Ranking Chris Jericho's Best Matches in the Last DecadeJuly 28, 2021
Ranking Chris Jericho's Best Matches in the Last Decade
Few professional wrestlers have had the second half of a career that Chris Jericho has enjoyed since 2011.
A master of recognizing where the industry is going, which style best suits him at any given time and who the hottest potential opponents are, the 50-year-old has enhanced his own legacy by way of extraordinary matches against world-renowned competitors across multiple promotions.
Wednesday night on AEW Dynamite, Jericho will battle the "King of the Deathmatch" Nick Gage, a hardcore icon made even popular with fans after a recent episode of Vice's Dark Side of the Ring, in a match that will serve as the latest piece of evidence of his dedication to staying relevant and current.
In preparation for the match against his most unique opponent to date and the reemergence of his Painmaker persona, relive these classic matches that have helped define the last 10 years of Jericho.
CM Punk at Extreme Rules 2012
The culmination of an intensely personal rivalry that escalated in the post-WrestleMania spring of 2012, Jericho and CM Punk tore the house down in Chicago with a physical, emotional battle that saw the hometown hero thwart Y2J's attempt to dethrone him as WWE champion while simultaneously avenging his sister's reputation.
CM Punk at Payback 2013
An even better match than the Chicago Street Fight a year earlier in the same city, Jericho played the de facto heel in another battle with The Second City Saint. In a back-and-forth encounter, he nearly pulled off a mid-flight Codebreaker to win but instead fell prey to consecutive GTSs as Punk earned the hard-fought victory.
AJ Styles at Fastlane 2016
It only made sense that WWE officials would want Jericho to work with the newly signed AJ Styles, if only because it promised to be a great match on pay-per-view. That is what fans got, as well as a heaped amount of drama brought on by consecutive near-falls off both men's finishers. In the end, it was Styles who scored the victory, forcing a tapout to the Calf Crusher.
5. Tetsuya Naito (NJPW Dominion 2018)
The Painmaker incarnation of Jericho's in-ring persona reared its head at Dominion 2018 when he challenged Chaos' Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship.
The veteran attacked the champion prior to the bell, unleashing an ass-kicking on him before the match even started, including a powerbomb through one table and a DDT onto another.
Jericho cut off everything Naito threw at him while preserving the intensity that dominated the pre-match. The physicality of the war was apparent late as blood spilled from the eye and ear of the champion, adding to the drama of Naito's attempt to fend off his greatest challenge and retain his title.
He would not, though, thanks to a low blow and Codebreaker that would deliver Jericho his first run with the IC gold in New Japan Pro-Wrestling.
A grueling and physical contest, it reiterated the violence and aggression that helped set The Painmaker apart from Jericho's other in-ring personae.
4. Jon Moxley (AEW Revolution 2020)
Busted open and physically broken following a powerbomb through a table, Jon Moxley faced an uphill battle in his All Elite Wrestling world title match against Jericho in the main event of Revolution in February 2020.
Already tasked with battling the measuring stick in the upstart company and nursing an eye injury suffered in the lead-in to the match, it appeared as though Moxley had no chance of leaving Chicago with the title.
Jericho's onslaught and interference on behalf of The Inner Circle only helped the biggest star in the company maintain a stranglehold on the title.
Or so it seemed.
Moxley, showing grit and resiliency, fought his way back into the match. Then, in a great finish, he ducked a Judas Effect, proving his eye was fine the entire time, and dropped Le Champion with the Paradigm Shift to win the match and the title.
Jericho was superb in this one, garnering heat any way possible to help enhance the effect of the title change. It worked, too. A lesser performer would have had a good match with Moxley, but his ability to manipulate the crowd and generate the intended response elevated the contest above and beyond.
3. Stadium Stampede (AEW Double or Nothing 2020)
Stricken by the COVID-19 pandemic that engulfed the wrestling industry in the spring of 2020, AEW had to find alternative means to present the culmination of the Inner Circle-Elite feud that dominated the company's early months.
It did so via Stadium Stampede, a brawl that would occur inside TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida, the home of the NFL's Jaguars.
A wild, chaotic, sometimes hilarious but always satisfying contest, it highlighted individual stories and characters involved in the program before putting an exclamation point on the feud in fitting fashion.
Jericho's involvement came to a screeching halt when Nick Jackson sprinted down the stadium stairs and drove him through a table. The end came moments later, when Kenny Omega delivered a jaw-dropping One-Winged Angel to Sammy Guevara, out of the stands and through a wooden platform.
Creative and inventive, the result of some of the greatest minds in the industry today, Stadium Stampede rightfully won Match of the Year consideration.
2. Hiroshi Tanahashi (Wrestle Kingdom 14)
Wrestle Kingdom 14 was home to a showdown between two of the most respected in-ring performers of their generation as Jericho waged war with Hiroshi Tanahashi.
The veteran's Painmaker character assured a wild, aggressive and intense brawl to kick things off, including a callback to his match with Naito in the form of a DDT onto the announce table.
Jericho generated incredible heat, intensifying the NJPW fans' love for Ace. All the admiration in the world would not help the most beloved star in the company overcome the onslaught of his opponent, though, as Jericho followed up a targeted attack on Tanahashi's knees with a Liontamer for the submission victory.
Tanahashi rarely taps out. It was an emphatic finish, a surprising one even. Jericho's in-ring relentlessness and ability to rile up the Japanese fans helped enhance the overall quality of the match, a hallmark of most of his New Japan work.
1. Kenny Omega (WrestleKingdom 12)
It is impossible to overstate the importance of the Wrestle Kingdom 12 match between Jericho and Omega on today's wrestling landscape.
After years of creative dissatisfaction in WWE, Jericho stepped away from McMahonland and headed to Japan for a monumental showdown with the wrestler widely considered to be the best in the world.
The hype was enormous, the build spectacular and the match the most anticipated non-WrestleMania showdown since CM Punk and John Cena squared off in the main event of Money in the Bank in 2011. It felt like an event; a must-see encounter that attracted fans from all over the planet.
With the pressure of the world squarely on their shoulders, Jericho and Omega delivered an all-timer.
For 35 minutes, they battled to the floor and back into the ring. They capitalized on the No Disqualification gimmick, bashing each other with chairs and monitors before Jericho focused his attention on the laceration on Omega's forehead.
The Cleaner valiantly fought through the agony of the Liontamer but missed a moonsault moments later. Jericho delivered a Codebreaker, but Omega kicked out at two. The leader of Bullet Club escaped one more Liontamer from his rival as the drama of the match peaked.
The One-Winged Angel finished Jericho as Omega picked up the most significant victory of his career in one of the most significant matches of this generation.
The match set the tone for the brawl-heavy style Jericho would incorporate in New Japan while reminding audiences he could still hang with the best the industry had to offer. It remains a highlight of his legendary, Hall of Fame-worthy career and one of the greatest matches of his celebrated career.