Today on The Players’ Tribune, wrestling legend Chris Jericho lists his five favorite opponents he has faced during his lengthy career. Jericho details his favorite matches against these opponents and why they will always hold a special place in his memory. The Players’ Tribune has provided PWTorch with three of his favorites.
On Shawn Michaels:
“The intensity of this feud is what really sets it apart.
It was only supposed to be a one-off kind of match — a few-week program — but Shawn and I both knew that we had a lot more to give than that.
We had first worked together in 2003, and had both really enjoyed it, and ended up having a great match to cap things off at Wrestlemania XIX. But 2008 was an entirely different animal. It started after Shawn retired Ric Flair, and the story we told from there just sort of had a mind of its own.
Every time we went back and forth with ideas on where to take the program, things would evolve and we would manage to take it a step further on TV. It wasn’t the same Jericho that had become popular from my WCW days, but a much darker and more serious wrestler.
It was just a brutal, violent feud. We had a great match at The Great American Bash, and then for the following two months we continued to roll — there was a retirement announcement, Shawn’s wife got involved, and I even got so much momentum from the feud that when it all finally culminated in an epic ladder match at No Mercy, the world championship belt was actually on the line.
The whole program ended up lasting a little more than seven months program.
A hundred years from now, Shawn will probably still be talked about as one of the greatest performers in the history of wrestling. Being able to work with him in such a big way in 2008 is something I will always be proud of.
I’m still waiting for WWE to release the two-disc, special edition Blu-ray featuring Shawn and me and the Undertaker-Edge feud that was happening on Smackdown around the same time. (WWE has never mentioned plans to release such a Blu-ray but, nevertheless, I’ll continue to wait for it.)”
On Rey Mysterio:
It was just a very basic storyline — me trying to take Rey’s mask. A bully trying to take a kid’s lunch money.
Rey and I had known each other for many years, we had worked together in Mexico, in Japan, worked some in WCW — but we’d never really had an opportunity to work a long-term angle together. By the time we got a chance, we had both been around a while, and just wanted the feud to revolve around the wrestling matches and not too many superfluous gimmicks.
In Mexico, masks are a huge part of the lucha libre heritage, but it was all still pretty unfamiliar to an American audience. So Rey and I really didn’t invent anything new over the course of our feud, we just really tried to keep everything outside of the ring simple. Every week, every time we’d be on TV, I’d be trying to find ways to rip his mask off his face.
Starting with a fatal four-way match at Backlash, Rey and I would put together a string of four pay-per-view matches that just really told a great story. Finally, it was a mask vs. title match at The Bash 2009 that served as our grand finale.
On the surface, it probably wouldn’t seem as though our styles would mesh, but that’s just another component that made working with Rey so great. We both were constantly adapting in the ring, and I think we both did some of our best wrestling during that four-month span.”
On Kevin Owens:
When all was said and done, it was like we went from a 1980s David Lee Roth video to the Game of Thrones Red Wedding.
This one really had it all — a goat, a donkey, a festival, Goldberg — all the ingredients of a classic. Despite it all happening barely a year ago, I definitely regard my most recent run with Kevin Owens to be one of the best of my career.
Kevin was relatively new to the WWE when we started working together, but he was one of the most — if not the most — recognizable guys on the independent scene before he arrived there. So when it came to actual wrestling, I knew the guy was good.
But it was more of a gut feeling than anything, I think, that made me want to work with him. We were in England tagging up together and after I won the match we celebrated on the ramp like we had just won the Super Bowl. He started yelling about me being the G.O.A.T. I said something about him being a donkey … and it was just funny. It worked. And we took it from there and ran with it.
It was almost the opposite of when I was working with Shawn Michaels. Not a gruesome, hate-filled battle where we were both out for blood. Just a couple of best friends beating guys up, making lists, and giving each other gifts. There was a point at which we held the top two belts on Raw and really felt like we were stealing the show every single week. The best thing about Kevin is his ability to adapt. He can be funny, he can be serious, he can be as intense as anybody out there, and that versatility really does make him a great and interesting champion.
When he finally turned on me, the moment had a great element of surprise — and more importantly, we had people watching who were emotionally invested. A lot of hearts were broken that night — but in a good way. There aren’t a whole lot of guys besides Kevin who would have been able to convincingly pull that off.
There were actually quite a few moments when we had to stand our ground when we told WWE what we wanted to go out and do every week. There was always some pushback, but ultimately I feel like we got to do everything we really wanted, and finished in a spectacular fashion.”
Check out the full list of Jericho’s opponents HERE.
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