WWE Raw is Blog: In defense of Chris Jericho
Raw had two really great moments this week. One being the quite excellent match between C.M. Punk vs. Dolph Ziggler match, and the other being the return of Chris Jericho. I won't spend much time on the Title Match, since I think it can be explained as a great match with a very ridiculous finish. This finish wasn't bad in the sense that they screwed it up, it just put the Champion in a position to sell a spill over the top rope for a 10 count, and also accomplished more for John Laurinitis than it did Dolph Ziggler. Overall though, I'm really picking nits in what was a very compelling match.
The Jericho "Promo" was something that took a lot of balls. It was also the exact opposite of his last WWE return, and what I have concluded was a satire of it. In 2007 Jericho interrupted a Randy Orton "coronation" where he had announced that he had beaten everyone there is to beat and wanted "the torch passed to him." An actual torch runner was shown running to the building, who Jericho assaulted and made his grand entrance. It featured the same dimming lights, pyrotechnics, bedazzled Jacket and what ended up being a very banal promo.
The character was Y2J to the tenth power, and that character just didn't resonate with WWE audiences anymore, leading to a very lackluster few months. It wasn't until he turned heel that he made real progress, and I'd recommend you go back and watch that Raw segment and the heel turn that followed in his 2008 feud with Shawn Michaels. I think they add both context and background to what we saw tonight.
So, with that in mind, we fast forward to tonight. The ominous promos with the two kids were followed by all the trappings of the 2007 return.
- Bedazzled Tron Jacket and Rock Star Lederhosen
- Obsequious grin showing that Jericho never missed a teeth whitening appointment
- Dimming lights, explosions, and brightly colored tron images
They (WWE Writers and Jericho) were able to turn the big babyface wrestling return on its head, and in the process managed to intrigue half their audience and piss off the rest. The beautiful thing about it is that neither of those emotional responses is bad in the context of a wrestling program. Wrestling fans, despite the ritual bloodletting and self-flagellation that takes place every week in Social Media and Web Forums everywhere, are generally coming back the next week to see the follow up.
Jericho managed to pull of something quite brilliant in my opinion. He pulls the Y2J antics out of moth balls to suck people in, and then through some narcissistic facial expressions and self congratulatory crowd interactions, he is able to show his insincerity. The fact that Jericho was able to do that without words is rather extraordinary, in the sense that quite a few spoken word promos in WWE don't get that much information across. It also sets up a slower reveal of the character and his intentions. One of the primary criticisms recently of both WWE and TNA is that they run through characters and story lines at break neck speeds, so it is a refreshing change of pace to be left wanting more.
If you are conditioned by media and the internet to crave instant gratification, you probably hated this. As someone who has followed wrestling since childhood, and probably a lot more than I should, I enjoyed this return and the promise of a slower burn on the payoff. If he had come back tonight and cut a 20 minute promo to establish a character, there is a huge risk of prematurely sating fan interest. Taking the road less traveled and letting Jericho have an unconventional return allows for character development that normal debuting wrestlers aren't afforded. I look forward to seeing how the WWE and Jericho are able to follow up.
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