Last night, during the Royal Rumble's namesake match, two men of different generations collided in a finishing segment that was for the ages.
The Celtic Warrior and Y2J battled for close to eight minutes to see who would go over the top rope. One man was a young but accomplished grappler. The other was a decorated veteran with more title reigns than nearly anyone else in the history of the business.
In the end, Jericho was caught out of position. Sheamus saw it and nailed a Brogue Kick to win the 2012 rendition of the Royal Rumble with all the accolades that come with it. The big Irishman had been demolishing everyone in his path for months. The last time he took a clean loss in any form was Summerslam, when he took a Count Out loss to Mark Henry.
Since then, he's been on a tear, destroying the likes of Christian on his way to the top.
However, an important thing happened last night that no one noticed.
Sheamus got the torch from Jericho.
There comes a point in wrestling where the previous generation must give way to the next. The boots don't lace up as they once did and the moves aren't as crisp. This isn't saying that Jericho is starting to creak and groan. Far from it, but there is nothing left for Jericho to accomplish. He's won every major title the WWE has to offer.
In their battle last night, Jericho fought tooth and nail with the Celtic Warrior, but could not vanquish him. This same man has defeated the likes of Triple H, Edge, Rock, Austin and Angle. Two of them in the same night. But he couldn't do it here.
Jericho promised the world was going to end last night. So did every other vocal participant in the locker room. Barrett, Miz, Truth and Rhodes all promised a victory. Rhodes even hinted at being the first double champion since Warrior to hold the Intercontinental AND World Heavyweight Championship.
So much for promises, right?
Last night, Jericho put on a great show in one of the better ending segments to a Royal Rumble match in a long time. Jericho was in prime form last night. Sheamus was just better.
Such as what always happens when the new generation finally eclipses the old with the "Bigger, Faster, Stronger, Better" principle. Though this wasn't as pronounced as it would have been with a title change, this was an important step for the WWE.
The biggest knock on the organization is the lack of top flight stars, so like any promotion would, they're creating new ones. The WWE has an ideal prototype for that in Sheamus. He's a large, freakish athlete with good ring and microphone skills and a face that mother would love.
Long story short, whether it was intentional or not, last night marked the first of several coming circumstances where stars of the last era will pass the torch to this one.
That's the nature of the business. Jericho is the bigger star, but Sheamus is the future.
Like it or not, that future is now. It has to be.
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