30 Years of Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho has been one of the faces discussed for the Mount Rushmore of Professional Wrestling for at least the past 10 years. Jericho has always transformed himself every-time he returns to the ring, never wanting to become stale. October 2, 2020 was the official 30 year anniversary of Chris Jericho in the wrestling business. His current company All Elite Wrestling (AEW) wanted to celebreate this with an entire show dedicated to his storied career on the October 7, 2020 edition of AEW Dynamite. However, AEW is only a small piece of his storied career.
Jericho has always said that as a kid he wanted to be two things, a rockstar and a wrestler. At the age of 17 he had a long conversation with Jesse "The Body" Ventura about getting into the business and then applied to the Hart Brothers School of Wrestling only to find out he had to be 18 in order to apply. Jericho would bide his time for a year until he could get into the Hart Brothers School of Wrestling and would instantly be one of the standouts at the school. Jericho was the first guy in and the last guy out every day and would even go so far as to get his own key to the Acadamy in order to train anytime he wanted. Once his training was finished Jericho would move to Mexico in order to learn the lucha libre style and gain the experience of working in different parts of the world. From 1993 -1995 Jericho would work for the oldest wrestling promotion in Mexico, Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL). At CMLL Jericho would go by the name Corazón de León ("Lion Heart") and would catch the eye of Smokey Mountain Wrestling promoter Jim Cornette. Cornette would team Jericho with his former training partner Lance Storm as the "Thrill Seekers". The top feud for the "Thrill Seekers" in Smokey Mountain was with the legendary tag team the "Rock n Roll Express" before Jericho would exit the promotion in late 1994.
Jericho would continue his world traveling by going to Japan and working for Wrestling And Romance (WAR). Jericho would use his training and experiences gained in Japan and return to the States in 1995 by debuting with Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), a Philadelphia based wrestling promotion that had gained a massive underground following. Jericho would enter ECW with two of his best friends, Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit. Jericho would make a name for himself in ECW by winning their Television Championship from Pitbull #2. Jericho would get himself noticed in ECW enough to be offered a contracted by World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in August 1996.
Jericho would make his WCW debut on August 26, 1996 on their weekly juggernaut Monday Night Nitro against Alex Wright. He would make his Pay Per View debut at Fall Brawl 1996 against Benoit in a losing effort. During his time in WCW Jericho would win the WCW Cruiserweight Championship four times and the WCW World Television Championship once. During the latter point of his time in WCW Jericho would feel that there was a ceiling that was reached by the mid-carders in WCW but they could not go any higher. His main reasoning for this is because of the high money guarenteed contracts that the main event players had, and the fact that many of those main eventers had creative control over their characters and decided who they would lose to. These reasonings would cause Jericho to not renew his contract in the summer of 1999.
Jericho would sign a contract with WCW's main competiton World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in the summer and make his WWE debut on the August 9, 1999 edition of Monday Night Raw interupting The Rock during a promo in the ring. Many fans thought this type of a debut would present him as a main event wrestler in the WWE, but this would not be the case, yet. His first major feud in the WWE would be against "The Ninth Wonder of the World" Chyna for the WWE Intercontinental Championship. They would have multiple battles for the Championship. Jericho would defeat Chyna at Armageddon 1999 to capture his first Intercontinetal Championship and his first Championship in the WWE. The two would continue to battle for the Championship in the December 1999 and would become Co-Intercontinetal Champions during the month. They would battle at the January 2000 Royal Rumble Pay Per View for the Championship where Jericho would gain sole custody of the Intercontiental Championship.
Jericho would follow this Championship win up with a feud against "The Canadian Chrippler" Chris Benoit. During this feud, Jericho would lose his Championship to European Champion Kurt Angle at the February Pay Per Veiw, No Way Out. This feud would lead to a Triple Threat match at WrestleMania 2000 for both the European and Intercontiental Championships between Jerichio, Benoit, and Angle. During this contest Angle would lose both championships with Benoit pinning Jericho to caputre the Intercontinental Championship, and Jericho pinning Benoit to capture the European Championship. Jericho's reign as European Champion would not be a storied one as he would drop the Championship to Eddie Guerrero the following night on the April 3, 2000 edition of Monday Night Raw.
Following his loss to Guerrero on Raw, Jericho would have another of his career defining moments on the the April 17, 2000 edition of Raw in State College, Pennsylvania. Jericho would defeat Triple H for the WWE Championship after referee Earl Hebner cost Triple H the Championship. The decision would be reversed later in the telecast and Triple H would be reawarded the WWE Championship. This moment has been memoralized as the first time fans took Jericho seriously as a championship contender.
