If you had asked me my thoughts on Chris Jericho before 2016, I probably would have responded, “Meh, he’s alright.”
I’ve never been much of a fan, but I’ve never really known why. When I was a child, I just didn’t take to Jericho and his weird hair, and that carried on as I got older. Have you ever thought a song sounded okay, but it was by a band you hated so you didn’t allow yourself to enjoy it? That’s how I felt with Jericho. Even when he was doing great things I couldn’t acknowledge to his brilliance. That is until this year. His current run is the lengthiest he’s had in years, and has arguably been the best work of his career. He’s one of, if not the most entertaining parts of WWE at the moment, and his impeccable work this year has made me realise how great he is, was, and always will be.
Witnessing the best Jericho incarnation ever inspired me to look over Y2J’s career with a fresh pair of unbiased eyes, and what a career it’s been. Having read his first autobiography, A Lion’s Tale: Around the World in Spandex, it’s clear to me just how much meticulous effort and thought Jericho puts into everything he’s ever done, which is still evident today with his writing, wrestling, music, and podcasting. It’s a testament to Jericho’s dedication and work-ethic that he’s been able to adapt his style and personality in order to be a success in every country and organisation he’s ever worked for, from Mexico, Japan, and Germany, to ECW, WCW, and WWE. Every single time he makes a return to WWE, he changes his character slightly or drastically, and adds new catchphrases and elements to his persona.
What’s more, his dedication doesn’t end when he goes back through the curtain; Jericho maintains his persona outside of the ring too. During his fantastic heel run in 2008-2009, the best in the world at what he does refused to give autographs or even exchange pleasantries with fans, young or old, and he would not allow WWE to release any Y2J merchandise. It was his mission to make every single fan despise him, and he did everything he could to achieve that. When a man is actively sacrificing extra income for his art, that’s when you know he’s truly dedicated to his work.
Everything this man does is to a high standard; he’s even mastered 1004 holds for god’s sake! Just look at the rivalries he’s had. Go on, try and name a bad Jericho feud. It’s nigh-on impossible. Even his programme with Fandango was entertaining, even if the booking was questionable at best. Even though he was all buried away in the mid-card, his work in WCW is remembered so fondly, and is considered to be legendary.
Y2J manages to appeal to everyone without pandering to anyone. Fans, young and old, can love or hate Lionheart without feeling as though his character is too mature or immature for them to react to. The man can get absolutely anything over, he managed make a simple list the most popular thing in wrestling (I wish my lists were that popular).
Jericho can do everything: he’s a top-quality technical wrestler; a high-flier; extremely charismatic; he’s just as good as a heel as he is as a face, and can even play different types of heels seamlessly; an amazing talker; he can be put anywhere on the card effectively; he can sing: he can act; hell, the man even got to week six on Dancing with the Stars!
Chris Jericho has been wrestling for longer than I’ve been alive, and he’s still one of the best in the world on the mat and on the mic. To be so consistently great, accomplish so much (did you know he beat The Rock and Stone Cold in the same night?!), adapt so often and so effectively, paid so many dues, so influential, so intelligent, so hilarious, claw back from the verge of retirement, and still be one of the best performers in the world after 26 years, he has to be considered one of, if not the greatest of all time.
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