Evolution: Chris Jericho
There's nothing better than believing that you're the best at what you do. In my boy John Collison's case, this is true with wrestling trivia on Facebook. In my case, it's true in sports writing.
In Chris Jericho's case, it's in professional wrestling.
For over 19 years, Christopher Keith Irvine, as he is known outside of wrestling circles, has been doing his part in entertaining the world. And for 19 years, he feels that he is the absolute best in the business.
He feels he's better than the legends as well as the other superstars in the business right now.
So since he feels that he's the best in the business, I thought it was only fitting to give him a chance to prove his case. So with that, here is the evolution of the Ayatollah of Rock and Roll-ah, Chris Jericho.
Chris Jericho: The Lionheart
The wrestling world was introduced to a happy fan favorite whose entrance consisted of embracing the fans with his back to them.
Right off the bat, he was a fan favorite in the Cruiserweight Division with victories over Alex Wright & nWo member Syxx, as well as his Pay-Per-View debut with Chris Benoit.
But Jericho soon found a better calling as a heel when he defeated Rey Mysterio for the Cruiserweight Championship. Following a victory over Juventud Guerrera in a Title vs. Mask Match, Jericho started collecting various items he acquired following his matches.
Unfortunately, Jericho's true calling was the World Heavyweight Championship, and while at WCW, he never got the chance to hoist it over his head. So when the smoke cleared from Goldberg's entrance, Jericho was gone and on to greener pastures so to speak.
Which brings us to the biggest scare of the millennium...
Chris Jericho: The Era of Y2J
During one of The Rock's trademark promos, a countdown popped up on the screen that countered the actual countdown to the year 2000 (though he made his arrival in August of 1999).
When this countdown reached zero, the lights went out, the fireworks went up and the World Wrestling Federation was introduced to the real Y2K bug: Y2J!
Jericho made this a mainstay in the beginning of his time with WWE the first time around. After interrupting The Rock, he was put right in the center of the Intercontinental Championship Chase...and the current titleholder at the time, Chyna. After a brief period of co-holding the gold with the Ninth Wonder of the World, he gained sole possession until losing it to Kurt Angle at No Way Out.
Jericho's biggest moment early in the WWF was his Triple Threat Euro-Continental Championship match with Angle and Chris Benoit. After losing his chance at the IC Title, he pinned Benoit to become the European Champion. After losing the European title to Eddie Guerrero, Jericho began to focus on The McMahon Family...
And that was just at the beginning.
Jericho interrupted a promo by Vince McMahon to take shots at every member of the group, which included Shane and Stephanie and then-WWF Champion Triple H. He went as far as to chime a majority of his insults to Mrs. Triple H, which included the use of "trash-bag ho."
After William Regal was added to the mix, Jericho continued his antics long into the Invasion from WCW and ECW. Despite being a face for the majority of the Invasion, Jericho started showing a different side when The Rock started getting the spotlight, and he didn't.
At the end of the Invasion, the WWF became the WWE, and Jericho became a heel again. From almost costing Team WWE their Elimination Match at Survivor Series to making it clear that he wanted to be the man. At Vengeance (Before it was moved to the Summer and before it was Armageddon), Jericho made history by defeating The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin to become the first WWE Undisputed Champion.
The Jericho Era had officially begun...
Chris Jericho: Mr. Undisputed
After the victory at Vengeance, Jericho went into the new year with a bigger swagger than usual. He could look on either shoulder and see his biggest accomplishment, which was entering the new year as the WWE Undisputed Champion.
He was the first...and no one could take that away from him.
Jericho was on top of the world, and with the backing of Vince McMahon, and some "assistance" from Booker T, Jericho was able to stave off an onslaught from The Rock at The Royal Rumble. And thanks to the newly reformed nWo, he was able to defeat Stone Cold at No Way Out.
But when it looked as if he would lose the gold, he aligned himself with someone that none of us saw coming: Stephanie McMahon! With Stephanie's assistance, Jericho hoped that he did enough to stop the momentum of the returning Triple H.
Unfortunately, he came up short of his goal and lost the straps at WrestleMania X8. But he did manage to cost The Game the titles at Backlash in his match against Hulk Hogan. In the end, Triple H and Jericho settled their war at Judgment Day in a Hell in a Cell Match with The Game getting the victory.