Jericho would win his third Intercontinetal Championship from Chris Benoit on the May 4, 2000 edition of SmackDown, but would lose the Championship back to Benoit four days later on the May 8, 2000 edition of Raw. Jericho would have a brief feud with Triple H that led to a Last Man Standing match at the Fully Loaded Pay Per View where Jericho would fail to answer the ten count and lose to Triple H.
Jericho would reignite his feud with Benoit over the Intercontinetal Championship that would lead into 2001. The two would face off in one of the most memorable ladder matches at the 2001 Royal Rumble. One of the most memorable moments in the match was when Jericho would apply his pattented submission hold the Walls of Jericho to Benoit on the top of the ladder to secure the championship for the fourth time. Jericho would sucessfully defend the Championship at WrestleMania X-7 but would drop it to Triple H on the April 5, 2001 edition of SmackDown.
Jericho would create a tag team with rival Benoit and compete in a Tag Team Turmoil match at the Judgment Day Pay Per View to earn an oppurtunity at the World Tag Team Champions "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and Triple H the following night on Raw. Benoit and Jericho would win the Championships on Raw in one of the greatest Tag Team Championship matches of all-time, but would not continue their feud with Austin & Triple H due to Triple H tearing his quad during the contest. This would leave Triple H out of action until January 2002. During their first defense of the Championships on the following edition of SmackDown on May 24, 2001, Benoit would sustain an injury to his neck that would later be discovered as a broken neck. The team would lose the Championships to the Dudley Boyz on the June 21, 2001 edition of SmackDown, and would compete against eachother and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin at the June 24, 2001 King of the Ring Pay Per View. This match would be Benoit's final match for over a year as he would get neck fusion surgery not long after the event.
Jericho would join team WWE in the Invasion angle where former WCW and ECW stars invaded the WWE to try and takeover the promotion. Jericho would begin a feud with fellow team WWE member The Rock which would lead to a match for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship at the October 21, 2001 No Mercy Pay Per View, At the event Jericho would defeat The Rock for the Championship marking the first official time Jericho would hold a World Championship in WWE. Jericho would lose the WCW Championship back to The Rock on the November 5, 2001 edition of Raw. Jericho would almost cost team WWE their match against the Alliance, a team of WCW and ECW stars, at Survivor Series where the winner would have control of the WWE. Jericho would go on to have his career defining moment at the December 9, 2001 Vengance Pay Per View when he would defeat The Rock and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin in the same night to win both the WWE and WCW World Heavyweight Championships to become the first Undisputed Champion.
Jericho would go on to feud with The Rock for the Undisputed Championship into 2002 but would ultimately lose the Championship to Triple H in the main event of WrestleMania X-8. His feud with Triple H would continue when he would cost Triple H the Undisputed Championship at Backlash and would lead to a Hell in a Cell match at Judgment Day on May 19, 2002. Jericho would have some feuds through the summer but nothing major of note other than a feud with up and comer John Cena. Jericho would win the Intercontinetal Championship for a fifth time from Rob Van Dam on the September 16, 2002 edition of Raw. He would lose the Championship to Kane two weeks later on Raw.
Y2J would enter the tag team division again by teaming with Christian and would defeat Kane and The Hurricane for the Tag Team Championships on the October 14, 2002 edition of Raw. Ultimately, Jericho and Christian would lose the Championships at Armaggeddon in December to the Dudley Boyz.
As 2003 came into focus Y2J was in a strange perdicament with not much of a story in focus. With the recent return to full-time wrestling of Shawn Michaels, WrestleMania XIX in Seattle, Washington was looked at as the perfect tourch passing moment, Michaels and Jericho would have one of the most well-recieved and loved matched in WrestleMania history. After the match concluded, Jericho would embrace his mentor, as the crowd cheered, only to turn and give a swift kick to Michaels' family jewels. This moment put Jericho in an instant top level as a heel in WWE.
After his feud with Michaels ended, Jerchio entered a feud with former WCW rival Goldberg who had just entered the WWE for the first time. The feud began with Goldberg being runover by a limo and Co-GM of Raw "Stone Cold" Steve Austin beginning a search for who did it. Austin would put Jericho's former partner Lance Storm in a match with Goldberg, and after he was defeated would announce that Jericho was the perpatrator. This would lead to a match a Badd Blood where Goldberg would defeat Jericho to end the feud.
