Chris Jericho returned to the WWE with fancy videos and a lot of fan fare in January. Depending upon who you believe we are watching the final days of Jericho’s return. A look back will have some questioning whether this was the best or worst of Jericho’s three WWE runs.
Jericho may have been his own worst enemy when it comes to judging his return. Jericho set the bar so high during his last run that it was almost impossible for him to make anywhere close to the same impact. Jericho’s feuds with Shawn Michaels and Edge as well as his transformation into one of the cerebral heels of this generation was simply brilliant. Anyone expecting that Jericho would repeat that same success this time around has to be disappointed.
Jericho also did numerous interviews between WWE runs where he himself set the bar high for his return. Jericho made numerous claims that he wanted to come back as a new character and had several great ideas for his return. Once again if you were expecting Jericho to reinvent himself during this run you would be disappointed.
But let me tell you why I think Jericho’s run was a huge success. Jericho did what most former big stars in his position are afraid to do, he put guys over. It would appear to me as he winds up his run that Jericho’s sole purpose for coming back was to help the stars of the future in and out of the ring. Jericho’s selfless run saw him elevate his opponents every time he stepped into the ring. To me, that is a huge success.
Most fans expected a feud with CM Punk when Jericho returned. Was it anywhere close to the level of intensity that his rivalry with Shawn Michaels had four years ago? No, but what rivalry in the last four years has been? What he did for CM Punk and now Sheamus on the way out is already paying off, especially with Punk. Not only did the feud deliver very good-great matches, it has given Punk the credibility he desperately needed going forward.
Take a look back at Punk before Jericho returned. Sure Punk was the WWE champion but who did he beat? He beat Cena yes, but the momentum started to fade, and it appeared that Punk was heading back towards the complacent middle of the card. I loved his matches with Dolph Ziggler, but beating Dolph isn’t going to help him (even if he did it numerous times in one match at the Royal Rumble). Who was left for Punk once he got past Dolph? Punk was staring irrelevance right in the eyes until the man with the lighted jacket walked back through those doors. I think it is fair to say that Sheamus was staring that same complacency in the eyes until Jericho jumped into that Fatal Four Way as well.
The right thing.