Friday, July 29, 2011

My Favorite Wrestlers Ever: #1

Photo Credit:

What, you were expecting Jey Uso?

Chris Jericho
Five Favorite Matches: with He Who Shall Not Be Named vs. Triple H and Steve Austin on RAW in June May 2001, vs. The Rock at Vengeance 2001, vs. Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XIX, vs. John Cena on RAW from England in 2009, vs. Edge at WrestleMania XXVI
Five Favorite Moments: Naming all 1004 of his holds on Nitro, verbally sparring with The Rock upon his debut, Unifying the WWF and WCW Championships at Armageddon 2001, that video he did with Delirious at the West Virginia indie show, punching Shawn Michaels' wife in the face

My fandom of Chris Jericho started innocently enough during an episode of Hardcore TV. He was defending his ECW Television Championship against Pitbull #2. It wasn't exactly the best match, mainly because #2 wrestled like he was a #2, but there was something about the guy with the long blond mane and the rockstar charisma that made me curious, and curiously enough, made me a fan of ECW from that day forward. I kept tuning back into ECW hoping to find Jericho, but he was gone to WCW by that time. Being a WWF fan, I only really nominally watched WCW back in those days, which sucked for me because I did miss out on a lot of good first-run Jericho. But I still got enough of a whiff of him there that when he debuted in the WWF in mid-1999, I was excited.

It didn't take very long for that excitement to turn into a full-blown mancrush, one that lasts until this day. Every time he held a microphone in his hand, he made sparks fly. That was a maxim from day one, when he came out, confronted The Rock and held his own with the WWF's most established mic worker, maybe the best in history. From there, he kept going and made himself must-see, even when he was saddled with shit to work with (see, co-Intercontinental Champions with Chyna). He got the crowds riled up on the stick, and then in the ring, he'd deliver with exciting fare that gave the WWF a taste of what he, along with his cruiserweight colleagues, did largely to no due from his bosses in WCW.

While screaming hordes of fans will tell you otherwise, Jericho was way more appreciated by his bosses in WWF/E than he was in WCW. Yes, everyone will tell you that he was buried, or that he was misused. Looking back at it, he was the guy who unified the titles. He had blazing hot feuds with The Rock and John Cena. When he came back after his three year hiatus, he won six more titles, was in showcase feuds with Shawn Michaels, Cena, Batista and Edge. He was given incredible free reign on the microphone, and he'll probably end up in the WWE Hall of Fame unless he murders someone or shits on Vince's shoes or something. I think that's a pretty good career, even if he had a couple of feuds where they totally did him ZERO favors (the one with Triple H going into WrestleMania X-8 being the biggest example).

To harp on him always being "buried" is to denigrate his career contributions, especially in some of those cases (his first WWE exit at the hands of John Cena being the most famous example), it was HIS idea to be "humiliated". You want to remember him for being treated badly? Go ahead, but that's not how I choose to remember him. He's my favorite of all time, not because he was a trendy cause celebre, but because the man was, and when he comes back, still is, one of the most entertaining personalities and gifted ring generals of all-time.

He shoots holes in the theory that wins and losses and Championships define a wrestler. Yeah, that may be moot now with his six World Championships, nine (NINE!) Intercontinental Championships, several tag titles and other accolades, but do you think people will define him by the titles he won? I mean, when Triple H comes before the carpet for his all-time judgment, you know one of the first things that'll be put in his plus column will be the 14 World Titles. For Jericho, I bet a thousand bucks it'll be the ARMBAR promo. Or going back and forth with The Rock. Or to use a later example, giving Shawn Michaels' wife a severe case of accidental (?) sockjaw at SummerSlam in 2008. He's the guy who will be remembered as the performer, not necessarily for his dick length in titles and achievements.

That's why Jericho is my favorite ever. That's why, until King of Trios this year, Jericho's t-shirt was the only one that I'd ever owned. It's because he got what pro wrestling should be about, and he embodied it (and will continue to embody it eventually, once he's done being a rock star for the time being). For that, I thank Y2J for being awesome, for being the Ayatollah of Rock 'n Rollah and for deciding that hey, being a wrestler was the career choice for him.

The Full List
1. Chris Jericho
2. Steve Austin
3. The Rock
4. Austin Aries
5. Hulk Hogan
6. Bret Hart
7. Bryan Danielson
8. Eddie Guerrero
9. Randy Savage
10. Dusty Rhodes
11. Tommy Dreamer
12. Claudio Castagnoli
13. Davey Boy Smith
14. Christian
15. Roddy Piper
16. The Road Warriors
17. Stevie Richards
18. Jim Duggan
19. Ted DiBiase
20. The Miz
21. CM Punk
22. Yokozuna
23. Booker T
24. UltraMantis Black
25. Kurt Angle

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