Eight weeks ago, we reported that Chris Jericho's contract negotiations with WWE had broken down due to Jericho wanting control of his outside projects and flexibility on when he would appear for the company, while Vince McMahon was offering a deal where wrestling would be his top priority and he would have some control over his other activities too.
Maybe now we know why Jericho was so insistent upon having such freedoms, as earlier this week it was reported he would be the host of a new reality TV show on the Syfy channel called Robot Combat League. Inspired by the Hugh Jackman movie Real Steel, which led to a successful publicity seeking angle on Monday Night Raw where Jackman "broke" Dolph Ziggler's jaw with a knockout punch -- it's basically an attempt to recreate the robot fights seen in that film for real:
"The action resembles a real-life version of last year’s hit movie 'Real Steel', with large menacing robots pounding away at each other in a satisfying shower of sparks and gushing hydraulic fluid. And just like in the film, the ‘bots will be controlled by shadow-boxing operators whose movements are translated into metal-on-metal punches."
This has been an idea that Syfy channel President Mark Stern, has been wanting to do for years, but only now is the technology in place to pull it off:
"It has always been our desire — and it’s really come around perennially — to update and do 'Battle Bots' for the new century. Can we do 'Real Steel'? Are we at a place where you can do real bipedal robots? Every time we tried to to do it, [the project] was stymied by the technology.... Up until we actually saw them in the ring fighting, we didn’t think it would work. [Mark] Setrakian created a robotics system that can mimic a human’s actions and movements. We’ve had robots decapitated, we’ve had robots cut in half. It was truly spectacular."
The first season has already been taped and will begin airing on Feb. 26th, 2013. The format is simple, there will be 12 teams consisting of a unique robot, minor celebrities serving as their controllers and a technician, fights will last three rounds in an elimination style tournament and the winning team will earn a prize of $100,000, with Jericho serving as the matchmaker and announcer.
MMA fans may be interested to know that the undefeated Amanda Lucas, daughter of Star Wars creator George Lucas, will be one of the robo-jockeys.
The choice of Chris Jericho as the presenter suggests this program will be heavily targeted at the wrestling fans who watch SmackDown every Friday night on the Syfy channel. This will almost certainly mean that Jericho will make a one-off return to WWE to promote his new show in mid February, just like Edge did on the Sept. 21st edition of SmackDown to plug his latest appearances on the Syfy series, Haven.
However, the chances this will lead to a WrestleMania program and a longer-term WWE comeback still look slim, as Dave Meltzer discussed in this week's Wrestling Observer Newsletter:
"In late February, [Fozzy] has an Australia tour where they work underneath Metallica. The timing doesn't rule out coming back the last few weeks before Mania, but no long-term storyline looks possible and there have been no rumblings of an angle for him this year that I've heard."
It's highly unlikely WWE will use someone in a prominent position on the card who would miss two weeks of the build for the biggest wrestling extravaganza of the year, unless they are a star of the level of The Rock, Brock Lesnar or The Undertaker. And with all three of those legends scheduled for main events on the super show, this is a year when Jericho's services aren't really required. I wouldn't rule it out completely, as you never know what will happen in the next two months, but unless an injury occurs and a spot opens up, I doubt we'll be seeing Jericho at WrestleMania 29.