Just about every part-timer in the WWE gets bombarded with criticism for one reason or another.
Triple H often gets blasted for hardly ever wrestling, but putting himself against the company’s top dogs whenever he does. Brock Lesnar gets plenty of hatred for showing up only a few times per year even though he’s raking in millions of dollars. The Rock is ripped each week for worrying more about his movies than his WWE Championship.
But one part-timer who manages to avoid virtually any criticism is Chris Jericho, and there’s a reason for it: Y2J’s part-time career is good for the WWE.
While there are certainly benefits to these other stars showing up from time to time (increased pay-per-view buyrates, higher TV ratings at times, etc.), Jericho brings something to the WWE that perhaps none of the other part-timers do.
Namely, he isn’t there to help Chris Jericho. He’s there to help the WWE.
Y2J has accomplished just about anything and everything he could in the WWE. He’s a six-time World champion, nine-time Intercontinental champion and widely considered to be one of the greatest superstars of his generation—if not one of the greatest superstars of all time.
He doesn’t need to keep coming back, but he does. And it’s not so he can add to his resume by winning more titles, racking up more victories and burying the WWE’s up-and-coming stars in the process.
It’s so Jericho can give back to the business that helped make him a star by doing things that other major names wouldn’t even consider doing.
If you look back throughout Jericho’s history, he’s made a name for himself in large part because he’s been willing to put over guys to whom he’s had no business losing. Back in 2010, he actually lost to Heath Slater—yes, Heath Slater—on the inaugural season of NXT, and he even went on to lose clean to Evan Bourne on pay-per-view.
In 2012, all Jericho did was put others over. After he returned on Jan. 2 of that year, he competed on all but one PPV between The Royal Rumble and SummerSlam—winning just one of those matches, against Dolph Ziggler at SummerSlam. In true Jericho fashion, however, he lost a career-threatening match to Ziggler the next night on Raw.
During that span, Jericho put over both Sheamus and CM Punk in a major way, and since he returned again at the 2013 Royal Rumble, he’s back at it again—losing both of his PPV matches by being eliminated from both the 30-man Royal Rumble match and Elimination Chamber match to determine the No. 1 contender for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Simply put, Y2J is an unselfish workhorse who thinks more about what would benefit the WWE in the long term than what might benefit him in the short term.
That’s rather obvious when you consider that Jericho is now scheduled to face Fandango at WrestleMania 29. Yes, Jericho—one of the most accomplished performers in wrestling history—returned to the WWE to wrestle Johnny Curtis in his first televised match under his new ballroom dancer gimmick.
But that’s just Jericho. That’s what he does.
He doesn’t think about the fact that he was headed for a a much more high-profile bout, a WWE Championship match, at WrestleMania at this time last year. Instead, he decides to make the most of a situation that most major stars, especially part-time ones, would hate to be in.
Could you imagine, for example, if The Rock returned and the creative team said, “Hey, you’re going to go one on one with Fandango at WrestleMania?” Do you honestly think The Rock would agree to do that? Probably not.
Which part-time superstar is the most valuable to the WWE?
That’s exactly why Jericho gets a “free pass” from criticism when so many other part-timers don’t, though.
It’s because Jericho is coming back without any selfish goals in mind. He did it in 2012, and he’s doing it again in 2013. The same can’t be said about these other stars.
Triple H, who is literally booking himself in his match against Lesnar, is the one who’s coming back to get a victory over another part-timer before going away again. The Rock is the one who hasn’t lost a single match since returning to the ring in 2011 and has failed to give the WWE the outside media attention he was supposed to bring. The Undertaker is the guy who’s likely coming back to up his streak to 21-0.
Jericho, however, is the guy who is returning to wrestle a character who has literally never wrestled a TV match. Win or lose, he’s going to help Fandango just by being in the ring with him on the grandest stage of them all. If he puts Fandango over too, that’s just an added bonus.
Regardless, Y2J’s feud with Fandango is another example of his unparalleled selflessness—a true lost art in a profession where so many only care about themselves.
But Jericho knows that the WWE’s long-term future is priority No. 1 and that he’s there to make it brighter.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!