Judge Daryl Loomis is the shah of DVD review-ahs.
Welcome to Raw…is…Jericho!
Chris Jericho is a man known by many names. But whether he goes by Lionheart, Y2J, or the Ayatollah of Rock 'n Rolla; he is the best all-around wrestler of his generation. A superlative in ring performer and one of the best I've ever seen with a microphone in his hand, Jericho's career has been marked with great feuds, incredible matches, and some really bad pants. Of all my favorite wrestlers from when I was a teenager, he's the only one left alive and, sad as that may be, let's look at some matches on this great collection.
Chris Jericho vs. Lance Storm: This was the first ever public match for both Jericho and Storm, who started in the business together. Hands down, this is the best first match I've ever seen, from two performers who would fulfill the potential they display here. The now retired Storm's career would never reach the height of Jericho's, but he was an excellent, excellent technical wrestler. The match features additional commentary from Jericho and Matt Striker.
The Thrill Seekers vs. The Infernos: Traveling from snowy Canada to humid Tennessee and Smoky Mountain Wrestling, the team of Jericho and Storm, the Thrill Seekers, takes on two jokers in red who call themselves Fire and Brimstone. They're a couple of stiffs, but the crowd is impressed with their high-flying, innovative offense.
Jericho vs. Ultimo Dragon: Now, from SMW to Japan and WAR, which stood for Wrestling and Romance, as Jericho takes on the man who Rey Mysterio got his whole move-set from, and a truly spectacular Japanese star. Athletically, this is the best batch in the collection, but it's a different style than many American fans are used to, so it may not go over as well as others. In addition to the original Japanese commentary, which is always an enjoyable listen, Jericho and Striker return for some words of their own.
Jericho vs. Cactus Jack: From Japan back to the States and Extreme Championship Wrestling, taking on Cactus Jack, a man with a few names of his own. This is some quality hardcore action in the ECW tradition, featuring legends of the sport who were both right on the cusp of stardom.
Jericho vs. Eddie Guerrero: After wrestling in three continents, Jericho finally landed on the big stage, in Ted Turner's WCW. He had a bevy of great matches in Atlanta, but like so many, his character was poorly used in a company that valued politics over performance. Still, he started well in the company and this match for the Cruiserweight Title against the late Eddie Guerrero shows the one thing WCW did well. The lumbering and aged heavyweights in the main event were constantly upstaged by the quick and hard-hitting cruiserweights; it would be a pretty special wrestling card that would have a better match than this. Great stuff.
Jericho vs. Juventud Guerrera: More WCW action with Cruiserweight Champion Jericho putting his title on the line against the mask of young Mexican star Juventud Guerrera. The fact of a luchador potentially losing his mask is a big deal in wrestling, but you couldn't guess it from the commentary. This is a good match, but a better lesson in bad commentary. The team of Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan, and Mike Tenay couldn't possibly talk about the in-ring action less, so focused are they on selling the main event to people who have already purchased the Pay-Per-View. Really, the only way commentary gets worse is when you replace Tenay with Larry Zbyszko, which they did far too often.
Jericho vs. Dean Malenko: Like Lance Storm, Dean Malenko was an under appreciated wrestler whose knowledge of moves and in-ring psychology was as good as could be. To counter Malenko's "Man of a Thousand Holds" moniker, Jericho became the "Man of a Thousand-and-Four Holds" and the two went at it in a feast of wrestling greatness. This, however, was near the end of Jericho's time in Atlanta, as his poor treatment, in spite of his popularity, made him seek deeper waters up north in Connecticut.
The Millennium Clock Expires: In 1999, after weeks of a not-so-mysterious millennium clock ticking down to zero, Chris Jericho, now known as Y2J, debuted in WWE during a segment by the Rock, setting in motion the culmination of all Chris Jericho's hard work. No match here, but the exchange between Jericho and the man currently known as Duane Johnson is pretty good.
Jericho vs. Kurt Angle: Early in his WWE tenure Jericho battles the Olympic superstar who was early in his equally stellar career. Kurt Angle had the most impressive rise in the business I've ever seen. Using his stardom from the gold medal he won at the 1996 games, Angle took his amateur background and quickly became one of the finest wrestlers in the world. Seeing his early matches shows flaws in his game that I don't recall, but that just proves how seamlessly he became a master.
Jericho vs. Triple H: Speaking of great wrestlers, Triple H did everybody one better by marrying the boss's daughter. Stephanie McMahon's presence would prove integral to Jericho's future in the company, resulting in both good and awful segments for a few years. She's used well here and the match is good. Triple H is a very solid wrestler who can work well with anybody; with a wrestler like Jericho, his matches really shine. While it doesn't come through so much here, this match, which took place on cable instead of Pay-Per-View, was important to the way that WWE would work for the next couple of years, some of the best in their history.
