OWW Wrestler of the Week: Chris Jericho

HeadLocker — Jay Shannon

OWW Wrestler of the Week — Chris Jericho

Our resident philosopher, Jay Shannon, honors the Ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rolla, Chris Jericho. Jericho came back from a brutal thrashing by Shawn Michaels to take the World title after Legacy, Inc. destroyed C.M. Punk.

At Unforgiven, Manu (Afa, Jr.), Ted DiBiase Jr. , Cody Rhodes and Randy Orton aka Legacy, Inc. attacked C.M. Punk and took him out of the World Title Championship Scramble. Chris Jericho stepped in to fill the vacant fifth spot and ended up taking the title. Jericho withstood a horrific beating by Shawn Michaels to come back and took the title. Jericho’s double duty at Unforgiven, as well as taking the World title earned Jericho this week’s OWW’s Wrestler of the Week.

Can-Am Connection

Christopher Keith Irvine aka Chris Jericho is the son of famed hockey star, Ted Irvine. At the time of Chris’ birth, Ted was a member of the New York Rangers Hockey Team. Though the Irvines lived in Manhasset, New York at the time, Chris always kept his dual citizenships. He was raised near Winnipeg, Manitoba.

After college, Chris decided to try his hand at wrestling. He had been a fan of wrestling since an early age. He was introduced to the famous Hart family by promoter Bob Holliday. After two months of severe training at the infamous Hart Dungeon, Chris was ready to work in the indies in Canada and the United States. Chris didn’t want to play off his family surname so he chose another. The name Jericho, according to most sources, came from the rock group, Helloween. They had an album on the Canadian charts called Walls of Jericho. Jericho used the album title as the name for his variation of the Boston Crab as a tribute to the rockers that inspired his name. The Jericho name also tied in with Chris’ devout Christian beliefs.

The Thrill Seeker

While touring the Canadian indies, Chris became life-long friends with several other rising stars: Adam “Edge” Copeland, Jay “Christian Cage” Reso, Chris Benoit and Terry “Rhino” Gerin. In Canada, Chris would also form a long-running team with Lance Storm. They would dominate several of the Canadian federations, until winter hit The Great White North.

Chris took a tour of Mexico in the winter of 1992-93. The tour ended up lasting more than a year, as Chris won the NWA Middleweight Championship. After losing the Middleweight title, Chris picked up and left for Japan. Chris would split his time for the next two years between Japan and the US’s Smoky Mountain Wrestling organization. In SMW, Chris reunited with his old partner, Lance Storm, to form the Thrill Seekers. They would have great success and would eventually come to the attention of Paul Heyman.

Chris was introduced to Heyman by Mick Foley. Paul was very impressed with Chris’ charisma and signed him immediately. Chris’ stay in ECW would only last a few months, but he did capture the World Television Title. Chris’ run as World Television champion brought him to the attention of World Championship Wrestling, who headhunted him from Heyman’s organization.

Power and Glory

Jericho came to WCW and was thrust into a program with Chris Benoit over the Cruiserweight title, almost immediately. Jericho would hold the Cruiserweight title on four occasions, beating Benoit, Alex Wright, and Rey Mysterio, Jr (twice). Jericho would also hold the World Television title. He was set to face Booker T, but Stevie Ray had to substitute for his brother in the match. Jericho would feud with Dean Malenko over both belts during Jericho’s run in WCW.

Jericho also had an odd feud with Goldberg. Jericho taunted Goldberg repeatedly but the two never actually faced off against each other. Jericho did battle Konnan and Perry Saturn over the next three years. Jericho also took several tours of Japan during his WCW run. When Jericho’s contract came to an end, he accepted an offer to work for WCW’s biggest competitor.

The Rockers

Jericho talked with Vince McMahon about his idea for a countdown clock to herald his arrival. Jericho had seen a Countdown to the New Millenium clock at a post office. Vince thought the idea would be fun. The original idea was to have Jericho’s debut to happen around January 1, 2000 but the WWE brass didn’t want to let Jericho’s popularity run cold.

The countdown clock reached zero at 9:09 p.m. on 9/9/1999 (CST), in Chicago, Illinois. The Rock was cutting a promo in the ring when the clock ran out. Jericho came out and ripped into Rock like no one had dared int the past. The writers were confused when the “heel” Jericho was cheered wildly when he arrived. Jericho began using the nickname Y2J, a parody of the Y2K Bug that was feared by computer programmers around the world. Jericho cut a promo to the effect that Y2K would pale before the mighty Y2J.

