Chris Jericho is prepared to celebrate 30 years of life in Professional Wrestling. Jericho has wrestled all around the world, winning countless championships and gaining almost as many nicknames along the way. The 49-year-old from Winnipeg Manitoba is today recognised as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, with the diversity to pull off any role. But who is Chris Jericho?
Christopher Keith Irvine was born in New York in 1970 to two Canadian parents, with his father being Ice Hockey legend Ted Irvine. Despite being born in New York, Irvine would move to his parents native Winnipeg (you idiot) in 1978 following his father’s retirement. Jericho grew an interest in Professional Wrestling whilst the local American Wrestling Association (AWA) events, citing Owen Hart, Bret Hart, Ricky Steamboat and Shawn Michaels as his inspirations.
Beginning’s in Wrestling
Jericho trained in the Hart family dungeon under Stu Hart where he would meet and train alongside his long-time friend Lance Storm. He would go on to make his debut in October 2nd, 1990 in a ten-minute time limit draw against Storm, wrestling under the character “Cowboy” Chris Jericho. Jericho has said that he gained his iconic surname from German metal bands album “Walls of Jericho”.
Jericho and Storm would go on to form a tag team, initially called Sudden Impact, with the two men touring CMLL in Mexico and Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling and Wrestle and Romance (WAR) in Japan. But Jericho’s big break in the United States would come in Jim Corentte’s Smoky Mountain Wrestling, becoming the Thrillseekers and recording a hilarious promo video that everyone needs to watch on YouTube. The Thrillseekers would feud with the likes of the Rock’n’Roll Express, the Heavenly Bodies and Well Dunn, never claiming the tag team championships.
Chris Jericho was brought to the attention of Paul Heyman after a number of people whose attention he caught, including Dave Meltzer, Chris Benoit and Perry Saturn, recommended that Heyman bring him to the land of the extreme. But it was Mick Foley who finally convinced Heyman to take a chance on Jericho, showing him Jericho’s match against Ultimo Dragón for the WAR International Junior Heavyweight Championship in July 1995.
Jericho, under the moniker of Lionheart, made his ECW debut in February 1996, defeating Rob Van Dam. Four months later, Jericho would get his first taste of gold in the promotion, defeating Pitbull 2 to become ECW Television Champion at Hardcore Heaven. But he would only hold the title for 21 days, dropping the title at Heatwave 1996 to Shane Douglas in a Four Way elimination match also including 2 Cold Scorpio and Pitbull 2.
Much like many talents did in the 90’s, Jericho soon made the jump from ECW to go where the big boys play in WCW. Jericho debuted inauspiciously against Alex Wright in a short no-contest before making his debut six months later in a losing effort to long-time friend Benoit. The Lionheart would soon find himself in the Cruiserweight division, winning the WCW Cruiserweight championship at a house show against Syxx (X-Pac). Jericho would go on to win the Crusierweight championship four times, feuding with the legends like Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio Jr, Juventud Guerrera and Billy Kidman over the gold.
His final Cruiserweight title run would come to an end at Road Wild 1998 against Juventud Guerrera, but the heavyweight division awaited him. Jericho would go on to win thee WCW Television Championship just two nights later, defeating Stevie Ray (who was standing in for an injured Booker T). During his reign, Jericho would keep calling out WCW World Champion Goldberg as he desperately tried to start a feud between them, but it would never materialise. Jericho would drop the title on the November 30th episode of Nitro to Konnan. He would stay in the company until April 1999, not gaining any more gold or entering any major feuds.
Over on Monday Night Raw, a mysterious Millennium Countdown clock started showing up teasing a potential debut. One month later, as the Rock called out the Big Show, the Millennium Clock finally counted down to zero before Chris Jericho arrived with one of the greatest wrestling debuts of all time, earning him the moniker of Y2J that is still referenced to this day. Jericho’s first major feud came against Intercontinental Champion Chyna, picking up the gold at Armageddon.
But later that month controversy struck, on Smackdown Jericho and Chyna faced off again, but after a double pin they were named co-Intercontinental Champions. They would face off again at the Royal Rumble, with Crash Holly added to the mix for some reason, with Jericho finally reclaiming sole ownership of the title. Jericho would lose the title again, this time to Kurt Angle, making him the Eurocontinental Champion. This built to a Triple Threat Two falls match at Wrestlemania, also including Chris Benoit, with the first pinfall for the European Championship and the Intercontinental Championship for the second.
Jericho would pick up the first fall, pinning Benoit and winning the European title before Benoit pinned him for the Intercontinental Championship. Benoit and Jericho would trade the title back and forth until the Royal Rumble 2001, where the two would have a legendary blow off ladder match for the title, with Jericho coming out on top to earn his fourth Intercontinental Championship. Jericho would then have the honour of opening what is widely considered WWE’s greatest Pay-Per-View of all time, opening Wrestlemania X7 with a title defence against William Regal.
