Just yesterday, it seemed everyone was speculating about the person (or people) behind the mystery promos being played week after week. After a month and a half of waiting, Chris Jericho appeared on the January 2 edition of Raw and he began his third stint in the WWE.
That run, unfortunately, has already come to an end. Jericho, like many others before him, is pursuing interests outside of wrestling and his band Fozzy is gaining more momentum every day. Y2J will return again down the road, but until then, we can reflect on all the fantastic matches he has given the WWE throughout the past 13 years.
Many of Chris Jericho's matches are considered among the best we have ever seen, and rightfully so. His in-ring prowess continued in 2012, when he helped put over names like CM Punk, Sheamus and Dolph Ziggler.
Now, with eight more months of matches to look over, can any of Jericho's 2012 matches be considered his best in the company? The only way to find out is by ranking the 10 best contests of Chris Jericho's career since he entered the WWE on August 9, 1999.
Side Note: All of the matches on the list are either one-on-one or tag team bouts. Although Jericho has been involved in numerous multi-man contests, such as Money in the Bank, Survivor Series bouts and the Elimination Chamber, they are not included in these rankings. Nonetheless, they are still a large part of Jericho's career and deserve at least some type of mention, ESPECIALLY the fantastic TLC match on SmackDown back in 2001.
Vengeance 2001 vs. Rock and Austin: One of the most memorable nights of Jericho's career occurred when he beat two of the greatest ever in a shade under 40 minutes. Even though his title reign could have been better, it is still a night that many fans will never forget.
WrestleMania 26 vs. Edge: With the crowd still reeling from a drawn out match between Bret Hart and Vince McMahon, Jericho and Edge worked hard to get the audience back into it. They succeeded about halfway through and delivered on a night featuring a stacked card.
Fatal Four-Way 2010 vs. Evan Bourne: This match is forgotten by many, probably because the overall PPV was lackluster. However, Jericho and Bourne delivered the match of the night by far and featured one of the best counters into the Walls of Jericho I have ever seen.
Unforgiven 2004 vs. Christian: Tag team partners turned into bitter rivals and feuded for the better part of the year. It all came to a head in a ladder match at Unforgiven for the Intercontinental Title. Put these two in a ring together and you know great things are going to happen.
WrestleMania 2000 vs. Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit: This was Jericho's debut on the Grandest Stage of Them All and he surely did not disappoint, delivering one of the better triple threat matches in WWE history. The only knock that could be given to this match is that it should have lasted longer.
Both RVD and Y2J were wildly popular in 2001, and they would meet at Unforgiven for the Hardcore Title. Jericho was also in the midst of throwing insults towards Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley at just about every turn and she would ultimately play a part in the match.
Jericho would use his favorite weapon, the ladder, to try and take away the title from RVD. On the other hand, Van Dam did what he knows how to do best: fly both inside and out of the ring, taking down Chris at every turn.
The two men proved to have great chemistry together, coming to a standoff multiple times at the beginning of the contest. Once the hardcore aspect got going, both men took some serious bumps and got the crowd into it even more.
It was one of Jericho's best matches during his first run and it was a precursor to his Undisputed Championship run at the end of the year.
At this point in his career, Jericho was burnt out. He had not seen an extended break in quite some time and it seemed that his position in the company reached a plateau.
Therefore, he decided to take a break from wrestling at the end of the summer in 2005. But if he was going out, he was going to go out with a bang, attempting to defeat John Cena for the WWE title. And from the outset, it was clear that Y2J was refocused.
His work during the weeks leading up to the match was some of his best, and the match at SummerSlam was great as well. Jericho has stated that Cena is one of his favorite workers in the ring, and he did wonders for Cena by giving him wins both at the PPV and the night after.
This was Jericho's best match in his latest run, and it is the only one to crack his top 10 list. While their match at WrestleMania was one of the best of the night, their street fight a month later was even better.
Punk was in desperate need of a worthy opponent for the Road to WrestleMania. Dolph Ziggler provided a solid feud, but the WWE was not yet ready to have him fighting for that major title at the biggest show of the year. That's where Chris Jericho entered, fresh off another cryptic return.
Their feud picked up until the big show and continued a few weeks after to Extreme Rules. It all culminated in a Chicago Street fight for the title, which was as brutal of a battle as you will ever see in the WWE these days. Kendo sticks, chairs and announce tables were all thrown in and at the end, Punk stood tall for the second straight PPV.
The theme of Jericho's latest run was putting over talent, and he did just that at Extreme Rules.
Even 12 years later, this is still considered by many to be the best Last Man Standing match in WWE history.
And damn, did Jericho ever take a beating.
This was the height of Triple H's career. 2000 was the year he really took off, and with Stephanie by his side, he became the biggest heel in the business. Jericho had begun his messing around with The Game's wife, and of course, the Cerebral Assassin wasn't too happy with Y2J's actions. The Commissioner at the time, Mick Foley, decided to try and settle things with an LMS match.
