THAT'S RIGHT, BAY-BAY!
Although part-time WWE stars have been put through the ringer here at Cageside Seats, both by our editorial staff and the community at large, Chris Jericho has always eluded similar criticism, despite his status as exactly that. The biggest reason for this, above and beyond all else, is that he's not a part-time star in the strictest sense of the term.
Yes, he's only working roughly six months at a time before heading off to tour with his successful rock band Fozzy, but during those six months, he is completely 100-percent dedicated to pro wrestling. He doesn't take nights off, he works both Raw and SmackDown, he goes out on tour with the company, and he even does house shows.
So while he's got an easier schedule than most with a cushy contract, he's still a company man.
His latest run started back at the Royal Rumble and culminated in his final appearance at the SmackDown tapings last night in Providence, Rhode Island. As Sean Rueter reported earlier, Jericho is done with WWE for the time being, gone to work on his other passions.
So let's take a look back at the past six months to see how his latest run went, shall we?
Leading up to the Royal Rumble, there were reports and rumors far and wide on who exactly would be making a surprise return to WWE to participate in the annual 30-man battle royal, ranging from Shelton Benjamin to Carlito to Goldust. Only one of those ended up being right and a name that wasn't brought up, not even one time, was Jericho.
As it turned out, secrecy isn't impossible in this day and age.
But, true to form, Jericho didn't just return to pop the crowd and get dumped from the match in just a couple minutes. No, he was entrant number two and would last 47 minutes before finally getting eliminated by Dolph Ziggler, whom he was feuding with during his last run with the promotion.
Ziggler, by the way, was the Iron Man of that match, lasting 49 minutes.
THE VETERAN HAND
Instead of feeding his ego by using his status to defeat any and all comers as some have done before him -- and we won't name names in this space -- Jericho proceeded to tie up some loose ends with Ziggler before moving on to other projects.
The first of those was finding his way into the Elimination Chamber match to determine a number one contender to the world heavyweight championship at WrestleMania 29. That match was easily the best on the card that night, and Jericho lost, pinned by Randy Orton before he was pinned by match winner Jack Swagger.
Before a quick stop eating a pin from Dean Ambrose to help build The Shield on their way to getting over at the biggest show of the year, and another one putting over Wade Barrett in a surprisingly entertaining triple threat match for the Intercontinental championship that also involved The Miz, Jericho entered into a feud with Fandango.
It was here that he was asked to elevate the young wrestler who the boss, Vince McMahon, was particularly high on. So he did just that, going out and having a solid match with him before doing the job at WrestleMania 29.
He did a few more jobs to Ziggler before getting his win back from Fandango at Extreme Rules in a decent match, though not as good as their encounter at "The Showcase of the Immortals."
Once that program ended, Jericho was used to bring CM Punk back into the fold at the Payback event in Chicago, as the two put on a long, epic match that culminated in, you guessed it, Jericho once again doing the job to put Punk over big in his return to the ring after a hiatus.
With some time still to kill before once again going into exile, WWE booked Jericho in a feud with Ryback, whom he took to calling "Cryback" thanks to the story that Ryback became a cry baby at the state of his career.
The two would have a mostly underwhelming feud heading into their lone encounter at Money in the Bank this past Sunday night in Philadelphia, but their match was surprisingly good and, once again, Jericho did the job and put Ryback over.
The following night on Raw, thanks to a scheduling mishap that ended up not being a mishap at all, Jericho did a job for Rob Van Dam after tearing the house down in a classic match that will go down as one of the better bouts in the history of the show.
His final appearance, which hasn't made the air yet, came at the SmackDown taping last night in Rhode Island, where he did another job, this one to Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel, before taking a beat down from Ryback to write him off television.
OH YEAH, BAY-BAY.
Jericho has shown all throughout his career that he's a fine worker who puts on good to great matches on a consistent basis while playing an entertaining character involved in typically solid storylines.
And, best of all, he's always willing to make his opponents look better, the ultimate sign of a true professional in the wrestling industry.
That's the best part about his latest run, one we can definitely call a smashing success. He came back and managed to strike that perfect balance between making sure he still looked good enough to make the younger guys he was asked to put over look good.
That's not easy to do, and it's rare that we ever see it. We're lucky to have Jericho around to continually come back and make the absolute most of everything he does while seemingly being the one thing you supposedly can't be in THIS BUSINESS.
Until next time.