After a one year absence, Chris Jericho made his shocking return to WWE on the June 30 edition of Monday Night Raw, interrupting The Miz. His triumphant homecoming was short-lived, however, as Jericho was ambushed by The Wyatt Family moments later.
While being away for one year doesn’t seem like a long hiatus, a lot has changed in WWE since Jericho was last seen. The WWE and World Heavyweight Championship have been unified, General Managers are no more and a multitude of Superstars have arrived on the scene.
From The Wyatt Family to Rusev to Bo Dallas, a lot of fresh blood has come up through WWE’s developmental system NXT in the last year. Thus, it makes the list of potential opponents for a returning Y2J that much more exciting.
Chris Jericho is known for his shocking and exciting comebacks, but Bray Wyatt and his”family” decided to crash the party before it could even begin. The Wyatt Family was determined to make an impact by attacking Y2J his first night back and they succeeded in doing just that.
Jericho has stated numerous times in the past that he’s high on Wyatt and seen him as a potential breakout star for the last year or so. The two even worked a match together on the May 1, 2013 edition of NXT where Jericho emerged victorious.
The two had a good enough match together that it had fans anticipating a future feud between the two. Well, after a year of waiting, it appears the rivalry has finally come to fruition.
Wyatt, while elevated to top-tier status, lost a bit of his luster in feuding with John Cena earlier this year. He was made to look weak against Cena on various occasions, especially during their Steel Cage encounter at Extreme Rules.
Jericho has a track record for returning to put younger talents over and I have no doubt that’s why he’s back now. Their last few verbal exchanges have been excellent and I expect their Battleground bout to be an instant classic.
Coming off their massive victory over Evolution at June’s Payback pay-per-view, The Shield was one of the hottest acts in WWE. That’s what made their split the next night on Raw that much more shocking.
Seth Rollins’ betrayal of his Shield stablemates came as a major surprise since many expected either Dean Ambrose or Roman Reigns to turn heel and join The Authority, not Rollins. Rollins has settled nicely into his role in the last month and has already gained possession of the Money in the Bank briefcase.
With a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at his disposal at any place and any time of his choosing for the next year, it’s logical to assume that Rollins will be holding the title before long. Regardless of whether it’s before or after he wins the belt, a feud with Chris Jericho must be in order.
The two haven’t had much interaction in recent years aside from a brief Twitter war in late 2012. They also clashed in a six-man tag team match on the February 18, 2013 edition of Raw.
The styles of two the competitors would undeniably mesh perfectly and make for a very entertaining match. A win over Y2J could do wonders for the singles career of Rollins and legitimatize him as a threat to the main event scene.
Chris Jericho has noted on his “Talk Is Jericho” podcast in the past that he’s seen main event potential in various up-and-comers upon first seeing them. CM Punk and Daniel Bryan were two of the elite few that Jericho saw as future top stars from day one, both going on to achieve an ample amount of success in WWE.
Another individual that Jericho has been high on is Cesaro.
While their two television matches last year were nothing of note, they worked an excellent match during their 2013 tour of Japan. It showed just what both competitors are capable of when are given the time to go out and have a barn-burner of a bout.
Cesaro has been a star on the rise for the last several months. After getting massively over with audiences a part of The Real Americans, Cesaro parted ways with Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter to join forces with Paul Heyman.
Since forming an alliance with the founder of Extreme Championship Wrestling the night after WrestleMania 30, Cesaro has scored victories over the likes of Rob Van Dam, Sheamus, Jack Swagger and others. He’s also a strong candidate to win the upcoming Battle Royal for the vacated Intercontinental Championship at Battleground.
Once Jericho’s feud with Bray Wyatt runs its course, it’d be awesome to see these two talented in-ring technicians cross paths. Jericho could put Cesaro over in a big way and get him one step closer to winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Many saw Dean Ambrose coming out of The Shield as a top-tier heel, but with Seth Rollins being the one to turn his back on the WWE Universe when The Shield split up, Ambrose was forced to work babyface instead. While Ambrose may seem out of his element as a face, he has quickly won over the fans with his excellent mic work and incredible intensity.