Jericho would win his sixth Intercontinetal Championship from Rob Van Dam on the October 27, 2003 edition of Raw only to lose the Championship back to Van Dam in a steel cage match on the same edition of Raw. Jericho would close 2003 with an on-screen romance with Trish Stratus that would lead to the jealousy of tag team partner Christian. This would lead to a match between Jericho and Christian at WrestleMania XX on March 14, 2004. Jericho would lose the match when Stratus turned on him to give Christian the win. Jericho would get his revenge later in 2004 when he would defeat Christian for his record seventh Intercontinetal Championship in a ladder match at Unforgiven on September 12, 2004. Jericho would lose the Championship to SheltonBenjamin at Taboo Tuesday on October 19, 2004.
2005 looked to be a year of researgence for Y2J as he would start the year competing for the World Heavyweight Championship in an Elimination Chamber match at New Year's Revolution on January 9, 2005. Jericho would be one of the first two competitors in the match along with Benoit, and would eliminate Edge before being eliminated by Batista. As WrestleMania 21 approached Jericho did not have a feud to speak of. Jericho would pitch the Money in the Bank Ladder Match to Raw GM Eric Bischoff. The Money in the Bank Ladder Match would consist of six wrestlers (Benoit, Edge, Jericho, Benjamin, Christian, Kane) competing in a ladder match with a briefcase above the ring. The briefcase would hold a contract for a World Championship match for the winner anytime they wanted in the next calendar year. Edge would go on to be the eventual winner of the inaugural bout.
In the months following, Jericho would challenge . Bejamin for the Intercontiental Championship at Backlash unsuccessfully, and would face former partner Lance Storm at ECW One Night Stand, an ECW reunion show run by WWE. As the summer approched, Jericho began a feud with WWE Champion John Cena by turning on Cena in a tag team match against Christian and Tyson Tomko. This would lead to a Triple Threat match between Christian, Jericho and Cena for the WWE Championship where Cena would retain. Cena and Jericho would battle for the Championship again at Summerslam where Cena would once again retain. Jericho would battle Cena one more time for the Championship the following night on the August 22, 2005 edition of Raw. This match would be a "You're Fired" Match. Whoever lost the bout would be fired. Jericho would lose once again to Cena and be fired by Raw GM Eric Bischoff ending his six year run with WWE.
Many fans wondered if Jericho would ever return to WWE. In the fall of 2007 videos began to run on Raw with codes showing up and would reveal a new letter every week. The code would reveal on the November 19, 2007 edition of Raw to say "Save Us Y2J" and Jericho would return to "save the WWE fans from Randy Orton". Orton had just began a reign as WWE Champion. Jericho would battle Orton for the WWE Championship at the December 16, 2007 Pay Per View Armaggeddon. Jericho would lose the match as SmackDown commentator John "JBL" Layfield would attack him resulting in a disqualification win for Jericho. This would lead to a feud between JBL and Jericho that would end at the January 27, 2008 Royal Rumble where Jericho would hit JBL with a steel chair resulting in the DQ lose.
On the March 10, 2008 edition of Raw Jericho would defeat Jeff Hardy for his eight Intercontinetal Championship. At Wrestlemania XXIV Jericho would compete in another Money in the Bank Ladder Match and be unsuccessful again. Y2J would be the special guest referee in a match between Batista and Shawn Michaels at Backlash. Michaels would win the contest after feigning a knee injury to give him time to hit Batista with Sweet Chin Music. Jericho would begin to doubt that the injury was legit and try to find ways to prove Michaels wrong. Eventually Michaels would say he feigned the injury. Jericho would begin to call Michaels a hipocrit and throw him headfirst into the Jeritron 6000 causing an eye injury to Michaels. At the July 20, 2008 Great American Bash Pay Per View Jericho would attack the eye injury causing Michaels to bleed profusly. Michaels would go on to cost Jericho the Intercontiental Championship to Kofi Kingston at the Night of Champions Pay Per View.
Y2J and Michaels would have one of the greatest feuds in WWE history. At Summerslam 2008 Michaels would enter the ring to announce his retirement, but the segment would end with Jericho trying to punch Michaels but instead hitting his wife Rebecca. This would cause Michaels to accept a match against Jericho at the Unforgiven Pay Per View but it would only be allowed if Michaels signed a wavor absolving WWE of any blame if Michaels injury got worse. Michaels would beat Jericho within an inch of his life, but this would not be the end of Jericho's night.
