On June 22, 1996, Pitbull #2 was upended in a match for the ECW World Television Championship. It was his opponent’s first championship in North America, and announcer Joey Styles noted that fact, stating that while it may have been his first title in the United States, it sure wouldn’t be his last. Little did he know how right he’d be.
One time ECW Television Champion. Four Time WCW Cruiserweight Champion. One time WCW Television Champion. Two time WCW Champion. One time each a WWE Hardcore and European Champion. Three time WWE World Tag Team Champion. Two time World Heavyweight Champion. A record eight time WWE Intercontinental Champion. Not to mention the first ever WWE Undisputed Champion, uniting the WWE and WCW Championships by defeating The Rock and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in one night.
I’m talking, of course, about the one and only Chris Jericho, a man who is not only athletically gifted, but full of the charisma that makes a professional wrestler a true superstar.
Christopher Keith Irvine was destined for this. As a young boy, he and his father, former NHL player Ted Irvine, would bond over AWA wrestling when it would come throuh their hometown of Winnepeg, Manitoba, Canada. He would soon becom a fan of Hulk Hogan, and when the then-WWF started coming to town instead of the AWA with Hogan as their Champion, he became enamoured with the larger than life personalities of the World Wrestling Federation. But enough with the early life biography, you can read all about that in Jericho’s book, “A Lion’s Tale: Around The World In Spandex.”
Instead, we’re here to make a case for Chris Jericho to go into the WWE Hall of Fame after his career winds down. Joey Styles, indeed, saw the potential that Jericho had when he pinned Anthony Durante’s shoulders to the mat that night in June of 1996. I think those of us who were ECW fans saw a little bit of it too, but it wasn’t until Jericho took his trade to WCW that we were truly treated to the great performer that he could be.
Whether he was reading off a list of 1,004 holds (including the The Moss Covered,Three Handled Family Gredunza and, of course, the Armbar!) to mock “Deano-Machino” (Jericho’s pet name for Dean Malenko) or getting lost on the way to the ring in a parody of Goldberg’s entrance, Jericho proved to be a consumate entertainer on top of being an athletically gifted in-ring competitor. Through his WCW tenure, he collected trophies, including Juventud Guerrera’s mask, Prince Iaukea’s Hawaiian dress, a headband from Disco Inferno, and Malenko’s Cruiserweight Championship.
Jericho soon grew tired of the backstage antics that plagued WCW and longed for the greener pastures of the World Wrestling Federation. He claims that he knew he was leaving WCW a full year before his contract was up. In 1999, a “Countdown To The New Millennium” clock that seemed to be counting down to an earlier date started to pop up on WWF television. On the August 9, 1999 edition of Monday Night RAW, The Rock was in the middle of calling out The Big Show when the mysterious clock appeared again and ran down to zero. Chris Jericho had come to save the WWF!
Over the next few years, Jericho proved that he could manipulate the crowd’s emotions with the best of them. He was loved as a face, hated as a heel, and eventually captured several championships in the organization. When World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. purchased Jericho’s former employer, World Championship Wrestling in early 2001, it was clear that eventually the WCW and WWF Championships would be united into one Undisputed Championship. After several failed bids to secure the WWF Championship, Jericho finally won the WCW Championship. On December 9, 2001, Jericho would regain that title against The Rock and earn a shot at “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s WWF Championship later that night in a unification match. Jericho finally won the big one, defeating Austin for the WWF Championship to become the first ever Undisputed Championship – a Hall of Fame claim in and of itself.
In 2005, Jericho left the wrestling business to focus on touring with his band Fozzy, becoming a stage actor, hosting an XM Radio show, appearing on several VH-1 shows, among other things.
Jericho returned to the ring in November of 2007, quickly earning a shot at Randy Orton’s WWE Championship. Failing in his bid to take the title (thanks to JBL) didn’t slow him down though – he quickly regained the Intercontinental Championship. After Shawn Michaels retired Ric Flair at WrestleMania XXIV, Jericho began to feud with Michaels, turning heel in the process and ditching the goofy “Y2J” persona in favor of a more serious Chris Jericho, who called out the fans on their hypocrisy while winning two World Heavyweight Championships and the Slammy award for 2008 Superstar of the Year.
Where will Chris Jericho go from here? My guess is several more championships and the WWE Hall of Fame are in his future.
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