But Jericho’s biggest moment of 2001 was yet to come, beating the Rock for the WCW Championship and Stone Cold Steve Austin for the WWF Championship on the same night at Vengeance 2001, becoming the first ever Undisputed WWF Champion. Jericho go on to defend the Undisputed Championship against the Rock and Austin, all be it on different nights.
He would then go on to drop the title in the main event of Wrestlemania X8 against Royal Rumble winner Triple H, although he would be overshadowed by the Rock and Hulk Hogan. Following Wrestlemania, Jericho would go on to form a memorable partnership with Christian, winning the Tag Team Championships against Kane and the Hurricane. But one of the pairings best moments came at the 2003 Royal Rumble. Shawn Michaels entered at number one before Jericho’s music hit for him to enter at 2, but it was revealed that it was Christian dressed as Jericho, allowing Y2J to low blow HBK from behind.
This would lead to the two men facing off at Wrestlemania 19 in an all-time classic match. After Michaels picked up the victory, the two men embraced before Jericho hit HBK with another low blow. Christian and Jericho would continue teaming together throughout the year, but Jericho’s friendship/relationship with Trish Stratus would eventually turn him face. This made Christian jealous, with him eventually putting Stratus in the Walls of Jericho. This led to the two men facing off at Wrestlemania, with Christian coming out on top after Stratus turned on Jericho.
After Edge was forced to relinquish the Intercontinental Championship, Jericho and Christian faced off at Unforgiven for the vacated title in a Ladder Match. Jericho would win the match to become the most decorated Intercontinental Champion of all time, overtaking Jeff Jarrett’s record of six. Jericho’s legacy in the WWE also lives on through his invention of the Money in the Bank ladder match, helping to create some of the most legendary moments in WWE history.
After losing at ECW One Night Stand to Lance Storm, returning to his Lionheart gear, Jericho turned heel once again, turning on John Cena in a tag team match against Christian Tyson Tomko. This led to a You’re Fired match on Raw between the two men, with Jericho lost the match before he was dragged away by security. This allowed Jericho time to go away and focus on his music career with his band Fozzy.
Jericho wouldn’t be seen on WWE television for two years until he returned to interrupt WWE Champion Randy Orton. He claimed that he was here to save WWE from Orton as well as introducing his new finisher, the Code Breaker. Jericho seemed to have the match won, with Orton in the Walls of Jericho in the centre of the ring at Armageddon 2007, but JBL would attack Y2J to cause a DQ.
Following his feud with JBL, Jericho was entered into the feud between Shawn Michaels and Batista after suggesting that Michaels enjoyed retiring Ric Flair at Wrestlemania 24. The two men would have another classic match, this time facing off at Judgement Day with Michaels coming out on top again and the two men shaking hands after the match.
Jericho would then invite Michaels onto the Highlight Reel, his talk show segment, before low blowing him and throwing him into the Jeritron 6000 TV screen. The two men faced off again at Unforgiven in an excellent Unsanctioned Match, with Michaels once again.
But Jericho’s night wasn’t over as he replaced the injured World Heavyweight Champion CM Punk in the championship scramble match. And he would go on to win the match from under Batista’s nose as he pinned Kane following a Batista Bomb, picking up his first world championship since dropping the Undisputed Championship in 2002.
Jericho would trade the title back and forth with Batista before losing the title to John Cena at Survivor Series 2008. He would not get a taste of the gold again until 2010, winning the Elimination Chamber match after Shawn Michaels appeared through the gate and hit champion the Undertaker with the Sweet Chin Music, setting up their legendary match at Wrestlemania 26.
Jericho would go on to retain the title at Wrestlemania against Royal Rumble winner Edge, but on the next Smackdown, he would lose the title after Jack Swagger cashed in his Money in the Bank contract. Something you wouldn’t expect from someone in Jericho’s Inner Circle. Jericho would leave the company once again just four months later.
Y2J returned two years later, making his entrance and soaking in the applause before leaving without doing anything for three straight weeks before attacking WWE Champion CM Punk during his match with Daniel Bryan. Jericho would win a 10-man battle royal on Raw to earn a WWE Championship match at Wrestlemania 28 against Punk.
Punk would the retain the title via submission, but the two would face off again at Extreme Rules in a spectacular Chicago Street Fight, Punk once again retaining the title. Jericho’s appearances would become more and more sporadic, taking more regular hiatus’ and only returning for major feuds, including Bray Wyatt and Brock Lesnar. One of the major feuds Jericho returned for was with AJ Styles. The two faced off in Styles’ first WWE match after his debut at the Royal Rumble, with Styles coming out on top and the two men shaking hands.
