Chris Jericho: Why His Match with Fandango Could Complete His Legacy
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In the world of professional wrestling, politicking goes a long way in solidifying a legacy. Men like Hulk Hogan were booked to be legends and it worked. Men like the Undertaker have used their gimmicks to get over and it's worked. And men like Shawn Michaels used the ring to build goodwill with the fans, and it obviously worked, too.
Arguably, the most important type of legacy is one that doesn't directly involve the fans. Think of guys like Pat Patterson, who help younger talent reach their potential in the ring and behind the scenes.
An extension of this notion is the idea of seasoned, respected wrestlers doing that in the ring and putting the new guys over in any way possible.
While Chris Jericho has been booked like a legend most of his WWE career, he has also used his Y2J and Nick Bockwinkel-esque characters to get either cheers or boos successfully, and he's considered one of the 25 greatest in-ring workers ever. Despite all of these very impressive feats, he may very well leave his biggest imprint in his current role.
Since January of 2012, it has been no secret that Jericho has put over pretty much anyone who has set foot in the ring with him. In this short run he's on currently, in some way he has put over seven (yes, seven!) Superstars.
But the man who is in line to be No. 8 on that list could very well be the most important.
We rarely see a guy make his in-ring debut at WrestleMania. Especially in a singles match with a bona fide legend. Especially when he has no real following from any other major promotion whatsoever.
What will happen in the Fandango-Jericho match?
WWE's creative team has been dying to use a guy with the acting and ring chops of Johnny Curtis since he won season four of NXT in 2011. But he's never really been a part of the television roster (unless you count his great work in NXT Redemption). What did they decide as the solution to this problem? Turn him into an annoying, cowardly tango dancer whose biggest characteristic is that he is the only person who can correctly pronounce his name.
Not exactly what most of us would choose as a gimmick for a potential top-level guy, but if anyone can make it work, it's Johnny Curtis.
Getting this gimmick to be taken seriously by the WWE Universe is the next big challenge. Pushing him to a midcard match at WrestleMania is a good start, but he must look like a legitimate threat in the ring against a big name. Enter Chris Jericho.
This match is intriguing from a fan's perspective because of the sheer unknown. Even if you have followed Curtis since his FCW days, you don't know what to expect in this new gimmick. He hasn't really worked a legitimate back-and-forth match since being repackaged at live events, and since he was without a TV roster spot, his moveset is a mystery to begin with.
Obviously for Fandango, getting to work with a megastar like Y2J is amazing, but he must deliver for this to be a successful match. No botched signature maneuvers. No overselling typical Jericho offensive attacks.
He needs to be close to perfect to make sure every fan leaves genuinely shocked and impressed with his effort.
Chris Jericho has prided himself on being a company guy. His own trials and tribulations in the WWE, and the wrestling world in general, have molded his character that way. Now is the time to give back to the business, and that is by making every young performer look the best they possibly can.
If Y2J can have a great match with Fandango and put him over as a serious contender in the WWE, he may be the first guy universally appreciated by fans, backstage agents and younger talent for his performance in one single match. It could be the gold standard of how to conduct yourself as a veteran in this industry.
This match could solidify his legacy in every way possible, and in ways we may not even know yet. If Johnny Curtis tastes even a sliver of main event success in his career, we could all point to April 7th, 2013 as the moment when Chris Jericho helped launch a career that changed the landscape of sports entertainment forever.
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