Chris Jericho: The Man Who Ended The Careers Of HBK and Y2J

Alberto CortezCorrespondent IAugust 7, 2008

The storied career of one of sports-entertainment's greatest superstar is in jeopardy, while another is finished.

Shawn Michaels has been a veteran of the industry and a native to the RAW brand roster, with countless championships, memorable matches, and some of the best non-wrestling moments especially his promos in the good ole DX days have made him more than just a man, they made him a legend.

Chris Jericho aka Lionheart, he has been the workhorse mid-card wrestler for promotions like ECW and WCW not to mention his days in Japan. He finally made it big when he made his way to the WWE (then known as the WWF), his first entrance promo is still regarded by many as one of the biggest intro's in sports entertainment, and still one of the most memorable RAW moments. Jericho quickly adopted his Y2J gimmick in reference to the Y2K virus which had tech-heads frantic upon the new Millennium. His motto was to be a new type of star for a new millennium, and with countless breathtaking matches with the likes of Benoit, Angle, Edge, The Rock, Stone Cold, Rob Van Dam, HHH and yes HBK he has certainly made an impact in the WWE not to mention his 8 reigns as the Intercontinental Champ and the only man who can claim being the 1st ever Undisputed Champion Unifying the WWE and the defunct WCW titles.

In the last couple of months leading up to The Great American Bash we began seeing a fracture in the composure of both men. The 'Bash' was a proverbial last stand for both men, and when it was all said and done we saw a grave injury that could possibly end the career one of the most phenomenal performers of our day and we saw another legend take a different path. Jericho and Michaels heated rivalry came full blast at the Bash, and a well placed elbow to the eye was the beginning of the end for the Heartbreak Kid. With a face full of crimson, Michaels valiantly fought back, but it was Jericho who would have the last laugh, mercilessly attacking his foe with no regard. The match was stopped by the ref on the condition that Michaels could no longer continue fighting in his current state. When Jericho walked out of the arena that night, he left a very different man....

The next night on RAW Jericho hosted his final segment of "The Highlight Reel", where he paid tribute to the destruction of a legendary preformer and entertainer... when everybody expected a video vignette of Michaels they were instead treated to highlights of Jericho's tenure as a crowd pleasing rule breaker including his verbal assaults on Stephanie McMahon, verbal confrontations with Randy Orton, and etc.... The destruction Jericho spoke of was not of HBK, but of Y2J. He claimed that he will no longer live to please the fans, that they were selfish, and that he could have wrestled for another decade and they would still not respect and adore him like they had Michaels. He continued by saying that he went down a path that lead to nowhere by pleasing the fans, he felt like a show dog, jumping through hoops for approval when he could have spent his time chasing the Gold. Jericho's words boiled the fans with disapproval, but Jericho did not care, he ended Michaels, and Y2J and no other man can claim that.

Michaels recently appeared on RAW via- satellite to disclose that he is still receiving medical attention from his injury sustained at the Bash, a detached retina (an injury which has ended many bright careers in sports including Hank Aaron who is quite possibly the true home-run king) and came clean about his cracked ribs that he originally hurt in his Wrestlemania bout with Ric Flair after a misplaced aerial assault that smashed his body on the edge of the announce table. Michaels was very solemn about the state of his current health, and for the first time in Michaels career, he claimed that he will take the advice of the doctors, whether he could return to full action, return on a limited basis, or whether it was time to lace up his boots and think about his family.

Not the same HBK that we have seen in prior months, defiant, and never say never attitude, this time Jericho message was delivered, and Michaels hurt and battered, agreed that maybe his time has passed him.... It is still unforeseen whether or not HBK will be able to continue entertaining the millions of fans who still rise to their seats when he "tunes-up the band"  or when his body almost stays suspended in flight as he crashes down on his opponent with his flying elbow drop. It is still unknown if the onslaught with Jericho is finally over, but if he does manage to recover, we can only hope that he will be back to 100% so that he can give Jericho his best shot. I for one think this is not the last we have seen of Michaels, and I also think that he has not put his demons with Jericho to rest yet, but we will all have to anxiously wait and see....

As for Y2J, Chris Jericho has assured us that he will never see a wrestling ring again, instead a more focused, sharper, and merciless Jericho will take his place. Many might ask what made Jericho snap? Was his war of ethics with Michael, and his battle for the approval of the fans too much for him to deal with him.... Or did he finally just get fed up with all of the sacrifices he feels he has made for his fans only to be rejected in the face of a bigger crowd pleaser like HBK, or did the reality that Michaels whether baby-face or heel will always have devoted fans because of his legendary status, while Jericho's former playing by the rule mentality was not enough to turn the tides among the fans. A bigger motivation might be Jericho's disapproval of his status as a Mid-card wreslter, and his taking the backseat to Main Event status and Title reigns to the likes of Cena, Orton, HHH and HBK.... I think it's a little of everything, but his urge to be considered a legendary champion and not an entertainer might be his biggest catalyst.

Jericho made certain that he would follow through with his plan to focus on the WWE Championship, quickly challenging the current WWE Champ CM Punk, along with Jericho's rival for the better part of 2008, JBL. The double challenge prompted RAW GM Mike Adamle to schedule a handicap match between CM Punk and the team of Jericho and JBL, with the added stipulation that the man who pins CM Punk will gain # 1 contender-ship to the WWE Title and guarantee a shot at Summerslam, and just to stack the odds even more there was a 10 minute time limit, if no one pinned Punk before the 10 minutes then the match at Summerslam would be a Triple Threat Match. Jericho fought valiantly, first teaming with JBL to attack Punk and later the two turned on each other when it was obvious that both men wanted a shot at Summerslam. Jericho at one point nearly made Punk succumb to Jericho's devastating submission maneuver the Walls of Jericho. JBL hit Jericho with a well placed boot to the back of his skull to make Jericho release the vice grip like hold on Punk to save the match. JBL knocked Jericho out of the ring but not before Jericho drove JBL's neck down on the ropes causing JBL to fall backwards on top of Punk in a last second fluke to attain the pin-fall and title-shot at Summerslam. Jericho might have been derailed on his way to the championship for Summerslam, but there will be other opportunities...

What else can we expect from Jericho the man who evolve from a jobber, to honing his skills in Mexico as Corazon de Leon (Lion Heart), to a Japanese sensation as Super Liger, to his intro in ECW as simply Chris Jericho, to the Lionheart Chris Jericho of WCW till his days at WWE as the man of the millennium Y2J, and later become the self proclaimed "King of the World" and the "Savior of the WWE". We have seen an incredible athlete evolve over the years and his battles with HBK proved to be a "Baptism Through Fire" to rechristen himself as quite simply Chris Jericho a gifted athlete and the next champ according to himself. I will saw that I am a sucker for a good Y2J promo, and that I will miss his entertaining antics, but I do admit he does attract more attention as a heel and I am enthralled to see where he will go from here.... Plain and simple Jericho has grown up a little and became a ruthless force on the way, and he's aiming for whoever has the title after Summerslam..... and he's ready for anything, even a comeback for Michaels.

Y2J will be missed but Jericho will be welcomed as an exceptional top heel, and as a threat to any title holder... keep your eyes peeled CM Punk or JBL you might be next....



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