NOTE: The following post is part two of a three-part series. The first part can be seen at this link.
Previously on the blog, I discussed whether Rob Van Dam was ever the “one” in WWE. This came after Triple H cut a promo on Daniel Bryan about why he would never be a star in WWE. Triple H said…
“Here’s the thing, Daniel. I’ve seen guys like you come and go a million times. Guys like Jericho, Edge, Rob Van Dam. All guys that are very talented, don’t get me wrong. Top guys! Very popular! But not ‘the one.’ Never were they ‘the one.’ And maybe nobody wants to say this, but it needs to be said: It’s a fact. If any of those guys had been the face of the WWE back in the day, we’d all be working for Ted Turner right now.
You think you’re playing in the big leagues, kid? You have no idea. You step inside that Hell in a Cell and I have a feeling you’re gonna prove to the world that you’re a B+ player.”
Last time I talked about whether I thought Rob Van Dam was ever “the one”. Now it’s time to talk about Chris Jericho….
Chris Jericho’s debut in WWE was monumental. When he debuted in 1999, joining from WCW, it had a huge impact. He confronted The Rock on his first night. That tells you quite something about how much stock they had in Chris Jericho. He kind of squandered for a while until he won the WWF Intercontinental Championship. It was then a gradual rise for Jericho from mid-card to the main event. Jericho was doing all the right things in the ring and on the mic, and the fans were well behind him. However, it was hard for Jericho to properly get a break considering the main event talent already there. It was going to be hard for Jericho to compete with Undertaker, Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin for the main event spotlight. He finally got his first major break as a main-eventer during the Invasion angle in 2001.
With Stone Cold Steve Austin heading the alliance and the likes of Chris Benoit and Triple H being injured, it was the perfect time for Jericho to step up. He had a great feud with The Rock which led to Jericho winning the WCW Championship at No Mercy. Although this was a big win, Jericho could never really get on par with fellow WWF member The Rock as a face. In WWF’s mind, The Rock was the star of Team WWF.
This eventually led to Jericho attacking The Rock during the Survivor Series match, turning heel for almost costing Team WWF the match. Jericho’s transition into a bad guy was smooth but his win as the first Undisputed Champion was even smoother…
He beat The Rock and Steve Austin on the same night at Vengeance 2001 to become the Undisputed Champion. He was the champion of the company and that night was all about Jericho. However, 2002 proved to be a problematic year for him. Hell, 2002 proved to be a problematic year for everyone in WWF/E. For you see, the amount of stars that debuted or returned to the WWE in the next year was incredible. The nWo, Shawn Michaels, Scott Steiner, Hulk Hogan… this was really the beginning of the end for Jericho’s reign on top.
Chris Jericho was in the main event of Wrestlemania X8. That would have been great if his match with Triple H was not completely over-shadowed by The Rock vs Hollywood Hogan. Really, Jericho never stood a chance. As soon as Jericho lost the title and the rematch, it was back to square one…
During the brand extension, Jericho was initially drafted to SmackDown! His feud with Edge on SmackDown! in 2002 proved to be a big hit until Jericho was moved over to RAW. Jericho’s move was made to help with the RAW ratings. However, Jericho was not really treated nearly as well as he would have been treated on SmackDown! Jericho had a few World title shots and did feud with the likes of Shawn Michaels and Bill Goldberg. He won a few Intercontinental and Tag Team titles but he was never really in a top singles main event feud on RAW until June 2005, when he feuded with WWE Champion John Cena. Even their match at Summerslam 2005 was overshadowed by the likes of Hogan vs Michaels. As it just so happened, this feud ended up being Jericho’s last for more than two years. For you see, Jericho quit the WWE in August after wrapping up the program.
Two years later, Jericho returned to the WWE in a big way. He returned to “save” the WWE and confronted WWE Champion Randy Orton in November 2007. It was an incredibly big angle which got a huge reaction, but his feud with Randy Orton didn’t even come to a great end. What happened was that in their title match at Armageddon, SmackDown! commentator JBL attacked Chris Jericho to cause the DQ. And to add a bit of insult to injury, this wasn’t even the main event of Armageddon!
Until he turned heel in June 2008, Jericho was never truly able to recover. However, his heel turn and feud with Shawn Michaels changed everything. In what was by far the feud of the year, Michaels and Jericho were simply phenomenal together. It was compelling to see Jericho as a heel. In my eyes, Chris Jericho was the top heel in the company in the second half of 2008. His feud with Michaels even turned into a World title feud after Jericho won the World title. He was not the face of the company or anything, but he was certainly the top heel of the company. He was the star of RAW. WWE had been priming Randy Orton to return as the top heel in the company but this was Jericho’s time to shine. That run on top came to an end when he lost the World title to John Cena at Survivor Series 2008.
Jericho still continued to be incredible on RAW and then on SmackDown! when he was traded in 2009. He had a lot of incredible programs but he was still floating around in the mid-card to upper mid-card position on the card. Eventually, Jericho was rewarded for his hard work in February 2010. Chris Jericho defeated the Undertaker in an Elimination Chamber match to win the World Heavyweight Championship. This was all fine but Jericho would end up losing the title on an episode of SmackDown! only two months later after Jack Swagger cashed in Money In The Bank. By the way, Jericho’s World Title defence at Wrestlemania 26 was not the main event of that show either! I guess when the match card includes the epic rematch between Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker, no one would have even came close.
After leaving once again in September 2010, Jericho was not seen in January 2012. He came back as the odds-on favourite to win the Royal Rumble match. After all the hype that had went into this return, Jericho was beaten by Sheamus in the final two of the Rumble match. Regardless, Jericho was still entered into a WWE Championship program with CM Punk anyway. Chris Jericho and CM Punk had a great match at Wrestlemania 28, but the focus was once again on a match that wasn’t even for a title. The Rock vs John Cena. Sucks to be both men in that situation.
Jericho’s been a multi-time World Champion and has probably been one of the greatest workers of all time. However, Jericho was just very unfortunate during his times as champion. There was never really a time for Jericho to grab all the attention. Jericho was never really “the one” in WWE. However, he will truly go down forever as one of the best wrestlers in the world.