In the main event Jericho would enter the Championship Scramble match for the World Heavyweight Championship as a replacement for World Champion CM Punk who was attacked earlier in the night, and medically unable to compete. Jericho would get the pin on Kane and be the final pin before the bell to claim the World Heavyweight Championship. Jericho would battle Michaels for the championship at the October 5, 2008 No Mercy Pay Per View in a ladder match. Jericho would defeat Michaels in the bout and retain his Championship.
At the Cyber Sunday Pay Per View on October 26, 2008 Jericho would lose the Championship to Batista in a match refereed by "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Jericho would regain the Championship in a Steel Cage match on the November 10, 2008 edition of Raw. He would lose the Championship to a returning John Cena at the November 23, 2008 Survivor Series, and would lose his rematch at the December 14, 2008 Armaggeddon Pay Per View.
Entering 2009 Jericho launched into a feud with WWE Legands "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, and Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat. This would lead to a 3 on 1 Handicap Match at WrestleMania 25 where Jericho would battle the legands on his own. Jericho would defeat the Legands but be knocked out by Hollywood Superstar Mickey Rourke.
Jericho would be moved to the SmackDown Brand in the WWE Draft and start a feud with Intercontinetal Champion Rey Mysterio. Jericho wanted to win the Champion but also wanted to take Mysterio's mask. Jericho lost the intial bout at Judgment Day, but would capture his record ninth Intercontinetal Championship from Mysterio in an No Holds Barred match at Extreme Rules on June 7, 2009. The finish to the match was perfect as Mysterio would go to hit Jericho with his 619 finisher, as this occurred Jericho would grab hold of Mysterio's mask and put him in a rollup to get the three count. Jericho would lose the Championship back to Mysterio at the June 28, 2009 The Bash Pay Per View in a Title vs Mask match. Jericho would go for the same move as he did at Extreme Rules by ripping Mysterio's mask off, only to find out Mysterio was wearing an additional mask and hit the 619 on Jericho to win the match and the Championship.
After his loss of the Intercontinetal Championship Jericho would team with Edge to win the Unfied Tag Team Championship from The Colons in a Triple Threat Tag Team match that also included The Legacy (Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBease Jr.) later on the card in The Bash. This Championship team would not last long as Edge would tear his Achilles Tendon and be on the shelf for 6 - 12 months. Jericho would get another partner and keep hold of the Championships when he teamed with Big Show at Night of Champions on July 26, 2009. The team later dubbed JeriShow would hold the Championships until they would drop them to D-Generation X at the December 13, 2009 TLC: Tables, Ladders, and Chairs Pay Per View in a Tag Team TLC Match.
Jericho would enter 2010 by competing in the Royal Rumble match. He would make it to the final four only to be eliminated by the returning Edge, who would go on to win the match. Jericho would then be placed in the Elimination Chamber match for the World Heavyweight Championship. Jericho would be one of the final competators in the match with The Undertaker. Shawn Michaels would appear from under the steel pannelling and hit his Sweet Chin Music on The Undertaker and give Jericho his fourth World Heavyweight Championship reign. Jericho would begin a feud with Edge over the Championship, and the fact that Jericho claimed Edge was injury prone harkening back to their reign as Tag Team Champions. At WrestleMania XXVI Jericho would battle Edge for the World Heavyweight Championship and would defeat Edge in the bout. After the match concluded, Edge would Spear Jericho through the barricade.
Jericho would lose the Championship to Mr. Money in the Bank Jack Swagger on the April 2, 2010 edition of SmackDown. He would be sent to the Raw brand in the WWE Draft and team with John Cena, Edge, Bret Hart, John Morrison, and Daniel Bryan at the August 15, 2010 SummerSlam Pay Per View against the Nexus stable who had been running rampent over Raw . Jericho felt he should be leader of this team and along with Edge attacked Cena during the match at SummerSlam, which the team would go on to win. Soon after this Jericho would go on another hiatus from WWE,
Y2J would make his return to WWE on the January 2, 2012 edition of Raw and wouldn't say a word until the January 23, 2012 edition where he would announce himself for the Royal Rumble. At the Rumble Jericho would lose the match as he was the last eliminated by Sheamus. He would begin a feud with WWE Champion CM Punk the following night on Raw. The feud would center around the fact that Punk's father was an alcoholic and that he was one drink away from being one himself. Jericho would dump a bottle of Jack Daniel's on Punk giving him his first drink of alcohol in his life. This would lead to a match at WrestleMania 28 where Jericho would challenge Punk for the WWE Championship. Punk would retain the Championship here and in the rematch in a Chicago Street Fight at the Extreme Rules Pay Per View on April 29, 2012.
