WWE, the Anthology of Chris Jericho/Shawn Michaels: What a Feud Should Look Like

Ryan FryeSenior Analyst IJune 23, 2011

WWE, the Anthology of Chris Jericho/Shawn Michaels: What a Feud Should Look Like

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    In pro wrestling, feuds are about as common as grass is green. The concept is as simple as it gets; you have a good guy (the face), and you have a bad guy (the heel). The heel normally does something bad to the face, sparking a feud in the process.

    Sound simple?

    Well, it is. But, it isn't a thing that all can pull off. No, especially when just about everything has been done in the past.

    So, when great feuds come, it is something special.

    In the summer of 2008, a rejuvenated Chris Jericho sent the living legend, Shawn Michaels (Ok, just his head) through his JeriTron 5000.

    This sparked what Chris Jericho called his greatest feud of all-time, and arguably one of the best ever. Period.

    Shawn Michaels agrees; here is what he had to say on the Right After Wrestling radio show on the Score regarding the feud:

     "He (Chris) was talking about it while we were doing it," Michaels said. "He kept saying, 'Geez, they need to make a DVD on this.' The thing is we love working with each other. We're very similar in our creative process—and we're two guys who push each other and challenge each other and love every second of it. 

    "And I think the greatest thing about that rivalry was that nobody had a game plan. It was something that just sort of came about and each week we (Chris and I) just sort of got together and would just do this process—he and I spent countless of hours in the writers office with ideas. I don't know if you can hear it in our voices—but we just really enjoyed working with each other." 

    Here is the link to that quote.

    Throughout this slideshow, I will run through the many different phases of the feud. I will review what happened, why it was so brilliant, and talk about the natural process of evolving a storyline.

    Without further ado, sit back, relax, and reflect!  

The Genesis: The Lie, the Impromptu Match

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    After his career-threatening match against Ric Flair at WrestleMania, Batista confronted Shawn Michaels, saying he was selfish and egotistical.

    Soon, Y2J (Chris Jericho) got involved and was named the special guest referee for Michaels' and Batista's match at Backlash.

    At the event, HBK won after faking a knee injury and then hitting his signature Sweet Chin Music.

    Jericho was so sure Michaels faked the the injury that he awarded him with a Slammy Award for best acting job.

    The two were paired together to face John Morrison and The Miz, in which Michaels "proved to Jericho" that he really was hurt.  However, Michaels would then admit to Jericho that he faked his knee injury, setting up a match at Judgement Day.

    As you can see in the video, Michaels won.

    For more on the buildup up to the Judgement Day match, watch this video.

    What made it so special?

    This was so great because it was such an organic beginning. Michaels faked a knee injury, and lied to Chris Jericho about it.

    Then, he admits he was lying, which angers Jericho for multiple reasons.

    So at the time, they were both still faces, and had a very believable storyline to that point. I mean, aren't you angry if somebody lies to you and makes you look like a fool?

    It made lots of sense, and wasn't over something dumb like we see so often today. I mean, at one point, CM Punk and John Cena were feuding because Cena spilled Punk's Coke?

    Ha, funny, but nowhere near believable.

    In this instance, it was very real, yet not too much too soon.  

The Turn, the Cruel Act

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    After Michaels finished up his feud with Batista, he was invited to Chris Jericho's Highlight Reel the following night on Raw.

    Jericho began as a mild-mannered face, and quickly turned into a devious heel.

    The odd thing here is, he was the one telling the truth.

    One thing led to another, and Micheals head was soon sent through the JeriTron 5000, courtesy of Y2J himself.

    What made it so special?

    Once again, this was a very logical heel turn, and overall process.

    Jericho invited Michaels onto his show to explain himself, and tempers soon began to flare.

    It's like getting into a fight with a friend because they lied to you; very simple.

    Yet, like I stated above, Jericho was being honest. Meanwhile, the hero and legend, Shawn Michaels, was lying.

    So why were the people cheering Michaels and booing Jericho when he brought it up?

    It appears to be backwards if you ask me, but the delivery of both men made it that way. Pure brilliance.