Jericho mostly went under the radar following his Undisputed Championship reign. After losing for the third straight time at WrestleMania, he was mainly an Intercontinental Championship hunter. But when he returned to the World Championship picture, it was by a simple act of chance.
And it was thanks to the arrival of John Cena...
Chris Jericho: The 2nd Coming & The End of Y2J
Chris Jericho found himself in familiar territory in the summer of 2005. The draft was underway, and he had the distinct pleasure of interviewing the first pick in the draft. But no one knew who it was...until a familiar soundtrack hit, and The Spirit of St. Louis covered SmackDown's WWE Champion.
Jericho got involved in the WWE Championship picture when he attacked John Cena after the two tagged up against Tomko and Christian. Jericho lost his first attempt at the gold at Vengeance and lost again at Summerslam. Following the loss, Jericho got another shot, but when he came up this time, he was "fired" by then-RAW GM Eric Bischoff.
When Jericho was carried off by security, that was the last time anyone saw him on WWE Programming...
That unofficially was until Larry King. Officially, it happened following Survivor Series.
After Randy Orton defeated Shawn Michaels, he hosted a "Pass The Torch" ceremony to usher in his official status as "The Best." But his ceremony was interrupted when the Torch Bearer was dropped backstage, and the codes that have appeared on the Titantron since September started counting down once again.
When the timer reached zero, a short-haired Chris Jericho appeared and announced that "This is the second coming of Y...2...J!!!" With that, Jericho made his intentions clear: That he was here to save us from the monotony of Randy Orton...and lay claim to the WWE Championship as well. But thanks to a retired JBL at Armageddon, Jericho won the match but didn't get the title.
When Jericho lost the gold, he goaded JBL out of retirement to face him at The Royal Rumble. After the Rumble, Jericho competed in his fourth Elimination Chamber match to determine the #1 Contender for the WWE Championship and captured the Intercontinental Championship for a record eighth time.
But he once again went under the radar and began a war with Shawn Michaels that started with him launching HBK into the Jeritron 6000. This war would continue for several months, but took a pause at Unforgiven to participate in the World Heavyweight Championship Scramble.
What was next is the arrival of the new and improved Chris Jericho...
Chris Jericho: The Best of 2008?
Jericho became the Ultimate Opportunist at Unforgiven when he scored the final pinfall in the Championship Scramble to become the World Heavyweight Champion. The next month, he lost a tooth but defeated Shawn Michaels in a Ladder Match to retain the strap. But at Cyber Sunday he lost the gold to Batista...thanks to Stone Cold Steve Austin.
The following week, he defeated Batista to earn his second World Heavyweight Championship of the year. But at Survivor Series, he fought hard but lost the gold to a returning John Cena. At Armageddon he came up short of his goal to regain the championship.
After a brief, bitter rivalry with Stephanie McMahon, Jericho earned a spot in his fifth Elimination Chamber Match. This time, he had a chance to become World Champion once again, but he fell short of his goal when he was eliminated by Rey Mysterio. In the process of all this, Jericho was involved in a side storyline involving Mickey Rourke.
At the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania, Jericho defeated "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat and "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka in a Legends Gauntlet Match. Following the bout, he dropped Ric Flair...before getting dropped himself by Mickey Rourke.
What's Next for Chris Jericho?
Since WrestleMania, Jericho has tried to make excuses for what happened to him after the match. He calls himself The Living Legend, and he has vowed that when 2009 is over, he will once again be World Champion.
But his hopes may have been slightly dashed...
After this past Monday night, Jericho was drafted to SmackDown after Edge won the 15-Man Tri-Branded Battle Royal. So now, he's back on SmackDown, and the brand doesn't even have a World Championship to call its own.
However, Edge has a chance to defeat John Cena at Backlash to bring the WHC back to SmackDown, and CM Punk still has the briefcase that guarantees him a shot at the gold anytime he sees fit. So Jericho's chances rest in the hands of one man who has a storied history with and another who helped in his antics with William Regal.
But will 2009 end with Chris Jericho as either WWE Champion or World Heavyweight Champion? And now that he's back on SmackDown, who will be next to feel the wrath of the new Chris Jericho?