As we noted on Saturday, the WWE is planning for all of their top four male singles titles to be defended in one-on-one matches at WWE WrestleMania on April 2 in Orlando. At one point during the build-up to the big event, there were backstage discussions among WWE officials about putting the Intercontinental Championship in another multi-person ladder match and not having the WWE United States Championship be on the line.
Both of those proposals were eventually scrapped, of course, as Dean Ambrose is on track to defend his WWE IC title against Baron Corbin in a match that will include a hardcore stipulation. And Chris Jericho will put his WWE U.S. Championship on the line against Kevin Owens in what was one of the WWE’s most compelling storylines over the last eight months.
It’s been tough for the WWE to do long-form storytelling in recent years, but you have to give them credit for the Jericho-Owens angle as it started last August when they teamed up for a pay-per-view match against Enzo & Big Cass at WWE SummerSlam. Two weeks after that, Owens became the WWE Universal Champion, and Jericho remained by his side until the ‘Festival of Friendship’ segment officially put an end to Jeri-KO.
Owens turned on Jericho in Las Vegas on February 13, and it wasn’t until three weeks later that Y2J returned the favor by distracting Kevin during the main event of WWE Fastlane. This helped make Goldberg the new WWE Universal Champion, but the Owens-Jericho WrestleMania title match was made official in the very first segment of WWE RAW the very next night.
Jericho has held the WWE United States Championship for more than 60 days but has yet to defend it at a pay-per-view, meaning WrestleMania will be the first time he ever does so. Y2J won the belt on the January 9 episode of WWE RAW in a 2-on-1 handicap alongside Owens against Roman Reigns. He is a nine-time Intercontinental Champion, but 2017 marked the first time he had ever won the WWE’s U.S. title in his career.
Jericho has been a major proponent of putting younger talent over since he reduced his schedule several years ago, and according to a new report, this time will be no different. WrestleMania is the grandest stage the WWE has to offer, and even though Kevin Owens has done an admirable job elevating himself this past year, Jericho wants to help give him an extra boost and therefore, we should expect Owens to become the new WWE United States Champion on April 2.
Jericho has recently done the favors for Fandango and CM Punk at WrestleMania, which made last year’s outcome a bit puzzling for some members of the WWE Universe. Chris beat AJ Styles in Styles’ first-ever WrestleMania match, which was confusing in its own right, but especially considering what WWE officials would eventually have in store for The Phenomenal One in 2016. Still, the bout was on the short-list for the WrestleMania show-stealer.
As noted in the past, Jericho originally signed on for a four-month return when he came back to the WWE last January. But, he and Vince McMahon kept agreeing to extensions thanks to successful programs with Styles, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, and of course, his dynamic on-screen relationship with Kevin Owens. Jericho has publicly admitted to the latter being most responsible for keeping him in WWE longer than anticipated and he committed to seeing it through until WrestleMania.
Jericho will be leaving the WWE again at the end of April to resume his duties with his band, Fozzy. As of now, he is tentatively scheduled to appear at WWE Payback, which is slated for April 30, in what may be his final date for this latest run. There had been some talk of Jericho winning at WrestleMania but then losing the title at Payback, but current plans call for him to drop it on April 2 and then come up short in the rematch four weeks later. That would put the ultimate bow on the Jeri-KO angle that has captivated much of the WWE Universe since it was unveiled.
The other noteworthy thing to come out of the report is the idea that Jericho will eventually put Owens on “The List of Jericho.” It was one of the more over aspects of their storyline, and the WWE knows they have it in their back pocket and will use it when they feel they need a major pop on RAW. It wasn’t used last week when the two engaged in their first feuding promo, but expect it to come during the rest of the build, though it may not happen until the go-home show.
[Featured Image by WWE]