Sunday, October 6, 2019

Top Ten Things: Chris Jericho Matches

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things, here at  Since it's WrestleMania weekend and I'll be watching The Show of Shows with the band Fozzy, I thought I'd count down the ten greatest matches of The Ayatollah of Rock n' Rollah himself, Chris Jericho!

A friend asked me a few years ago, "If you could be any wrestler, who would you be?"  And my answer was "I gotta go with Jericho.  Think about it, the guy had two dream careers growing up - pro wrestler and rock star - and goddammit, he got to do BOTH of them."  Jericho is one of those "complete package" wrestlers - athletic, innovative, charismatic, and a promo-cutting machine.  He has the uncanny ability to reinvent himself whenever he needs to, adding new layers to his character and churning out quotable lines and catchphrases with staggering frequency.  "Ever - E-E-E-EEEEVERRRR be the same againe," "Trashbag ho," "Would you please shut. The hell. Up," "I am the best in the world at what I do," "Drink it in, man," and "You just made the list" are just a sampling of Jericho's more memorable promo moments.  He's gone from an obnoxious rock star character to a soft-spoken sadist to a scarf-wearing hipster, and yet every new wrinkle he adds still fits the overall Jericho persona.

But today I'm here to talk about his accomplishments in the ring.  Jericho's turned in so many classic bouts over two-plus decades that picking just ten was quite a challenge; just when I thought I'd narrowed it down I'd remember another great match I'd forgotten about.  So a couple favorites like Jericho vs. Juventud at SuperBrawl, or the fantastic Ladder Match with Shawn (Yeah I know) just missed the cut.  I'm sure not everyone will agree with this ranking but here it is.....

10. Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Jericho - Unforgiven - 9.23.01

The much-maligned Invasion Angle will never win any awards for booking, but it did produce some classic matches, such as this show stealer.  Rob Van Dam had debuted in the WWF two months earlier and became the hottest star in the company, winning a blazing feud against Jeff Hardy before moving on to Jericho.  Their Hardcore Title match at Unforgiven was a searingly intense battle full of weaponry and aerial tactics, and ultimately RVD finished Y2J with the Five-Star Frog Splash to retain.

9. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho - Unforgiven - 9.7.08

The best feud of 2008 was undoubtedly Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels.  After a babyface return in late 2007, Jericho quickly turned heel again in early '08, modeling a new persona after the character of Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men.  Jericho became soft-spoken, sullen, and sanctimonious, insisting that born-again Christian Shawn Michaels was a hypocrite who didn't follow his own beliefs.  Their feud was intended as a one-off match that spring but stretched over nearly six months.  The best match of this saga in my opinion was the non-sanctioned street fight at Unforgiven, which sprung from an incident at SummerSlam.  Jericho invited Michaels and his wife Rebecca to his talk show, and their bickering led to Jericho accidentally knocking Rebecca out with a punch.  This was fairly tame by Attitude Era standards, but in the new PG Era it was treated as a huge deal, and the two wrestlers played it to the hilt.  Their fight was brutal without being bloody, and it ended via ref stoppage when Michaels had beaten Jericho unconscious.

8. Chris Jericho vs. Rey Mysterio - The Bash - 6.28.09

One of the best feuds of 2009 pitted the two former WCW Cruiserweights against each other, this time for the Intercontinental Title.  Jericho and Rey had a series of PPV bouts that climaxed with this relentless 15-minute Cruiser-style match.  The aerial moves, reversals, and move innovations on display here were breathtaking, and the action crisp as hell.  With each bout in this feud it seemed like they'd never be able to top it, and somehow they did anyway.  Rey would regain the belt in this Title vs. Mask match, but Jericho came out of this feud with yet another year-stealing series on his resume.

7. Steve Austin & Triple H vs. Chris Jericho & Chris Benoit - RAW - 5.22.01

One of the greatest of all Monday Night Raw matches, this Tag Team Title bout pitted the new heel tandem, The Two-Man Power Trip, against the Canadian Chrises, in front of one of the most nuclear crowds in the show's history.  For two months Austin and Triple H had run roughshod over the roster, and it was up to the unlikely Benoit-Jericho alliance to stop them.  This wild battle raged all over the ringside area for the better part of twenty minutes until Triple H famously tore a quad muscle.  But that didn't stop him from taking a painful Walls of Jericho on the announce table before the Canadian underdog team scored a stunning upset and the crowd exploded in cheers.  Jericho still considers this one of his best-ever matches, and rightfully so - this was an incredible brawl.

