18 years ago to this day, Chris Jericho made THAT entrance into the WWE and the rest, as they say, is history. In order to drink in the 18th anniversary of Y2J’s debut, I take a short trip down memory lane and add my very own short list of what I deem to be just a few of the Ayatollah of Rocknrolla’s earlier stand out highlights in his esteemed WWE career.
On the 9th August 1999 the WWE paved the way for what is arguably one of, if not the, greatest debut of all time. As a teenager at the time who, I’m now shamed to admit, hadn’t watched much of WCW, I had no idea who Chris Jericho was. With one of the most ridiculous hair styles I’d ever seen, who was this guy wearing an open silver glitter ball type Jacket and leather pants?! Who was the guy who for weeks was behind the millennium count down clock during RAW is WAR. And was interrupting The Rock making fun of the Big Show’s “little bitty things he calls balls”?
Three minutes later, I was sold on Y2J, Chris Jericho. I knew exactly who this guy was there and then. Truth be told, I was sold the moment “Break The Walls Down” hit. His back facing the audience with his arms out wide by his side before mentioning five simple words; “Welcome to Raw Is Jericho”. With the Chicago crowd popping big time, Y2J Jericho had come to save the World Wrestling Federation.
Truth be told, I didn’t think the WWF needed saving. I was a huge fan of the product. I had dipped in an out of WCW but was never really sold on it at the time. After Jericho’s speech, which I feel dragged on maybe a little too long then it had to, I hated this guy. His job as a heel was done. I couldn’t tell you the number of times I have re-watched this debut over the years. Little did I know at the time what was to come from Y2J.
18 years ago today, Chris Jericho made his #WWE debut. And the rest, they say, is history… 🐐
Posted by pwstream on Wednesday, August 9, 2017
His first year on WWF Television saw Jericho, at first, struggle to make an impact following his hugely impact-full debut. However, he then found his feet in an impressive rivalry with Chyna where he became Intercontinental and then co-Intercontinental Champion. In a feud that saw him turn face. Moving onto a Triple Threat rivalry with Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle for the Intercontinental and European titles respectively, (in what was one of the most technically sound series of matches I’d ever seen at this time) Jericho solidified his position in the company as one of the top faces.
Fast forward to the April 17th 2000 Episode of Raw. The McMahon-Helmsley era was in full swing. And Chris Jericho was taking on the most hated heel of the era, Triple H, for the World Wrestling Federation Title. Never before had I been routing for one man to win the title. This coming from someone who usually routes for the heel characters, and I was a huge fan of Triple H. With the APA watching his back and a very fast Earl Hebner three count (after being pushed by Triple H) State College Pennsylvania as well as myself waking my parents up at around midnight on a Friday, were sent into raptures as Jericho became the WWF Champion for the first time… albeit not for too long as Earl Hebner was coerced into reversing the decision later in the evening before being fired on the spot by Triple H.
However, moving onto the end of 2001 and solidifying himself as a heel following the WCW/ECW Invasion angle, not only did Chris Jericho finally win the WWF Title, he also won the World Heavyweight Championship. Making history by becoming the very first WWF Undisputed Champion. Defeating both the Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin at Vengeance. What followed the night after on Raw saw Rick Flair hand both titles to what good old Jim Ross described to the world as an “egoholic” during a less than humble thank you speech.
From the moment he slightly changed his famous entrance stance. By sending his arms out one at a time by his side, the fantastic fire print jacket, classic smug look on his face to the moment he took out his piece of paper with a list, Y2J had the “little people” of the San Diego Sports Arena right where he wanted them.
The audacity to thank the two competitors, Stone Cold and The Rock for giving an “A1 first class effort” the night before. As well as the disrespect shown to Rick Flair as he thanked the other co-owner at the time, Vince McMahon. Furthermore, the self centered brilliance to thank himself and refer to himself as a “Super Duper Star” got the heat coming his way from the get go of his title reign. This was, until, he dropped it 3 months later at Wrestlemania 18 to the returning Triple H.
In 2003 at Wrestlemania 19, Jericho went one on one with Shawn Michaels. In what is not only one of this writer’s personal favourite Jericho matches, but Wrestlemania matches of all time. Going into the match the story centered on who the better man was. The Showstopper himself or Y2J, the man who stopped wanting to be the next Shawn Michaels and instead wanted to be the first Chris Jericho. Believing he had surpassed Michaels’ abilities. The bad blood between escalated at the Royal Rumble, both using their smarts to eliminate each other. The back and forth, the technical masterclass and the drama all spilled over into their classic Wresltemania 19 match. Where Michaels would end up winning the battle. However, Jericho got his Wrestlemania moment with the low blow following the two’s moving and respectful post match hug.
To Conclude, mannn!
There are many more highlights from his earlier career and many more since then of course. I couldn’t possibly put it all into one piece. Jericho has had many comings and goings during his career with the WWE. Whether it be touring the world with his band Fozzy, writing three books or interviewing guests on his own podcast. His returns to the ring and the ability to adapt and change his character, his look and catchphrases to this day is unique to the business and have always got people talking.
Whether that be the “Self Righteous Honest Man” gimmick, telling people to be quiet, calling them stupid idiots threatening them by putting their names on his list, Chris Jericho has been a joy to watch these past 18 years. And luckily for us all it doesn’t look like he’ll be stopping anytime soon. For this writer, Chris Jericho truly is and always has been “the best in the world at what he does”.