Over the course of his near 30-year career, Chris Jericho has gone by many names. “Corazón de León” was bestowed upon him by the late Paco Alonso in CMLL, he was a ‘Thrillseeker’ with Lance Storm in Smoky Mountain Wrestling, a “Man Of 1,004 Holds” as he feuded with Dean Malenko in WCW, Mongoose McQueen in his early days of Fozzy, later became Y2J, “G.O.A.T.,” & “The Best In The World” in WWE. Now most recently fans, foes and friends alike know him as “The Painmaker” in New Japan or “Le Champion” in All Elite Wrestling, but let’s go back to the time he was known as Y2J, but only briefly, because if Jericho has taught us anything in wrestling, dwelling on the past is passé.
Y2J was the name that stuck with Chris post-Raw, Aug. 9, 1999, but the one that has really rung true when that countdown clock started was “The Millenium Man.” Each of Jericho’s monikers not only marks a point in Chris’ wrestling timeline, but nicknames only go so far. Jericho has reinvented himself so much that the word “reinvented” needs to be reinvented.
“It’s David Bowie. It’s been one of my inspirations since I was 25 years old, when you realize that you have this guy that’s a genius and who constantly changes what he’s doing,” Chris told us in July at Fight For The Fallen, “what he looks like to keep the fans guessing. ‘What’s Bowie’s next record going to be?’ Is it going to be ‘Electro’, is it going to be ‘Let’s Dance’, rhythm and blues rock, techno, be whatever. What look is he going to have?”
Doing such is what made Jericho an established star and truthfully, the catalyst of opportunity for wrestling talent to add the tool of leverage back in their tool box. Boom period or no boom period, he is the star that brought wrestling into its current form.
Chris Jericho at 49 years young, was my wrestler of 2019. Not Adam Cole. Not Jon Moxley. Not anyone else. I’ll even go as far as to say that it’s foolish to pick anyone but because he is the reason you’re seeing great talent like Cole and Cody receive their rightful time to shine. His decision to sign with AEW presented the casual or lapsed fan with another mainstream option and opened the eyes of the ardent fan to realize plenty of other choices available. He was and is the much-needed counterbalance to what has been the stagnancy of the WWE sterile. He is both The Keymaster and The Gatekeeper to the Zuul of creativity in wrestling. He loosened his tie and thus loosened the grip of those McMahons who are so quick to self-congratulate themselves for what they have so generously done for all of us groundlings.
Hell, why just stop at 2019? 2009 is when Chris got “serious” and slapped the smile off of himself (another reinvention). He heeled on Bob Barker for heaven’s sake. And if you really want to spin that big wheel of time, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan may have creaked open the door at the beginning of the decade for the leaner, athletic type of worker to get their long-needed spotlight, but it was Jericho who unlocked the rickety old thing the decade before.
Not a work, you should really thank Chris Jericho for what pro wrestling will be in 2020.