2016: The Year of Jericho

Rachel Murray/Getty Images

It's 2016 and Chris Jericho is doing some of the best work of his career.

It may sound like hyperbole, given how long the man has worked in the business and how many high profile programs and matches he's been involved in, but 2016 Chris Jericho is one of the best Chris Jericho's of all time.

Part of what makes the current version of Y2J so entertaining is the presentation and the aesthetic of the character. 2016 Jericho is the Jericho of skinny jeans and waistcoats without shirts underneath. And not only will he sport these ridiculous outfits, but he will never waste an opportunity to remind you how expensive these items are. 2016 Jericho is the Jericho of $15,000 jackets and $750 scarves. And based purely on the way he looks, he's so damn punchable. I'm talking Miz-level-punchable. And I don't say that lightly.

The other big factor in Jericho's success this year has been his character work. 2016 Jericho is the Jericho of extremes. All of his character traits are exaggerated. We are getting Jericho at his most vain, a man who genuinely thinks he's a gift to people, and who gracefully allows those around him to "drink it in, man". We are getting Jericho at his most delusional, a man who is convinced that he has won the first and sixth Money in the Bank match in Apple. We are getting Jericho at his pettiest and most childish, a man who will call others stupid idiots and will feud with said stupid idiots over potted plants and fictitious talk shows.

And yet one might object that the character itself isn't that much different from the one he's played before: the Y2J persona has always been whiny, goofy, insufferable and vain, and the 2016 version is no exception. What separates his current run from previous ones is Jericho's incredible awareness of his own image, and how it translates into a total lack of self-awareness in kayfabe.

When Jericho made his return earlier this year, he came back as a babyface, and behaved like the old uncle you have to apologise for any time you're out in public together. He called people trap queens, did cartwheels, and oh, did I mention the waistcoats? Those first months were so crucial for his eventual heel turn. The character was established from the get go: 2016 Jericho isn't cool, and is totally unaware of how uncool he is.

And yet, in a non-kayfabe sense, Chris Jericho is very aware of how lame and stale people think he is, and he plays into it. He takes the perception that many fans have about him, and uses it to create a compelling character. He starts drawing attention to the way he looks so that others may point out how ridiculous his scarves and jackets are. He starts talking about how other wrestlers are elevated by simply being in the ring with him, which not only is delightfully narcissistic and delusional, but draws from the criticisms many fans have towards guys like John Cena or the segment involving the Wyatts and The Rock at WrestleMania 32.

There is one particular moment that sums up 2016 Jericho and perfectly captures the brilliance of the character. When about a month ago the crowd called him a stupid idiot, he replied with "I know you are, but what am I?". That was such a childish and ridiculous response that it obviously must have been ironic.

However, it's exactly what one would expect from a man who started "rootie-tootie-booty" chants and has THAT haircut. And it's been an absolute joy to watch.

The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Cageside Seats readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cageside Seats editors or staff.