There may not be one WWE Superstar who is universally loved by every fan, but if there is one guy who comes close, it's likely Chris Jericho. Despite that, many fans have been unimpressed by Y2J's past few stints with the company. Based on what I have seen from him thus far, however, Jericho's latest run will be his best in recent years.
I'm happy whenever Jericho returns to the fold and am entertained by pretty much everything he does, but some fans are a bit harder to please. The main complaint regarding his last run that started in early 2012 and carried on into the summer of 2012 was that he never won a match and he didn't look credible.
It's funny that people felt that way because a lot of them are probably the same fans who want The Rock to lose whenever he returns. There is an obvious double standard and it tends to cloud perception.
I'm a huge Jericho fan and would love to see him win all time as well, but fans have to understand that Jericho loses and puts guys over by choice. That is something that should be commended rather than chided.
Fans had high hopes for Jericho when he returned in 2012, including winning the Royal Rumble and perhaps even winning the WWE Championship. Many of those fans were disenchanted from the start as Y2J came to the ring for several weeks in a row and decided not to speak. This was actually a brilliant way to turn the fans on Jericho as he intended to be a heel, but not everyone chose to see it that way.
Jericho then proceeded to be among the final two men remaining in the Rumble, however, he was eliminated by Sheamus. Jericho then went on quite a losing streak in terms of pay-per-views as he fell short at Elimination Chamber and then proceeded to lose to CM Punk at WrestleMania and Extreme Rules. It wasn't until SummerSlam, where Jericho defeated Dolph Ziggler, that he finally got his first big win since returning.
The celebration was short lived, though, as Jericho lost a rematch against Ziggler the next night, resulting in him being "fired" from the company. I absolutely appreciated what Jericho did during his last stint as he helped put over both Punk and Ziggler. Some fans felt differently and were critical of the fact that Jericho lost so often.
Despite the disappointment surrounding Jericho's previous run with the WWE, fans were extremely excited to see him return at the Royal Rumble. It is incredibly rare for something to be kept secret in professional wrestling these days, but nobody was aware of the fact that Jericho was going to be a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble. When his music hit following the announcement of the No. 2 entrant, the crowd went absolutely nuts.
It was a great first impression for Jericho to make after his last re-debut fell flat for many. Y2J has always been about being unique and doing things differently, so that is why he went through with the silent shtick. At the same time, you don't often see a top star return in the Rumble match and then go on an extended run, so Jericho's more recent return was unique, but it was also very well received.
Jericho built a ton of momentum by entering the Rumble in shocking fashion and then proceeding to last nearly 48 minutes. Also, the fact that he is working exclusively as a face this time naturally garners him a more favorable reaction. Jericho had a big challenge ahead of him last time as he had to make the fans hate him, and while he was able to accomplish that to some degree, it wasn't organic.
Fans naturally want to cheer and root for Jericho, so it's great to see him as a full-fledged face. He has played the heel role most of his career and has even said that he prefers being a heel, but the WWE wants and needs him to be a face right now, so that's what he's doing.
Arguably the most impressive thing about Jericho's return has been his in-ring work. I suppose it shouldn't come as a surprise that Y2J is tearing it up from a wrestling standpoint as he is one of the best pure grapplers in WWE history, but the fact that he was gone for several months and came back without missing a beat is awesome.
Jericho has treated fans with some of his signature face promo work, and while that is always entertaining, his wrestling quality has been through the roof. Over the past two weeks, Jericho has had matches on Raw against both Punk and Daniel Bryan, and both matches were good enough to be featured on pay-per-view. Jericho lost to Punk and beat Bryan, but the results aren't important.
Jericho has proven to be the wrestling version of Picasso since his return to the ring. Rather than putting a paint brush to a canvas, however, Jericho has smashed his opponents' faces into said canvas. I enjoy every aspect of Jericho as a sports entertainer, but the fact that he has simplified things and focused on wrestling since returning is quite refreshing.
I can't say for sure how Jericho will be booked moving forward, but I do expect him to win the Elimination Chamber match and become the No. 1 contender for the World Heavyweight Championship. This would enable Ziggler to cash in on Alberto Del Rio and set up a reprisal of their fantastic feud heading in to WrestleMania. Jericho will almost certainly end up putting Ziggler over, but at least those who want to see Jericho win big matches will likely be satiated by a chamber victory.
As long as Jericho continues to work magic in the ring and on the mic, I will always welcome him back on my television screen regardless of how he is booked. Others may not agree with that line of thinking, but talent is a great thing, even if it is used to further others. Jericho always manages to impress me, and I can't help but think that his current run will be remembered quite fondly.