ViRTUE's RAGE: My All-Time Favorite Wrestler Submitted by Virtue on 07/30/2017 at 10:02 PM
July 30, 2017
Perhaps when it is all said and done, Chris Jericho will become the Man of 1,004 Returns. Y2J showed back up on SmackDown last Tuesday 7/25, and the place erupted! Without question, nobody has refreshed their career at the same success rate and as often as Chris Jericho has.
Arm Drag, Arm Bar, the Moss Covered Three Handled Family Gredunzle, Arm Bar, the Saskatchewan Spinning Nerve Hold, Body Slam, Drop Toe Hold, Arm Bar, Shooting Star Staple Super Press, Right Handed Arm Bar, Lionsault, Kinfe Edge Chop, Arm Bar, Piledriver, Jericho Arm Bar, Canadian Arm Drag, Canadian Maple Leaf, Arm Bar, Lion Tamer, Missile Drop Kick, and so on…
I could probably end this discussion right now and my point would already be proven on why Chris Jericho is my all-time favorite wrestler/sports entertainer. Back in March, I wrote how Jericho has somewhat become the modern day Mr. WrestleMania since Shawn Michaels retired. Jericho has had solid Mania matches with the likes of Shawn Michaels, Triple H, CM Punk, Edge, AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, Kurt Angle/Chris Benoit, and Christian. He was even in the inaugural Money in the Bank Ladder Match at WM21. For those of you who want to know how far my fandom of Chris Jericho dates back, I will tell you it was right around his ECW to WCW transition in 1996. That’s right! I have been aY2J fan for over twenty years now. In June of 1996, Jericho won the ECW World Television Championship from Pitbull #2. After wrestling the likes of Taz, Cactus Jack, Shane Douglas, Sabu, and RVD in ECW, Jericho would jump ship to WCW, where after a brief initial run on television, he would go to New Japan on a working agreement with WCW. Although his Super Liger gimmick flopped hard, Jericho would then work as himself and eventually found himself back in WCW in June of 1997. This is about the point in time, I turned from a casual Jericho fan into a full-fledged Jerichoholic, and I am not ashamed of it.
I could list the many accomplishments of Jericho in his WWE career since his debut in August of 1999; however, I do not feel that fully proves why he is my all-time favorite. What happened in his career in WCW in 1997-1998 will more than prove why he is the top wrestler/sports entertainer in my book. After a serious back injury to my #2 all-time favorite (Shawn Michaels) at the 1998 Royal Rumble, HBK would depart from active wrestling for four+ years after he dropped the WWF Championship to Stone Cold Steve Austin at WM14. In a future column, I will discuss that very match that put Stone Cold in WWE’s top spot at the expense of Michaels’ impending four year retirement due to injury. I have to admit, I was devastated that my then favorite performer (HBK) was gone from active wrestling. However, a new favorite would soon cruise right up my list.
From 1997 to 1998, Jericho won the WCW Cruiserweight Championship on four different occasions. It was during this time that he really started to shine as not just a wrestler, but also as a sports entertainer with great character development. Jericho went on to feud with the likes of Rey Mysterio Jr, Juventud Guerrera, and Dean Malenko. Also during this time, Jericho would start to get several interview and promo spots on Monday Nitro. This was the medium he needed to shine as a potential future star. I think we all know how that turned out. Later in 1998, Jericho would defeat Stevie Ray to become the WCW World Television Champion. It was shortly after this when Jericho’s true star was born thanks to acquiring a personal bodyguard named Ralphus in his pursuit to feud against Greenberg! Get it? Jericho called Goldberg “GREEN”. The attempted feud with Goldberg was the defining moment in Chris Jericho’s career. What? How? Let me explain…
Leave it to Chris Jericho to be given the creative opportunity to carry on a feud where the appropriate payoff was really never going to happen. Sure, we did get Jericho Vs Gillberg, but the fact that Goldberg refused to work a match with Jericho on PPV was just outright ridiculous. Jericho was even willing to get squashed by Goldberg, just as long as it happened after fans paid to see it. Goldberg, along with heavy influence from Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan, basically had the idea nixed. But that did not stop Jericho who basically carried on a solo feud against Goldberg, and it was epic. During my senior year of high school, we talked about it in study hall, at lunch, and even in chemistry class. Jericho was simply unleashing his entertainment value at a level most will never see. From Ralphus, to the sparkler pyros, to getting lost in the locker room on his way to the ring, to the Gillberg match, and to calling Goldberg “Green” was just absolutely monumental in the development of Jericho into a superstar. At least Goldberg did agree to give somewhat of a payoff when he speared Jericho in the entrance way on an episode of Nitro. Jericho is on record for saying WCW actually booked the payoff squash match for Nitro, but Jericho hid in the arena thus forcing management to scrap the match. Jericho insisted he do the job on PPV because the fans were hot for the angle, and he was right! Supposedly, the match was set to happen on PPV, but Goldberg backed out the weekend of. Now I hope you all know why I do not like Greenberg.
Soon after this hugely missed opportunity by WCW, the writing was clearly on the wall for Jericho’s WCW departure. Heading into 1999, Jericho would finally sign with WWE and thus the Millennium Countdown angle began. On August 9, 1999, Y2J debuted for WWE on Monday Night Raw. And it was in a promo spot against the Rock of all people. There is no way Vince McMahon would have ended up allowing a debut angle like that involving the Rock if guys like Vince Russo and Bruce Prichard did not smarten him up about Jericho’s excellent work in WCW. Of course, Kevin Dunn and his crew, Ed Ferrara, Jim Johnston, along with Jericho’s brilliance, helped to make what is still probably the greatest debut in professional wrestling history. It is no surprise that Jericho has parlayed that into many surprise returns over the years. And guess what, folks? He is NOT done! #GOAT
WWE Battleground Match Grades:
Tye Dillinger Vs Aiden English = no grade
SmackDown Tag Team Championship- New Day Vs Usos = B++
Shinsuke Nakamura Vs Baron Corbin = C+
SmackDown Women’s #1 Contender Elimination Match- Tamina Vs Lana Vs Becky Vs Charlotte Vs Nattie = C+
United States Championship- Kevin Owens Vs AJ Styles = B+
Flag Match- John Cena Vs Rusev = D-
Fashion Police backstage segment = no grade
Sami Zayn Vs Mike Kanellis w/Maria = C+
Punjabi Prison WWE Championship Match- Randy Orton Vs Jinder Mahal = C-
Overall Grade = C
PPV Grades for 2017
NXT TakeOver: San Antonio = B++
WWE Royal Rumble = B
WWE Elimination Chamber = B
WWE FastLane = C++
NXT TakeOver: Orlando = B++
WWE WrestleMania 33 = B+
WWE Payback = B
NXT TakeOver Chicago = A-
WWE Backlash = B-
WWE Extreme Rules = B
WWE Money in the Bank = B-
WWE Great Balls of Fire = A-
WWE Battleground = C
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