6. Triple H vs. Chris Jericho - Fully Loaded - 7.23.00

In a year when the WWF was firing on all cylinders, Triple H was at the time arguably the top in-ring main event talent, having graduated from a rebellious degenerate to a prodigious ring general.  His feud with WWF newcomer Chris Jericho started that April, when a fast-count by the referee cost Triple H the WWF Title, before the decision was overturned.  Jericho and Triple H would collide at Fully Loaded (one of the best top-to-bottom PPVs I've ever seen) in a Last Man Standing match.  What with WWE's currently safer, less violent style, the LSM gimmick today is far less exciting than it was in 2000.  These two wrestlers threw everything they had at each other, and like Triple H had done six months earlier against Cactus Jack, Jericho proved he could hang with the top WWF stars in a main event match.

5. CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho - WrestleMania XXVIII - 4.1.12

Here's a match that to this day doesn't get enough props.  On a show headlined by a massive Rock-Cena dream match, and featuring an epic Triple H-Undertaker Hell in a Cell, it seemed like a lot of people simply failed to notice the ****+ classic that got wedged between them.  But the straight-edge WWE Champion and his cheapshot-taking challenger put together an absolute show stealer, with some palpable drama at the beginning (Punk would lose the Title if he got DQ'd, so Jericho repeatedly taunted him about his family issues to try and provoke a DQ), escalating into spectacular counter-wrestling and multiple finishers into reversals into finishers.  For my money this was hands-down the Match of the Night at WrestleMania 28, and it proved Jericho could still deliver a classic anytime he wanted to.

4. Rock vs. Chris Jericho - No Mercy - 10.21.01

This was the match that elevated Chris Jericho to a WWF main eventer.  For the previous two years he had struggled to rise past upper-midcard status, but on this night he bested The Rock for the WCW Title in a spectacular 24-minute war, turning heel in the process.  Sadly the company hotshotted the belt back to The Rock only two weeks later, but this match proved Jericho could hang with the WWF's top stars and deliver a classic main event.

3. Kenny Omega vs. Chris Jericho - WrestleKingdom 12 - 1.4.18

Jericho sent shockwaves through the industry in late 2017 with the revelation that he'd be jumping to New Japan and wrestling outside WWE for the first time in 18 years.  His NJPW debut against Kenny Omega was a car wreck of a match, featuring big, brutal high spots and plenty of palpable animosity.  I was amazed how much time this got and how many false finishes there were.  The action ranged all over the ringside area, including a missed Omega top rope dive onto the English announce table.  This was one of Jericho's best matches in years and his chemistry with Omega was off the charts; it felt like the WWE creative shackles were off and he was free to cut loose.  The bout was full of creative spots and gasp-inducing moments until Omega retained at the 34-minute mark, capping off an incredible war.

2. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho - Royal Rumble - 1.21.01

At the 2001 Rumble, I-C Champ Chris Benoit defended the strap in a Ladder Match against one of his greatest rivals, serving as the climax of an on/off feud that had raged for 10 months.  These two delivered probably their best-ever match here, creating inventive spots and establishing a gritty, realistic tone throughout.  Aside from a slightly anticlimactic finish, this was probably the best singles Ladder Match since HBK-Razor, and easily one of the best matches of 2001.

1. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho - WrestleMania XIX - 3.30.03

WrestleMania 19 was a stacked card by any definition, and one of the main reasons was this classic student vs. teacher-type bout, where Shawn proved himself just as good as before he walked away from the ring in 1998, and Jericho proved himself just as good as Michaels (no small feat by any stretch).  This was a dazzling mix of aerial wrestling, mat technique, and plain ol' drama.  Personally I thought Jericho should've won, but his kick to Shawn's junk after the match was a great exclamation point on a fantastic bout - one that still ranks as my favorite of his.

And that's my Chris Jericho top ten list.  Thanks for reading - comment below and join us on Google+ and Twitter (@EnuffaDotCom)

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