Jericho would enter a feud with up and comer Dolph Ziggler in the summer that would lead to a match between Jericho's WWE Contract and Ziggler's Money in the Bank breifcase. Ziggler would get the win and Jericho would leave WWE for the remainder of the year. The Ayatollah of Rock 'n' Rolla would return in the 2013 Royal Rumble match and continue his feud with Ziggler as he was eliminated from the match by Ziggler. WrestleMania 29 would bring Jericho against the debuting Fandango in a losing effort and by June Jericho was on another hiatus from the company.
Jericho would resurface on the June 30, 2014 edition of Raw and be attacked by the Wyatt Family. He would battle all three members of the Family over the course of the summer and ultimately lose the feud to Wyatt in a Steel Cage match on the September 8, 2014 edition of Raw. He would then launch into a feud with Randy Orton and would lose the feud at Night of Champions. Jericho would work sporadically over the course of 2015, mainly working house shows.
He would return to full-time televsion work on the January 4, 2016 edition of Raw and declare for the Royal Rumble match for the WWE Championship. Jericho would last over 50 minutes in the contest only to be eliminated by Dean Ambrose. He would launch into a series of matches with the recently debuted AJ Styles that would create the tag team Y2AJ. Before the Y2AJ shirts on WWEShop could ship to those who bought Jericho would turn on Styles and would lead to a match at WrestleMania 32 where he would pick up the victory.
Jericho's next feud would begin with the fact that his signature talk show the Highlight Reel would be replaced by Dean Amrose's Ambrose Asylum. This would lead to Ambrose challenging Jericho to an Asylum match (a Steel Cage match with weapons hanging on the cage walls) at the Extreme Rules Pay Per View in which Ambrose would emerge victorious. Jericho throughout the rest of 2016 would have a feud with Randy Orton and then allign with new WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens toward the end of the year.
Jericho and Owens would battle WWE United States Champion Roman Reigns in a Handicap match for the Championship on the January 9, 2017 edition of Raw which would see Jericho win his first United States Champion becoming a Grand Slam Champion in the process. Jericho and Owens would be one of the most entertaining teams in WWE history and began planting the seeds for a great feud between the two. Jericho offered Owens up to Goldberg at the March 5, 2017 Fastlane Pay Per View where Owens would lose the Universal Championship. This loss would be followed by the Festival of Friendship where Jericho would be gifted the List of KO and see his name on the list, followed by a vicious attack by Owens. This would lead to a match for Jericho's United States Championship at WrestleMania 33 where Owens would win the Championship.
At the Payback Pay Per View in April Jericho would regain the Championship only to lose it back to Owens on the May 2, 2017 edition of SmackDown. Following the bout Owens would powerbomb Jericho onto the ring apron causing him to leave the arena on a strecture. This wouls be Jericho's last major feud in WWE. His final apperance would come at the Greatest Royal Rumble event in Saudi Arabia on April 27, 2018 where he would enter as the 50th entrant but lose the match to Braun Strowman.
Once Jericho finished his dates with WWE he would be a free agent for the first time since 1999 and go to his roots by returning to Japan. He would join New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) and battle Kenny Omega at the yearly January 4 Tokyo Dome show Wrestle Kingdom 12. Jericho would lose to Omega in the five star rated bout. At the Dominion 6.9 in Osaka-jo Hall show on June 9, 2018 Jericho would capture the IWGP Intercontinetal Championship. He would hold the Championship until Wrestle Kingdom 13 on January 4, 2019 where he would drop it to Tetsuya Naito.
On January 8, 2019 Jericho would announce that he had signed with the new wrestling promotion All Elite Wrestling (AEW) and would begin work as soon as their shows began. At their first show, Double or Nothing, he would defeat Adam "Hangman" Page to become the first AEW World Champion. His reign was a storied one as he would defeat many challengers from Page and, Cody Rhodes but would drop the Championship to Jon Moxley at AEW Revolution on February 29, 2020. Jericho has stayed a main fixture on AEW television even without being the Champion and would be in main events throughout 2020.
Chris Jericho will go down as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time and a performer not afraid to transform to be relevant. Thank you for 30 amazing years Chris. We apperciate you and your career.