Chris Jericho gets IT
17 years later and RAW is still JERICHO
26 years of wrestling and you’d think a guy has done it all.
The first Undisputed champion, 9-time Intercontinental champion, the lead singer of his rock band, has a podcast, and is still a prominent feature on Monday Night Raw today.
In the so-dubbed New Era, Jericho’s reputation is predicated on his illustrious past that not a lot of WWE wrestlers have had time to build up yet. He is today’s champion of the midcard scene (pushing the next crop of main event guys). Jericho is infamous as the guy who’s trying to put over young talent and doing it moderately successfully. Here’s the how and why.
Putting a guy over doesn’t mean just the 1–2–3 clean victory in the ring. There’s in-ring psychology, creative storytelling, and most importantly that the feud is meaningful.
In the recent brand split, WWE has been putting more emphasis on improving their television product now that their roster is supremely talented.
The WWE is in a better potential spot than it has been in recent years, but they’ve yet to put it all together.
What the WWE is lacking is the entertainment value creatively that Chris Jericho provides on a weekly basis whenever he’s on screen.
The best wrestling personas have some level of authenticity. Chris Jericho has a believable persona. The persona is an act, but the wrestler has to believe in their act for it to translate to the fan at home or in the stands.
What Jericho does so effectively is reel you in, and holds onto the line until he makes his message clear.
Jericho elevates himself as a true heel (a dying breed) while still entertaining the crowd with his antics. His act is comparable to the Rock as a heel, not as masterful as prime Rock, but the effect Jericho is having in each segment is what makes Jericho such an important fixture on RAW right now.
Jericho’s current gimmick is his list. The List of Jericho. It’s ingenious and hilarious. When you’re on the list, it means nothing despite meaning everything at the same time, and it’s a riot for the live crowds along with the online commentary.
Jericho tells a competitor they’re gonna get, it. Well what exactly is it? It is what it is.
Then there’s our favorite Jericho line when he calls someone a stupid idiot. Not only the delivery of the line that makes you laugh, but the timing, and maybe it’s just me but the fact that calling someone a stupid idiot is redundant makes it all the more humorous to me. If you don’t understand why that’s redundant, then you might be a stupid idiot.
Jericho’s promos and segments build up to the moment where someone is going to end up on the list, or is going to get it, or is going to get called a stupid idiot. Jericho’s segments have a payoff. There’s the comedic payoff as described above, but beyond that, Jericho segments do the job of selling a fellow wrestler and/or match.
WWE writing tends to be reactionary and push focused, whereas Jericho’s segments and matches are all going toward selling a wrestler, a match, or a storyline.
Jericho finds an angle he can get the desired reaction, and pushes that angle until he moves into a new one. It keeps the story fresh, and the feud or story angle fresh in our mind.
Another recent line Jericho has used to maintain his arrogant heel persona, is telling the crowd that he’s going to deliver the gift of Jericho, and to drink it maaaaan. This is Jericho’s most pure heel line, because you obviously don’t want to have to drink any of this guy in, that’s disgusting.
Instead of getting laughs with this line, Jericho gets heat from the crowd.
Prior to Jericho joining up with Kevin Owens, Jericho fought AJ Styles in a low key underrated Wrestlemania feud. Lost in the shuffle simply because the Roman Reigns-Triple H feud and match was such a dumpster fire.
AJ Styles fans may not care for the Jericho going over Styles in the Wrestlemania match, but Jericho did Styles justice in a way where a loss wouldn’t derail Styles’ momentum which has taken him to the top of the SmackDown brand instead of a negligible mid-card role.
What Jericho did in the feud leading up to to the Mania match was put Styles over based upon Styles’ previous wrestling acumen. Jericho had to sell Styles to the WWE crowd who did not know of Styles reputation as one of the world’s greatest wrestlers. Jericho made his respect for Styles clear, while remaining a heel in saying Styles was surpassing Jericho’s popularity.
What Jericho did was put himself over, but not selling Styles short as if he was an underdog. While the match result at Mania didn’t put Styles over, the feud as a whole did in the minds of WWE fans in solidifying Styles as a top level competitor. Styles didn’t leave the feud empty handed either having earned a clean win over Jericho in a previous PPV bout.
Fast forward to Jeri-KO today and Jericho is developing a build for Kevin Owens as a main event competitor. Owens was briefly valued as a guy who beat John Cena in his first match, but then took two consecutive PPV losses to Cena afterward tumbling Owens back to the midcard despite his main event talent in the ring and on the microphone.
Owens has no serious victories prior to being in a fatal 4-way for the Universal Championship in which a title victory was handed to him by Triple H for unexplained reasons. WWE writing… Taking a talented guy and booking him as a guy who can’t win on his own.
Enter Jericho, who can play a role in elevating Owens character. The irony in this situation for Owens is that his gimmick began as an arrogant prizefighter that has turned to a chicken-heel. If Jericho is effective in putting Owens over, Owens can drop being a chicken. This is remained to be seen since the WWE has had a good run with Seth Rollins as the almost next CM Punk.
Another Jericho project a few years ago was repairing the damage done to Bray Wyatt’s character after the Wyatt family was decimated by John Cena in 2014. Jericho has often found himself in this damage control role for disgraced superstars who weren’t allowed the so-called brass ring. Even today, Wyatt can’t get a meaningful PPV win and still hasn’t won a single championship.
RAW shouldn’t need Jericho, but without consistent writing and focus from show to show, Jericho has been the focus of WWE’s best content in recent memory.