Much like fine wine, Chris Jericho somehow manages to get better with age.
While I wouldn't say that 42 years of age is old by any means, it's certainly an age at which a wrestler should be on the downside of his career. Jericho continually manages to buck conventional trends, however, as he seemingly returns to the WWE better than ever each time he decides to come back.
Although some fans were critical of his run prior to WrestleMania XXVIII last year, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Jericho managed to turn the fans against him despite the fact that most of them wanted to see him return. He also had a great feud and fantastic matches with the likes of CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler in particular.
As much as a I appreciated his last run, his current one is even better. Jericho has played the heel role for much of his career and he has done it extremely well, but the longer a wrestler has been around, the more sentimental the fans become.
Because of that, it is much more natural for Jericho to play the face role now than it was at any other point during his career. It definitely suits him and he has done a great job with it.
The most impressive thing about Jericho's return has been match quality, though. Jericho appears to be in better shape now than he has been in quite some time, so perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that he is excelling when it comes to in-ring work.
Some of the matches that Jericho has had over the past several weeks rival anything that he has done over the past decade, which almost seems unfathomable.
It all started with the Royal Rumble match as he entered No. 2 and was among the final six combatants remaining. He lasted nearly 48 minutes in his first match after five months away, and it didn't even seem like he broke a sweat.
Y2J followed that up with spectacular Raw matches against Punk and Daniel Bryan respectively, as well as a cracking six-man tag along with Sheamus and Ryback against The Shield.
Jericho was once again the workhorse at Elimination Chamber, as he was among the first two entrants into the match and lasted until the closing stages. He took a ton of punishment and dished it out as well, so he managed to make himself look good while putting over others at the same time.
Jericho is a consummate professional, so I'm sure wrestling is like riding a bike for him, but it's almost as if he can transition from being the lead singer of Fozzy to being an elite wrestler without any added effort.
There will eventually come a time when Jericho will decline and won't be able to make things look so easy, but that time doesn't seem to be on the horizon. I'm sure that most fans wish that he would return to the WWE on a full-time basis, but Jericho is committed to Fozzy and other projects at the moment.
As long as he continues to give 100 percent in the ring when he does come back, though, most will continue to welcome him back with open arms.
Very few people question Jericho's ability and desire to succeed, but one of the biggest issues that fans seem to have with him is the fact that he doesn't care about winning and losing.
In the grand scheme of things, wins and losses in wrestling mean little, as it's an entertainment business. Some fans care deeply about it, though, as they want to see their favorites succeed.
I can't say with certainty that Jericho will never be a world champion again, but there really isn't any reason for him to win a title. He is going to be over regardless and doesn't need a title to validate himself.
Jericho is perfectly content with putting on great matches regardless of the results. Even if he loses big matches, it doesn't make him less of a performer because creative decisions are largely out of his hands.
If anything, I have more respect for Jericho because of his indifference when it comes to losing. Some guys aren't willing to put others over out of fear that it will make them look weak, but Jericho understands what the business is all about. He knows that he is going to steal the show whether he wins or loses and he doesn't let his ego get in the way of things.
Jericho knows how good he is and doesn't hesitate to discuss it, so there is obviously an ego present, but that is true of anyone who has ever had success in the wrestling business. If more guys focused on putting on fantastic matches and cutting great promos than winning and losing, then the WWE would probably be a lot better than it already is.
It is still unclear how long Jericho will stick around and who he will face at WrestleMania, but I'll enjoy his work as long as he sticks around.
Although he already faced Ziggler at SummerSlam, I would be perfectly fine with them doing battle at WrestleMania, as Ziggler is a guy who meshes very well with Jericho. He is also a guy who would benefit from having a program with Y2J.
Ziggler is Mr. Money in the Bank and he needs some momentum. Continuing his rivalry with Jericho and ultimately beating him at WrestleMania would likely do a lot for him in terms of preparing him to eventually cash in and become the new World Heavyweight Champion.
Whatever happens, though, Jericho will continue to do his thing and will be a vital part of the product. Hopefully that continues to be the case every time he decides to come back to the WWE.
Also, check out Ring Rust Radio's exclusive interview with Chris Jericho here.
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