The list of Jericho has claimed many victims over the last few months. Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and even Tom Brady has made the list. Of all the names that have made the list though, none of them have packed as big of a punch as the one name that is on the list of KO. That name is none other than Chris Jericho.
Most folks likely would have expected the fallout to go down at Fastlane rather than the Festival of Friendship but nevertheless, the fallout was done well enough that it really did justice to the body of work that went into this storyline. Chris Jericho pulled out all the stops for his Festival of Friendship with Kevin Owens. It ranged from dancing woman, to an uncomfortable looking painting, and even an appearance from Gillberg. After Jericho delivered all of the pomp and circumstance that fans could stomach he proceeded to give a heartfelt speech of what Owens has meant to him. It was one of those types of promos where you can’t help but wonder if Jericho was speaking as much personally as he was in character. It was then Owens turn who handed Jericho a box which contained a new list, the list of KO. The onslaught was on from there as Owens put a pretty serious beat down on his former best friend which culminated with an apron power bomb and a smashed television. Jericho was headed to an ambulance and with that we are officially on the Canadian road to WrestleMania.
The timing of this makes Fastlane all the more interesting and for that some rare credit should be given to the creative team. Some folks may have assumed that the Fastlane Universal Championship match would be a squash match much like Goldberg and Lesnar’s Survivor Series match was. This writer’s thought (and perhaps wishful thinking) was that Lesnar would march down in the final moments and dash Goldberg’s championship dreams. Jericho now presents a different and maybe even more plausible dynamic. When they were still best friends, one could have thought that Jericho would inadvertently cost Owens the title and thus set up their Mania program. Now Jericho’s involvement is more of a revenge angle and his showing up at Fastlane is all but a certainty now. The other thing to remember with this whole falling out is Triple H’s involvement. With the whole Festival of Friendship it may have slipped under some folks radars that Triple H pulled Owens aside backstage and was seen discussing something with the Universal Champion. That bit backstage could just be window dressing in case Rollins isn’t able to go at Mania but nevertheless, it will be interesting to see if that played a role in Owens’ decision making in attacking Jericho. WWE has done a fairly good job recently of keeping even the most mindful fans on their toes.
Now, what this writer wants and what he thinks we will get can sometimes be two separate things. What is likely to happen is Jericho costing Owens the Universal title at Fastlane and thus setting the stage for a heated United States title match between the two Canadians at Mania. This is the standard way that WWE gets from one place to another in order to establish their matches. Now comes the opinion portion of this piece. My opinion is that everyone with wrestling knowledge is expecting Jericho to play a part in this match and rightfully so. What would put an exclamation point on Fastlane would be if we get that classic referee knockdown and Jericho comes down and exact his revenge on Owens. Jericho’s impact ultimately wouldn’t be the end of the match. Once the buzz of a Jericho sighting fades and the referee gets up off the mat, what a pop it would be from the crowd to hear Brock’s music hit as he comes down to lay waste to all parties involved. The Universal Championship match would end in a DQ, Owens would again retain his title in heel fashion, and the crowd would most definitely be given a fitting end to a pay per view which is commonly used as nothing more than a bridge between Rumble and Mania.
Owens may not be the champion that some folks wanted but his title run and friendship with Jericho has been the highlight of Raw throughout 2016 and into 2017. This run between the two Canadians deserves a marquee title match and a prestigious title on the flagship show deserves this story. The mic work between Owens and Jericho compared to Goldberg and Lesnar isn’t even a discussion worth having and yes that includes Heyman. Individually speaking, this is a spot that Jericho and his career truly deserves. Jericho made his WWE debut in August of 1999 and has since become the gold standard of re-inventing ones self. In an age where fans grow tired of the same old act, Jericho has continuously figured out a way to keep himself relevant and enjoyable to the WWE universe. An even bigger compliment to the future hall of fame grappler is that this is arguably the best year of his career. That just doesn’t happen for wrestlers in their 40’s and to not take advantage of that in a championship setting on the biggest show of the year is unfathomable to this writer. The pre-match promo for Jericho at WrestleMania could showcase snippets of everything from Y2J to the list and could really be a tip of the cap to Jericho. Even on a lesser level than Jericho is Owens who has garnered major heat from fans and has been one of the best heels on the microphone to grace a Raw ring since CM Punk (yeah, I said that.). His promo work has been great since he walked out onto the Raw ramp with the NXT title and began his feud with John Cena. All due respect to Lesnar and Goldberg, the Canadians have most definitely paid their dues this year and deserve that Mania moment.
Goldberg and Lesnar is a big enough match in name alone and Lesnar interjecting himself into Fastlane works in two ways. It first, adds a little more appeal to a Mania match that may have been already getting stale. They do not need the Universal Championsip title to make their match worth watching. Secondly, it finally gives Lesnar the upper hand in what has been a one sided rivalry. As previously mentioned though, what this writer wants is not always what we get but that is my two cents.