Jericho’s first big feud in the WWF/E was against female wrestler, Chyna. Chyna was the first (and so far only) woman to hold the Intercontinental Champion. Jericho lost to Chyna at Survivor Series, but came back to win the title at Armageddon. Their feud also made history when both were counted down by two different ref during a rematch. The WWF had the two co-hold the I-C title. It was the only time that two people shared a singles title. Jericho would take back the full possession of the strap at Royal Rumble, only to drop the belt to Kurt Angle at No Way Out.

Between January and May of 2000, Jericho held the I-C (twice), European and WWF title. The last one was a one night situation where Earl Hebner ended up reversing the decision after being threatened by Triple H. The WWE does not recognize the title switch, but Jericho did beat Triple H for the title on the April 17th edition of Raw. Jericho would take exception to the loss of the belt and feud with both Triple H and his then-only-on-screen wife, Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley. Jericho cut some of his best promos during this time. If you watch the WWE’s The Rock DVD collection, there are a couple of the promos that he did with The Rock that are absolutely hilarious.

At Royal Rumble 2001, Jericho won the Intercontinental title, again, from Chris Benoit in a Ladder Match. After Chris dropped the I-C title to Triple H, he ended up partnered with long-time rival, Chris Benoit. The duo won the WWF tag titles. They would eventually lose their titles to the Dudley Boyz (Team 3D).

The Conquistadors

In 2001, WWE bought out the rights to both ECW and WCW. Creative set up an Invasion angle where the ex-WCW and ex-ECW stars united to battle the WWE elite. While Jericho stayed loyal to the WWF, he began to show signs of a heel turn. The Rock mocked Jericho about only winning the secondary titles (remember, the World title win was ignored). The Rock had won the WCW World Championship and the two men squared off for the belt. Jericho finally won The Big One from The Great One. Jericho used a new finisher, The Breakdown (Forward Russian Leg Sweep aka The Stroke). The very next night, Jericho and Rock united to upset the Dudley Boyz for the Tag titles. Jericho ended up a double champion.

Jericho would finalize his heel turn after he and Rock lost the tag belts to Test and Booker T. Jericho viciously attacked Rock with a chair. Rock would get his revenge by taking the WCW World (later just called the World) title from Jericho on the 11/5 edition of Raw. At Vengeance, Chris would make history, once again, by defeating The Rock (World title) and Steve Austin (WWF title) in the same night. He was then recognized as the first Undisputed Champion of the WWF. Jericho would then drop the title to Triple H at Wrestlemania X-8. They would feud briefly before Jericho left Smackdown and returned to Raw. Jericho would win another tag team title and Intercontinental title in the first few weeks on the Red Brand.

The Twin Towers

Jericho’s alliance with Christian (Cage) was perhaps one of the strongest teams of that era in the WWF. They were friends, off-screen, which helped to unify them in the ring. The WWF began a somewhat tacky angle where both men made a bet as to which could bed their respective girlfriends, Christian (Lita) or Jericho (Trish Stratus). This distraction would eventually cost the duo the tag belts and begin a huge feud between the two over the affection of Trish. The two would feud after Jericho locked Trish in the Walls of Jericho. Their feud came to a head at Wrestlemania XX, where Trish turned on Jericho to help Christian defeat his foe.

The Rock and Roll Express

After his feud with Trish and Christian wound down, Jericho won his seventh I-C title and feuded with several stars as his contract with the WWF came to an end. Jericho signed a short-term extension but eventually left the WWE. Jericho had been enlisted by Raw GM, Eric Bischoff, to defeat John Cena for the WWF title. When Jericho failed to do so, Bischoff Fired Jericho. Jericho was never actually fired by the WWF, his contract simply expired.

On August 25, 2005, Jericho noted on his website (which was later pulled by Chris) that he had nothing left to prove in wrestling. Jericho had worked in wrestling for 15 years and had won every title that he had set his sights on, many of the titles numerous times. Jericho created a rock band called Fozzy. The original name of the band was Fozzy Osbourne. The name was a joke. The band was originally a cover band that did Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne tunes. The Fozzy name came from the Muppet character. At least one story had it that the band wanted to pair Ozzy with the most non-Ozzy character that they could think of. Enter Fozzy Bear. Wakka Wakka. The band would eventually drop the Osbourne secondary name when Jericho joined and they expanded beyond just cover tunes. Jericho wanted to forge his own path without depending on his famous name, in much the same way he avoided the Irvine name when he entered wrestling. Jericho adopted the stage name of Mongoose (often mispronounced Moongoose) McQueen. The surname is a tribute to actor Steve McQueen. The band released several albums, which are quite good.

