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Evaluating Chris Jericho’s Last WWE Run

Chris JerichoChris Jericho is finally gone after losing a match to Dolph Ziggler, ending his third run with the WWE. A look back at the nine-month run of Y2J begs the question as to whether it was a success or not. In this writer’s opinion, it was a slam dunk!

Chris Jericho returned after a lengthy hiatus from the WWE back in November. Jericho returned as a heel, although it took a few weeks for the fans to pick up on it. Jericho’s silence was a new twist in his evolving persona and created more intrigue and drama surrounding his first match than his last return back in 2007.

Once Jericho finally returned, he went full steam ahead in the WWE rings. His first big match back was the 2012 Royal Rumble. Jericho went to the finals, being eliminated by the current WWE world heavyweight champion Sheamus. Jericho’s selfless act in helping elevate this stale mid-carder would become the theme of the nine-month run of the ayatollah of rock and rolla!

Jericho hit his stride by feuding with CM Punk. The feud with Punk came at the perfect time in Punk’s career. Punk was at a crossroads and with all of the WrestleMania attention focusing on John Cena and The Rock, Punk was on the verge of being stuck in a meaningless match on the biggest mania in years. Thanks to Jericho, Punk wound up a key part of the show and wrestled a match that most agree was one of the best on the event.

The entire feud with Jericho and Punk was a showcase in the brilliance of Chris Jericho. Jericho brought out the aggressive side of Punk which helped elevate the WWE champion’s character into a different direction. Jericho also brought prominence back to the WWE title picture, after a disappointing series with Punk and Alberto Del Rio. As much as people love to put Punk on a pedestal, you need to two to tango. I don’t think there was anyone in the company that would have strengthened Punk as much as Jericho did.

Jericho’s selflessness was what made this work. Jericho had no problem putting Punk over on successive shows. Jericho had no problem looking like an idiot when necessary in order to get Punk and the feud over. Jericho didn’t hold back or work softer as a bitter veteran being used to elevate the young up and comer. Instead, Jericho worked his butt off and gave Punk arguably his best series of matches up to that point. Jericho and Punk’s match at Extreme Rules is regarded by many as the 2012 WWE Match of the Year.

But it wasn’t just CM Punk. Jericho did a similar favor for Dolph Ziggler on the way out. Jericho could have chosen to work with an established veteran but instead saw a great worker that was stuck in the middle. Jericho worked just as hard and maybe even harder with Ziggler as he did with Punk. Their match at SummerSlam was arguably the best on the show. By giving Ziggler back the win the following night, Jericho positioned Ziggler to take the next step on his ascension to the main-event.

Jericho recently said this on his SummerSlam match with Ziggler.

They wanted to start the show off with a bang, and I don’t care if I go on first, last, in the middle, whatever. But if I’m going on first, I’m gonna be going out there to make a statement and kick it off with a bang, and I don’t want anybody to be able to follow it. I think the LA crowd was primed; SummerSlam is a big deal, they’ve promoted it and done a great job of making it the second biggest pay-per-view of the year, and the crowd was crazy. And honestly, it’s fun to kind of end off that last run as Y2J, as a good guy, after being the hated heel for basically the better part of four years.”

Jericho didn’t just come back for the big pay day. Jericho came back to do what many of the greats did for him as an up and comer. Jericho came back to help build the future of the WWE. How many other WWE superstars in Jericho’s position would be that selfless? The legacy Jericho has left on this last run with the WWE may have more impact in the long run than anything else Jericho has done in the WWE over the course of 13 years. If more talent in Jericho’s position took his same selfless attitude, the WWE could be in a much better place today.

And for that, I would call Jericho’s WWE run a huge success.

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric’s work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University’s Fox School of Business.

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