If there’s a better performer in wrestling than Chris Jericho, I’d like to know who it is.
Jericho has taken a program with no discernible payoff and made it into the most compelling thing on WWE TV. The citizens have figured out that Mickey Rourke won’t be wrestling Jericho. Randy the Ram’s honor will have to be salvaged in some other fashion. Every week Jericho trots out there with guys who have zero current relevance, and every week Jericho makes it work. Jimmy Snuka looked like he might dry up and blow away at any second, and Jericho MADE IT WORK.
A big part of Jericho’s success is that he hits a nerve. When Jericho says that we’re all hypocrites, that he’s the one who hasn’t changed, a part of us thinks he might be right. When Jericho sneers about the pathetic, hand-to-mouth life somebody like Snuka currently leads, a part of us agrees with him.
The best heel promos are laced with grains of truth, the better to unleash self-loathing, the better to hate him because he makes us hate ourselves. No one exploits that better than Jericho..
You can tell he’s far less scripted than most WWE performers because his words match his pacing and diction. Guys like Jericho, Shawn Michaels and Triple H sound like they’re talking; everybody else sounds like they’re trying to remember what they’re supposed to say.
Jericho is hardly inner-circle. I think he’s far from Vince McMahon’s most beloved employee. But he stands up for himself. He’s shown he can live – and live well – without wrestling, and thus won’t do anything that scuttles his character or storylines. Jericho has a total grip on what’s best for him, but doesn’t use that to diminish foes. He’d be a wonderful booker – which means he’ll never get a chance to do it.
I have no idea where this storyline is going. I doubt Jericho does and, in fact, I bet McMahon doesn’t.
The word I get is that Rourke jumped the gun with his red-carpet “challenge” to Jericho. WWE wanted things kept quiet until Rourke had put pen to paper. But when Rourke spilled the beans, his advisers (and all of Hollywood) said “no, no, no” and Rourke backed off.
That left the storyline with no place to go. The only truly logical man to stand in for Randy the Ram would be Ric Flair, but he won’t do it. Roddy Piper would be a reasonable replacement, but Jericho already chewed him up and spit him out. Hulk Hogan could do it, but he’s too broken down. Steve Austin could do it, but if Stone Cold ever does one last match, WWE doesn’t want to hastily staple it to this angle with minimal time before WrestleMania. Austin’s return deserves better. (That’s assuming Austin ever wrestles again. I bet he doesn’t.)
There’s really no one else. Some have suggested Greg Valentine, the inspiration for Randy the Ram, but no one remembers him. Jerry Lawler is a safety valve (he represents Randy the Ram more than he’d like) but he’s on WWE TV every week and has returned to the ring too many times via convoluted angles. It just wouldn’t be special.
It’s a shame. Jericho’s build for this angle has been impeccable. Unless Rourke changes his mind, it’s all for naught.