His one-on-one feud with Rollins has been one of the highlights of WWE programming over the last month. Ambrose is well on his way to becoming one of the top faces in the company, but it’s only a matter of time before the former United States champion goes rogue.
When he eventually does, an Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho rivalry could be absolutely golden. Jericho is a master of the mic and has had his fair share of enjoyable verbal exchanges over the years with the likes of The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, CM Punk and others.
The two have yet to clash in singles competition, but can only assume that a match between the two would be just as excellent.
Chris Jericho, in storyline, credited the “Jericho wannabes” as the reason for him returning to WWE in 2012. He claimed CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler were copying him, but no one emulated Jericho more at the time than The Miz.
From the suits to the monotonous promos to simply being extremely egotistical, Miz drew similarities to Jericho’s 2008 heel persona in every way. It made fans want to see them clash that much more upon Jericho’s eventual return to the company.
The two briefly crossed paths in early 2012 and even formed a tag team together in 2010, but it wasn’t until 2013 that they had their first one-on-one match together. Miz and Jericho recently came across against each other on the June 30 Raw when both individuals made their respective comebacks.
Their match at the live event in Toronto on July 6 received rave reviews from fans, being called by some “one of the best matches of 2014 so far.” For as much flack as Miz gets at times, he’s had several great matches over the years and a feud with Jericho would produce a handful of them.
Miz has been directionless for so long that a feud with Jericho could give him something meaningful to do for the first time in ages. Both the matches and promos would be entertaining and it could help take Miz back to top-tier status.
Jericho is currently slated to face Bray Wyatt at Battleground, but here’s hoping a feud between Y2J and Miz is in the cards for later down the line.
I personally view Cody Rhodes as one of the more underrated talents in WWE today. He’s spent the last seven years of his career as a tag team wrestler, but not because he can’t flourish as a singles competitor.
He proved in 2010 and 2011 that he was more than capable of making it on his own in his various feuds with Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton and Booker T. He had an excellent reign as Intercontinental champion, holding the title longer than anyone else in the last 15 years.
He and Goldust had a good thing going as WWE Tag Team champions late last year before dropping the straps at the Royal Rumble event to The New Age Outlaws. The two teased breaking up, but Cody reinvented himself as Stardust and has since reunited with his brother in the tag team division.
As over as the Stardust gimmick is at the moment, I hope to see him ditch the face paint within the next few months. If WWE won’t give us the match the WWE Universe wants to see (him vs. Goldust), a feud with Chris Jericho would serve as a proper substitute.
There’s no doubting that Cody Rhodes is a very talented athlete and is capable of having a great match. The matches he and Jericho could have would be off the charts and help elevate Rhodes to the next level.
The chances of Stardust and Y2J feuding are slim, but the chances of Cody Rhodes vs. Jericho feud, however, are likely.
Bad News Barrett
Before it became WWE’s developmental territory in 2012, NXT was a competition and its own show on SyFy. It pit eight rookies against one another in attempt to find the next breakout star in WWE.
Being paired with rookie Wade Barrett was Chris Jericho, the reigning World Heavyweight champion at the time. The two were a perfect fit for each other and ascended to No. 1 in the weekly pro rankings once Daniel Bryan was eliminated.
Jericho led Barrett to victory in the inaugural season of NXT, but their working relationship ended there. Barrett banded the Season 1 rookies together to form The Nexus and run roughshod on the entire WWE roster, including Jericho.
The two had a one-off match in August 2010 with the stipulation that if Barrett lost, he’d have to leave The Nexus. After a very good matchup, Barrett reversed the Codebreaker into his Wasteland finishing maneuver to pin Jericho for the clean victory.
