While the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW) were battling for supremacy in the pro wrestling world from 1988 until 2001 when the latter was sold to the former, there were too many talent switches to keep track of. At times it seemed like every other week saw one superstar after another jump ship for the greener pastures of the opposite promotion.
Some debuts were handled better than others but there's little doubt that this one was close to the very top.
I'm talking about Chris Jericho and his "Countdown to the New Millennium " that hit 0 on this date in history (Aug. 9, 1999) on Monday Night Raw in Chicago, Illinois.
Jericho had left WCW thanks to the lack of upward mobility due mostly to the terribly toxic infrastructure led by Eric Bischoff and a ruthless political environment that chewed up and spat out guys like Jericho, if only because of his size. Yes, it's silly and stupid but thankfully, the WWF offered far more leeway in the stature of its top stars, though they also preferred big men.
Still, Jericho was brought in with a big push, with the countdown clock drawing a great deal of buzz. When it ran out, it did so smack dab in the middle of The Rock cutting a promo. Jericho debuted his "Y2J" persona, an obvious play on the Y2K scare back in 2000, and it was off to the races ... or at least it was supposed to be.
Fans were happy as all hell but Jericho was not. In his autobiography, he talked extensively about his distaste for his opening promo, namely the fact that it established him as a comedy heel in the wrong environment. He also spoke of how terribly difficult his time was with the WWF in those opening months, struggling to figure out how to work the WWF style, as opposed to WCW. There was little leeway given for the culture shock he was experiencing and eventually, he was dressed down by Vince McMahon himself, who outright told Jericho he wasn't "worth the paper your contract is printed on."
He learned the ropes and figured out the right style eventually, though, and has since gone on to have an extremely successful career.