In 1999, the United Kingdom and the United States were pioneers in proactively finding ways to tackle the problem of the two-digit date crisis. David Eddy, a Massachusetts programmer, originated the popular label for the dreaded collapse of technological infrastructure.
He called it the Y2K Problem.
That same year, Chris Jericho was preparing for his transition to the World Wrestling Federation. Despite his misery in World Championship Wrestling, he gutted it out through the end of his contract. Inspired by a Countdown to the Millennium clock he had seen in a post office, Jericho suggested using a similar countdown to his arrival in the WWF. In the same creative vein, he wanted to name his finishing move the Y2J Problem.
Vince McMahon countered by stating that his nickname would be Y2J.
The countdown began exactly one month before Jericho debuted as Y2J, the Millennium Man, on August 9, 1999. The Countdown Clock began its descent from 15 and kicked off arguably one of the most explosive and memorable debuts in the history of the wrestling industry.
Relegated to the "leprous" Cruiserweight Division and largely ignored by the management at WCW, Jericho had the opposite treatment in his new company. He was introduced to WWF fans as he interrupted a promo by The Great One himself, The Rock, who had established himself as a wrestling legend.
The two men locked horns in what would be the first of many entertaining and engaging battles of words and charisma.
Very few men could effectively hold their own in a verbal spar with The Rock. Almost immediately, Chris Jericho proved that he was in the front of a select group on his initial outing in the WWF.
Charisma and verbal prowess are not the only talents boasted by Jericho.
The man can flat out go in the ring. Training at the Hart Brothers’ Pro Wrestling Camp with Mr. Hito in Stu Hart’s infamous Dungeon, Jericho traveled the world in order to refine his wrestling skills. The earmark of his in-ring work is his ability to combine high flying spots with sound ring psychology.
An early WAR bout with Ultimo Dragon and classics with WCW rivals Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, and Rey Mysterio, Jr. shone a spotlight on Jericho's cerebral talents and eye-catching maneuvers.
His matches against Chris Benoit, The Rock, and Stone Cold Steve Austin, as well as his recent round of instant classics with Shawn Michaels, all display his ring savvy and athleticism.
But Jericho is simply not content with being gifted in the ring and a charismatic verbal warrior.
He is possessed of an immensely creative mind. In his autobiography, he explains that the Cruiserweight Division of WCW was not cultivated by the management. Nor were the wrestlers considered to be part of that division given a great deal of direction.
And that was just fine with Jericho.
On his own initiative, Jericho created his heel persona in WCW. It became a running joke for him to continuously test the boundaries to see if the office was paying attention to his matches.
Jericho's feud with Dean Malenko was concocted by the former while the latter was on a brief sabbatical. It became a hot angle with only one wrestler present for over 90 days. That angle was responsible for the birth of the "Man of 1,004 Holds" nickname.
Similarly, the hottest angle of 2008, which was between Jericho and Michaels, was devised and performed through a creative collaboration between the two wrestlers.
A key component to the truly successful individuals in the sports entertainment business, or any entertainment industry, is the ability to connect with the audience. Jericho has liquid charisma running through his veins as opposed to blood.
It is the only answer for his astonishing capacity to run the audience through a gamut of emotion.
Jericho can have the audience in stitches, laughing at his brilliantly timed comedy, and jeering him for his arrogance. In the span of a single promo, Jericho can evoke laughter, cheers, genuine heartwarming emotion, and raucous jeering. A promo between Jericho and Michaels in 2003 is a prime example.
Very few wrestlers create more than one distinct character for themselves. Certainly, there are marked differences between the behavior of a wrestler as a heel and a babyface. The character, however, tends to have the same foundation.
In his first run in the then-WWF, Jericho displayed his abilities as both a face and a heel.
He was passionate, driven, and a master of sarcastic insults. He was the consummate entertainer, whether he played on the good or devious side of the fence. Since his return and subsequent heel turn, Jericho has unveiled a despicable, self-righteous, arrogant persona that is in stark contrast to the Y2J character.
And that provides just the impact that Jericho wants to have on the industry.
Arguably, Jericho is one of the best heels in the business. He manipulates and orchestrates the emotions of the audience like a master on a Stradivarius.
What criteria are required to categorize a wrestler as one of the greats in a rich pool of performers? Charisma, athleticism, creativity, and contributions to the memorable moments in the long history of wrestling seem to be the most frequently cited qualifications.
He has an abundance of these credentials—and more.
Chris Jericho isn’t just the Man of 1,004 Holds.
Chris Jericho is the Man of 1,004 Talents. And only a few of those talents are the Armbar, or variations of the Armbar.
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