Future Tense: The Return of Chris Jericho

It began with such subtlety.  If you weren’t watching closely, you would’ve missed the YouTube account name flicker in, then quickly away, as if some unknown force was hacking WWE programming.  The stream of anonymous videos increased in frequency, teasing the date of January 2, 2011, claiming “a power shall come to punish the weak for their inequity” and “a familiar force shall arrive to claim what is his, and it will be the end of the world as we know it.” 

All signs pointed to the WWE return of the first-ever Undisputed WWE Champion, the Lionheart, the Man of 1004 Holds, the Ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rolla, the King of the World, the Paragon of Virtue, Y2J, Chris Jericho.  The rumor-mill swirled about the possibility of a Chris Jericho/CM Punk program for the WWE Championship leading up to Wrestlemania 28 in Miami, FL.  On Twitter, Jericho continuously and vehemently denied his involvement in the storyline.  It really couldn’t have been, and shouldn’t have been anyone but Chris Jericho teased in these videos, as Jericho has used these type of tactics before leading up to previous reappearances on WWE television.

It was time.  The January 2nd, 2012 edition of WWE RAW, to be headlined by a WWE Championship match between champ CM Punk and challenger Dolph Ziggler, and in theory, the revelation of the mystery man/woman/persons from the 1/2/12 promos.  Only thing is, the WWE Championship match wasn’t anywhere near the end of the show, and was without any Jericho.  CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler jerked the curtain for Kelly Kelly, Eve, and the Bella Twins, in what has to be one of the worst Divas matches in the long, sad history of terrible Divas matches, on what would end up being one of the blandest, most disjointed episodes of WWE RAW in the show’s recording-breaking history of face-palm-inducing booking.

Okay, NOW it was time.  Below is the uncut segment from Monday’s WWE RAW featuring the big reveal of the 1/2/12 mystery person.  The video clocks in at twelve minutes and one second.

The initial return was as great moment, even though us internet smarks new the outcome a month ago.  Jericho looked awesome in his Tron Michael Jackson jacket, and ate up ever last morsel of the pop he received upon his reveal.  Jericho made his way into the ring, and asked for the microphone, and anyone that has ever been a fan of Chris Jericho was anxious to hear what exactly Y2J would have to say on the stick.  Would he shoot on the king of the shoot promo, CM Punk?  Would he insert himself into the WWE Championship picture?  Would he enter himself into the 30-man Royal Rumble?  After 10 minutes of preening to the crowd and slapping fives with those at ringside, without saying a word into the microphone, the “Highlight of the Night” left to the sound of cheers turning into annoyed boos.  WWE RAW commentator Jerry “The King” Lawler mumbled as the show went to commercial, “not so sure what we’ve just seen.”

So, seriously…what the hell was that?  Jericho is known for being an innovator, and prides himself on reinventing his character with each new contract.  However, in what universe does a lead-up of the tone and anticipation of the “It Begins” promos translate into …THAT.  Maybe Jericho will be performing a take on the self-absorbed “celebrity” aspect of his character, playing up his appearances on Dancing with the Stars, his career as a rock star with Fozzy, and his ubiquity as a tweeter on Twitter.

Maybe the little redhead girl in the promos is a metaphor for the red-themed WWE RAW show, and Jericho returned to “reclaim” his spot atop RAW is Jericho, and the fan adulation that comes with it.  No matter how much I try to make sense of it and spin it into something workable, as of right now, the air has been sucked out of the room, and if my post-RAW twitter feed was any indication, the fans were displeased with the outcome (or lack thereof).

What does this mean for the rumored Punk/Jericho feud?  Punk is booked with Ziggler until at least the Royal Rumble PPV, so I would doubt they would insert Jericho into that story and take the shine off of Ziggler’s deserved spot in the main event.  Does that mean Jericho flounders for a month until he gets Punk to himself?  Does that mean we’re going to be subjected to 10 minutes a week on WWE RAW of Jericho playing to the crowd, and further annoying the WWE Universe?

I’ll be tuned in, sometimes, begrudgingly.  I’m a Jerichoholic since back in the day, so on the one hand, it’s great to have him back.  I missed his last run because I had to quit watching professional wrestling following the Chris Benoit situation, so it means a lot to have one of my favorite performers back on television, for what could very well be the final leg of his career.  But will this new direction work?  It’s certainly too early to tell, but I worry about the worst-case-scenarios like low-ratings and injury.  I have faith in Jericho’s ability, but little to none with the current condition of WWE television.

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Jason Knize, K-Nice if you're nasty, is a co-founder of PanelsOnPages.com, resident News Editor, and one-half of the World Tag Team Champions, The 11th Hour. You can usually find him in the most wretched hive of scum and villainy...The PoP!ulation Forums.


Comments (3)

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  1. Ross Lustman says:

    A heel wrestler made you feel irritated and annoyed – that’s what’s supposed to happen! Jericho wanted to be a heel but knew that fans always pop for returns like that – so he used that reaction to make himself a heel again instantly. I was cracking up once I figured out what was going on. It was an epic troll.

  2. Robert Eddleman says:

    I loved it. As the segment kept going on, my expectations for a heel turn kept growing. As Jericho left the stage to a scattering of boos, I realized that he’d already turned heel before our eyes. The whole segment seemed like something Andy Kaufman would do.

    And Knize, since you missed it as it was happening, you need to find and watch what you can of the Jericho/HBK feud from 2008, as it was some of the best material from each of them.

  3. Mary Staggs says:

    Knize can attest to this: I had already fallen asleep at some point during the show (totally missed the Divas match). I woke up right before Jericho’s spot. About five minutes into his preening, I said, “F*ck this guy. I’m going to bed.”

    He sure did a great job of turning heel in my eyes, that’s for sure. I lost sleep for THAT?

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