Top 50 Wrestlers Of The 1990s: #33 - Chris Jericho
WrestleMania 34 is coming up, and being a wrestling fan, I tend to get a little more nostalgic for them olden days of when wrestlers didn't have scripts with WWE verbage in front of them. DeLorean back to my early days of fandom during the 1990s and you had a product that was hotter than any Seth Rollins theme song (you know, ”Burn It Down?” Okay, I’ll see that bad joke right out the door).
So from now up until "The Grandest Stage of Them All" (with a little help from Wikipedia to fill in the blanks), I will release my Top 50 wrestlers of the 1990., factoring in their impact from the kid-friendly first half to the cuss-ridden, beer drinking second half to determine where exactly your favorite heel or face fall in rank.
#33: Chris Jericho
Hailing From: Winnipeg (you idiot), Manitoba, Canada
Finisher: The Liontamer, The Lion Sault
Even above Eddie Guerrero, 1990s Chris Jericho might very well be the most well-traveled wrestler of any generation in professional wrestling. And in a business defined by travelling, that's saying something.
Son of the New York Rangers' winger Ted Irvine, Chris cut his lion cub's teeth up in the infamous Hart Dungeon in Calagry that appropriately was the beginning of a wrestling career that's chock full of history.
From the Hart house, Jericho was on the loose. He started off wrestling in Canada, but soon found himself in Japan with his Hart Dungeon hombre, Lance Storm, until eventually heading south of the border in CMLL as The Lionheart (aka: "Corazon de Leon" and I know I shouldn't doubt El Dandy, but is that him in Jericho's corner?)
In 1993, he then went to Germany to hone his craft when Lance Storm, where Jericho really started finding success as on on-air persona was during his time in Jim Cornette's Tennessee promotion, Smokey Mountain Wrestling as one half of the Thrillseekers (note: if you don't approve of cheating at skeeball don't watch the following):
Then in 1995, Jericho found his way through the doors of Philadelphia's ECW where he feuded with other 90s memorables like Raven, Sabu, Taz and Cactus Jack and had a TV Title reign in the process.
After all that, Lionheart caught the eye of WCW and he signed with the promotion where he began wrestling for New Japan. Enter June of 1997 where he won his first of three WCW Cruiserweight Championships by beating Syxx 1-2-3 (ohhh let the bad wrestling puns flow!) Jericho then became a full-fledged heel after his second title win when he destroyed Rey Mysterio's knee with the help of a Liontamer and a tool box.
Thus, crybaby, insecure Chris Jericho was born - an absolute contradiction to his Lionheart epithet and one of the best heels WCW had on the roster. He'd mispronounce names like they were menu items at a Cambodian restaurant ("Hoot-n-toot Guerrera", "Gene Mean" & "Tony Skeevone" were a few of my personal favs) and rip apart fans' signs despite if they were for or against him.
He'd besmirch opponents by collecting items off their person (nicknames, masks, headbands, you name it) and in one of the storylines had him temporarily exiling "The Man of 1,000 Holds" Dean Malenko. He crowned himself "The Man of 1,004 Holds" and it was through this self-aggrandizing channel where he had his first incarnation of "The List" for which he became known as.
No doubt about it, Jericho was a star, but as 90s era wrestling fans know, WCW management wasn't the greatest at utilizing or building younger talent. After feuding with Goldberg and winning the T.V. Title, Jericho discovered where his glass ceiling laid in World Championship Wrestling, and in the middle of 1999 he left for brighter pastures in the WWF and did it with one of the best debuts in the company's history.
I remember exactly where I was for this moment. 14-year old me was watching it unfold on a white Admiral 19-inch television in my bedroom. That's where "Raw Became Jericho" and all that work that he put into the business started paying off. Now relish in his WCW theme which was a total rip-off of Pearl Jam, junior!