It was brutal, and even though Trips dished out a load of pain, he ended up bleeding enough to fill a few buckets. Jericho would fall, but just barely, and his performance on that night kept him very strong heading forward.
There are plenty of mentions of the word "chemistry" in this slideshow. For Jericho, he could go out with The Rock on any given night and tear the house down.
At the end of 2001 into the beginning of 2002, it seemed like Rock and Y2J were facing off on just about every PPV. The best part about that feud, unlike Sheamus vs. Del Rio today, is that the matches never got old. Both men would find new ways to change things up while still keeping the bouts at a high quality.
Heading into their best match at No Mercy, Jericho was clearly the underdog. The Rock, at times, almost seemed to be taking his opponent a bit too easy, lamenting him for not being able to win the big matches (sound familiar?). Rock even put Y2J through a table, but it still wasn't enough to keep Jericho down.
It would take some help from a chair, but Jericho won the match and earned his first WCW Championship, which ironically took him until after he left the company to make it happen.
During Jericho's middle run in the company from 2007-2010, his feud with Rey Mysterio was one of the best of his stay. For three straight PPVs, Rey and Jericho went out and tore the house down. This final contest was a mask vs. title bout, and it stands above the previous two as their best encounter.
At the end of the their previous contest, Jericho picked up the win and the Intercontinental Title by ripping off Mysterio's mask mid-619. Rey immediately covered up and ran to the backstage area, which set up the premise of putting the mask on the line along with the championship.
Their match was by far the hit of an otherwise forgettable PPV, which featured 20 minutes of action from two guys with amazing chemistry in the ring. Mysterio would win after revealing a second mask under the original one, and he would go on to defend the title against Dolph Ziggler.
Jericho would win the tag team titles later in the night with Edge, which began his run in the tag team division for the duration of the year.
For the majority of people making a list chronicling Jericho's best matches, this would usually be at the top. However, its ranking at No. 4 should not be considered some sort of dastardly crime; it is instead a testament to the ability of Chris Jericho to go out and deliver multiple great matches over the years.
If this list were to instead rank the best feuds involving Chris Jericho, his work with Shawn Michaels in 2008 would be No. 1 by a landslide. It started with a simple lie, which led to a heel turn by Y2J. Even though it was HBK who lied to Jericho, the feud was played out so that we ended up cheering for him instead of Chris. After an altercation with HBK's wife and numerous PPV matches, it all boiled down to this match over the World Heavyweight Championship.
And damn, did it ever deliver.
I wonder how long the WWE was waiting to use the tug-of-war at the top to end a match. It fit perfectly in this scenario, showing just how close Michaels was to obtaining the gold.
It was a match between two of the best to ever take part in ladder matches. Still, I have it as Jericho's second-best ladder match, slightly behind this next contest.
We've seen the Walls of Jericho on top of the ladder numerous times by now, but this was the first time it was ever used. It was just another moment in a fantastic ladder match that kicked off the Royal Rumble PPV in 2001.
Jericho is possibly the most-decorated Intercontinental Champion in history. Every time he held the belt, he made the title seem bigger thanks to high quality matches night-in and night-out. Throw Chris Benoit into the mix and you are bound to make big things happen.
In terms of feuds, Chris Benoit is right up there with Shawn Michaels, and numerous great matches were delivered by the combinations. This is their best against each other, which featured plenty of innovative uses with ladders and chairs.
However, an even better match with both Benoit and Jericho involved occurred when they were on the same team.
The only tag team match on this list might just be one of the best in WWE history. In terms of emotion, it is up there with Jericho's initial WWE Championship win over Triple H for the best crowd reactions of his career.
Going into the contest, it seemed that Jericho and Benoit had no shot. Trips and Stone Cold were dominant heels, holding all the major gold to be had in the company. HHH had just lost the Intercontinental Title the night before, so he was even more determined than ever to defend the tag titles. Unfortunately for him, it would be his last match for eight months due to a torn quad.
The fans were into every move of the contest, firmly behind the underdogs. Eventually, Trips would screw up by drilling Austin in the chest with a sledgehammer, costing them the match. It was a huge ending to an amazing and emotional bout, leaving Jericho and Benoit with one of their most memorable nights in the company.
Notice how this is the only match in the entire list that doesn't need some sort of title or stipulation mention in parenthesis. And yet, that's the beauty of Jericho's best match in his WWE career.
It was HBK's first WrestleMania match since being defeated by Stone Cold Steve Austin five years earlier, and he developed an intriguing feud with Jericho over the preceding months. Jericho admitted that HBK was his idol, but jealousy took over more than anything else. That even led to Jericho attempting and connecting with Sweet Chin Music during the contest.
WrestleMania XIX is one of the best shows the WWE has ever put forth, and this bout is considered the match of the night by many. Jericho might have lost the match, but he was the one laughing when it was all said and done.
It's only fitting that Chris Jericho's finest match comes against his finest opponent.