I was going to do a Shadow Shoot on Jericho's promo...but upon further reflection, I couldn't do it. I can't fire away at Jericho or his non-promo. I just can't do it. In realizing that, I also came to an important epiphany, and I decided that I would share that with everyone here instead.
First, a little backstory on the real-life Shadowbird: I admit it, I'm a smark. When it comes to wrestling, I'm jaded, I'm cynical, and I am extremely opinionated. I cheer for whomever I want, which usually tends to be smaller, more ring-oriented wrestlers like Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Jay Lethal, AJ Styles, and Christopher Daniels. Even my more charismatic faves are smaller guys who work well in the ring (aforementioned CM Punk, Christian). As a result, I tend to have a love-hate relationship with pro wrestling. I've quit watching WWE and TNA more times than I can shake a stick at. I've gotten worked up over angles and occurrences that offend my sense of logic (to this day, I still think Christian got shafted with his title run).
And yet, in the midst of this chaotic smarky storm comes the one man who's not only inspired my Shadow Shoot (and weekend stream) character: Christopher "Chris Jericho" Irvine.
All of us have one person that we feel defines whatever we enjoy for us. For me, as far as pro wrestling is concerned, Jericho is that person. Jericho defines wrestling for me because to me, he is everything a wrestler should be: charismatic AND athletic, capable of working a good match as well as a good promo. And few can argue that Jericho isn't over with the fans in ways most wrestlers would dream of being over. But most importantly for me, Jericho has one significant effect: he makes me feel like a true mark.
Case in point: last Monday. I had seen the viral vids, and at first, I was kind of iffy on whether I wanted to know for sure who it was. I had no idea. Sure, I'd read the rumors and speculation, including that it was a build-up to Jericho's return (and, of course, Jericho's misdirection tactics that were transparent in retrospect). But then came this post. As soon as I saw that, my heart jumped a little. "No way!" thought I. "It couldn't be. Surely he's in Nashville for some other reason." But deep down, I had a suspicion. I had to find out for sure. Despite having had boycotted Raw for over half a year, I had to watch, and I had to know. And so I tuned in. And then it happened.
Lights. Pyro. Darkness. The vest. The music. He was back. And I was out of my chair, ecstatic as can be.
10 minutes later, I was still grinning, though the nature of the promo...scratch that, ANTI-PROMO...hadn't quite sunken in. 10 minutes, and all he'd done was mug for the fans and mark out for himself. What was going on? Then it dawned on me that he had started getting booed toward the end. And then, reading the posts and comments here on Cageside, I realized he'd trolled us all. ...And once again, I smiled to myself and laughed. He did it again. Jericho had made a mark out of me. Hell...out of all of us.
And yet, in some ways, I'm still a smark. Even knowing he'll come in as a heel, I'll still be cheering Jericho. A lot of it is because he's a smaller guy who wasn't a WWE-made star (though he didn't hit the main event until WWE) who's made it big. And a lot of it will also be because of his sense of humor that tends to align with mine (I own his first autobiography and want to own his second). But mostly it'll be because of moments like Monday night. There are only two people in all of wrestling upon whose every word I would hang, and CM Punk is the other. But Punk, while he is great in both of wrestling's key elements, doesn't quite exude the raw magnetic power that Jericho does. Even with hardly saying anything, Jericho can manipulate my emotions, make me feel however he wants me to feel. I might be able to root against him, but I can't outright hate him. When it comes to Y2J, I'm a mark. Have been since WCW, will be until I die (barring a Benoit-like incident, but that's for another time).
Admittedly, because of this, I don't see things like Jericho's non-promo in an objective light. To me, it was a perfect use of the comedic rule of three: set expectations (viral vids, Twitter diversions); confirm expectations (Nashville airport, the actual appearance); subvert expectations (Jeri-trolling). But again, that's just me, and my affinity toward Jericho makes my opinion a bit of a biased one. Still, I have to see what's next. I have to see what Jericho's going to do and where he's going to go with this. Come hell or high Evan Bourne (sorry, cheap shot), I have to find out. Jericho has sucked me into his angle, whether it ends up being Punk/Jericho or something else. For all the ways I want to break it down (no reference to Jericho's theme song intended) and pick at this as I would every other angle in the WWE...I can't. Because I'm a mark for Jericho.
Oddly, I'm at peace with this. Despite my near-obsession for subversion and deconstruction (hell, I even do it to kids' shows...hey, I have a young niece and nephew), I feel strangely at ease just letting Jericho take me on this ride, not knowing where it's going to go. It's an amazing feeling, really, and one I highly recommend. If you don't have anyone in wrestling that you can just let go and mark out for, I suggest you find one, because otherwise, you'll be missing out on a lot. Do I know if this is going to be a good angle? Honestly, no...and unless Jericho's got majority control over how it plays out (and with his prestige, he should), I don't have that much faith in WWE's writing team. Nevertheless, Jericho is selling this masterfully, and for the first time in quite a while, I'm willing to buy into it.