They would then face off again a month later on Smackdown, with Jericho coming out on top, before Styles would win again at Fastlane. The next night on Raw the two would form a tag team named Y2AJ, defeating the Social Outcasts and tag team champions the New Day in a non-title match. But when Y2AJ lost a title match against the New Day on Raw, Jericho attacked Styles, setting up their match at Wrestlemania 32 where Jericho would come out on top, handing Styles his first WWE pay-per-view defeat.
Later that year, Jericho joined forces with fellow Canadian Kevin Owens with the pair defeating Enzo and Cass at SummerSlam 2016. This would lead to Chris Jericho’s introduction of The List, a list that Jericho carried around, writing the names down of anyone who wronged him and exclaiming “You just made the list”. This run displayed the mastery of Jericho, showing that he could make a clipboard the most over thing in WWE. Jericho and Owens became so over as an act that Jericho would claim the United States Championship and Owens would claim the Universal Championship. But tensions would grow between the pair after Jericho accepted a title match for the Universal Championship against Goldberg on Owens’ behalf.
This would lead to Jericho holding a Festival of Friendship for Owens, presenting him with a number of gifts to show his gratitude for his friendship. Owens presented Jericho with a gift of his own, a new list. But as Jericho looked at the list, he noticed his name was written on it before Owens attacked him. Owens would lose the Universal Championship to Goldberg, but he and Jericho would face off at Wrestlemania 33 for the United States Championship, with Owens gaining the championship in what would be, seemingly, Jericho’s final Wrestlemania.
Jericho’s appearances would become increasingly sporadic before making his final WWE appearance at the Greatest Royal Rumble in 2018, being eliminated by Braun Strowman.
New Japan Pro-Wrestling
Having previously appeared in New Japan Pro-Wrestling in 1997 under the reviled character of Super Liger, Jericho returned to the promotion in 2017. On November 5th 2017, a pre-tapped vignette saw Jericho challenge IWGP United States Champion Kenny Omega out for a match at Wrestle Kingdom 12. After Jericho jumped Omega in the build up to the match, NJPW officials announced that it had been changed into a No Disqualification match.
The two jelled excellently, with Jericho seeming to wrestle with a freedom that he hadn’t had for a long time. Jericho fell short after Omega pinned him with the One-Winged Angel, but the match gained critical acclaim, with Dave Meltzer giving the five stars. The next night at New Year’s Dash, Jericho attacked IWGP Intercontinental Champion Tetsuya Natio.
This would lead to Jericho winning the title at Dominion, claiming his first non-WWE title since the WCW Television Championship in 1998. Natio’s Los Ingobernables de Japon stable mate Evil would challenge Jericho for the title, submitting to Y2J to the Walls of Jericho. After the match, Jericho refused to release the hold until Naito ran out to make the save.
This set up a match between the two men at Wrestle Kingdom 13, with Naito finally reclaiming the title. Jericho’s New Japan appearances would be saved for the company’s biggest events, facing off with IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada at Dominion 2019 in a losing effort, gaining the moniker of the Painmaker, a play on Okada’s moniker of Rain Maker. His latest appearance in New Japan came at Wrestle Kingdom 14 defeating Hiroshi Tanahashi.
Jericho joined the fledgling AEW promotion at their January 8th press conference, claiming that he was here to change the universe. At AEW’s inaugural event, he defeated Kenny Omega to earn a match to become the first AEW World Champion before he was attacked by a debuting Jon Moxley.
At All Out Jericho became the first-ever AEW World Championship, defeating Hangman Adam Page. After the match, Jericho would create the moniker of Le Champion before uttering his now-famous phrase “A little bit of the bubbly”. Although many had doubts surrounding the choice to make Jericho the first-ever champion, due to his age and his links to WWE, Jericho proved the doubters wrong helping to draw lapsed fans to the promotion as well as creating entertaining television week after week.
Jericho would go on to help to raise the talent around him, creating a stable of his “Inner Circle” including Sammy Guevara, Jake Hager and Santana and Ortiz, helping the four men feel more important being in his presence, as well as offering the younger talent his years of knowledge. But Jericho would also help to raise the profiles of his competitors, with the likes of Darby Allin, Scorpio Sky and Jungle Boy looking as if they are the future of the division following their matches with Le Champion.
Jericho would eventually drop the title after 182 days as champion, being defeated by Jon Moxley at Revolution. Despite losing the championship, Jericho would continue to be a highlight of AEW television, helping to create the fantastic Stadium Stampede match as well as using his star power to help raise the profile of Orange Cassidy, losing to him twice, including in a Mimosa Mayhem Match at All Out.
Jericho’s years within the business are finally being fully recognised, with many claiming him to be one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. In 2019, Jericho was named the Wrestling Observers Wrestler of the Year for a third time, becoming the oldest recipient of the accolade. Jericho has played every single role throughout his career and is now looking to use his experience for good, helping to develop the wrestlers of tomorrow and have a positive influence on the business that he loves.