Last night on Monday Night Raw, Chris Jericho made his highly anticipated return to the WWE as the superstar behind the cryptic "It Begins" vignettes that have been airing over the past few weeks. Shockingly enough, Jericho pandered to the Memphis audience before retreating to the back in silence.
Although I was originally disappointed with the way he came back, I've since realized that it's the start of something much bigger. Jericho has been known for playing the minds of the IWC in the past to throw us off our game, in addition to the fact that re-debuting him as the heel he once was would have been extremely predictable.
It's been reported in the past that even Jericho himself is high on reinventing himself for his third coming, as last night's reveal was proven no different. Now that the inaugural undisputed champion has finally made his comeback, where does he go from here?
Nearly a decade ago, Chris Jericho formed an alliance with Christian on Raw in a hunt for the World Tag Team Championships. Shortly after capturing the gold, the two Canadians would form a friendship both inside and outside the ring that still exists to this day.
In early 2004, the friendship between the two came to a bitter end while fighting over the heart of the lovely Trish Stratus. In the end, Christian soundly defeated Y2J at WrestleMania 20 with the help of the backstabbing Stratus at the climax of their rivalry.
Besides a few one-off matches since then, we haven't seen much from Christian and Chris Jericho over the past few years. I had my hopes up for a Jericho return when Christian teased an old friend of his was going to be aiding him at this year's SummerSlam event, but no such luck.
With the tag team division stronger than ever at the moment, reuniting Jericho and Christian could set up an excellent rivalry with Air Boom over the WWE tag team championships. Look for these two to collide upon Christian's eventual return from injury.
During his absence, Chris Jericho hasn't been shy about speaking his mind over Twitter regarding the way he feels about numerous WWE superstars. He's gone on record to state that a handful of superstars on today's roster are stealing his material, and I for one can't disagree with him.
For example, Sin Cara (when being portrayed as Hunico) recently added a Lionsault-like maneuver into his arsenal. A fellow adrenaline junkie in Justin Gabriel has been known to do the same.
Upon Mason Ryan's return from injury a few months back, he used Jericho's old entrance pose while making his way down to the ring on WWE superstars at one point. Fans were quick to notify Y2J of the incident, and it was no secret that Jericho was enraged at the fact that superstars now have no originality unlike himself.
Now, I do realize that many of the mannerisms that the great Chris Jericho has utilized over the years can be drawn back to somewhere else such as Japan, but that's no excuse to disrespect Jericho, directly or indirectly. Having Jericho embark on a rampage attacking everyone who has copied Y2J would be an excellent way of re-building his status as a vengeful heel.
Obviously, Chris Jericho's illustrious accolades can speak for themselves, being the first undisputed champion in WWE history as well as being a two-time Slammy Award winner. However, one record set by Jericho himself is having captured the Intercontinental Championship a total nine times over the course of his career, a record that looks to never be broken anytime soon.
The last time we saw the Intercontinental title belt around the waist of Jericho was in mid-2009, when he was feuding with Rey Mysterio over on SmackDown. The belt never regained that same prestige until just recently when Cody Rhodes won the strap this past August and has been carrying it over his shoulder even since.
Upon his second coming in 2007, we witnessed Chris Jericho eventually recapture the Intercontinental Championship only a few short months later. Feuding with Rhodes could finally push the second-generation star into the main event position he's been seeking, while giving Jericho some extra gold in the process.
When Chris Jericho was left without a tag team partner in mid-2009, he recruited the Big Show to join him as unified WWE tag team champion, dominating the tag team division for months on end with victories over Cryme Tyme, the Legacy and the alliance of Batista and Rey Mysterio.
At the conclusion of the year, the team collectively known as Jeri-Show dropped the straps to heated rivals D-Generation X in a TLC match. After numerous failed attempts in regaining the gold, Jericho would later distance himself from Show to pursue the world heavyweight championship.
Despite a quick one-off match with the Goliath in a Body Slam Match on Raw, no real breakup came from the former tag champs thereafter. With Big Show now one of the top faces on SmackDown, a rivalry between the two could quite possibly make Friday nights interesting again.
On the pilot episode of WWE NXT in early 2010, Daniel Bryan showed major potential of being a future breakout star during his main event match against pro Chris Jericho. Bryan looked strong in defeat, proving to numerous viewers that he had what it takes to become a major player in WWE.
If Jericho stays true to this babyface persona he previewed last night, mentoring world heavyweight champion Daniel Bryan could further launch the career of the former Indy star. Eventually, Bryan's training could lead to a heel turn from Y2J after turning on his pupil.
A rematch between the two tremendous wrestlers is highly anticipated, and it's bound to happen sooner or later now that the first-ever undisputed champion has finally returned.
Speaking of WWE NXT, Chris Jericho played a crucial role on the first season of the show mentoring his rookie Wade Barrett. Following Daniel Bryan's elimination from the competition, Barrett soon took charge and eventually emerged victorious from the inaugural season with Jericho by his side.