    Nowadays, we too often see creative go with a very difficult story to follow. Look at Vince Russo. TNA has problems with storyline continuation, rather than just being logical in a slow buildup. Likely, the monthly pay-per-views don't help, but Jericho and Michaels were faced with the same dilemma.

The Eye Injury, Match at the Great American Bash

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    As would be expected, Michaels suffered a kayfabe detached retina. 

    Of course, the two would would face off at The Great American Bash, which Jericho won by referee stoppage after he went after Michaels' injured eye.

    What made it so special?

    Once again, pure brilliance by Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels.

    In today's WWE, you have Big Show getting ran over by a car. Just three weeks later, he is running to the ring like nothing ever happened and randomly attacks Mark Henry.

    Then, at the pay-per-view, Henry slams Show through a table, and the giant's knee is suddenly injured again?

    Uhh, what?

    Now, compare it to what happened in the Chris Jericho versus Shawn Michaels feud.

    Jericho injured Michaels, and the Heart Break Kid wasn't too happy; just look at his facial expression during his entrance.

    You also see great continuation, as the injured eye results in referee stoppage.  

The Retirement, the Elbow

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    After a month of not appearing on Raw due to the injured eye, Shawn Michaels came out to announce his retirement at SummerSlam. Or so we thought.

    Chris Jericho came out to interrupt, and sent an elbow Michaels' way. Well, after Shawn dove, it hit his wife instead. So, Michaels' wife was left laying on the canvas crying, while Jericho showed absolutely no remorse.

    What made it so great?

    I may sound like I am repeating myself, but very logical booking here.

    Due to his injuries, Shawn Michaels was forced to retire. The man who he was feuding with at the time, Chris Jericho came out and bashed Michaels. He then throws an elbow, and 'accidently' hits his arch-rival's wife.

    In many feuds, this is where creative runs out of ideas, and things begin to get stale.

    Jarrett vs. Angle, anyone?  

The Comeback, Contract Signing, and Unsanctioned Match

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    After looking his wife in the eyes, Shawn Michaels knew he wasn't retiring.

    So on Raw, he denounced his decision and challenged Chris Jericho to a match at Unforgiven.

    The next week, the two would brawl during the contract signing and Michaels would suffer a small tricep tear. Nonetheless, Michaels was still able to compete at Unforgiven.

    At the pay-per-view, the unsanctioned match was terrific. In fact, you can view the match here, which Michaels won after referee stoppage.

    What made it so great?

    The match.

    This match told a great story of the feud to that point, and really sealed the "Instant Classic" label it (the feud) holds to this very day.

    The remorseless Chris Jericho was also great. He blamed it all on Michaels and the fans, and said he was proud of what he had done to the Michaels family.

    This was the perfect evolution of a feud that went the better part of a year, yet had you at the edge of your seat each and every week.

Jericho Becomes World Champion, One Final Match Against Michaels!

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    After Chris Jericho replaced CM Punk in the Championship Scramble match at the same Unforgiven event, he became the World Heavyweight Champion.

    Soon, Shawn Michaels challenged Chris Jericho to a ladder match, and the much despised Raw General Manager Mike Adamle made it official.

    After another match that lasted over thirty minutes, Jericho emerged still the World Heavyweight Champion and putting a close on one of the greatest storylines in the history of pro wrestling.

    What made it so great?

    First of all, only Chris Jericho can begin a feud as Intercontinental Champion and end as World Heavyweight Champion, but nobody blinked whatsoever.

    This match was just the icing on the cake. It was cool to have the feud end with the world title on the line, and of course Michaels and Jericho tore down the house with the match.

    These two began with Michaels faking a knee injury, then it naturally progressed to the lie, the eye, the wife and finally, the World Heavyweight Championship.

    These days, as I've said so many times throughout this slideshow, it progressed so organically. It lasted for the better part of the year, yet never had a dull moment.


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    Chris Jericho; you wanted a handbook. Well, I did the best I could.

    I hope you all enjoyed reliving the epic feud between Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels. Quite simply, I have a difficult time believing we will ever see another storyline surpass it's greatness.

    Thanks for reading.