Today, 13 years ago, I heard one of the loudest pops ever on Monday Night Raw.
Chris Jericho was revealed as the Millennium Man behind the countdowns during the summer of 1999.
The affect of this debut may have been lost over the years as the last 13 have seen continuous use of countdowns and teaser vignettes. You have to remember, this was very original and appropriate, as society had a countdown to the new millennium and fearing a Y2K computer bug.
For this segment, WWE, The Rock and Chris Jericho were perfect. You couldn't cast or re-shoot the segment any better than it came off.
One of the top names in the company cutting one of his classic promos and then randomly the countdown pops up ticking down the final seconds.
The clock expires and then colored lights flash on the ring bringing about even more confused, excited tension. Blackout. No you're on edge.
Next a pyro explosion to get your attention and new music with a beat and build to the singer on the track screaming “break the walls down.” The text of “JERICHO” appears on the screen and what was then known as the Rosemont Horizon (now the Allstate arena, site of this past years Extreme Rules event) rumbled with fans screaming.
When the text spun around revealing who has joined WWE's roster, I look back and try to analyze the excitement everyone, myself included, felt.
I've come to the conclusion that everybody was thinking that we will finally get Jericho to his fullest potential in the most appropriate setting.
WCW has great success for a time during their 1990s war with WWE. You can't take away the success but can't ignore all we have learned from those who were there during the time. It wasn't organized. It was poorly managed on certain levels. The inmates were running the asylum.
There was a crop of wrestlers who were just coming into their prime who knew this wasn't the best environment for them to see their careers flourish.
Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Big Show and Booker T are all guys who were victims of the situation in WCW. They all did eventually get to WWE and reap reward for their talents by better booking, money and popularity.
WCW worked for guys who had big runs previously in WWE or guys who wouldn't otherwise be anything anywhere else, but knew the right people.
When Chris Jericho's name appeared on that WWE titantron, in a split second all of the comedy and talent we got to preview in WCW rushed through my mind. Everyone knew he was coming to a show with more edge. A show that would know how to utilize his talents on the mic and in the ring. A show that at this time was pulling away with more logical storyline content.
Chris Jericho lived up the roar of the Chicago crowd. He would go on to have more than a dozen title reigns in WWE. He would be the first Undisputed World Champion. He would beat The Rock and Stone Cold in the same night. He would get the chance to shine for a long time and ultimately turn himself in to a brand as he branched out to music, radio, television and books.
To put in perspective how significant the debut would be on the rest of history―on the same night on WCW television, Hulk Hogan finally returned to his old red and yellow gimmick after three years as the top heel in wrestling leading the New World Order.
August 9 is remembered for Jericho's debut and not Hogan's resurrection. That's a big win for Jericho.
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