Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chris Jericho finally speaks, enters Royal Rumble

Long considered one of the greatest talkers in the history of professional wrestling, Chris Jericho returned to WWE on January 2, 2012 and did not say a single word until last Monday night, January 23.

What is he doing? Why has Jericho kept his mouth shut for the first time in his career? The mystery is one of the best things going on WWE's flagship show, Monday Night Raw.

Jericho's initial return after over a year away from wrestling (click here to read my blog about it) saw him come to the ring, soak in the cheers of the audience for 10 minutes and then leave. His next apperance the following week saw him come to the ring, soak in the cheers, then appear to break down crying and leave. His third appearance saw him finally compete in a match, a 6-man tag team contest. He teamed with Daniel Bryan and CM Punk against Dolph Ziggler, Mark Henry, and David Otunga. Midway through the match, Punk finally tagged Jericho in. He soaked in the cheers of the crowd, then promptly tagged Bryan in without doing anything and left.

All of that led up to Monday, Jan. 23. He was scheduled to host his famous interview segment "The Highlight Reel." He would usually come out and talk for a minute, interview a guest, then it would usually degenerate into some sort of brawl (depending on the guest). As the video above shows, he comes out, soaks in the cheers of the crowd, leaves and comes back with a t-shirt firing gun, takes the camera man's camera and shoots footage of the audience, then introduces a video package looking at his 13-year WWE career.

After the video ends, Jericho speaks his first words after 4 weeks of appearances: "This Sunday at the Royal Rumble, it's gonna be the end of the world as you know it."

What does that mean? What's going to happen at this Sunday's Royal Rumble pay-per-view? Jericho is entered into the 30-man over-the-top-rope battle royal event, with the winner receiving a WWE or World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania. Does he have some sort of trick up his sleeve?

Also, what does any of this have to do with Jericho's refusal to speak for the entire month of January? Why did he do that?

Right before he spoke, Jericho seemed to revert to his smarmy, smug heel persona he employed from 2008-2010. That character was arguably the best work of his career. His entire career, he had either been a care-free, happy fun-loving face character or a whiny, cowardly heel. They were both basically extensions of the other. With his last run, he transformed himself into a completely different character; a darker, methodical, brooding bad guy.

Up until he spoke, Jericho had seemingly been the original "Y2J" Chris Jericho and the crowds couldn't get enough of it.

In wrestling, you always want more questions than answers. If things are predictable and stale, then it's not as fun. When the mysterious promos started airing back in early December, everybody recognized that they were for Jericho. Even though they were purposely misleading, we all knew they were for him. We were excited to see him again, but there wasn't a lot of mystery to the videos, aside from their weirdness. It wasn't as fun. Since he's come back, it has been hard to figure out what his motivations are. If you don't say or do anything, nobody can figure you out. It's fun trying to figure out what he's doing.

Now we know he is headed into the Royal Rumble, and it is going to be the end of the world as we know it. What does that mean? I don't know and I am very curious to find out.

The Royal Rumble airs this Sunday, January 29, on pay-per-view.


Royal Rumble 2012: By the Numbers [YouTube video]

Top 10 Royal Rumble pay-per-view events [Under the Ring blog post]

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