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WRESTLING COLUMNS

How Good Is/Was Chris Jericho"
May 4, 2006 by Euan Williamson


As time goes by, the likelihood of his return becomes less and less.

So far, 2006 has thrown up quite a few surprises with regards to the WWE. Edge's New Years Revolution win was a brilliant decision, in my opinion, which you would already know if you'd happen to read my column on his potential to win the big one at the end of last year. Furthermore, his three-week reign was almost flawless and it would be sheer folly to not put the belt back on him later in the year.

No Way Out was a perfectly acceptable PPV, given that the SmackDown roster was, and is, looking rather thin on the ground. WrestleMania was a hastily thrown together card that out did expectation and created several interesting stories to evolve over the coming months. As I knew they would, Edge and Foley delivered the goods and produced a ****1/4, whilst the Cena and Triple H match was more than reasonable at ***3/4. More importantly, the Cena and Triple H situation regarding heel and face is fascinating viewing. All in all, it has been an interesting year so far. However, I can't help but feel that WWE is being pushed to the very limits of its talent just now. One or two more injuries to key men and it could all fall apart. When Triple H was injured in 2001, the roster was so strong that they had more than sufficient cover. The same can't be said about the current roster.

I'll get to the point. I can't help but wonder if Chris Jericho is ever going to return to wrestling and I fully believe that he could be a very important player if he came back and was pushed with impetus. Ignore the last stretch if his WWE career when his character became watered down and stale. When I say impetus, I mean removing the diluted version and going back to the Jericho that had attitude, guts and unpredictability. I'm not sure where exactly this column is going to take me, but if you like Chris Jericho, then that's what I'm going to be going off on a tangent about. I guess I'll start with the title of my column...

How good is/was Chris Jericho "

For those of you that have only ever been aware of or followed Chris Jericho's WWE career then you are indeed missing out. In addition, even if you've followed him since WCW, then you are still missing out! After his initial training and matches in the Indy Federations in North America, Jericho's first port of call was Japan. It was here that Jericho honed his skills and formed his character that would go on to be a major part of the WWE in later years. He was definitely helped by the fact that Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko were also over in Japan at the time learning their trade.

The first match I would suggest you hunt down is his match from 1995 against Ultimo Dragon. It's a fairly short match, however, is a very good example of the talent that Jericho exhibited early in his career. Wrestling in the junior weight category, Jericho was able to showcase his highflying abilities. If you remember when, in the WWE, Jericho used to run onto the middle turnbuckle and dropkick his opponent who was on the apron, then look to Japan and witness Jericho running onto the turnbuckles and moonsaulting in one motion onto his opponent on the floor. It's awesome stuff to watch.

As an example of his technical abilities, then you should look no further than any of his matches in Japan with the Pegasus Kid (Benoit). It's a joy to watch the pair of them in their younger days putting in the effort to get over with the Japanese fans that are hungry for pure wrestling. One thing that is clearly evident by this early stage of his career, is Jericho's charisma. The Japanese crowd can be a quiet sort in between high spots and these two matches are prime examples of Jericho's abilities to play to the crowd and whip them up into a fervour to add heat to the match. You can hear what he is saying word for word. Especially against Benoit, Jericho shows his natural character and outlandish mannerisms to get the crowd going, whilst Benoit plods away letting his wrestling doing the talking. The key thing to note here is, however, that Jericho more than matches Benoit in the wrestling stakes.

The previous paragraph merely illustrates that a lot of Jericho's tools were in place at an early stage of his career. Both these matches are widely available on the internet and should be viewed. I'm not wanting to do a play by play on his career so I will launch straight into discussing the facets that I believe make Jericho a very valuable wrestler and one that I would want back in the WWE.

Firstly, Jericho has proven that he is one of the best all round wrestling entertainers in the business today. Let's look at it....

The man can obviously wrestle and keep up with people that are renowned for their technical abilities. His WWE career is littered with terrific encounters against the likes of Angle, Benoit and Guerrero, especially in the 2000 to 2001 era. His mat technique is extremely sound and he wrestles in a very compact nature. People will be able to point out a few botched spots in his WWE career, however, these tend to be in more risky spots such as moves off of the turnbuckles. If you watch his wrestling, his abilities in producing and wrestling with reversals, small packages and cradles, to name a few, are flawless. This is probably helped by his size, which I see as being perfect in terms of working with opponents of all kinds of sizes.