Jericho vs. The Rock: The Rock was the opposite of Triple H, a popular star who brought his opponent down, no matter how skilled. It is a minor miracle that Jericho leads him to an okay match. Even though it's for the WCW Championship, it's barely worth speaking of. Let's hope Duane Johnson stays in movies forever.
Jericho vs. Steve Austin: No matter how deficient he was athletically, the legendary Steve Austin knew how to make the crowd sizzle, even at the very end of his career. This match marked a kind of first in the world of wrestling. It was the final round of a tournament to declare the first ever undisputed heavyweight champion, officially signifying the start of Vince McMahon's sad monopoly on wrestling.
Jericho vs. Hulk Hogan: The requisite Hulkster match is exactly what you would expect: slow, plodding, and lame. The match was really just a concession to Jericho after Hogan kept him planted at the bottom of the card in WCW in lieu of having matches with his friends. Even here, Hogan can't bear to lose to a smaller man, no matter how unathletic Hogan might be; to think that he's still wrestling today is fantastic and stupid.
Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels: The first of two matches with his idol, the Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels, is a barn burner, based around Jericho's respect for the man he grew up emulating. Y2J has a nasty streak, though, and will do whatever it takes to destroy his role model. The better of their two matches in the collection from, at Wrestlemania XIX, one of the biggest stages of Jericho's career.
Jericho vs. John Cena: John Cena was a hungry wrestler full of potential, before he realized that he could make money going the route of the Rock by figuring out five moves that pop the crowd and undermining his opponent. He'd already gone downhill by the time this match takes place, but he hadn't gone all the way yet and he has a pretty good match with Y2J. This was toward the end of Jericho's first run in WWE, when he realized he wanted to be a rock 'n roll star and went off to be lead singer for Fozzy. Good for his soul, but bad for wrestling and bad for music.
Save_Us.Y2J: It never fails that the siren song of the squared circle draws wrestlers back through the ropes and, eventually, the world of second-rate metal wasn't enough to keep Jericho away. After a two year absence and a few weeks of "code," we finally learn that Chris Jericho is behind the mystery with his intrusion into a segment with Randy Orton, which bears too much similarity to his original entrance into the company.
Jericho vs. Jeff Hardy: I don't know if I've made this clear in previous reviews of wrestling discs, but I can't stand Jeff Hardy. That WWE keeps bringing him back is a mystery only rivaled by the ages-long employment of the Big Boss Man. People like him, though, I guess, because he's willing to fall on his face from any perch to cover the fact that he really can't wrestle. Nonetheless, he faces Jericho in a match for the Intercontinental Title, showing that the return of one of the biggest stars the company has had in years means little more than a chance at their second tier title. That's the current WWE, though, and so we go toward the end of the collection.
Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels: The second match between HBK and Y2J isn't as good as the first, but it's certainly more violent. For the World Title, this ladder match between the man who started the match and the man who innovated it is top quality in every way. For all of Jericho's flying abilities, the guy really knows how to wield a weapon, making for a scintillating and dangerous match.
Jericho vs. Rey Mysterio: More mask-snatching action with the ever popular Mysterio, who had already remasked after an unmasking years ago in WCW. So, though it was no big deal to anybody who had been a fan of wrestling for more than ten years, they made it sound like the idea of Mysterio losing his mask was the worst thing ever. In any case, the match is good and Jericho presents a new, more serious character from his old Y2J persona.
Jericho vs. Undertaker: I don't get the inclusion of the final two matches on the set; neither is that great, though I understand the need for the company to keep their product current. In this case, I can think of better matches between these two wrestlers; this is a television match with no consequence. The bout is okay, but nothing special.
Jericho vs. Edge: As with Jeff Hardy, I've always been an Edge hater. Maybe that's because he looks so much like a guy from college who I didn't like, but it doesn't matter. Mostly, I think he looks generally awkward out there. This match is no exception, but it is from the most recent Wrestlemania, which gives it some relevance, I suppose. In five years, I have no doubt that the match will matter little.
I always find it weird that WWE considers their silly documentary the main feature of their collection, as if fans of Chris Jericho wouldn't buy this set without other wrestlers talking about how awesome Fozzy is. Nobody cares about the "feature" program. It's a pandering piece of fluff with little more than what you can get off of Wikipedia, though info does come from the mouths of notable wrestling personalities. The matches are where it's at and, in that way, you can't do a whole lot better than the collection they present here.
Breaking the Code: Behind the Walls of Chris Jericho looks fine on WWE's three-disc set. The first disc is the documentary and the special features, which amount to extra promos from Jericho's wrestling history. Some are fun and most are lame. The other two discs encompass the matches; video and audio quality vary based on year of recording and source material. At best, it looks new; at worst, it looks pretty bad, and the sound is in step. I wouldn't expect more and I'm not disappointed in what WWE has delivered.
This is one of WWE's better sets. Not guilty.
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