WWE is literally a place where the old are given preference over the new, as seen over the years in Royal Rumbles and Wrestlemanias. It is probably a workplace where you would want to work long-term, if you want to prolong your relevance over younger colleagues. We have seen some legendary superstars come and go and nobody remembers their second comings. We have had veterans take the spotlight away from upcoming superstars and bask in it for a fleeting episode before fading away into irrelevance again. What is the basis of Chris Jericho's continuous relevance though?
Here is a guy from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada that gets shot at for being shorter than the average build of a WWE World Heavyweight Champion but yet carried the gold six times and then more so with the Intercontinental Championship nine times. He has had fame and fortune ever since defeating the Rock and Austin in the same night in 2001 in San Diego, California, where coincidentally, was this week's Smackdown held. If you go by the numbers, Chris Jericho is a forty-five year old veteran who has had success with life outside the WWE and has had to adapt to coming back to the ring whenever called upon to carry a part of the company's back.
He has had multiple returns to the WWE over the years, not least the one in 2016, when he lasted over fifty minutes in the Royal Rumble and went on to have a strong showing in a feud with AJ Styles that squared their rivalry at two apiece at Wrestlemania 32. The very next night, he managed to enter a fatal four-way to determine a new number one contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Roman Reigns. Although Styles won the match pinning him, Jericho has remained strongly over with the crowd, getting into another major feud with Dean Ambrose recently. Culminating in this week's Smackdown tapings, where the show ended with the camera pinned at Jericho's face, berating Ambrose and his opponent for the night Sami Zayn for overpowering him and Kevin Owens after the match ended in disqualification. That for me has been Chris Jericho. Always has a following. Always gets face time on camera. And always keeps himself in and around the upper decks. For me, the following are the stories of Jericho's recent returns:
He is still able to perform at quite a high level relative to competitors his age: Jericho's ability in the ring had slightly diminished from 2014 to 2015. However, ever since 2016, his reduced work schedule has seen an upturn in his performance in the ring. He started his double underhook knee-to-the-spine a lot more now, and his stamina is still keeping up decently with younger and fitter superstars. He is also countering a lot more moves than his sporadic WWE returns in the past, which is always a good sign for a pro wrestler when your opponent's favorite move gets countered into the Walls of Jericho.
His creative story lines and promos always keep him relevant, and on-screen: It does not have to be the main event title picture. It can be a very good feud worthy of a main event on its own right. The latest tied to Ambrose it seems. For an example, just listen to his promo on Smackdown referring his presence to Haley's Comet once every seventy six years, while people like Sami Zayn comes in every once or twice a week. His previous classic promos on Bray Wyatt's so-called family, as well Shawn Michaels being a cheater, not to mention his extremely personal feud with CM Punk, and his earlier 'jackass' one-liners that headlined main events with the Rock and Stone Cold as well as Triple H, has kept him relevant all through these years. Some people might think the championship gold counts and wins count for a push, when mic skills are just as important to give the audience 'moments' to remember and keep yourself in and around the top for a long time.
His heel and face turns every three to four years: Keeps him fresh and highly relevant on the roster. In June 2008, he turned heel for the first time since 2005 by starting a personal feud with Shawn Michaels that led to their 'Feud of the Year' story line. He turned face again in 2012, the first time since June 2008 as pointed, by feuding with then Money in the Bank winner Dolph Ziggler. After making sporadic appearances and putting people over in the next few years, he turned heel again in 2016, by feuding with AJ Styles. One may ask, what is special about a turn? Every top superstar does it to keep themselves relevant. I would like to say that Jericho picks his moments a lot more efficiently and better than other superstars, because his turns end up culminating in feuds that either put him over or put others over but still keep him relevant for more major feuds to come. He got over in the Shawn Michaels feud which ultimately led to World Heavyweight Championship gold twice in 2008, and again in 2010 in the Elimination Chamber. The heel turn with Styles gave them both a Wrestlemania moment while giving Jericho his first Wrestlemania victory since 2010 on script. Keeps him relevant for another long feud with Dean Ambrose now perhaps? Not to mention his rivalry with Bray Wyatt too in the past, which was used to put Wyatt over in that feud.
When Chris Jericho is not with the WWE, he is busy being successful touring with his band Fozzy, and with a powerful voice like he has, which has been orchestrated by captivating moments on the mic with the WWE, who could deny Jericho success with a band? He has had a podcast 'Talk Is Jericho' with successful interviews featuring various WWE Superstars and their lives, from Kevin Owens to the Great Khali to Jerry Lawler. He has had highly successful musicians on his show like the band Queensryche, and Nicko McBrain from Iron Maiden. Jericho's success always stems from keeping himself relevant. That is the man Christopher Keith Irvine, or Chris Jericho, really is.
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