COMMENTARY – The promo by Kevin Owens on Monday night proves once and for all the decision to put the Universal Heavyweight Title on his shoulder as the injury to Finn Balor was the right thing to do. It also set up a solid match at WrestleMania 33 between the former champion and the current United States Champion Chris Jericho.
Drink it in people. This could be one of the best matches in Orlando in 26 days. The brilliance of Jericho mixed with the aggression of Owens could become an instant classic, a divorce of BFFs and a move to one again get Owens over as the savage he was when he first arrived on the main roster in 2015. Jericho has a habit of making rising stars look great. In this case, he is reaffirming how good Owens is and will be.
Jericho may be the most underrated superstar in wrestling history. While that term is used when discussing dozens of wrestlers over the years, never has it been so properly stated. Jericho is a six-time world champion, having won the WWF Championship once, the WCW/World Championship twice, and WWE’s World Heavyweight Championship three times. He is also a record nine-time Intercontinental Champion, beating out four other contenders in a 2013 WWE fan poll to determine the greatest champion in history with a landslide 63% of the vote.
Jericho has headlined multiple pay-per-view events during his time with the company, including a performance as the Undisputed WWF Champion at WrestleMania X8 in 2002.
Those are just his accomplishments since moving over to Vince McMahon’s circus as he was a dominant cruiserweight in WCW.
Jericho’s greatness isn’t just defined by his in-ring work. His promo work and his ability to draw heat from the fans has done him well. The back and forth between he and Owens may be worth the price of admission alone. While he plays the role of babyface and heel well, his best work (with Shawn Michaels) has been while playing the villain. In many ways, this match could be a passing of the torch event.
Jericho, at 46 years old, is still very good at what he does. I question how many more years will he dedicate to the ring when he has other outside interests. Owens, who has been an instant success since the former NXT Champion made his move to the main roster, looks like he could be the lead villain in the McMahon show for some time.
If there was a time to flip the script, it is now.
Wrestlers need opponents to make them great. As in all sports, greatness is defined by competition. Although it is sports entertainment, the principals are the same. Ric Flair needed Ricky Steamboat. Lou Thesz needed Buddy Rogers. Bruno Sammartino needed Pedro Morales. Kevin Owens needs Jericho. The angle between the two, although very cheesy, was perfect. Owens used the veteran to further his career. He played him like a fiddle and when he did not need him like in most wrestling storylines, he discarded him like yesterday’s trash. The same held true for Sami Zayn. The same can be said for Ole Anderson and the Four Horsemen.
I suspect we are in for a treat over the next few weeks leading up to WrestleMania 33. There should be plenty to watch and listen to involving both men. It’s how a feud like this should be played out. This program will highlight the brilliance of Owens’ character. What it will also show the wrestling world that Jericho is still one of the greatest antagonists in wrestling history.
We could be witnessing the ground work of what turns out to be the greatest match we witness in Orlando. And we have both Jericho and Owens to thank for that.