Jericho also took a position with the new XM radio company. He did a classic/modern rock music program known as The Rock of Jericho. It was one of the most popular shows on the fledgling XM Radio networks. Jericho also worked on several television shows during his retirement. He was one of the stars on VH1’s I Love The… series. He was also the first celebrity eliminated in the short-lived Fox Celebreality program, Duets.

Demolition

In early 2007, a rumor began to circulate that Jericho wanted to return to wrestling. In September, odd cryptic messages began to play on the Titantron. In what is known as the Worst Kept Secret in Wrestling History, the Matrix-like message ran for several weeks. The main message was Save Us. Jericho finally arrived on Raw on the November 19, 2007 episode. Jericho cut an old-style scathing promo on Randy Orton, humiliating the Legend Killer. Jericho was instantly embraced as a face. Jericho debuted a new finisher, the Codebreaker (an Inverted Lung Blower/Back Stabber).

Jericho had his first feud against Randy Orton, who had the WWE title, at the time. Jericho had Orton beaten at Armageddon but JBL rushed in the ring to attack Jericho, thus allowing Orton to keep his title. Jericho then battled JBL in some bloody battles where Jericho dominated the ex-Texan. Jericho often lost the matches due to disqualification but definitely won the war. Jericho went from a losing effort in an Elimination Chamber match at No Way Out to a record-breaking eighth I-C title win over the man who beat him in the Chamber Match, Jeff Hardy.

After Wrestlemania 24, Jericho began to taunt Shawn Michaels about retiring Ric Flair. Jericho also turned heel when he took exception to the way in which Shawn had faked a knee injury to trick Batista in a match. Jericho called out Shawn to an episode of Jericho’s The Highlight Reel talk segment. Chris attacked Shawn and ran his face into the large plasma monitor that Jericho called the JeriTron 2000. The screen shattered and (supposedly) got glass (well, plastic) in Shawn’s eyes. The two men then engaged in a series of matches, including Shawn costing Jericho the I-C title to Kofi Kingston. During this time, Jericho abandoned his comic Y2J persona. Jericho brutalized Shawn in several matches and had Shawn on the verge of retirement. Then, Summerslam arrived.

In an almost direct lift from a previous TNA angle, Shawn was in the ring with his wife, Rebecca. Shawn was talking about his career and how the doctors had instructed him to hang up his boots. Jericho came out and began to ridicule Shawn for his showboating and playing up to the crowd. Shawn returned the volley by telling Jericho “you will never be HBK”. As Shawn and Rebecca turned to leave the ring, Jericho went to punch Shawn. Much like Robert Roode had done to Sharmell Sullivan-Huffman (Mrs. Booker T), Jericho struck Rebecca in the jaw. Rebecca, sadly, couldn’t sell the move and the WWE would have to re-edit the footage to make it look realistic. This led to a brutal and bloody battle at Unforgiven between Jericho and Shawn. Shawn would come out as the victor, when the ref stopped the battle and declared that Jericho could not continue. Jericho would get the last laugh, later in the night.

C.M. Punk, the reigning World champion, was attacked backstage by several second/third generation stars. Punk was unable to compete in the World (Raw) title Championship Scramble. Jericho was placed in the match as a replacement for Punk. During the final moments of the battle, Batista hit a Spinebuster on Kane. Jericho snuck in and covered Kane while Batista turned to face Rey Mysterio. Jericho took the win with only 2 seconds left on the countdown clock. Jericho became the new World champion in one of the biggest swerves in recent wrestling history.

In Conclusion:

Chris Jericho has held titles all over the world. He was the first Undisputed Champion in the WWE. He is also the only 8-time Intercontinental champion. Jericho had flip-flopped back and forth between face and heel. The one constants in his career are talent and charisma. He never fails to get a reaction from a crowd, whether positive or negative. He is also instrumental in helping younger talent in developing personality. He is highly respected in both the music and wrestling industry. How much longer he will choose to compete in the ring is anyone’s guess. There are two things that are confirmed, right now. 1. He is the new World Champion. 2. He is this week’s pick for the OWW Wrestler of the Week.

–Jay Shannon
[email protected]
(9/8/2008)