On the 2nd of January, 2012, the WWE answered months of the cryptic “itbegins” vignettes with the return of the self-proclaimed “Ayatollah of Rock’n’Rolla,” Chris Jericho. The concept was interesting. Have a guy who everyone knows is a fantastic talker and who they want to hear talk and deny the privilege. Even if he was only going to rip the audience a new asshole the majority of the fanbase would rather that than have him just refuse to speak outright. It was something new, and I’m sure that people will debate whether it really worked or not. The problems with Jericho’s run didn’t start there.
The problem arises when you have a character you’re attempting to build strong fail to do what they say they are going to do. Jericho’s only words before the rumble were prophetic: “This Sunday at the Royal Rumble is going to be the end of the world as you know it.” The only thing that really ended was the steam Jericho had built, as the WWE instead veered from their initial concept for Jericho’s return by instead giving the win to Sheamus. While the rumble win was instrumental for the birth of Super Cena mark 2, it killed Jericho dead in the water.
Imagine, for instance, that Jericho had gone on to win the Royal Rumble. The WWE had decided to keep Jericho silent. Even after he won, no long winded promos or gloating. What if he had just vanished for a month? The speculation regarding where he was would’ve been intense. This would’ve avoided having to have him in matches on TV or on the card for Elimination Chamber. If he had returned while Punk was celebrating after the event and delivered a Codebreaker, or even just appeared after the end of the match having a stare-down it would’ve set up the Mania match.
Alternatively, the WWE could’ve used the time between the rumble and the elimination chamber to have Jericho stalk Punk in a similar style to how Sting stalked the NWO back in 1997, without the rappelling obviously. This would’ve added to the intrigue, especially if Jericho just watched Punk with no interaction. Just sitting and watching, whether it be back stage shots of Jericho watching Punk’s matches or watching from the commentary booth (but not actually commentating).
“The Best In The World” storyline did make a lot of sense, but it would’ve made more sense and had a stronger build if it hadn’t’ve been diluted by Jericho’s failure to win the Rumble as well as his unofficial defeat in the Elimination Chamber. I’ll give WWE their due here though, when I was watching that I seriously thought that it might’ve been real because it was extremely well done (when Jericho was stretchered away from the arena). However, regardless of how well done it was, it was the wrong thing to do in the first place.
Those were the main issues with his failure to win the Rumble, but moving past that. The teased feud with Randy Orton was a disaster no-one could have foreseen. Orton was suspended for violating the wellness program (again), then Jericho himself was suspended for the flag kicking incident in Brazil.
The next thing I’d like to bring up is the feud with Dolph Ziggler. I liked it. I liked Jericho’s face turn as well, although I thought the official announcement that Y2J was officially brought back was awkward to be said. It didn’t need to be said, when he started using the catchphrases and general Y2J-isms the audience would’ve puck up on that without it being drilled in to their head like they were idiots.
The main issue with this feud was its’ ending. Jericho, as a babyface, loses clean to a heel in a career v contract match? Who on earth decided this was a good idea? First of all, wouldn’t the stakes for this match have been much higher if it had been on Summerslam as opposed to happening on Raw after being announced with pretty much no build-up? An obvious question is this as well: why was Ziggler put over clean? To build him as being better than Jericho I’m guessing was the logic, but the WWE really missed a trick in regards to getting Ziggler heat by having him clock up a cheap win.
This is what should have happened. The stipulations are set for Summerslam: career v MiTB briefcase. You’ve got serious stakes on the line which has been built up in the natural course of the feud. You have Jericho put Ziggler in the Walls Of Jericho and Ziggler taps, but the ref is distracted by Vickie Guerrero so he doesn’t see Ziggler tapping like crazy. Jericho breaks the hold to get the referee’s attention, but ends up having a shouting match with Vickie. While this is going on Ziggler recovers to roll up Jericho while grabbing the tights. 1-2-3. Jericho’s been screwed and his career “ended” while Dolph Ziggler gets a ton of heat for getting rid of Jericho by using classic heel tactics.
The next night on Raw you could’ve had Ziggler gloating, interrupted by Jericho who shows the replay saying that he had Ziggler beat then he had to cheat to beat him. AJ then comes out and tells Jericho that, even though it was extremely unfair and that she’s sorry to do it, Jericho lost the match and per the stipulations is fired. Jericho takes the mic and says that he accepts that, but tells Ziggler that at some point down the road, he will be paid back in full for what happened before leaving.
Not only would it have been better for all concerned, it also would’ve set up a return match down the line. The general consensus is that Jericho will be coming back sooner rather than later, so if he left being screwed by Ziggler what better way for him to return that to be seeking revenge for having his career “ended”?
Was Jericho’s run in 2012 a complete disaster? No. But was it all that it could’ve been? No.
Jericho still had memorable moments and brilliant matches, and proved that even though he might be advancing in years he really still is one of the best in the world at what he does. Personally, I cannot wait until Raw is Jericho once again.
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