The viral marketing campaign that has marked the eagerly anticipated return of the former unified world champion has kindled memories of other saviors (or at least huge build ups) that, quite simply, did not pay off.
Do not get the idea I am equating Chris Jerichoâ<80><99>s ability, positively or negatively, with these workers – just compare the build up to the pay off.
In 1987, Lex Luger left Florida Championship Wrestling for the bigger money and greater exposure of Crockett promotions. For Lex, it was exactly the right move at exactly the right time. For the Florida territory, it was Waterloo. Luger, in two short years, had moved from unknown former USFL football journeyman through fellow Hiro Matsuda trainee with Dewey Forte to the number one draw in a successful, albeit dying, promotion. The promotionâ<80><99>s answer was to find another Luger. A big, handsome, muscular tough-guy who could step seamlessly into the role. They brought in Scott Hall. Save Us indeed.
This was the lumbering, Tom Selleck Scott Hall fresh from his AWA Tag Title run with Curt Henig. Hall was brought in with incredible fanfare including the requisite bikini-clad babes (this was Florida, after all) meeting him at the airport as his Lear Jet landed – all to take him to the FCW contract signing. No disrespect to Hall, the company itself was bought by Crockett promotions and Hall became the regrettable Scott â<80><9c>Gatorâ<80> Hall character before eventually launching himself into the stratosphere by parlaying â<80><9c>The Diamond Studdâ<80> into â<80><9c>Razor Ramon.â<80> But, alas, he was not the savior of Florida Championship Wrestling.
As I am sure you remember, 10 years ago Bret Hart cut ties with the WWF to join WCW (insert video of Bret writing WCW into the air following Montreal screwjob). This was to be the piece de resistance of the Monday Night Wars. WCW had landed almost every top WWF star and lumped them into the nWo. Bret joining this august bunch was to seal the fate and win the war. Eric Bischoff went as far as singing â<80><9c>Oh, Canada!â<80> on a Nitro broadcast to welcome The Hitman in.
Bret Hart never jelled in WCW. He did his best. Worked incredibly hard. Was a friendly and professional presence backstage. But he was not the savior. In fact, rumor has it that the WWF bought out WCW in 2001. Obviously, none of the blame for the failure of WCW lies with Bret Hart, but, his signing and much ballyhooed jump did not save the company. We are still waiting for Elisha.
WCW tried to bring Glacier in as some sort of next-big-thing in 1997-1998 (yeah, two years worth). That angle, that character, that storyline – stone cold (no pun intended).
And on perhaps the most tangential note and arcane reference ever, the AWA was not saved despite the ridiculous hype given to Johnny â<80><9c>Crashâ<80> Rich in 1984. Enough said.
Chris Jericho is expected to make his return this evening on Raw. The impact that he will have will not be known until at least Wrestlemania. Will the live crowd pop? Absolutely. Will he be as entertaining as he has ever been? No question. Will the first two or three weeks see an increase in ratings? Maybe. Will Rawâ<80><99>s rating increase year to date because Chris Jericho is back? No. Will buy rates increase? No. Will house attendance increase? Eh, maybe 2% for the first month.
Chris Jericho is an immensely talented guy. His ring and mic work at times were the, and I mean THE, highlight of every show he was on. But Jericho did not prove to be a great draw as world champion and any main event feud he had was deemed a mid-card feud that was elevated without cause.
Chris Jericho would add gravitas to TNA like you would not believe. He would (and will) become the star of the WWE mid-card to upper-mid-card roster. Sorry Jerichoholics, he is not the savior. Just the subject of an admittedly brilliant build-up and T-shirt campaign. Ladies and gentlemen, Jerichoâ<80><99>s drawing power has left the building.
Donâ<80><99>t forget to check out the forums here on Wrestlezone.com. Iâ<80><99>ve got my own â<80><9c>questions forâ<80> thread and will be happy to tackle anything you throw in. Fire away!