In 2016, Chris Jericho had a decent year as a WWE talent. In the beginning, Jericho had an amazing showing at the 2016 Royal Rumble, lasting nearly an hour and finishing in fifth place. Right after, he had a match on Raw against the debuting AJ Styles, which led to the “Y2AJ” team, nearly a WWE Tag Team Championship win, and then a feud with Styles. Jericho actually defeated Styles at WrestleMania 32, something that he has only done at four out of 12 previous WrestleMania events, with the last one being against Edge in 2010.
After the feud with Styles, Jericho saw himself a part of odd feuds with Jack Swagger, Sami Zayn, and Neville, before finding a home with being the “best friend” of Kevin Owens, giving Owens a much-needed layer to his character.
For the latter part of 2016, Jericho fell victim to his unfortunate normal trend of losing often as a heel, frequently jobbing to names such as Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Dean Ambrose. Not only did Jericho lose steam as a character, but he also became a weaker heel altogether.
Finally, on this past episode of WWE Raw, Jericho was able to achieve a feat that was missing from his decorative WWE career: He became the United States Champion for the first time, and only the seventh Grand Slam Champion with the U.S. title involved (and with simply the WWE Championship). With this achievement, Jericho joins Kurt Angle (2002), Eddie Guerrero (2004), Edge (2006), Big Show (2012), The Miz (2012), and Daniel Bryan (2015).
Jericho was quick to enjoy his win with Kevin Owens, as he was caught backstage celebrating.
“Finally, after six months, team Kevin & Chris are the Universal Champion, and the United States Champion… We are now the faces of America, and the faces of Raw.”
While the alliance between Jericho and Owens seems to be at its strongest, it is most likely planting the seeds for a break-up.
Based on most reports, the current plans for WrestleMania do not involve Kevin Owens, and he is expected to lose his Royal Rumble title match against Roman Reigns, with Reigns defending at the big stage.
This leaves Owens and Jericho without opponents, which most likely will end up being each other.
Recently, Jericho had a heated exchange on Twitter with former United States Champion Rusev, who is also not a part of a marquee match at the “grandest stage of them all.” A possibility would be a tag team match with Jindal Mahal against Enzo and Cass, but this feud may not have enough life in it to extend three more months.
With reports brewing that Jericho is most likely taking another hiatus with commitments for his rock band, Fozzy, he may lose at WrestleMania and not show back up for a while. However, if he is able to allow both WWE and Fozzy in his schedule, a feud with Rusev would indeed be a fun and fresh one to see on Raw.
Hopefully, with Jericho as the new U.S. Champion, the title can be defended and treated with more prestige. Since Reigns won it at Night of Champions last September, the majority of his title matches were against either Kevin Owens or Rusev, with no engaging storyline involved.
Jericho has the ability to promote the title to a main-event level as long as he regains much-needed steam by not losing so much. If this happens and he is able to stay with the WWE past WrestleMania while still being the U.S. Champion, a feud with Rusev would be a great one for fans to witness heading into the typically offseason of the summer.
[Featured Image by WWE]