A mouthful, I know, but what Chris Jericho did last night (Jan. 2, 2012) in his big return to WWE on Monday Night Raw as the mystery return man was utterly and completely brilliant.
We were teased for six weeks straight with creepy, cryptic videos that teased an ominous force coming back to wreak havoc on WWE and all those who reside within it. There was nothing nice about these teasers. They pushed a message of destruction, not one of cheer and glee.
So when Jericho came out and the crowd at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee, went nuts for him, he had to find a way to make them despise him. But he didn't want to do so in a way so often done before. He wasn't going to take the easy way out and get himself some cheap heat by bagging on the city or going after a top babyface star.
No, old Y2J had a new innovative way of pissing us off making us dislike him: he ruined his own return.
That's no small feat. There was weeks worth of hype, enough speculation on the Internet to fill dirt sheets all day and night, and every single clue seemed to lead back to Jericho. He played it off as best he could on Twitter, always working his fans, but all along we suspected it was him.
And we wanted it to be him because nearly all of us have craved his presence on WWE TV. He would save us just like he did back in 2007, just like he did back in 1999. That's why the cheers were so loud when he revealed himself. We waited for him to break the wall down and just as soon as he did, we were awaiting to greet him with open arms.
His arms were just as open as ours, it seemed. Jericho embraced us with a fervor not seen before, slapping hands with ringside fans and taking in the love. He was marking out just as hard as we were. But then our happiness at his presence subsided and we waited for his words. How was this going to be the end of the world as we know it?
The answer never came. Because Jericho never stopped acting like a mark for himself. And that was the brilliance of it all. He never once spoke into the microphone. He just continued celebrating until we turned on him. Because what kind of pompous ass ruins his own return by marking out longer than the fans do?
Chris freaking Jericho, the ultimate troll who took his Twitter troll job live on Raw, that's who.
He got you, Cagesiders. He got me, too. From seasoned smart marks to casual fans alike, he drew us in with love and turned it into hate within just a few minutes without ever saying a word.
Here's what I wrote in the Raw live blog while he was working his magic. You can read me turn in real time after the jump.
Jericho is back.
He looks like he's in great shape. His belly doesn't look as pushed out as usual, at least from the few glances at it I could get. He's really playing this up. Slapping hands with everyone ringside while his music plays.
Finally, his music stops and he grabs the mic. The crowd goes quiet but he yells, "COME ON, YEAH!"
The crowd starts chanting one more match, then Y2J, then it gets all messed up.
He keeps going and I'm starting to think he's stalling. Is Undertaker supposed to be coming out now and they've messed up the timing? He's going way too long here without saying anything and acting goofy.
He refuses to speak and just keeps celebrating around the ring. I think I'm starting to hear boos. I know I would be booing at this point.
He's doing the schtick where he points to one side of the crowd and they go nuts, then points to the other so they can go nuts. Periodic chants break out but Memphis isn't exactly jumping here.
He goes to talk and then drops the mic and starts celebrating again.
What the hell is this?
Either this was planned, which is what I'm thinking, or he's being a gigantic mark for himself and can't help but revel in the few cheers he's still getting.
He's now at the top of the ramp and still running around asking for cheers. Dude, I'm starting to hate your guts.
He stands at the top smiling and I'm really freaking confused here. The videos were creepy and talked about the end of the world as we know it. He just came out and cheesed everywhere.
He had me in eager anticipation, then he trolled me, which pissed me off and made me hate him when just minutes before I was happy as could be that he was back.
It was a truly masterful performance.
It's also brilliant because it makes us wonder where we go from here. Obviously the world isn't over as we know it because nothing really happened. The suspense of who is returning is gone, sure, but its been replaced by just what exactly the man who returned, Jericho, is going to do now.
And to that end, he drew me in again. Because I can't wait to see what he does next week.