The suspension that took Chris Jericho off of WWE airwaves for 30 days this summer might have been the best thing for 22-year veteran.
Going back in time to the May 24th incident in Brazil that involved him crumpling and kicking the country's flag, Jericho was about to enter into what seemed like a new feud with Randy Orton following the events of the Over The Limit pay-per-view.
This had all been a part of the serious Jericho turn that first emerged during his last run with the company from 2007-2010, and after the wordless promos that accompanied his return in 2012. (To his credit, he did trade in the suit for the light-up jacket, though.) This was also the same Jericho that seemed to carry the thesaurus in his back pocket and referred to himself as "the best in world at what he does," yet he was unable to win a match of any significance.
Granted, it worked for a while as a heel, but, like all character arcs, it had run its course very quickly.
If all had gone according to plan and both Jericho and Orton had not found themselves gone for different reasons, we could have been privy to a feud that possibly would have ran through No Way Out, which honestly would have been a rehash of Orton's feud with Punk the year previous. (After all, Jericho, like Punk, was also punted in the head by Orton in a previous storyline, which became the on-air reason why Jericho left WWE in 2010.)
The 30-day absence (whether a work or actual mandated suspension) following the Brazilian incident ended with Jericho's return on the June 25th Raw, where he interrupted John Cena's promo and seemed a bit more tweaked as a character, recalling the antics of the anti-hero jester Jericho from before 2007.
Of course, like most of his run in 2012, he lost the Money in the Bank match he emphatically proclaimed he would win. But the following night, Jericho found himself instantly in a very viable storyline with SmackDown MITB winner Dolph Ziggler following their exchange in the ring, where Ziggler called Jericho out for his lack of significant wins and essentially being washed up.
I recently covered what the storyline means for Ziggler and progressing his rise to the main-event level, but for Jericho it is a long overdue return to being a face and, not only that, it provides more of a platform to get closer to the original Y2J character that debuted in the WWE in 1999.
And yet at the same time, it allows Jericho to embrace his age as a wrestler and put himself in the Shawn Michaels role of 2003, whom Jericho, in fact, feuded with going into their epic WrestleMania match that year.
Regardless of whether or not it was a European tour with Fozzy or an actual suspension, the absence and return of Jericho has given new life into his character that hasn't been seen for quite some time and could potentially create one of the top feuds going into SummerSlam with one of the company's biggest upstarts in Ziggler.
As fans as well, what do you think of Chris Jericho's return following the 30-day absence from WWE? Do you like, love, or hate where the character is headed?