Despite the fact that Chris Jericho is entering the twilight of his wrestling career, he is still one of the main attractions on the WWE roster. Apparently the creative team doesn't see it that way, though, as Jericho has been utilized spottily since his surprise return at the Royal Rumble.
The WWE admittedly has to work around Jericho's schedule to some degree—as he just returned from a two-week tour of Australia with Fozzy—but Y2J has still been treated more like a mid-carder than the main-eventer he truly is. I have loved Jericho's work from an in-ring perspective, as he has had spectacular matches on Raw with the likes of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan; however, he currently has no storyline to speak of.
Has the WWE mismanaged Jericho during his current run?
When Jericho initially came back at the Rumble, it seemed like a feud with Dolph Ziggler was in the works. Jericho entered the match at No. 2 after Ziggler had already come out No. 1. The two of them battled for much of the match until Ziggler eliminated Jericho in the closing stages with a super kick. Jericho told Ziggler that he would be all over him moving forward, and that seemed to be confirmed the next night of Raw when Y2J screwed The Showoff over in a tag match.
The feud would have made perfect sense as they obviously have some history together.
Jericho and Ziggler engaged in a brief program over the summer, which saw Jericho beat Ziggler at SummerSlam. The angle concluded the next night on Raw, however, as Ziggler beat Jericho, which caused him to be "fired" so he could focus on Fozzy and other outside projects.
Rather than moving forward with that, though, the Jericho versus Ziggler feud was essentially forgotten for no real reason. Y2J found himself in the Elimination Chamber match to determine the No. 1 contender for Alberto Del Rio's World Heavyweight Championship, but he fell short. Jericho then turned his attention to The Shield as he teamed with Ryback and Sheamus against the young trio in a losing effort on Raw.
Jericho then left for a couple weeks due to Fozzy-related business and returned on Monday night. He hosted an edition of The Highlight Reel and had The Miz and Wade Barrett on as guests. Miz and Barrett argued over whose lame movie was better, and Jericho involved himself in the argument as well. Y2J told Barrett that he is a nine-time Intercontinental Champion and might try to make it 10 times.
This led to Brad Maddox making a match between Jericho and The Miz to determine the No. 1 contender for the IC title. Barrett involved himself in the match, so it was ruled a no-contest. In the interest of fairness, Vickie Guerrero announced a Triple Threat for the Intercontinental Championship between Barrett, Miz and Jericho for next week's edition of Raw.
In one respect I like the fact that the WWE is at least trying to make the IC title seem somewhat important after Barrett has lost a string of matches in a row, but Jericho is easily above this entire situation.
Jericho only returns when he is intrigued by a potential storyline, but I can't imagine that feuding with Barrett and Miz over the Intercontinental Championship is what he had in mind.
It almost seems like Jericho came to the WWE brass with the idea of returning as a surprise Rumble entrant, since it is something that is rarely done successfully. Usually when a guy is a surprise entrant, it leaks ahead of time, and he makes a one-off appearance. Nobody thought Jericho would be in the Rumble, though, and the fact that he has remained in the fold makes him different.
At the same time, it's almost as if the writers didn't bother to think of anything beyond his return. The obvious and correct route to take would have been to continue building his feud with Ziggler. Jericho and Ziggler are perfect for each other from an in-ring perspective as well as in terms of their personalities. It's an obvious rivalry and WrestleMania match, but Jericho has been all over the map instead.
Also, maintaining the Ziggler versus Jericho feud would have been beneficial to Ziggler. He is one of the most talented wrestlers on the roster as well as Mr. Money in the Bank, yet the WWE jobs him out on a regular basis. Jericho said during a recent interview with Ring Rust Radio that the importance of wins and losses is a fallacy in professional wrestling. But when you're talking about a guy like Ziggler, who is supposed to be the next World Heavyweight Champion, they matter significantly more to him.
Ziggler has been rendered essentially irrelevant since the Royal Rumble, and it's truly a shame. Hopefully, the WWE saves this debacle by having Ziggler interfere next week and cost Jericho the Intercontinental Championship. That would reignite their feud, and it would also allow The Miz to enter a program with Barrett, which would be something new and different.
Ultimately, booking that way would lead to the desired result, but the WWE has really taken a roundabout way to get there. Jericho and Ziggler should have been focal points since the Rumble, and their feud should have been a main attraction on the undercard. But as of right now they are both afterthoughts, which is simply unfathomable.
Also, listen to Chris Jericho's Ring Rust Radio interview here.