Soon afterwards, the Englishman broke out on his own to form the intimidating Nexus group to target then-WWE champion John Cena. The mentor and pupil had a brief encounter backstage a few weeks later, subsequently leading to Barrett turning against Y2J in mid-August to solidify the fact that you're either Nexus or against us.
The night following the SummerSlam pay-per-view, Wade Barrett cleanly defeated Chris Jericho in a solid match to maintain his spot as the leader of the black and yellow stable. Given how strong Barrett's momentum is at the moment, Jericho engaging in a rivalry with his former apprentice could make for extremely intriguing television with the history behind it.
Shortly after Chris Jericho departed from the WWE in late September 2010, it was not too much later that The Miz successfully cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase to capture his first WWE Championship. While reigning as champ, The Miz took numerous shots at the former undisputed champion over Twitter, to which Jericho blatantly replied he was stealing his gimmick.
Without a doubt, a handful of similarities can be drawn between the two including their egotistical personalities, serious sides and even their stylish suits. Hell, Miz even stole Jericho's old breakdown finishing maneuver that the Awesome One now calls the "Skull Crushing Finale!"
At one time, a dream team between the two former WWE champions was finally coming to fruition in May 2010, but was quickly disbanded following the Over the Limit event. Now that Jericho has made his valiant comeback, there's a strong possibility we'll be able to witness Y2J silence The Miz once and for all.
Moments after The Undertaker defeated Triple H at WrestleMania 27 last April, the IWC quickly began to speculate as to who could possibly be Undertaker's final WrestleMania opponent this spring. One of the most popular choices was Chris Jericho, a man who wasn't even contracted at the time the rumors began floating.
In recent history, we've only seen these legends collide on two occasions, as both bouts occurring on SmackDown in late 2009 and early 2010. With the record between the two standing one-to-one, one can only imagine that a much-needed rubber match is imminent.
Personally, I'd much rather see Chris Jericho challenge Taker at the Show of Shows than Triple H, who already received two other chances at ending the illustrious streak. Although younger rising stars such as Sheamus or The Miz are always strong candidates, I believe that giving Jericho the honor of being the Deadman's final opponent at WrestleMania could provide not only an entertaining rivalry, but one of the greatest WrestleMania matches of all time.
In what was Chris Jericho's last match in WWE before departing in late 2010, Y2J challenged then-WWE champion Randy Orton to a match in the main event of Raw. If Jericho was to emerge victorious, he would be granted a title shot at any time of his choosing.
During the bout, an interfering Sheamus would call for the disqualification, thus costing Jericho a shot at the prestigious championship. Moments later, Orton would unleash his rage on Jericho with a vicious punt to the skull, forcing him to be stretchered out and never to be seen again.
Of course, the most obvious plan of action for a returning Chris Jericho would be to avenge the Viper for costing him 15 months of his professional wrestling career. However, with Orton currently sidelined at the moment, an angle could call for Jericho being the mastermind behind his injury by ordering the NXT alum to send the Apex Predator spiraling down the staircase to his doom.
It's a bit far-fetched, but it's completely logical in the sense that it would lead to the culmination of one of the most personal rivalries in WrestleMania history. If Orton was Jericho's first target upon his return in 2007, why can't the rivalry be renewed with the roles reversed this time around?
In what is one of the most anticipated rivalries in quite some time, the main purpose behind Chris Jericho's recent "It Begins" vignettes were believed to be hyping an upcoming feud with WWE champion CM Punk.
Looking back in the video packages, the school boy states that a familiar force would be returning to claim what is rightfully his. Obviously, this could clearly be referring to Punk's recent claims that he's the best professional wrestler in the world today where the girl in the promos could be represented by Punk stealing most of Jericho's ideas in the symbolic notebook.
Over the summer, Y2J posted a number of messages over his Twitter profile that Punk was an absolute copy-cat for hijacking his signature line. Ironically enough, Punk fired right back by saying that he "doesn't dance with celebrities" in a recent interview.
It's been nearly three years since the last time CM Punk and Chris Jericho collided in a one-on-one match, as a match in the present day could blow the roof off any arena it's contested in. With Punk's improvement in character and mic skills since then, the promos leading up to the final culmination would just be as golden.
Sure, not much was revealed during Jericho's return last night that could have foreshadowed a future feud with the Straightedge Superstar, but I believe that everything will fall into place in time. As time progressed, Chris Jericho will slowly revert back to the same sadistic villain he was before his departure, or possibly something even greater.
Thanks for reading, Bleachers, and make sure to drop a comment with your thoughts on Chris Jericho's WWE return as well as any potential storylines you would like to see come to fruition in the foreseeable future. As always, your criticism and overall feedback is greatly appreciated.
Visit my website at Next Era Wrestling as well as my WrestleRant and Spoilers podcasts for more of my thoughts and writings, along with WWE/TNA news, rumors, reviews and more. Follow me on Twitter @SAVE_US_GSM.