“You know what happens when you leave an indelible mark upon the wrestling industry?”
“Huh? When you make your mark in history, do you know what happens? Do you?”
“I’ll tell you what happens when do that, you make…… THE LIST!”
That is the list of greats, of legends and undoubtedly one day, the list of Hall of Famers. That is the list that the innovator of ‘The List of Jericho’, Chris Jericho, is on and deservedly so.
Jericho’s recent work has been some of the best of his career – his chemistry with Kevin Owens provides some of the most entertaining I’ve seen in the near 30 years I’ve been watching professional wrestling. Of course, it is much more than just the wrestling that happens in the ring, it’s the characters that draw you into the overall entertainment package. Without characters to become emotionally invested in – whether you really want to see them win or you’re just desperate for them to get a beating, those characters are what convinces people to part with their hard earned money to witness it, or buy their merchandise, or simply watch at home. If a character cannot garner interest, they won’t be able to rise to a prominent position and if they become stale they will struggle to stay there.
Chris Jericho, in the twilight of his career, continues to be anything but stale. Whether it be the List of Jericho, the gift of Jericho, the scarf of Jericho, the Kevin and Chris show or the Chris and Kevin show if you so prefer, Jericho continues to have crowds entertained and hanging on his words. Along with “drink it in mannnnnnnnn”, they are too easily passed off as catchphrases, but anyone can come up with a catchphrase, getting the crowd to shout along with it or simply just to cheer when they hear it is something else altogether.
I was never a fan or viewer of WCW, so I was unaware of Chris Jericho when he made his WWE debut in 1999, but he instantly drew me in. The build to his debut was perfect and gave him that platform, that opportunity; the delivery was all Jericho, he made sure it wasn’t an anti-climax. It wasn’t just on the microphone where he made his mark though, he could also get it done in the ring, mixing athleticism with showmanship, technique and sound wrestling psychology. Whether it be as a brash, cocky heel or an all action babyface – his in-ring style reflected his character. Ever since, he has either developed or reinvented his character, adding new layers along the way, from the brash showman to the ultra-serious “best in the world”, all the way to what we see today. Jericho has always found a way to stay relevant, not afraid to change or freshen up what he does. His in-ring style may have inevitably altered with age, his fundamental skills and psychology mean he is still able to deliver high calibre matches and doubtless has plenty more left in the tank.
His battles with The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin stand out from his early WWE years, although his rivalry with Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit for the Intercontinental Title and the fantastic matches they had are fonder in my memories. His program with CM Punk was intense and his work with Shawn Michaels was incredible at times. Earlier this year, I wondered if we’d seen the best of Y2J and an illustrious career was nearing its end, but his pairing with Kevin Owens has been inspirational and dare I say, has even taken his talents to new heights.
This writer has absolutely no doubt that Jericho is Hall of Fame bound when he does decide to call it a day and will deservedly be talked about as one of the true greats, near the top of a very elite……… LIST!