The Return of Y2J: Breaking it down with John Canton
After a 15 month absence, Chris Jericho ended months of speculation and rumors by making his return to the WWE on Monday night. Much like they did for Jericho’s legendary WWE debut in 1999 and return following an extended break in 2007, the WWE had been airing cryptic vignettes the past few months indicating the future arrival of a certain wrestler. I was ecstatic once it became clear that these videos were indeed for Jericho, as he is without a doubt one of the most talented and entertaining wrestlers of this (or any) era, and his presence will only make “The Road to WrestleMania” all the more exciting.
To break down the return of Y2J to the WWE, I recruited John Canton, an expert on all things WWE and fellow Jericho enthusiast to get his take on the situation. John is the owner and editor in chief of "thejohnreport.net" (http://www.thejohnreport.net/), one of the preeminent sites for wrestling information on the web. For those of you who happen to miss an episode of RAW, his weekly “RAW Deal” columns are must reads. John gave me his thoughts on the return of Jericho, possible angles we might see him in, and how long his new run with the WWE will last.
Q: Overall thoughts on Jericho’s behavior on his return to RAW Monday night and what are your predictions on where the WWE will go with this in the coming weeks?
A: I liked it. I thought it was a different kind of promo. When I wrote about it live, I was expecting him to cut this full on babyface promo for a few minutes before ripping on the fans and turning heel on them. Instead, he came out, he smiled, he laughed and then he did nothing before leaving. It pissed off a lot of people while others like myself are laughing about it because it was a level of genius. I assume he'll cut a heel promo on Raw this week. It's not like you can do this no talking thing every week...or can you? I don't know where it's going really. Wait and see.
Q: The rumor mill has Y2J facing CM Punk at this year’s WrestleMania. Thoughts on the possibility of a Jericho/Punk feud and how/when this will kick off (i.e. at the Rumble)?
A: In my opinion they're the two best WWE performers of the last four years. Obviously Jericho was out for over a year, but in 2008 and 2009 he was the best. Seeing them in a feud will be the early highlight of this year for me. I'm glad that I will see it live at WrestleMania when I go to Miami, assuming it actually happens. There are a lot of ways for them to start interacting whether it's on Raw or something stemming from the Rumble after Punk wins the match against Ziggler at the Rumble. I assume Jericho has a hand in the booking like he does for a lot of his angles, so I trust it will be good.
Q: After reading Jericho's 2nd book, it was apparent that him and “The Rock” have a good relationship and enjoy working together. Any chance we see them wrestle against each other again? Maybe play off the fact that Jericho has never stopped talking about the night he beat Rock/Austin in the same night to become the first Undisputed WWE Champion?
A: I think it's likely. Jericho holds Rock in high regard because Rock was the one that put him over as a top guy a number of times before anybody else did, so that's where that closeness comes from. I'm sure that over the years they have talked about working together again. I think it will happen. Sure, it would be nice to see them work with the younger guys and I think that can still happen, but there's nothing wrong with another one or two Rock-Jericho matches. For nostalgia sake I'd love to see it.
Q: Given his various outside interests, how long do you think Jericho will be active in WWE this time around?
A: I'm not sure what his contract is. It's not like pro sports when an athlete signs and you know how long they are going to stick around. Since he is now 41 years old, I'd imagine that he'd only stick around for two or three more years. He also has his band Fozzy as you mentioned, so he'd have to work around whatever commitments he has to his group. I'd guess that he stays in WWE for another two years, maybe three with a part time schedule at various points. A lot of times wrestlers will be given a schedule based on the number of shows they work, so I'm sure if he asks for two months off in the summer to go tour with Fozzy that they can do some injury angle. This third return is likely his last one, meaning he'll work a few more years and then retire soon after that. Let's enjoy it while it lasts. I missed him while he was gone. I am happy that he's back.
Q: Jericho has now had three major buildups marking his debut (1999) and returns ('07, last Monday) to the WWE. If you had to evaluate them in order (in terms of hype, quality, suspense, impact), how would you rank them?
A: The first one was the best. I was so excited to see him finally in WWE after being treated poorly in WCW. The countdown clock was great, the anticipation was building for it and when he finally arrived he had that memorable promo showdown with The Rock. It's probably the best debut in WWE history. I think the second return was just okay at best. He didn't do that great in the babyface role. Then he turned heel in 2008, had that feud with Michaels and proved that he was the best in the world. This recent return was better than the second one, although it's still too new to fully judge or rank properly. As I've said I'm excited to see where it's headed.