It didn’t take very long for the Internet to turn on Chris Jericho.
After Y2J parted ways with the WWE last August, fans across the world wondered whether or not he’d ever be back at all. They hoped and prayed, however, that he would return one more time for one more run.
Just five months later, that’s exactly what he did.
At last month’s Royal Rumble, Jericho shocked us all—a rarity in today’s wrestling world—when he was the No. 2 entrant in the 30-man Royal Rumble match. The massive pop he received showed just how much the fans had missed him.
But as is always the case, the excitement surrounding Jericho’s return quickly turned into bitterness for some, though not all, fans. They’ve taken to the Internet to rip Jericho for “coming back for the money” or to “take a spot at WrestleMania from a deserving talent.”
It’s rather ironic that some of the fans who begged for Jericho to come back are most likely the same ones complaining about his return and what it means for the other talent on the WWE roster.
Yet, despite what some may think, Jericho’s return isn’t a bad thing for the WWE. In fact, it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Take a quick gander at the WWE’s current roster. What do you see? A roster that’s full of household names or one that’s full mostly of up-and-comers? The latter, right?
Jericho is returning at a time when only a handful of established, household names are at the top of the WWE. There are the full-timers—guys like John Cena and CM Punk—and then, there are the obvious part-timers, such as The Rock, Triple H and Brock Lesnar.
But for every Cena or Lesnar, there are two or three rising stars who have really bright futures in the pro wrestling business, but have never really “been there”—guys like Dolph Ziggler, Antonio Cesaro, Ryback, The Shield, Wade Barrett and a slew of others.
Now, another question: Who has put over more superstars than just about any major star in WWE history? Well, Jericho, of course.
While it’s easy to criticize Jericho for returning for one last run and the money that comes along with it, we all know that he isn’t here to win a World championship, to put himself over or to stroke his ego. He’s here to do what he’s always done: make other looks good.
Rewind to Jericho’s last WWE run from January to August 2012, and just consider how much losing he did during that span. Other than his victory over Dolph Ziggler at SummerSlam, he lost every PPV match he participated in—five in total.
It’s not going to be any different this time around, either.
In his first match back at the Royal Rumble, what did Jericho do? He stayed in the match for 45 minutes before being eliminated by the man whom he put over on his way out last year, Dolph Ziggler.
And what did Jericho do on last week’s Raw? He wrestled Punk in a four-star TV classic and lost that match in 100 percent clean fashion after Punk nailed him with a GTS.
But that’s what Jericho does. He puts people over. He loses. Yet, he never comes out of a match looking like a loser.
Perhaps better than any wrestler to ever step foot on the Earth, Jericho has the uncanny ability to bounce back from a loss and make it seem like that loss never happened.
Whom should Chris Jericho face at WrestleMania 29?
There is no better example of this than his entire 2012 run. He lost and lost and lost and then lost some more, but no one cared because he’s such a great performer that he made us forget about those losses immediately.
And that’s exactly what the WWE needs right now.
The company needs a guy like Jericho, who is one of the biggest active stars in the business, to come in and make others look good. He did that last year for Sheamus, CM Punk, Ziggler and others. He even did it for Evan Bourne and Heath Slater a few years back.
In 2013, there’s no telling just whom Jericho can help put over the top. Cesaro? Ryback? Sheamus? The Shield? There are endless possibilities.
So, Jericho haters can sit there all day and mope about Y2J “taking the spot” of one of their beloved superstars, but when it’s all said and done, Jericho isn’t going to be taking anything from anybody.
He’s going to give some up-and-coming superstar a major rub, and odds are, he’ll do it on the grand stage of WrestleMania.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!