The talk of the Internet Wrestling Community (or IWC) these days is the status of arguably the best wrestler in the world, Chris Jericho. It is widely known that his contract is up after the WWE Night of Champions PPV. The question amongst fans is will he stay or will he go? My opinion is that he will stay. I have no sources or any outside information. It's a gut instinct more than anything. For all I know he could have a deal in place already, but they're keeping it quiet to maintain the current storyline. Let's say he hasn't signed it yet. I thought it would be a good idea to run down five reasons as to why he's going to stay with WWE.
1) He's still young enough (and healthy enough) to keep going on a regular schedule.
He turns 40 this year. Amazingly in his 20+ year career he's avoided major injuries, but I'm sure there are many aches and pains on his body. That's how the business is. Realistically he's not going to wrestle that long into his 40s. I don't see him as being like a Ric Flair or Terry Funk that hangs around too long. Jericho will be done within a few years because he's got enough other ways to make money. My guess is he signs a two or three year deal to take him to 42 or 43 years old when he does call it a career. I expect him, like Shawn Michaels, to retire at a level where fans can remember him as being at the top of his game though I'd say Michaels is a notch above. Not by much, but he is.
2) It's better for his projects coming up.
There's a long awaited 3 disc DVD covering his career including a documentary that is coming out on September 28. If he's still working in WWE it's going to lead to more promotion and more sales of that DVD. His book, the second auto-biography of his career that will cover the last ten years of his life, is coming out later in the year. The first one was released when he wasn't in WWE, but it's clear that if he has WWE backing it's going to lead to more sales. In addition to the DVD and book, it's better for his band Fozzy for him to be in WWE. Every week he's doing autograph signings in the cities where Raw is being held. Being in WWE helps album sales and concert tickets. He's a smart business man. He knows that Fozzy will still be there in five years when he's done with WWE, but will it reach as many people as it does now while he's in the public eye so heavily? There's no telling yes or no on that one. It should be noted too that Fozzy has an upcoming tour of Europe in October that will take a couple of weeks to complete. Even if he re-signs in WWE like I expect they can keep him off TV with some kind of angle to explain his absence. I don't think it will alter his decision or any plans in a major way.
3) His legacy is in WWE.
Wrestling for another organization doesn't make sense. Anybody that thinks he would work for TNA is stupid. If he works for anybody in wrestling it's WWE. He knows things aren't great in TNA. Lots of people within the business know that. I also doubt they could pay him even 1/3 of what he makes in WWE. More on that in the next point. I'm fully aware of his history wrestling in Japan, Mexico and other places all over the world, but he did that in his 20s before he had a wife and kids at home. I don't see him wanting to go through working overseas again. He's been a WWE guy for 11 years now. His legacy is WWE. His future is the Hall of Fame. On top of all that, he's as good a representative for the company that there is. He's well spoken, smart and has a quick wit. He's on the short list of people that Vince McMahon trusts the most in terms of talking to the media. His memorable verbal battle with Mickey Rourke while a confused Larry King mediated comes to mind as a particularly great moment.
4) The money is good as a top guy.
He's probably making $1 million or more per year and has been for a few years. If he leaves to try acting or game show hosting or concentrate solely on his music it's unrealistic to expect that he would make that much. It's hard to turn down good money. It's stupid too. As I said before, he's a smart business man. As long as he's physically able, which he is, and he has a passion for the business, which I believe he still has, then he should absolutely keep doing what he's doing.
5) He gives back to the business more than any other wrestler on the WWE roster.
To me, this the most important point. It's why Jericho's as good as anybody. He gets it. He knows that the way the business evolves is if the old guard is replaced by new faces. He spent his late 20s stuck in WCW watching as the same guys like Hogan, Savage, Piper, Sting, Flair kept feuding with eachother while Jericho waited in the wings for an opportunity that never came. Now he's in the position where he's one of the five biggest names in WWE and he's needed to make other people look good. Guess what? He does it more than any other top guy in the company. Nobody else is even close. Evan Bourne needs a big win? Jericho loses clean. John Morrison needs a win? Jericho loses clean. There were even times last year when he was putting over the likes of JTG clean. Now that guy's barely on TV, but it's not due to Jericho. That's a booking decision. My point is that Jericho's always the guy that is willing to do it. I'm not saying others are asked to put people over and they refuse. I don't know if it happens. I'd like to think it doesn't. However, I do know that Jericho's losing to these guys on a regular basis because we can see it week after week, month after month. You know what the best part is? Even if he lost 50 matches in a row we'd still believe it if he won the World Title in that 51st match because he's so good that the story would be believable. That, my friends, is what it means to be "over" as a performer.
On a personal level, Chris Jericho's my favorite active wrestler in WWE. If he leaves WWE I'd be devastated because what he offers in terms of being an elite worker, talker and actor is irreplaceable. Look at WWE without Shawn Michaels. There's a void there. You can see it. It's obvious. If Jericho were to walk away the void would be just as big, if not bigger. My hope is that not only does he re-sign, but that he gets a raise too. The man deserves. He's been the best performer in WWE for the last three years and there's no reason to believe he can't be for another three years.
To Chris Jericho I say this: please stay. World Wrestling Entertainment needs you and we the fans need you. More importantly, so does the business. You are everything that is good about the wrestling business. The longer you're in it, the better off we will all be.
Do you understand the words I am saying to you right now?