In addition, Jericho is able to produce the goods in bloody brawls, especially when his character is operating at its fullest. Before he became slightly stale, Jericho had a slightly maniacal edge that meant he could snap at any given time and dispense with the joke humour and showboating.

One need not look any further than his first proper main event at Fully Loaded in 2000 where he more than matched Triple H in a Last Man Standing Match and showcased that he was more than able to play with the big dogs under the spotlight in a brutal encounter. Further evidence would be his HIAC match with Triple H. One of my favourite sights in WWE in 2000 was when Jericho would snap and lose control whilst taking out referees, opponents and anyone else that happened to be standing there at the time.

Furthermore, as already mentioned, Jericho can high fly if necessary. Just delve into Japan or his WCW career to see him consistently wrestling at a cruiser level. In WCW he was able to continue his work against lighter opposition whilst honing his skills on the microphone etc in the more entertainment orientated North America. If you get a chance, track down his matches with Juventud Guerrera or Rey Mysterio as fine examples of him pulling out the big spots whilst being able to incorporate sound wrestling at the same time. To me, it is a major advantage in a wrestler's standing if they are able to believably contest matches with the likes of the Rock or Triple H at a main event level, and also, produce an entertaining match with the likes of Mysterio.

Moreover, I believe that Jericho has always been a very hard worker in the ring that busts his gut night in night out. Again, people may sight the latter part of his career, however, this is slightly unfair. All you need to do is watch any of his matches to see the effort he puts in. His style is a high-octane one that is shown in his energetic move set. Powerbombs, dropkicks, submissions and a whole host of other moves make for good viewing and I'm not suggesting that an expansive move set makes a wrestler more impressive, however, with Jericho, it works due to his all round capabilities. He also puts in the effort regardless of who the opponent is and doesn't save his best for the big matches. His career is littered with very good TV matches for example. Jericho's size also means that he has to work hard against the bigger men to make the story of the match believable.

He constantly moves inside the ring and is never guilty of employing too many rest holds like the highly overrated Randy Orton does. No matter Jericho's opponent he always pulls, at the very least, a decent match out of them. Rhyno in 2001 and Christian at WrestleMania XX both had their best matches against him as evidence of this, whilst he has always been capable of making the best out of people such as Kane. The question I would pose to you is - Are you able to name five really bad Chris Jericho matches" Only maybe, however, the point is that every wrestler can have a bad match and Jericho keeps them to an absolute minimum. In conclusion of this point, I would say that the body of his work from the late 90's to 2004 was of the highest order, even when the booking was unkind to him for large periods of time, and a rejuvenated and fresh Jericho could easily attain these heights again.

Furthermore, Jericho has always had at least a good grasp on in ring psychology and has always been a brilliant storyteller. One example is his match against Benoit at Royal Rumble '01 in a ladder match. For the first time since the Michaels v Ramon ladder matches, they actually managed to tell a story and incorporate it into the match whilst doing some stuff never seen before. Another example would be WrestleMania XIX against Michaels, were Jericho was possibly the stronger performer, which is saying something given that Michaels is one of the best ever. Whilst being part of the new crop of exciting and flashy wrestlers, Jericho clearly has an interest in the science of the art, which is shown in him going to Japan to train and is evidenced in his matches. It's an exciting blend of the modern and the old school.

The last thing I would like to touch on is Jericho's character. The great thing about Jericho is that he doesn't really seem to have a major weakness in any area and this is, perhaps, one of his strongest. His natural aura on the stick is plain to see and this is a major advantage. Just think of all the wrestlers that struggle slightly to get to that very highest level because their charisma in this field can let them down. Shelton Benjamin is a prime example of someone that would already be at the main event level if he had the natural talking ability of Jericho and I'm a hundred percent sure of this fact. Put Jericho into any reasonable storyline and he will raise the bar on the quality of the promos, segments and general chat. The only other people that come close to being as natural are Rock, Hogan and maybe Austin from recent years. The other point that I'd like to add into this section is the ease at which he can play heel or face. Some wrestlers are better at one than the other such as Triple H and Angle. Jericho is completely comfortable at slipping into both roles. As a face he has the lines, the wrestling and the cockiness that borders on sheer arrogance. As a heel, he slips over the line into arrogance and meshes cheating and underhanded tactics into character effortlessly. Basically, Jericho can fit into any roster under any guise and produce the goods and this an important quality.

