Chris Jericho is back in the WWE, but it’s really still unclear why he’s returned or where he’s headed.
When Y2J returned in January 2012, we all knew why. Even though it wasn’t immediately revealed, everyone could see from a mile away that he was going to face CM Punk for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 28.
This time around, however, Jericho has no clear-cut direction. Upon his return, it looked like he would reignite his feud with Dolph Ziggler, but that now appears to have been dropped altogether. Jericho has since moved on to the World Heavyweight Championship picture and then a major match with The Shield on last week’s Raw.
We now have only five episodes of Raw remaining before WrestleMania 29, and yet, Y2J doesn’t have an obvious feud and match lined up for the biggest pay-per-view of the year.
One thing’s for certain, though: He deserves a big match on the grandest stage of them all.
Many fans will complain that “If Jericho gets a major WrestleMania match, all he’s really doing is taking another deserving spot from a full-timer.” After all, there figures to be a handful of part-timers on the WresteMania card this year.
But Y2J’s situation is much different than that of The Rock, Triple H, Brock Lesnar or even The Undertaker.
The Rock is back in the WWE as a part-timer and is now holding the WWE Championship, so some complaints about him headlining WrestleMania are warranted. Ditto for Triple H, who hasn’t been around for the last six or seven months, but is likely going to beat Lesnar in a rematch that hardly anyone is begging to see.
There’s even a case to be made against The Undertaker returning this year. He looked out of shape during his recent house show appearance, his health is still in question, and we all know that—barring a minor miracle—“The Streak” is not going to end this year.
That’s where Jericho separates himself from everyone else.
He isn’t going to enter WrestleMania as WWE champion. He’s not going to return for a rematch, put himself over and then go away for a while. He’s not going to wrestle just one match simply because it’s become the norm over the last few years.
Jericho has come back to do what he always does: put on good matches and put others over.
He did that when he returned in 2012, losing PPV matches at the Royal Rumble, Elimination Chamber, WrestleMania, Extreme Rules and Over the Limit before picking up just one PPV win at SummerSlam. Of course, his performances in all those matches were quite memorable.
Since his return at the 2013 Royal Rumble, it’s been more of the same. He lost the Royal Rumble match, lost to Punk clean on Raw, lost at Elimination Chamber and then was pinned by The Shield on last week’s Raw.
In true Jericho fashion, he continued his trend of delivering great in-ring performances in which he put rising superstars over for the long-term benefit of the company. That’s all Jericho’s done over the last two years, after all.
And guess what? That’s what he’ll do at WrestleMania 29, too.
Whom should Chris Jericho face at WrestleMania 29?
Jericho is better than perhaps anyone in WWE history at recovering from losses. He could lose 10 matches in a row and then challenge for a World title on pay-per-view the next week, and no one would question it. It’s a true testament to Y2J that he can continue to stay over year after year despite losing far more often than he wins.
That’s why so many fans who take issue with The Rock, Triple H or even Lesnar and The Undertaker don’t have a problem with Y2J. He’s selfless, and he’s willing to lose matches that many other stars would throw a hissy fit over.
But that’s just what Y2J does, and that’s precisely why he deserves a big WrestleMania match more so than any other part-time star on the roster.
He may not be the draw that The Rock is, the attraction that Undertaker is or the physical specimen that Lesnar is, but in a business where pride and egos often take priority, Jericho makes sure that the long-term future of the WWE does instead.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!