I will freely and cheerfully admit that when he returned one year ago with the unfortunate â<80><9c>Save Usâ<80> viral marketing campaign, I thought it would fail. I was right. It did. Jericho did not seem himself. Gone was the cocky but uber-funny heel with the ridiculously coifed coif. Standing before us was a 37 year-old man who looked and worked like he really wanted to be anywhere else but in the ring again.
And it showed. Jericho – Chris Jericho, of all people, was over like a fart in church.
Then something happened. Shawn Michaels happened. As an unabashed mark for all things HBK, I was not surprised to see that Jericho would appear to be over. Pretty much anyone slotted with Shawn Michaels seems over because, well, theyâ<80><99>re working with Shawn Michaels. But Jericho seemed invigorated by the feud. He had been a heel before (honestly, he was almost always a heel before) but this was no pussy-heel character. This was a serious heel. I mean, he punched Whisper right in her Macyâ<80><99>s Day balloon lips. The recoil alone must have sprained Jerichoâ<80><99>s shoulder.
Jericho and Shawn Michaels were the most compelling â<80><9c>superstarsâ<80> on WWE programming. Sometimes they were the ONLY compelling â<80><9c>superstarsâ<80> on said programming. Their work, not unexpectedly, was close to perfect. They both told a story in the ring as well as any two performers of recent memory. Taken in concert with their work on the stick, we are talking about wrestling nirvana – feud of the year? Quite possibly.
But the WWE could not leave well enough alone.
A very smart man once remarked, â<80><9c>Why build just one when you can build two at twice the price?â<80> In other words – if Jericho is so over with Shawn Michaels, just think of how much more over he will be as World Champion against Batista!
In the wrestling biz, this is known as hot-shotting an angle. Sure some will argue that putting the strap on Jericho the same night he ended the feud of the year is not hot-shotting. Those people would be wrong. I can hear last weekâ<80><99>s creative meeting now:
â<80><9c>Ya know, after â<80>~Unforgiven,â<80><99> Michaels is staying home for a while. Weâ<80><99>ve got to do something with Jericho.â<80>
â<80><9c>How about have him chase Punk for title?â<80>
â<80><9c>Nah, Punkâ<80><99>s not over enough.â<80>
â<80><9c>How about we feud him with Orton?â<80>
â<80><9c>Again? Besides, Ortonâ<80><99>s tied up with the new kids.â<80>
â<80><9c>How about we kick start him and Kingston so he can get the Intercontinental Title back?â<80>
â<80><9c>Kingston? Heâ<80><99>s not still champion, is he?â<80>
â<80><9c>Iâ<80><99>ve got it! How about, out of the clear blue sky for no discernable reason, we completely pull our world champion out of the match we have advertised him in for a month and replace him with Jericho and then, and then, and then…put the strap on Jericho!â<80>
â<80><9c>Brilliant! Consider it done. Now what to do about Jamie Noble…â<80>
Thus the hot-shotting of Chris Jericho from the man who lost the Intercontinental Title (a belt now a prop in a comedy storyline) just two and a half months ago to world champion was accomplished. Not that Jericho does not deserve it – he does. But….now?
Jericho, via the Michaels feud, is again on top of his game. With the heat he has generated over the last 7 weeks, he could be slotted with anyone (within reason) and stay over. But now he is in the mix with the Modern Day Goldberg and keeping the belt off of wrestlers that may actually benefit from wearing it. Get the belt back on Punk (or on The Personal Demon Jeff Hardy when he come back to â<80><9c>Rawâ<80>) and let Jericho just be the bastard-heel we have enjoyed recently.
Oh, and book Flair vs. Hogan II: Ashley vs. Brooke for Wrestlemania 25 in Houston. Now THATâ<80><99>s hot-shotting we can believe in.