince McMahon know when he wants to perform. Which is why his returns in 2007 and 2011 translated into some of the best feuds in the promotion.

The Road Is Jericho has the WWE superstar riding in the back of a limo recounting stories of favorite opponents with little odds and ends of the way the flagship program Monday Night Raw and the business has changed. Each segment runs a few minutes and sets up the match that follows.

We begin with Chris Jericho’s six-month stint in ECW, where he was brought in on Mick Foley’s praise to Paul Heyman. That recommendation would have Jericho (then referred to as “Lionheart”) in the promotion from February 1996 through August 1996 where he would square off against the likes of Cactus Jack, Taz, Rob Van Dam and Sabu before jumping to WCW.

His heel turn in a feud against Dean Malenko, to whom Jericho praises as the most technically-sound wrestler he’s ever faced, was a turning point in showing he could succeed as a heel. At a time when less attention was paid to cruiserweights, Jericho and Malenko had a short but memorable feud that was built on Malenko’s losing streak and his inability to reclaim cruiserweight gold.

He also tells a really interesting story about how he had to adjust to WWE’s in-ring style, and how X-Pac basically became his personal road agent to get him acclimated. Other anecdotes include him comparing himself to George Harrison of The Beetles, when slotted alongside Steve Austin and The Rock as babyface main eventers; the time he debuted his light up jacket and only half the lights worked; and his praise for wrestlers like Jeff Hardy, whose unpredictability Jericho found to be a plus not a hindrance.

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The matches Jericho selects may not all be highlight reel quality but they are of particular importance to Y2J. His Hardcore Heaven ’96 match against Pitbull #2 for the ECW World Television Title was an important milestone in his career. Switching to WCW, his Bash at the Beach match against Ultimo Dragon is one of the few times they would meet in the United States, yet they wrestled countless times in Mexico and in Japan as part of Dragon’s WAR (Wrestle and Romance) promotion.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say all the matches contained on the set are all that rare, but a majority have never been released on DVD or Blu-ray. Besides matches against Pitbull #2, Malenko and Dragon, we get television matches Y2J had against Edge, Shawn Michaels and Jeff Hardy, plus PPV encounters against CM Punk and Kurt Angle.

Chris Jericho may call himself the George Harrison of WWE, but in my eyes he’s the Madonna of sports entertainment. Having begun his career in the 1990s, Y2J has been a chameleon, able to reinvent himself with the changing climate of professional wrestling. The Road Is Jericho: Epic Stories & Rare Matches From Y2J is a fantastic watch and an excellent buy for fans of The Ayatollah of Rock’n’Rolla.

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