All these above points make me think that a returning Jericho would be a very good thing for the WWE. If his foot came off the gas pedal latterly, then I don't really blame him. Although, his work with Cena right at the end was certainly not bad in anyway. Another advantage of Jericho is that he has been almost injury free throughout his career. In some ways, having an injury can help a wrestler as it allows them to take a break and come back refreshed and with more vigour. After six years of being injury free in the WWE, Jericho was due a rest, so if he returned, he's still in great condition unlike the Angles of this world. Moreover, and very importantly, Jericho has never had a problem with putting people over. If he were to come back then he should be pushed as, if anything, he put over too many people towards the end of his tenure. The fact remains, however, that he has proven himself to be perfectly willing to put over youngsters and give them the rub and this is a great factor when dealing with someone that has done the things that Jericho has in the WWE.

In conclusion, I would like to re emphasize that I think Jericho has proven himself to be one of the best workers of the modern era and one of the most exciting, whilst proving himself to be unselfish and humble over his positioning within the industry. Personally, I think it would be like a great new major signing if WWE were to get him back and it could only be positive for them and all the wrestlers that he would square off against. If my true gut feeling turns out to be correct and Jericho does not return to wrestling then all I can say is - It was a pleasure to watch one of the most talented wrestlers of this generation and I wish him all the best. Until next month....

Peace

by Euan Williamson ..


Ken wrote:
I enjoyed your article. Chris Jericho has always been one of my favorite wrestlers. But honestly I'd prefer for him to be successful outside of the ring like the Rock. I would love to see him wrestle again but if he does come back I want it on his terms. Jericho hands down would be one of if not the best person on that roster. I've seen some of the Japan matches with Benoit that you mentioned and they were great. I used to hope he would go to TNA but I've gotten so disgusted with them that they wouldn't know what to do with him either. Just look at how they are using Christian. Jericho had some hilarious moments. Man of 1004 holds, Ralphus, and him standing in the ring reading off the 1004 holds that he knows. I remember Jericho's first night on Raw with the Rock. Priceless!! Nice Article Ass Clown!! LOL
Andy Sharpe wrote:
An excellent article, I miss Chris Jericho performing in the WWE a huge amount, he brought so much to the company but was under appreciated. If he were to return I hope it would be on Smackdown where they need him and he is free of Triple H's chains

He should have had more than 1 world title reign during his time in WWE. People say his reign as 1st Undisputed Champion didn't work and blame him for business going down in 2002. Chris Jericho is not to blame at all for that and the fact he wasn't given another chance was a mockery of an excellent career.

I agree he probably needs some time off but the fact that he never had a serious injury in 6 years goes to show what an excellent performer he was, I saw him wrestle a house show in England in 2004 againsnt La Resistance and he even made that entertaining - which says it all!

I only hope he's back on our TV screens sooner than later.
ChiChi Cardiel wrote:
WWE NEEDS THE ROCK AND JERICHO BACK PERIOD. I mean...look at the Ratings drop....Jericho and the Rock were in some cases the people the fans WENT TO SEE. they were two SUPER MIC skilled AND IN THE RING wrestlers....THEY NEED JERICHO BACK.
Basti Scherer wrote:
great column! i am from germany so please excuse my poor english. i really miss chris jericho. i would mark out to see him on smackdown wrestle for the world heavyweight championship. especially with the lack of main event players on the blue brand. i was a fan of his work since i first saw him in wcw compete for the cruiserweight title. i was lucky enough to see him wrestle in germany in a tag team match with shawn michaels against ric flair and batista. it wasn't the main event but the match of the night. jericho had so many **** matches and in my books stole the show so many times. his match against hbk from wrestlemania XIX is one of my favorites of all time. the fact that he can play face or heel shows how great he is! (HHH on a side note had not many times to show he can play the face now is a good time tough) as i said when he comes back it should be on samckdown. he comes back as the cocky heel to face rey mysterio for the WHC. after that there would be so many things he can do wrestle benoit or angle. put over guys like bobby lashley or gunner scott. i hope he decides to come back we the fans would benefit as would wwe!
Jose Aguirre wrote:
Chris Jericho and the Rock were the kings of the mic, I would include Austin, but he wasn't really creative, he would have classic gimmicks, but Jericho and The Rock, were always Changing. Aside from the mic skills he had amazing wrestling skills, and a cool finisher, Elevated Boston Crab/Walls of Jericho.
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