It wasn’t until the spring of 2013 that Barrett and Jericho clashed again, this time over the Intercontinental Championship. Despite that, the two competitors have yet to engage in a real one-on-one feud.
With Jericho back in WWE for the foreseeable future, here’s hoping Bad News Barrett is on his list of wrestlers to work with (once the England native gets back from his injury, of course).
Upon Chris Jericho’s WWE return in 2013, rumors ran rampant that he was scheduled to feud with Ryback going into WrestleMania 29. However, plans changed at one point or another to Jericho facing Fandango at The Show of Shows.
Many fans saw this as a step down for Jericho, but Y2J himself saw it as a challenge. If he could get a great match out of a soon-to-be enhancement talent on the grand stage, then he was capable of anything.
Jericho did his duty and put over Fandango at ‘Mania, but despite the strong momentum Fandango had in subsequent months, an untimely injury sidelined him from action for one month and he hasn’t been the same since.
Unlike Fandango, however, I see much more potential in Bo Dallas. He may come off as a comedy character at times, but he’s had his fair share of great matches down in NXT with the likes of Sami Zayn, Adrian Neville and Leo Kruger.
A match with Jericho would be no different.
The two could have a highly entertaining feud that could see Jericho take Dallas to the next level in WWE. He may never be world champion, but he certainly has the ability to make it higher up on the card if given the right person to feud with and Jericho fits the bill to perfection.
Seeing how both of them have been on top for so long, it’s mind boggling to think that Chris Jericho and Sheamus have never once feuded. Then again, timing is everything, so perhaps the timing wasn’t right for them to feud whenever Jericho returned to the company.
While they have yet to engage in a one-on-one feud, Jericho and Sheamus have history with each other dating back to the 2012 Royal Rumble. They were the final two remaining combatants in the bout, having an excellent back-and-forth battle that saw Sheamus come out on top.
They’d also collide in singles competition several times in the next few months including on the July 13 SmackDown that Jericho called one of his favorite matches of the year. That said, imagine how good of a feud these two could pull off and the matches they could have together.
However, the only way a real rivalry between them could work is if Sheamus were to be the heel. The Celtic Warrior’s face run grew stale a while ago and he’s in desperate need of a change of character.
Despite making a name for himself on the independent scene, many assumed that Bryan Danielson (aka Daniel Bryan) didn’t stand a chance of making it in WWE. However, he made a lasting impression his first night on NXT when he competed in classic against then-World Heavyweight champion Chris Jericho.
Although Bryan came up short against Y2J, he proved in defeat that he was here to stay in WWE. Though he’d later be eliminated from NXT and legitimately fired from the company, he wouldn’t allow any of that to prevent him from living out his dream.
Fast forward four years later and Bryan is one of the most popular Superstars in the entire WWE. He’s coming off a major WWE World Heavyweight Championship victory in the main event of WrestleMania 30, but is currently on the sidelines for an undisclosed amount of time with a neck injury.
Jericho has noted on his podcast in the past that he saw potential in Bryan from the first night they worked together. They’ve had only one other singles match since on the February 11, 2013 edition of Raw where Jericho once again emerged victorious.
Y2J even requested to work with Bryan going into WrestleMania this year, but was turned down when he discovered the former Ring of Honor star was already booked for the event. Even still, that doesn’t mean the two can’t collide when Bryan eventually returns to the ring.
It’s unlikely that Bryan will come back before Jericho takes another hiatus away from WWE, but I suppose anything is possible. Whether Jericho work as the heel or the two feud as faces, anything involving Jericho and Bryan in the same ring together is sure to be spectacular.
A rivalry between them would be especially interesting if it were over the WWE World Heavyweight title given Jericho’s past claims of being WWE’s first undisputed champion. Either way, this is one feud that WWE must make happen before long as it has the potential to be better than anything we’ve seen in years.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham “GSM” Matthews, is a journalism major at Endicott College. Visit his website at Next Era Wrestling, and “like” his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.