Judging by his mugging of Randy Orton on WWE Raw, it looks like Chris Jericho will spend the foreseeable future battling with The Viper. They will surely produce some thrilling encounters, but that will not detract from Jericho’s fourth failure in consecutive pay-per-views to win a world title.
At Sunday’s WWE Over the Limit, he was pinned by defending champion Sheamus in a fatal four way that also featured Alberto Del Rio and his new nemesis Orton.
Having retired due to injury at the Elimination Chamber, and after losing cleanly against CM Punk at Wrestlemania and Extreme Rules – this latest loss may signal the twilight of his distinguished 22 year career.
Since coming to the WWE in 1999, the Canadian grappler has come and gone, but has managed to re-invent himself with relative ease. Each one of his returns has been greeted with much fanfare; but he needs to deliver something special to leave fans wanting another coming of Y2J. Reports suggest he will leave in August to tour with his band Fozzy.
But what is left for the WWE to do with Jericho? He is a six time World Champion and in 2001 he became the first-ever Undisputed World Champion. He is also a record nine-time Intercontinental Champion, and the fourth WWE Grand Slam Champion.
Nonetheless, many feel there is one thing left for him to achieve – that is sealing his legacy as an all-time great. Despite his accolades, WWE Champion CM Punk delivered a damning indictment of Jericho’s career earlier this year. During a heated exchange on Raw, Punk reflected on Jericho’s achievements and said “you were never really the man”.
There is some validity to Punk’s claims, and this is largely down to nature of Jericho’s title reigns. For example, the WWE Universe is always reminded that Jericho beat The Rock and Stonecold on the same night to become the first-ever Undisputed World Champion. However neither victory was clean. He beat the People’s Champion with a low blow, and overcame the Rattlesnake because of interference by Booker-T. He used another low blow on the Rock to retain the title at the 2002 Royal Rumble, while interference from the nWo helped him beat Stone Cold at No Way Out a month later.
In 2008 his title win’s also carried a fair share of controversy. At the Unforgiven pay-per-view he scored a sneaky win in the Championship Scramble match. With the time-limit coming to an end, Jericho snuck in the ring to pick up a pin-fall over Kane who had already been knocked out by Batista. Also to kick start his second reign that year, he beat Batista in a cage match by hitting him with a screw he’d detached from the cage.
Furthermore his most recent capture of the World Title also barred question marks. He pinned the Undertaker at the 2010 Elimination Chamber – but only after Shawn Michael’s interfered and hit the Dead Man with a dose of Sweet Chin Music.
For Chris Jericho, the devil is quite literally in the details. Despite his accolades, he has never been a dominating champion in the ilk of Stone Cold, Triple H, or The Undertaker. He could have achieved this on his current run by capturing the title and complimenting it with a string of solid victories. He still has the chance to do this should he leave in August – but it looks unlikely. He may need another run, and he may need to modify his persona once again, but whether that will happen remains to be seen.